Mountain bikers wait for snow to melt

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    By Jarom Bergeson

    Snowstorm after snowstorm has battered northern Utah this winter, ensuring plenty of snow in the mountains for this month”s Olympic Games.

    But there is an entire group of Utah athletes who can”t wait for the white stuff to just go away.

    These athletes are mountain bikers.

    “Utah is a great place to mountain bike,” said Chris Dye, 23, a senior from Orem majoring in mechanical engineering who describes himself as a mountain biking maniac. “Just make sure you live somewhere else from October to March.”

    Dye said he got into the sport after riding a bicycle for two years on his mission in St. Louis.

    “I developed a need for that type of exercise on my mission,” he said. “I bought a mountain bike when I got home and started exploring Provo Canyon.”

    “The snow is the only thing that has stopped me since,” he said.

    Dye”s younger brother Jonathan said the main reason he loves the sport is because of the great exercise.

    “Have you ever seen a fat mountain biker?” he said.

    One of the other draws of the sport is the chance to be out in nature.

    “It”s like hiking at 30 miles per hour,” Dye said.

    Mountain bikers have a reputation for being friendly, and Dye said that reputation is well earned.

    “When you”re out on the trail, you can talk to anyone about mountain biking, and if you”re having problems almost everyone will stop to help you,” he said.

    The Wasatch Front is home to some of the best mountain biking trails in America.

    But having such great trails so close and so unusable during the winter months proves frustrating for avid mountain bikers.

    “I complain about it every day,” Dye said. “It”s pretty much useless to go outside during the winter in Utah for a mountain biker.”

    Heath Bryant, 22, a senior from Kent, Wash. majoring in marketing communications said mountain biking is one of the most popular sports at his place of work, Outdoors Unlimited.

    “There are a ton of mountain bikers here at the Y,” he said. “Just like skiers complain when there”s no snow, mountain bikers complain when there is snow.”

    Dye said he does most of his mountain biking here along the Wasatch front, but has also practiced the sport in Moab, Utah and Scottsdale, Ariz.

    “The best place to mountain bike locally is the Ridge Trail,” he said. “South Fork and Benny Creek are excellent as well.”

    Mountain biking is not for those afraid to make a commitment.

    Dye said not to get into it unless you”re willing to drop a pretty substantial sum of money on equipment.

    A top-of-the-line mountain bike will cost about $4,500. But Dye said a serviceable bike can be had for roughly $750.

    “I saved up for a long time and bought mine for $3,500,” he said. “But you have to remember that I”m a freak.”

    If that seems a little steep, there are plenty of places to rent equipment, including Outdoors Unlimited in the Wilkinson Student Center.

    “We rent a lot of mountain bikes,” Bryant said. “But usually not until the snow melts.”

    Dye said people interested in mountain biking should do some research on a credible web site like mtbr.com and visit a local bike shop before getting started.

    He also suggests beginners ride with someone experienced, wear a helmet, take tools, and bring along plenty of water.

    “Don”t try too hard,” he said. “Just have fun.”

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