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Summer Cross-Training: Mountain Bike Parks for XC Skiers

Tips & Ideas Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Cycling through summer is good; but tackling slopes, jumps, ramps, and drops is better. Here’s why, plus the best places to ride.

Plenty of us love to spend the summer on two wheels—after all, we get to frequent the same mountain towns (even trails) we love all winter while keeping cardio, strength, and balance at their peak. 

But roadies and even cross-country mountain bikers often overlook the core, upper body, balance, agility, and mental fortitude that a few hours at a quality mountain bike park can develop in an athlete. 

Here’s how a skills course can elevate your training regimen, along with some of the most enjoyable skills parks to try this summer.

How a Bike Skills Park Impacts Your Brain and Body

Mental Resilience

Tackling technical obstacles, drops, and jumps requires a tough mental game. You need the right balance of anticipation, calculation, and bravery to gauge and tackle these challenges that test your limits. This process helps improve your mental resilience by teaching you to stay calm under pressure, make quick and effective decisions, and recover from setbacks.


Any mountain bike trail will challenge your reflexes, but a bike park is built to test them constantly. Negotiating twists, turns, and obstacles forces your body to react swiftly, enhancing overall agility.


Maneuvering down narrow planks sharpens your balance skills; jumps test your capacity for bursts of power and upper body control. Drops encourage intention and control. The pacing of skill-park obstacles also helps riders learn to distribute weight effectively and adjust body position intuitively, which is critical for staying upright and in control of the bike.


Shifting gears, adjusting speed, timing pedal strokes, and actively navigating terrain features sharpen motor skills and hand-eye coordination. And the good news? These skills will only improve over time, growing throughout the summer to carry into your early on-the-snow training. 

Where to Play: Mountain Bike Parks

The Junkyard, Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, Buena Vista

New in 2022, this bike park is a rough and lively playground. The skeleton of the park is made up of actual junk, including  concrete, asphalt, telephone poles, and even obstacles built around old vehicles like a school bus and vintage Caprice Classic. Trails full of obstacles surround a small skills park at the center and are good for refining your moves or letting younger riders explore.

Keystone Bike Park, Keystone 

The professionally maintained, progression-focused terrain welcomes riders of all abilities. From the base-area skills park, which is perfect for building confidence in new riders, to technical rock gardens, drops, and high-speed features, the terrain offers something for everyone.

Frisco Adventure Park Bike Park, Frisco 

This gem is a beloved go-to for locals. The 18-acre park is home to a pump track, gravity-fed slopestyle course, dirt jumps, and a dual slalom course, where you can sharpen your competitive instincts and race a friend. 

Trestle Bike Park, Winter Park 

This mountain biking mecca is for serious downhillers, but new riders will find a solid rental fleet and great solo and group instruction options to help them get comfortable on the trails. The trail system includes two jump parks and three skills centers, complete with banks, tabletops, drops, teeter-totters, and more. 

Looking for a more mellow ride? Many Nordic centers (such as Snow Mountain and Devil's Thumb) are home to summer mountain bike programs, including e-bike, mountain bike, and Chariot rentals as well as single and two-track trails perfect for winding down after a skills park session.


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