BEST OUT-OF-BOUNDS SKIING 2006 | Arapahoe Basin | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Arapahoe Basin already appeals to the independent skier, the person who'd rather power down the slopes than vamp through Vail. And while there are plenty of challenging runs -- including the classic Pallavicini -- on A-Basin's official map, the area also boasts great out-of-bounds skiing. A short walk from the top of the Lenaway Lift and through the U.S. Forest access gate, there's a mile-long stretch known as the Beavers, which starts at about 12,500 feet and drops you down below the base at 9,000. The wide-open slope faces north, which means it gets less sun -- so the snow sticks around a lot longer. Getting back up to the base is easy, too: The run ends right at the road that leads to A-Basin. So after laying down some turns in the fresh pow-pow, all you need to do is stick out your thumb to get a lift to the lift so you can shoot the Beavers all over again. And do it soon: A-Basin has set its sights on expanding into the area.
In 1952, early fans of skiing banded together as the Schussbaumer Ski Club, even opening a crash pad in Georgetown. That had to move when I-70 came through, so in 1965 the members built a chalet in Breckenridge that was close to the only game in town -- back when that town was a sleepy old mining burg just beginning to turn into a resort. Now, of course, Breckenridge is an international destination brimming with pricey condos and hotels, and the 72 hostel-style beds (divided between a men's floor and a women's) at the club's Breckenridge Chalet, located right at the base of Peak 8, may be the best ski deal in the state. Membership in the club -- it's limited to 150 active members, plus alumni -- is $495 a year and buys you both access to the slopes anytime and one giant slumber party.
Winter Park is rich in history from the early mining days of Colorado, but at thirty, Mary Jane is still young at heart. Over the past three decades, the area's runs -- Rail Bender, Trestle, Needle's Eye -- have become infamous for their great fall lines and the Volkswagen-sized bumps that keep lots of knee surgeons in business. And if you're fortunate enough to stumble on one of the huts hidden in the trees off Mary Jane, your skiing adventure will reach a new high. Bump and run!
A Best of Denver award may seem like small potatoes after your brainchild was just named Best New Product at the 65th International Trade Show for Sports Equipment and Fashion, but Ben Anderson knows where he comes from, and he beamed with Colorado pride when he accepted that honor in Germany in February. An Evergreen-based entrepreneur, Anderson wants to revolutionize the ski industry with his AT Boards, a fat ski/snowboard hybrid with just as much surface area as most long skis. The shorter Icelantics allow for great maneuverability in the trees, they can cut through just about every condition a mountain throws at a skier, and they're ideal for hiking in the backcountry, because they're much less awkward to carry. Anderson's just 23, but it looks like he's already won his uphill battle.
Founded in 1995 by snowboard-company pioneer Jake Burton, Chill started as a simple idea: to introduce inner-city kids and at-risk youth to snowboarding. Today the program has spread from Vermont to cities and states across the country, including Denver. Organizers work with 25 youth-service agencies -- including foster care and group homes -- to identify kids who might benefit from some time on the slopes. As local Chill outreach coordinator Daniel Ritchie explains, many teens have lived in the Mile High City their entire lives, yet never set foot in the mountains. This ski season, Chill had a roster of 170 kids who hopped on buses once a week to learn the ins and outs of boarding -- and got the chance to see life from a whole different perspective. Chill out.
By spring, all that wax you lavished on your board or skis at the beginning of the season has long since disappeared. Halfway up I-70, you realize that you're going to be stuck on anything that's flat, with the sticky snow pulling at your skis or board like a nagging child pulling on his mother's skirt. But a quick trip to Idaho Springs will fix all that. Maison De Ski will run anyone's board or skis through the wax machine for free. It's also fast -- just like your skiing and boarding will be after this stop.
The only thing that sucks about going to the mountains for the weekend is coming home in Sunday-night traffic. Giant SUVs struggle along like lumbering mammoths, and at the slightest trace of snow or ice, traffic often snarls to a halt. Frustration sets in fast: People want to be out of their cars, into their homes. A small ray of hope appears just pass the turnoff for Golden, where a third lane opens on the left side of eastbound I-70, giving savvy drivers a chance to pick up speed. It's an uphill stretch, but anyone who anticipates the break and has enough horsepower under the hood can stomp on the gas pedal and leave at least a dozen grommit cars behind. You may not go as fast as you did on the slopes, but it'll feel like you're flying.
Ready to ride? Hop on your Harley and head hell-bent for leather on Santa Fe Drive 25 miles south of Denver, then hang a right on Highway 67, zip past Bud's (home of the Best Burger) and turn left on Highway 105. This backcountry road takes you on a sixty-mile route through the foothills, along excellent winding curves, hills and beautiful straightaways. There are several worthy side roads to explore, or make tracks to Palmer Lake, where you can refuel at O'Malley's. From there, head north through Larkspur or Castle Rock -- but be sure to end your trip at the Sedalia Grill, one of Colorado's best biker bars.
Broken bones, rock and roll, foxy girls knocking the hell out of each other -- and on roller skates, no less. Is it any wonder that the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls are the hottest ticket in town? A motley crew of bad-ass babes in miniskirts, with gobs more guts than the Colorado Crush and the late-season Avs combined, the Rollergirls revive the long-lost art of the flat-track, all-female roller derby, and look damn good doing it. This is no catwalk show, however. Team members train year-round to maintain the strength and skill they need to stay competitive in intra-league games, and the Rollergirls' travel team, 5280 Fight Club, takes on challengers from other cities during prime derby season. This is a real, scrappy, sometimes bloody, often thrilling sport for women -- which is also why it's so sexy. You go, girls.
The quarter-mile is a great equalizer, and Bandimere Speedway is happy to oblige drivers who need to prove just how fast and furious they can be with "Take It to the Track." On Wednesday nights through the summer, you just bring your own car, sign up to race it and put pedal to the metal -- best time wins. Of course, every great racer needs a cheering section, and the bleachers here are no different than those at the Indy 500: filled with hot chicks, short skirts and the occasional bared breast. Go, speed racer, go.

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