Absolute Bikes Adventures Guide Staff

Shawn Gillis, Owner and Head Guide

Shawn founded Absolute Bikes in Salida in 1999 after falling in love and moving here from Flagstaff, Arizona.  He found a valley of empty perfect trails and set about creating one of the best bike shops in Colorado.

Don’t let his quiet nature fool you, this man lives for cycling.  Shawn has completed the Ironman in Kona, ridden the Leadville 100 ten times and owns one of the big buckles, created and suffered through the infamous Vapor Trail 125 and finished the Ruta de Conquistadores in Costa Rica twice.  He has his eyes on the TransAndes race next, partnering with hard man Jim Gibson.

More importantly, Shawn has gone out of his way to support nearly every cycling endeavor in Salida.  This includes children’s program, cycling programs with the county, trail clean up events, the fabulous Salida Mountain Trails, local pump tracks for kids and much more.  He is obsessed with cycling.

As an ABA guide, Shawn’s number one concern is to create the best possible riding experience for his guests.

 

 

 

Earl Walker, Southern Gentleman & Go-To GuyEarl Walker, guide, Absolute Bike Adventures

Veteran bike racer and closet aspiring writer Earl Walker moved from Leadville to Salida to thaw out, ride more and ski less.

After 29 years of racing, the two-time Georgia State Mountain Bike Champ’s current motto is “just ride and have fun.” Among some of Earl’s most notable results are 14th and 21st place World Cup finishes and a 46th place in World Championships.

Since moving here in May of 2011 and joining the staff of Absolute Bikes Adventures, Earl-Bob (you know, it’s a Southern thing) has earned MVP for being the go-to guy.

 

 

Kimberly Kerschke

Claim to fame: Kimberly has ridden her bike all over the west and in obscure places around the world. If you’re looking for a ride suggestion in a new place this is the girl to ask.

Favorite place to ride: High country singletrack

What you do when you’re not riding: Dream up new adventures, trail run, ski, cook, read, spend quality time with people I love.

 

 

James Haarmeyer

Claim to fame: I’m not cool enough to be famous.

Favorite place to ride: Good scenery, good dirt, good people – wherever these things come together.

What you do when you’re not riding:  Spend time with my wife and daughter, work in the yard, read

 

 

 

Mike Sugaski

Claim to fame: survived 35 years working for the government in natural resource management of which 17 years were here on the Salida Ranger District managing all recreation related resources including Ski Monarch ski area permit, outfitter and guide permits, recreation events, 3 wilderness areas, developed and dispersed recreation. Mike served 12 years on the Rocky Mountain Type 1 National Incident Management Team with many assignments on the nation’s top priority fires, and Hurricanes’ Katrina, Rita, and Ivan.

Favorite place to ride: Seasonal trails in the Arkansas Valley, Moab, Sedona, Crested Butte

What you do when you’re not riding: Ski, hike, travel, explore, wildland firefighting, volunteer trail planning and development, Chaffee Co, Search and Rescue, and spend good times with family and friends.

 

 

 

 

Camden Gillis

Claim to fame: Camden is a two-time NICA High School mountain biking state champion and loves to ride/race mountain bikes anywhere he can.

Favorite place to ride: High mountain trails

What you do when you’re not riding: Run, play soccer, ski, surf, and spend time with friends.

 

 

 

 

Nick Griffin

Claim to fame: Nick’s favorite pastime while living in rural Africa for two years was riding his bike on the numerous foot paths that led from his house to remote villages all over the hilly countryside.

Favorite place to ride: Salida. I love it here!

What you do when you’re not riding: Learn something new from anyone who is patient enough to teach me.

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Darner

Claim to fame: Been riding, coaching, managing, promoting and living all things mountain bike since 1984. Love life on the bikes! Also have two fantastic JRT’s, Bronco and Louie.

Favorite place to ride: Anywhere with good friends, because it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey!
When you do when you’re not riding: I plan the next riding adventure, and work to pay for that adventure! Also, learning to SUP and Surf!

 

 

 

 

 

Taf McMurry

Claim to fame: Taf loves to move cows on her mt. bike, has a bionic knee, and has been riding mountain bikes for 30 years!

Favorite place to ride: Colorado High Country Singletrack

What you do when you’re not riding: Photography, ranching and family, art/photography teacher, home design, hanging with my 3 Cowboy Poodles (jack russells), coaching a high school mt. bike team, scheming up bike adventures with friends and make a point to do something outside everyday!

 

 

 

Haleigh Smith

Claim to fame: The summer of 2014 I set out to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail but after hiking 1,000 miles I had the revelation that walking was actually pretty boring. I still wanted to get to Canada though so my solution was finding an old $75 Specialized Crossroads bike off Craigslist that was two sizes too big, strapping my backpack down with bungee cords, and finishing the trip on two wheels instead. Also, I’m always designated margarita maker.

Favorite place to ride: bandit trails throughout Austin, TX, Greens Creek off the Monarch Crest… but really anywhere its sunny and I can just point ‘n shoot the bike!

What you do when you’re not riding: Trail run, think up the next adventure or trip and how to make it happen, lay in the sun just cause I can, practice my Spanish and dabble in new languages, Netflix, think about how I should read more instead of watch Netflix…

 

 

Jeff Neeley

Claim to Fame: Celebrating 37 years Mt. Biking!
Favorite place to ride: Moab, Utah…Captain Ahab/HyMasa, Navajo Rocks, Porcupine Rim, Klondike Bluffs
What you do when you’re not riding: Hike with my dogs, Luna and Kona. Plan our next destination (I live full time in an RV!)