It's the end of August, a month where we saw records for both heat and dryness, and all I can seem to think about is the upcoming ski season. Hey, this is Adam Fehr, Powderhound Matt's partner in crime. If you haven't noticed, the nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, season passes are selling out, and this year’s ski movie trailers are dropping daily.
In other words, winter is coming! But now is the time to start checking off boxes on your summer bucket list.
While a lot of people in Utah have already shifted gears and started #WaitingForWinter. I've found the best way to shorten the last 100 days until ski season is to stay as busy as possible with activities that will help prepare you in some capacity for upcoming ski season: hiking, trail running, rock climbing, cliff jumping, water skiing, or even that silly thing that looks like cross country skiing on pavement.
But don’t sleep on my newly rediscovered passion: mountain biking!!!
There are a lot of similarities between skiing/boarding and mountain biking, and not just because it’s on a mountain and requires lots of money and free-time. Lift-served biking is obviously very similar to lapping groomers on boards and skis. Cross country riding is comparable to alpine touring and split-boarding. Bike parks and terrain parks? Pump tracks and moguls?
After milking every last ride out of my 10-year-old mountain bike, I finally saved up enough cash* (I mean. . .maxed out one credit card) to buy a new bike. I went with a do-everything, Santa Cruz Bronson From Backcountry.com. It wasn't cheap, but as Zach, my Backcountry.com Expert Gearhead says: "It's the bike built for Park City." How could I say "no" to that?
After picking up my new bike from the Backcountry.com warehouse, I took it straight to Deer Valley Resort for an inaugural test drive on Tidal Wave, the year-old, game-changing flow trail designed and built by Gravity Logic.
While I attempt to bike a good amount in the off-season, it’s mostly a sport I do to get/stay in shape. As seriously as I pretend to take myself on skis, I will be the first to admit I’m a total “Beater” on a mountain bike. I usually ride alone, not wanting to hold someone else up due to a lack of physical fitness, inexperience, dilapidated equipment, or, my go-to excuse. . .all-of-the-above.
While I usually manage to ride 50 days per off-season, I haven't spent a lot of time riding lift-served trails.
It only took few banked turns and tabletops on "The Wave" to realize I'd been missing out.
Tidal Wave is an absolute blast. Any anxiety or nervousness I had about downhill biking was gone halfway through my first lap. I went from cautiously negotiating the banked corners to pedaling through them. I went from rolling over the tabletops to trying to clear every one. And while there were a lot of people that were riding faster and getting a lot more air, I never felt out of place or that I was in over my head, even amongst the double-overhead berms on The Wave.
If you’re brand new to biking or took a look at my video and still felt anxious, then check out Deer Valley's newest edition to the flow trail family, Holy Roller. Opened in July of 2016, the mellow rollers and banked turns of this “green” flow trail are a perfect introduction to lift-served biking. Just as long as you don’t get distracted by the postcard vistas on the way down.
I spent one half-day riding the lifts at Deer Valley and I was hooked. I went back the following night to check out the SCOTT Twilight Ride Series. A new program that keeps the lifts spinning from 4-7pm on select Tuesday nights this summer. Lift tickets were $17, demo bikes were available for $39, and the stoke level was through the roof. For someone new to the biking scene, this was a hell of an introduction. I’ve been back every Tuesday night since.
Time is running out to join in on the fun. The last SCOTT Twilight Tuesday is August 23rd. So make plans to leave work a little early, grab your bike, your gear, maybe a couple of beers, and check out this scene. Maybe with enough demand, we can convince Deer Valley to make this series a full-time thing.
Since catching the mountain biking bug (which I hear is only slightly less contagious than Swine Flu or the Zika Virus), I’ve been riding almost every day in order to keep myself busy as the winter approaches. It even allowed me an excuse to practice taking photos and editing GoPro footage for the upcoming ski season.
In the past few weeks I've caught up on a bunch of the biking I’ve been missing out on. I rode the Wasatch Crest Trail, Tidal Wave and most of the Deer Valley lift-served trails, Pinecone, Shadow Lake, Mojave and CMG at Park City Mountain Resort, the Avenues to Parley’s Summit, and Little Emigration Canyon.
I plan on riding Road to Arcylon, Flying Dog, Bob’s Basin, and Armstrong this week. I might even try to learn some air awareness at Trailside bike park.
There are a ton of options for mounting biking. Find the style that suits you and just go for it.
If you’re looking to ride some cross country trails while training for a winter of touring and split boarding, check out Park City’s 450+ mile trail system. Recently awarded the first IMBA Gold Level Ride Center distinction, the ride options are practically endless. Some enduro and cross-country highlights include Mid-Mountain, Flying Dog, Armstrong, Round Valley, Glenwild, and The Crest.
In the Wasatch, lift served mountain biking is offered at Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain (Town Lift, Payday, Silver Star, and Canyons base areas), Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort and Sundance Mountain Resort. Trails vary from “green” cross-country rides, to “blue” flow trails and singletrack, to “black” experts-only trails with man-made features, mandatory gaps, drops, step-ups, step-downs, rock gardens, and a bunch of other ways to end your ski season before it even starts.
There are also some great shuttle rides that offer a blend of cross country and freeride. Check out the renowned Crest Trail, Pinecone, Little Emigration Canyon, Deer Crest, amongst others. All available via car shuttles, shuttle vans, or even the Park City public transit.