Female mountain biking duo from Steamboat bring awards, ideas from Canada
August 17, 2017
They take plenty of pride from their successes, from the frustrated glances from competitors and the urgent conversations those riders have with one another, wondering just who these women are, what they're doing here and how, oh how, do they ride so fast.
Steamboat Springs mountain bikers Mindy Mulliken and Karen Tremaine have made the trip north to compete in the Singletrack 6 bike race in Canada three of the past four years. It includes six stages of epic mountain biking in the Canadian Rockies, a diversity of trails, scenery and experiences the pair have come to relish.
And, it turns out, they're really good at it. They won the duo women's division of this year's event by more than an hour, and they won every stage along the way. They did the same thing the last time they competed at the event, in 2015, and the time before that, as well, making them a perfect 18 for 18 in stages.
"It's our personalities," Tremaine said. "We go in, and we know we're going to have fun."
"We don't take it too seriously," Mulliken added. "So, we don't get too worked up about things, and it just works."
It would all amount to enough to keep many people coming back year after year, and indeed, Mulliken and Tremaine are already plotting their trip back next year, when the race will again be on new terrain.
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Both, however, said one motivating factor for their dedication to cross-Canadian racing was the trails themselves, rocky, rooty, steep and sweet.
"Stage two, we were on a section of course that was really technical," Mulliken said, recounting her best part of the trip.
"Forty one of the 300 riders DNFed that day. I'd never seen it before, was riding it on sight, and it was one of those moments I had to decide, 'I'm just going for it.' I was in the flow. My adrenaline was going; I was shaking. That was the highlight for me."
Those trails are what they'd like to bring back to Steamboat, even more than the hardware they've made a habit of winning. Now, they're trying to get involved in a way that would allow them to help it all happen.
That effort comes in the midst of several other major recent mountain bike trail projects. Steamboat Ski Area has opened a series of downhill mountain bike trails in recent years. The city of Steamboat, meanwhile, is dedicating millions of dollars through a stretch of 10 years, from 2013 to 2023, to build mountain bike trails with the city's 1-percent lodging tax revenue.
"It's not that there's anything wrong with what's being built," Tremaine said, "but it's all the same.
The smooth downhill trails at the ski area may fit what they're looking for in some ways, but are also a bit too manufactured, in their eyes. And, the cross-country trails at Emerald Mountain and, new this summer, at Buffalo Pass, are a bit more "intermediate" than what they have in mind.
"We understand you have to built it for tourists, but they're missing the other end, the bikers who would come here and want to see something a little more challenging," Tremaine said.
Some trails that did fit the description have been phased out, including a collection of unauthorized trails on Buffalo Pass.
"Anything that's steep and rugged and raw seems to be peeling away," Mulliken said.
They're hoping some grassroots organization can help their voices be heard.
"We just have to hope we can keep working to get more momentum in that direction" Tremaine said.
No matter how things unfold, however, they plan to be back in Canada next summer, no matter how many wearied looks they draw from their local competitors.