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  1. #1
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    First time at North Star

    Any tips?

  2. #2
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    Just got back from N* for the 1st time - so much fun! - here are my tips:

    Run tubeless with some strong tires

    Even though it is early in the season, it is bone dry and very loose (except Livewire, which has irrigation) - get thick, high volume, nobby tires that can be run at low psi & perform well in in super loose conditions

    Bring the burliest bike you can - I was riding a Mojo HD w/ 160 air shocks front & rear and I think I had 1 of the lightest builds on the mountain - I counted on 1 hand the # of non-coil shock setups (including my own)

    Don't bring a 29er

    Chain guide is nice to have

    Bring pads and a full face

    Get ready to spend a lot of time in the air!

    Get ready to have fun!

  3. #3
    Old,slow,still havin fun.
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    Hard to say without knowing what background you're coming from but...

    Pace yourself. N* isn't going anywhere, no need to mangle yourself until you have ridden all the trails you want to ride at least once.

    Stay to the right and let riders pass on Livewire (everything, really). But Livewire seems like the only trail that gets crowded.

    I enjoy N* and catch INCHES of air. But if you hate rocks you will either get over that or hate them more after a day there.

    The distinction between the Blue trails and the single Black Diamond trails can seem arbitrary. But the Double Black Diamonds require confidence and commitment. Don't be the k00k I saw there last week wearing an 80s styrofoam commuter helmet walking your bike down Fabio Falls (Karpiel).

    Use sunscreen. Hydrate. Have fun.

  4. #4
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    So my 4" 29er single speed should stay in the garage at home? Looks like ill be renting a rig.

  5. #5
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    You can ride ANY bike at Northstar. It just depends on your skill and enthusiasm. I've ridden my single speed hardtail 29er there (Niner SIR9) and had a blast. I was getting massive air on Livewire, no problem. Later I had a 180mm travel freeride bike and that was more fun on the rockier trails and it definitely makes things easier. (But strangely enough, I liked the 29er better on Livewire because it was like jumping a big BMX bike while the freeride bike was such a pig and didn't have as much grace in the air). I have excellent bike riding skills, but a beginner friend of mine had a blast there on a Salsa El Mariachi. There are a lot of people riding Northstar that have no skill at all and they rely on the bike to cover that up.

    The only thing I did differently when I rode the single speed 29er at Northstar compared to my usual XC rides was that I lowered the saddle and put on a full face helmet, knee and elbow guards.

    So don't listen to all the naysayers and scaremongers. Just ride at your own pace and skill level and have fun.

  6. #6
    J-Flo
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    Thanks Thor29, this is good to hear. I was a bit concerned about the "Don't bring a 29er" comment above as I ride a 29er hardtail everywhere at this point. I assume they rent full-face helmets at N*. Hoping to get up there and give it a whirl this summer, regardless whether I finally make the full-suspension bike plunge.

  7. #7
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    The 29er tip was kind of meant to be tongue in cheek and of course you could have fun there on any bike - definitely wasn't trying to be a scaremonger - and I like riding 29ers - but I would say that, at least most of the trails I rode, were definitely more suited for DH bikes. I spent the entire day hitting big drops and jumps, and going down very steep technical stuff with lots of chunk. I had to keep adding air to my 6 inch travel shock b/c I was bottoming out.

    I rode with a group that had been there before so I followed them - we only rode black diamond runs - according to them, those were the best runs and the blues were not worth the time, so this may be why I wouldn't have brought a 29er. I also saw a total of 0 29ers out there. There are probably other ways to ride the park that make it good for a shorter travel bike, but I didn't really ride those runs.

    They do rent FF helmets and DH / Freeride bikes, but the rates were pretty $$$ - I guess they figure they are going to get pretty abused.

  8. #8
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    I rode there Friday and saw a guy with a HT 29r leaving pissed off and grumbling about his bike. They wet down Livewire at around 1:00 and it really changes the trail so buying a half day pass makes some sense. Bend your knees. Keep your butt off the seat. Rent a big bike because the braking bumps even on the smoothest trails are deep.

  9. #9
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    N* is fun. Lots of great tips for you so far, but I think the most important one I could give is to make sure you drink while you are there. You will be surprised at how much you work while having so much fun! You will sweat, your legs will shake, your forearms will hurt, you will hurt good. Keep yourself hydrated!

