Over the course of the summer, we'll be doing a series of blog posts profiling our local riding heroes. These are the people who inspire us to be better mountain bikers ourselves and we look to them as mountain bike role models.
A fairly new addition to Gunnison, Rachel Alter has made quite an impact on this close knit community. Her accomplishments are too many to list here but a few of the highlights: she is a yogi, is fluent in Spanish (has taught some after school programs), makes one hell of a cake (is owner, baker & chef of Pedals & Pastries), coaches the Gunnison High School Mountain Bike team, is one of the few startup businesses involved in Gunnison’s Ice Accelerator Program and little known fact she studied spiritual psychology at University of Santa Monica! I know, you already WANT to know her right? I could continue on with her list of credentials but Rachel is one of those folks who settled into this valley and everyone immediately knew she was a part of the fabric that makes this place so special.
We know you are one heck of a good baker. What do you do to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle when you have such dangerously caloric tools in your toolbox?
Well, it actually helps that I make so much of it (deliciously sinful baked goods). Licking the beaters while making cookies dough doesn’t seem as inviting anymore when you make several dozen of them a week. I named my business Pedals & Pastries because the name says it all, it is about balance. You can indulge in sweet treats when you are really working your body. I believe in fueling our bodies with real food which for me includes eggs, butter and sugar. (You should see her butter tattoo, she isn’t kidding).
Fall is in the air, what is your favorite fall ride in the valley?
Canyon Creek is one of my favorite rides in the early fall, especially when you can catch the window between the monsoon storms in order to get up to 12,600 feet. The window after the monsoons hit but before there’s snow up there is the key. I also love Hartmans because in the late fall you can still ride there when other areas of the valley have already received snow. Access to Hartman Rocks extends the season nicely.
Your partner Jefe Branham is quite a hard charger on the trails as well. What is your favorite place to ride together?
Hartman’s is my favorite place to ride with Jefe because he is always getting really creative on the rocks. One of his nicknames is “Jefe Beeline Branham”, I love watching how playful he rides on all the features at Hartman Rocks. He has helped me become a more playful rider.
We know you’re a serious foodie, what is your favorite post-ride refuel food or beverage?
Oh man, that’s a hard one. I’m actually more of a savory person! I bring salami on almost every ride. Coconut water post ride.
Is there a trail you haven’t ridden yet that is on your ride bucket list for the valley?
Never ridden Deer Creek, I really want to.
What’s your best advice for folks that are new to the valley and are looking into getting into mountain biking?
Two things. One, find a friend. Mountain biking may be an individual sport but it is also a social sport. #2 Be forgiving with yourself. I moved from Tucson where I thought we had gnarly terrain and between Gunnison Valley’s elevation and variety of terrain I was humbled. Remember to forgive yourself when things are hard.
Advice for riders after experiencing a super “off” day?
Feel free to get off your bike and go for a hike! Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that one of the reasons we live here is the opportunity for a plethora of outdoor pursuits, this valley has so much public lands to play on.
You’re also an advocate of Fat Biking. What is it about Fat Biking that you love?
Again, being from Tucson, I do not have the history of “summer is for mountain biking, winter is for skiing”. I’m not a skier… yet. So, for me Fat Biking was the first and easiest way for me to keep active and keep enjoying the outdoors in the winter. And second, it is such a cool, unique feeling. It is very challenging but very different. Fat Biking is surprisingly a whole body workout. The feeling of cultivating heat inside your body when it’s negative 15 outside is a very cool thing.
Unicorns…. We know you love them. What do they represent to you as a female mountain biker?
I think that one thing that is so cool about them is how they are multidimensional and multifaceted, they are magical, elusive, and one rarely has the opportunity to get a glimpse of them. If you do catch a glimpse it will change you forever. There is a lighthearted reverence about them, for allowing the magic to appear wherever and whenever.
You coached the Gunnison High School mountain biking team last year and are at it again for this school season, do you have any advice for teens who are interested in breaking into the world of mountain biking?
Approach it with an understanding that there are so many different ways to have fun on a mountain bike. There are social rides, rides to be excited about because yummy snacks will be had along the way, knowing you can choose a long ride or a short ride. Basically, do whatever is fun for you first then try the next challenging thing in order to up your game and push yourself. You don’t have to want to race in order to have fun riding your bike.
What’s your favorite Gunnison Valley bike event?
Fat Bike Worlds. It is so unique and I love that it is in our valley.
How many miles of single-track do you think you can knock out on Trailquest this season?
None! I actually just found out about the app. I’ll be using it next season or sure.
You have been accepted as one of the “incubator” businesses for Gunnison’s Ice Accelerator Program. Tell us a little about The Kitchen Project.
The Kitchen Project is the way I want to contribute to my community and I have noticed a lot of small businesses including my own (Pedals & Pastries) that are looking for places to incubate their own business, to develop & create products for the market. The Kitchen Project will provide a commissary kitchen space for these business, where they can grow and develop their culinary product and provide nutrition education in the valley. My goal is to help educate people on the importance of supporting local gardeners and farmers.