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Let the mud-slinging begin: Mountain bike season gets an early start

The month of May, as any mountain biker can tell you, is mud season. Just three weeks ago skiers and snowboarders were still making decent turns at Breckenridge as the ski area closed out its fiftieth anniversary season, and in a typical year May is a month of downtime for the mountain town as all the snowmelt sorts itself out. But this year has been anything but typical, and while the slow snow season was a downer for skiers and snowboarders (and whitewater river sports enthusiasts), it's been a boon for mountain bikers.

"This year we're riding mountain bikes in Breckenridge much earlier than usual, and some trails are already open, including Lower Flumes, Illinois Creek and sections of trail accessed via Carter Park," reports Breckenridge Resort Chamber spokeswoman Rachel Zerowin, who suggests downloading the daily trail reports from BreckenridgeTrails.org to help plan your early-season adventures. "BreckenridgeTrails.org was started last year by the Breckenridge Open Space folks; it includes regular spring updates on trail conditions and rideability. New this year, they're also updating popular routes throughout the county including Blair Witch (dry), Peaks (closed) and Wheeler (skiable!)."

There's still plenty of mud to go around, cautions Scott Reid, Open Space and Trails planner for the Town of Breckenridge.

"Our warm, dry spring has allowed many of our trails to open earlier than usual. We ask that people enjoy the trails, but be prepared to turn around when they encounter mud," Reid says. "Our trail condition report posted at BreckenridgeTrails.org is intended to let trail users know which areas are dry, and which should be avoided. We update the page regularly. The town trail crew would much rather work on building great new trails than repairing existing trails damaged by early season use."

Those new trails will include the new V3 trail -- scheduled to open in time for Breck Bike Week -- which will connect the French Gulch and Barney Ford trails and create a new loop from the town's center at Carter Park.

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"We have an ambitious trail construction agenda in 2012, with several new trails and new realignments planned," Reid says. "We welcome volunteer help so we can grow our world-class trail network."

Upcoming volunteer opportunities with Friends of Breckenridge Trails include the Legacy Forest Campaign's Tree Planting Day on June 2 and a National Trails Day project on June 9 to extend the Betty's Trail singletrack to Vista Point.

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