    Otherwise I would say wear a minimum of a full face, and knee's. If you feel the need for elbow's wear them as well. Don't sweat what everyone else is riding, there are plenty of fun trails for all types of bikes. I brought my Blur LTC there for a weekend and it was fun, it wasn't DH bike fun but it was super technical and really made me work. That was a different type of riding and it was a great time, got some super air and at the end of the weekend I was exhausted.

    A big bike lets you make all kinds of mistakes and ride them out, which is always nice too. Either way have a blast!

  10. #10
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    You can ride any bike at Northstar, You'll see people on hardtails to full DH bikes, but DH bikes are the norm. The deep ruts, braking bumps and drops will probably leave you feeling pretty beat at the end of the day on a short travel bike. Another thing to consider is if you built your bike up nice and light with expensive components you might want to rent as to not trash you bike. If you ride hard all day on the 4" light build bike you'll put a years worth of wear and tear on your bike in 1 day at northstar. It might be cheaper to rent in that sense.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuenstock View Post
    You can ride any bike at Northstar, You'll see people on hardtails to full DH bikes, but DH bikes are the norm. The deep ruts, braking bumps and drops will probably leave you feeling pretty beat at the end of the day on a short travel bike. Another thing to consider is if you built your bike up nice and light with expensive components you might want to rent as to not trash you bike. If you ride hard all day on the 4" light build bike you'll put a years worth of wear and tear on your bike in 1 day at northstar. It might be cheaper to rent in that sense.
    This. While you CAN ride any bike at Northstar, it's much more fun to use a DH bike. Northstar is hard on any bike, and it's not fun to have to replace parts on an AM bike that cost just as much as DH rental (personal experience).

    Also, you'll find you can last longer running a bigger bike than an XC/AM bike. Your call either way.

    No matter what: wear a full face and as much padding as you can tolerate.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by monty797 View Post
    I brought my Blur LTC there for a weekend and it was fun, it wasn't DH bike fun but it was super technical and really made me work. That was a different type of riding and it was a great time, got some super air and at the end of the weekend I was exhausted.
    There was a post by a guy on a BLT2 winning the northstar DH race in expert class. There was also me a few years back on livewire on a coil front and back BLT2 getting pass by kids on a DH bike while I ate every single braking bump and getting sore after five runs on livewire.

    Anybike is fine, but a bike can be ok on a trail, and another bike can be great. If you are Brian Lopes, you can probably outride most people on DH bike with a cheap bike, but I sure wished I rented a DH bike that day.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loll View Post
    There was a post by a guy on a BLT2 winning the northstar DH race in expert class. There was also me a few years back on livewire on a coil front and back BLT2 getting pass by kids on a DH bike while I ate every single braking bump and getting sore after five runs on livewire.

    Anybike is fine, but a bike can be ok on a trail, and another bike can be great. If you are Brian Lopes, you can probably outride most people on DH bike with a cheap bike, but I sure wished I rented a DH bike that day.

    Oh I agree 100%. A full on DH will be better, will be more fun and overall you'll be less beat up at the end of the day. I wouldn't want to ride the Blur LTC there for every ride by any stretch, but as a fun diversion it's fine. There is also something to be said about the extreme confidence that a DH bike gives you!

  14. #14
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    If you're going to ride a HT 29er, there are MUCH better trails in the area that you will have WAY more fun on than N*.

  15. #15
    pvd
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    There's a word for folks on single crown folks at Northstar - Slow.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvd View Post
    There's a word for folks on single crown folks at Northstar - Slow.
    Leave your stopwatch at home, its about fun.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvd View Post
    There's a word for folks on single crown folks at Northstar - Slow.
    Speak for yourself..... I've ridden with people on single crown bikes that could shred 99% of the riders out there- (then again... they were expert/ pro racers)

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pvd View Post
    There's a word for folks on single crown folks at Northstar - Slow.
    That's a load of baloney, Peter. I could outride 90% of the folks at Northstar when I was on my Bullit with a 180mm single crown fork. I wouldn't be surprised if I was going faster on my single speed 29er than half the people there. To paraphrase Lance Armstrong: it ain't the bike, it's the rider. (Or is it the drugs?)

