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  1. #1
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    First Bike Park/Downhill Experience - whoa!

    This past weekend I participated in an annual get-together at Kingdom Trails amongst a group of us that belong to the Ridemonkey forum in the NE. The first time I went to Monkeyfest, I did not go with the group that visited the local Burke Mountain Ski Resort/Bike Park. As a newer rider with a hardtail, it wasn't even on my radar. A few years later, with more experience and my Trance X 29er, I was ready to taste the Kool-Aid.

    Saturday could not have been a more beautiful day. The sun was out and temps promised to be in the upper 70s - a nice reprieve from the oppressive heat we'd experienced this past month. I was pleasantly surprised that the day-long lift ticket was only $20. Coupled with being able to ride my own bike, rather than have to rent one, made it totally worth it to me to give it a try. Plus, I had heard so many good things about the trails from my friends.

    I'll admit, peering down at the trail we would be riding (Jester), was a bit intimidating as I watched people race by, railing the berms and hopping the tabletops. I've never ridden berms like that and tabletops? Not in my repertoire. So, I was a bit nervous when we gathered at the top and went over a few things. Being new, everyone was great with helpful advice and offering to lead so I could watch their lines. Initially I found it awkward to drop my seat all the way down, but I quickly found that half-way was not going to cut it once I rolled over my first couple tables. I know I was pretty stiff my first run down and pretty hesitant on the berms. There are two lines you can take on that trail - a berm line and a tabletop line, and as I don't jump, I figured the berm line would be a safer bet. I understand the whole concept of spotting your entrance and exit, and foot placement. But, actually putting that together while you're heading down the mountain for the first time was a lot more to ask of me than I was ready to give at that time. I honestly felt it was all I could do at some points to keep my wheel facing down the trail

    By the time I arrived at the bottom with the rest of my group, my knees/legs were shaking so bad, I felt I could collapse at any point. BUT, I also had a grin that you couldn't possibly wipe off. We got back into line (that was another surprise - the line was extremely short and the wait was minimal) and I rode between a couple of my friends, getting a lot of helpful pointers along the way. The berms felt a little better that time around, but I knew it was going to take a while to gain some confidence. By the third time down, I started to "get" the berms and didn't slow as much before and learned to really look ahead at my exit. What a huge difference that made! Our last run down was definitely the best. My friend who was riding behind me commented she could not keep up and I looked a lot smoother. All I know is that it was a ton of fun, and I can't wait to experience it again! I definitely gained more confidence on the berms and with carrying speed downhill. I am not sure how much I would like really technical downhill riding...but that kind of flow trail was an absolute blast. I highly recommend Burke Mountain to any beginner interested in giving downhill riding a try.

  2. #2
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    Nice! Jester is a ton of fun, both lines take a lot of practice, but have a lot of rewards. Burke is building a new, even more beginner-friendly 'flow-trail' starting this week, with a crew from IMBA, thanks to winning the Bell grant earlier this year.

    The Enchanted Forest and Black Forest are good introductions to slightly more technical, 'natural-terrain' downhill at Burke...They aren't so steep and technical that they are dangerous for the unskilled, but will certainly challenge an intermediate rider. No airs or drops to speak of.

    Knight-Slayer requires big skills and bravery, however.

    Glad you had fun and keep on keepin' on!

  3. #3
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    What a great post petey! thanks for sharing your spirited adventure and experience at the bike park!
    I'm a dh enthusiast and can't get enough of that adrenalin rush.
    F*ck Cancer

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  4. #4
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    Great going! I'm tempted now!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclelicious View Post
    What a great post petey! thanks for sharing your spirited adventure and experience at the bike park!
    I'm a dh enthusiast and can't get enough of that adrenalin rush.
    Thanks! This has been something I was curious to try, but wasn't sure how much I could (or wanted) to handle. You know how it is when you want to try something that has interested you for a while, but are afraid it might not meet your expectations, or be more than you can handle? And this is something I really wanted to like and provide me with a challenge and help me get over some of my fears and areas I've been stuck on. For me, it was a personal challenge and I'm so glad I did it! It exceeded my expectations and I was honestly surprised how I started to become more comfortable with the speed. I left feeling so good about myself and accomplishments. What more could you ask? Oh, for more downhilling!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    Great going! I'm tempted now!
    You should! How far are you from East Burke? I really liked how they had trails for all skill levels. For me, Jester was just the right amount of challenge without terrifying me. It didn't hurt to watch kids on hardtails go down it, too. I like that you can choose how fast/slow you want to go and there are plenty of places to get off the trail if you feel you're being crowded by more experienced riders. But honestly, everyone I encountered was really courteous and friendly. My interest has definitely been piqued!

