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Mon, Oct. 14

Web Exclusive: Mountain biking more than a hobby

Kent Dudek loves mountain biking so much, he waits tables so he can bike five days a week.

This laid-back 30-year-old said mountain biking isn't just a hobby, it's a passion. The love began 10 years ago.

"My next door neighbor was Todd Wells, who's a professional bike rider," Dudek said.

Wells took him for a ride, and ever since, Dudek's been hooked.

"Honestly, the thing I love the most about mountain biking is I feel so free," he said. "It's really the only time I can escape everything. All you can do is think about what you're doing."

John Stryker, owner of Bikesmith in Prescott, said people ranging from 12 to 70 come into his shop. However, young adults tend to favor extreme mountain biking the most.

"Hardcore mountain biking, where you're doing more advanced trails, a lot of people are under the age 45 . . . so people in their 20s, 30s, some high school kids, and (people in their) early 40s do that type of stuff," he said.

Dudek admitted almost all his friends are bikers, primarily mountain bikers. To them, it's a way of life.

Tim Hull, manager of Ironclad Bicycles in Prescott, also said people in their 20s and 30s make up the heaviest demographic of mountain bikers that come into his shop.

He believes mountain biking is popular in Prescott because of the area's surroundings.

"The terrain Prescott has is pretty good terrain," he said. "The terrain here is considered some of the top terrain in the state."

In addition, Hull said bikers get a variety of trails around here, whether rocky soil, granite-based ground, or soft soil in the pines.

"We get people that come from all over (to bike here)," he said.

Stryker said the most popular recreational trails are the Peavine Trail and the Iron King Trail, both near the Granite Dells. A lot of people favor the variety of paths at Pioneer Park as well.

For the more advanced riders, Stryker said bikers tend to head toward Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte, and the Bradshaws, which includes Spruce Mountain. The Homestead Trail behind Cosco and the Groom Creek Loop Trail are other popular ones.

"My favorites are Spruce Mountain and anything up in the Thumb Butte area," Dudek said.

He likes Spruce Mountain because of the higher elevation, and Thumb Butte for its variety. "Thumb Butte is one of those places with probably 250 different options up there to ride," he said.

With Dudek, mountain biking goes beyond recreation.

"It's passion and it's life," he said.

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