As many of you who know me might already know, I love mountain biking. I love everything about it, the bikes (I really love the bikes. to a fault. I have accumulated too many. Anyone in the market to buy?), being outside in the mountains (or desert for that matter), the exercise, the thrill…ah yes, the thrill.
The trill is probably what drives me more than anything these days on my bike. Can you say mid-life crisis? Any technical or high-speed trail will provide the thrill, but there is nothing more thrilling than a real mountain bike park. A real mountain bike park is a ski resort that, in the summer, trades every other chair with bike trays allowing you and your bike to be whisked up the hill and rewarded with all descent and no climb (nothing against climbing…I love both cross country and downhill bike disciplines).
Utah has been a little behind in this arena compared to other states, but it is quickly catching up. Snowbird announced this summer that they have plans to build mountain bike trails from the top of Hidden Peak to the base and open them as early as next summer. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that these are going to be downhill specific trails and will be the first step in creating a bike park in Little Cottonwood Canyon. One can only wish, but honestly any new trail building is exciting, as the mountain bike options are presently pretty limited in Little Cottonwood Canyon. We do have one small, but mighty, lift served park in Northern Utah at Canyons Resort. I have to go to Park City in the summer to get my high altitude lift served downhill fix.
I’ve always been a bit surprised at how small and relatively undiscovered Downhill Mountain (DH) biking is compared to skiing. The same thing that drew me into skiing, attracted me to DH biking – the mountains, the challenge, the risk and the turning, yes turning. DH bike turns share many of the same characteristics as a ski turn or carve. I’ll save the technical aspect for another day, but trust me, if you love to carve ski turns, you will love to carve DH turns. There is technique involved; learning and mastering (although maybe you can never really master it) the technique is part of the fun. Yes, it’s dangerous (I always hear this as the main excuse not to get into it), or at least as dangerous as you want to make it, just like skiing. But, (have I said “like skiing” enough?) you can minimize the risks. Generally staying within your comfort zone and some days slowly extending that comfort zone you allows you to develop your skill set while minimizing risks. Bike parks are set up with the same trail designations as skiing; greens, blues, blacks and double blacks designate the degree of difficulty of the trail.
I could go on and on about the similarities of the skiing and downhill mountain biking. But find out for yourself! If you live near an area (or even if you don’t) that offers a lift served mountain bike park, give it a try. Rent a bike, buy a pass, get instruction from the bike school (yes, just like ski school) and give it a whirl. Just don’t tell me I didn’t tell you so. All the sudden your summers may go by a bit quicker and you might find yourself anxiously awaiting the first Bike Magazine issue in March just like you anxiously await the first Powder Magazine in August. In the meantime, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there may soon be lift served mountain biking in Little Cottonwood Canyon…..js
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