This is the first of three stories about Boulder athletes heading to the Winter Mountain Games (formerly known as the Teva Mountain Games) that we'll run this week. On Thursday, look for a story about telemark skier Kjell Ellefson, and on Friday, a profile of climber Sam Elias.
Get more info on the games at http://mountaingames.com.
Colin Cares started ski racing as a young kid growing up in Boulder. He tried out mountain biking for the first time when he was 15 at a Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures (SMBA) camp one summer and got hooked.
"I quickly figured out that I was much better at biking than I was at skiing," 25-year-old Cares said, laughing.
This weekend at the Winter Mountain Games in Vail, he'll get to try his hand at both. We caught up with Cares to talk bike racing in the snow, ski mountaineering and his love of fishing.
Tell us about yourself.
I live in Boulder. I graduated from Colorado College a year and a half ago with a degree in English. I'm a Boulder native, went to Fairview High.
Does anyone in your family race bikes or ski race?
Nobody. I'm sort of the weird one (laughing). Nobody does any of those kinds of sports.
What are you doing right now besides racing bikes?
Right now, that's all I'm doing. So hopefully we'll see how long I can prolong that.
What races are you competing in up at the Winter Mountain Games in Vail?
I plan on racing the 20K snow cross-country bike race on Friday, and also the ski mountaineering race on Saturday morning. And then if I still feel OK, I'll race the snow bike criterium (on Saturday).
So you're throwing a little skiing in between the two bike races?
This is my off-season hobby sport. The race goes all the way back to Blue Sky Basin; there's a bunch of climbs and a bunch of descents. I started doing it this year, really just for fun, just for off-season cross-training. It's really fun and it complements bike racing. It's very similar in the aerobic aspect, so I'm just doing it for fun, I don't know if I'll be competitive.
The on-snow bike crit sounds interesting. Have you ever raced on snow before?
One of the unique things about this race that I've never done is they're snow bike races, not mountain bike races. So we'll be riding these fat bikes ... which I've never ridden before. I'm trying to track one down to rent right now. It will be fun but also unpredictable because I don't know how they ride or if they require special skills and techniques. I'll just figure it out before the race.
Give us a quick recap of your season on the bike this year.
Last year, we have a national series that's called the U.S. Cups, and I was fourth overall in that. And that was enough to qualify for the world championships, which was my first year going as an elite.
I am pleased with it. You're never completely satisfied. There's always room to move up and always disappointing races, but in general I think it was good and I hope to improve upon it this year. I'm going to race a little bit more internationally this year and do world cups, so I can expect to basically get my butt kicked.
You're also a bit of a fisherman, too, right?
My dad's a fisherman so I've been fishing with him for as long as I can remember. In the summer I get out once a week probably. If we have a race somewhere where there's fishing like Missoula, Mont., or Sun Valley, Idaho, I take my rod and try to fit in some fishing. I justify it by saying that wading in a cold river is like an ice bath, which a lot of cyclists do for recovery.
What do you listen to before racing to get pumped up?
I listen to just popular hip-hop before races. That isn't something I'm necessarily proud of but ...
Give us an example of a song or two.
(Laughing) Just your average top-40 play.
What will you do with yourself if bike racing doesn't work out for you?
That's a great question. That's what my parents are wondering. I really don't know. I might go back to school at some point. I'm just trying to make racing work for now, and I'll figure it out as I go.
And your parents are OK with that?
They're super supportive and it's really the main reason why I'm able to do it.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.