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The Ups & Downs of Mountain Biking: A First-Timer’s Guide

Copper Scenic Bike Trail

“Everyone has to start somewhere.” That was my mantra for my first weekend on a mountain bike in Copper Mountain, Colorado. While I wasn’t starting completely from scratch, I’m not sure any of my bike experiences at sea level quite prepared me for biking down a mountainside.  Since moving to Colorado, I’ve seen plenty of cars with bikes in tow, and I wondered what it would be like to try it myself.

Since some friends and I had plans to check out Copper’s Mac and Cheese Fest, I made plans to pick up a bike rental and try it out the morning before the festival.

The rental shop at Copper was great. It only took a couple of minutes for the staff to grab a bike and calibrate it for me.

Bike Rentals

Once I hopped on the bike, I realized I had never been on a real mountain bike before.

I had no idea the mountain bikes would be so fancy! The only function I recognized from bikes I had ridden in the past was the handlebar breaks. I was grateful the staff took the time to show me the bike’s features. For example, the seat height could be adjusted by clicking a button on the handlebar. You could even lock or loosen the frame of the bike by clicking a lever with your thumb.

All of these features are meant to give riders a better experience on more technical terrain.  Even on a regular road, you can feel the difference. As I rode across the pavement towards the bike trails on the other side of the resort, it felt more like gliding than riding.

The next step was to select a trail. This was a little tricky for me. The trails that were accessible from the lift were intermediate or experienced trails. I opted for the lower mountain trails which seemed a little more beginner-friendly.


I rode along one of the mountain’s service roads until it connected with the Colorado Trail. The views from the trail were beautiful.

Not going to lie: even with a fancier mountain bike, navigating some of the steep declines and rugged terrain was more difficult than I had anticipated. I was warned by some of the folks at the bike shop that I would spend most of my time hovering over the back of my bike seat, rather than actually sitting. That was true! Standing and hovering helped me to control the bike better, but I had to be careful to center my body over the center of my bike, or else the bike could tip forward.

Even though It was harder than I anticipated, it was worth it. There’s nothing like cruising downhill back to the village.

It was super fun to get out this weekend and “start somewhere.” I’d love to get out again and work my way up to some of those intermediate trails.

If your reading this and thinking that biking sounds fun, but maybe you’re not ready for mountain trails yet, you can always get a road bike rental. There are tons of paved, scenic trails in Copper. In fact, one even goes 6 miles to Frisco, with a bus that picks up and brings you back to the resort.

Whatever your skill level, there’s plenty of trails to try in Copper Mountain.

Katie Weiseman
Katie is a graduate student studying International and Intercultural Communication at the University of Denver. Originally hailing from the Midwest, she still remembers her first-time laying eyes on the Rocky Mountains and falling in love. In addition to exploring mountain trails, Katie enjoys checking out Colorado’s craft breweries and scouting the Front Range for the best scoop of ice cream.