  19. #19
    ask
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    I'm going to be in Tahoe... I was thinking about heading up to N* for a day to ride for a few hours... is that worth it? How long is enough time @ N* during the week? I'm guessing it is less crowded on a Tuesday so maybe I can squeeze more runs in, in an afternoon / half day session. I'd ride all day, but I'll have the family with me... so I don't want to abandon them all day.

    Next question... Planning on taking a Bronson to Tahoe. Make more sense to rent something bigger for N*? I do a ton of UC and Demo riding... not a ton of huge drops though.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by aevanlloyd View Post
    Any tips?
    First off, you need to start calling it N*
    Nice KOM, sorry about your penis.

  21. #21
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    Sure, you could ride any kind of bike there, but SHOULD you is the question. (I could do a 100 mile road race in my trail bike, but wpuld it be fun?) N* beats the sht out of bikes. It's rocky, dusty, full of super deep braking bumps, etc. Breaking expensive / lightweight parts on your xc bike really sucks. I say rent a bike and thrash it.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ask View Post
    I'm going to be in Tahoe... I was thinking about heading up to N* for a day to ride for a few hours... is that worth it?
    Meh...lift ticket is $48 (or $34 for afternoon). Unless you really need serious DH (and don't know where the shuttle goodz are...), there's so much other great stuff to ride at Tahoe it's hardly worth it. And I say that as someone who's ridden the park a bunch over the years.

    Quote Originally Posted by ask View Post
    Next question... Planning on taking a Bronson to Tahoe. Make more sense to rent something bigger for N*?
    You don't necessarily need something bigger -- but I wouldn't beat up my bronson there....

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ask View Post
    How long is enough time @ N* during the week? I'm guessing it is less crowded on a Tuesday so maybe I can squeeze more runs in, in an afternoon / half day session. I'd ride all day, but I'll have the family with me... so I don't want to abandon them all day.

    Next question... Planning on taking a Bronson to Tahoe. Make more sense to rent something bigger for N*? I do a ton of UC and Demo riding... not a ton of huge drops though.
    On a Tuesday it will feel like you have the whole place to yourself! Even on a Saturday you'll have no problem riding all you want. Live wire(the big jump trail) is really the only trail where you might have a few riders waiting their turn. If its your first time, only going to ride half day and have fairly beefy tires and rims I would just ride the Bronson. You can kind of scope out the trails and if you decide to come back latter for a whole day you can rent a DH bike. Just be aware that the place is very rough on bikes and your body on shorter travel bikes. I wouldn't want to spend a whole day there on anything less than 180mm.
    I've never ridden UC, but have ridden Demo several times. If you can do the 2 log drops on braille you can do 80% of the drops at N*. Everything also has a ride around if your not comfortable with it. Its a good idea to walk the drops and jumps that have blind landings the first time since some of them will be gaps and others will have easy long landings you can roll. Pretty much every trail, even the green/blues will be rougher than braille. The braking bumps, ruts, loose dirt and rocks are brutal!

  24. #24
    I just wanna go fast...
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    Quote Originally Posted by monty797 View Post
    N* is fun. Lots of great tips for you so far, but I think the most important one I could give is to make sure you drink while you are there!
    what this guy said.

    The pizza place next to the roller rink does pitchers of beer.

  25. #25
    I just wanna go fast...
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    Quote Originally Posted by ask View Post
    Next question... Planning on taking a Bronson to Tahoe. Make more sense to rent something bigger for N*? I do a ton of UC and Demo riding... not a ton of huge drops though.
    Between the baseball sized rocks getting flung into your down tube, the horrific beating your derailleur takes and the fact that flatting there is no fun, I'd say get your hands on a long travel bike. I've ridden both my 951 there and my Tracer 2 and I definitely have more fun on my DH bike.

    On the other hand- the rental fleet on the mountain is usually beat, if something breaks on your rental bike even if it's not your fault you'll get charged full price for it and you'll be riding a bike you're not too familiar with.

    I ride pretty aggressively so take this with a grain of salt, but last time I had a short travel bike there I managed to get four flats in one day, two of which were at the same time. The hike down the mountain is miserable.

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