  7. #7
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    Well, I have definitely been bitten! My friend and I are signing up for a woman's freeride clinic at Highland in early October. We decided to just do the Saturday clinics so that we could ride Vietnam on Sunday. Biggest thing I want to learn how to do are drops. I encountered some pretty big step-downs at KT and so wished I knew how to drop them properly without rolling. And if I could learn to jump and do tabletops, that would be icing on the cake. The biggest thing for me is conquering the fear factor. Amazing how much more you think about injuring yourself when you're over 40

  8. #8
    i moto too
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    you brought a tear to my eye - (1) because of your enthusiasm and it sounded like you had such fun, and (2) because I havenít been on my dh bike for such a long time. the dh trials were closed when I was at kingdom (I really enjoyed the other trials though) so I canít compare them, but I have a feeling youíll really enjoy highland too. you can really tell when you ride trails that were built by people with a real passion (I think both places fall into that category).

    and i hear ya about the over 40

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    Petey.. awesome post. I just can't give you enough rep points for this
    The whole experience has made me feel like a kid again It's almost like learning how to ride a bike for the first time, and experiencing that freedom and the thrill of when you first went downhill.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by petey15 View Post
    You should! How far are you from East Burke?
    Less than 1.5 hours by car. I'm near Millstone. I usually get over to Kingdom Trails a few times for summer biking and a few times for winter biking, but on the Darling Hill side, not the lift.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadrider View Post

    and i hear ya about the over 40
    I forget, is 51 over 40?

  12. #12
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    I'm +47 and I took up dh only a couple years ago.

    O.C. Age Poll

    I wish I learned at a younger age... but that didn't stop me. For me, my biggest thrill is doing a very difficult technical section well or when both wheels leave the ground!

    Mitigate the risk: attend clinics, ride with peeps who are more skilled, wear protective gear, and ride !
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclelicious View Post
    I'm +47 and I took up dh only a couple years ago.

    O.C. Age Poll

    I wish I learned at a younger age... but that didn't stop me. For me, my biggest thrill is doing a very difficult technical section well or when both wheels leave the ground!

    Mitigate the risk: attend clinics, ride with peeps who are more skilled, wear protective gear, and ride !
    I couldn't agree with you more on this one!

    Yup, definitely doing all of the above. I'll be taking a freeride clinic in October and am looking forward to that. I ordered a full-face helmet a few months ago and am looking forward to putting that into use, finally. Hmmm, let me rephrase that...I'm looking forward to wearing it, not necessary needing it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    No, 39 is
    Congrats on "Polar Bear", Stripes! Pictures of you two riding the gnar, please

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    Thanks Petey . Not sure when I'll get to some gnar but I'll see if I can get some pictures of me riding it.

    It'll be interesting to see if I can make it to any gnar before my surgery but if I do I'll post pics. I take it you liked my test ride with Beatrix Kiddo?
    Oh noes, surgery? Bummer! Yes, I enjoyed your test ride with Beatrix Kiddo very much. Of course now I'm completely obsessed with finding a kind of do-it-all bike like that, too. I'm hoping the freeride clinic I plan on taking will help me decide exactly how much travel I will need and how gnarly I would like to go

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    I wasn't intending to actually love the mojo HD. Funny thing is I was expecting to really hate the bike. I've been so anti carbon since I had a trek y-22 but the HD is just so perfect. Couldn't figure that out in the parking lot. It took trail riding to really get the feel of it.
    Isn't it funny how we can have pre-conceived notions about bikes (or other things) without ever having trying them, only to be proven wrong when we give it a chance? I used to think riding a women's-specific bike would be the best, until I tried a couple out and felt terribly cramped. I've been afraid to even try carbon (although my reason is I'm afraid I'd destroy it). So cool the HD worked out for you - it's a beautiful bike!

  17. #17
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    FWIW I haven't destroyed my 2009 Mojo yet. At ~3,000 very hard miles and most of the parts replaced/getting replaced.... rest assured I've tried, lol.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  18. #18
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    Glad you had a great time, Petey! I am at Mammoth Mountain in CA...well, I will be on the trails again in the a.m. Mammoth is, to my knowledge, the largest bike park here in California; many trails, high *very high* elevations, and the entire area (mountain, town, valley below) is a giant volcano. Though I'm not new to bike parks, this is the first bike park with my Trance. I am stoked and loving it! The Trance X29er is no dh bike, but that's okay- I am more of an xc rider. I trust Giant's suspension far more than previous bikes I've owned. And tubeless? Awesome. This year I also invested in a good full-face helmet and lightweight, comfortable knee & arm guards. I have eaten dirt pretty badly here in the past, but today I found myself riding with more confidence than ever- presumably it's the bike, the armor, and simply riding a lot with friends. Also, Mammoth has made some wonderful improvements to their trails- concrete mat bermed turns, features, etc. Today I passed a couple of employees working on a particularly nasty switchback and thanked them profusely. Unfortunately this site just won't let me upload cell phone pics, or I would. I totally agree with you that bike parks are super fun.
    Bionically Modified

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    I just received an email notification about that, it sounds like so much fun! I highly recommend checking it out 'explorer, if you can.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyDi View Post
    Glad you had a great time, Petey! I am at Mammoth Mountain in CA...well, I will be on the trails again in the a.m. Mammoth is, to my knowledge, the largest bike park here in California; many trails, high *very high* elevations, and the entire area (mountain, town, valley below) is a giant volcano. Though I'm not new to bike parks, this is the first bike park with my Trance. I am stoked and loving it! The Trance X29er is no dh bike, but that's okay- I am more of an xc rider. I trust Giant's suspension far more than previous bikes I've owned. And tubeless? Awesome. This year I also invested in a good full-face helmet and lightweight, comfortable knee & arm guards. I have eaten dirt pretty badly here in the past, but today I found myself riding with more confidence than ever- presumably it's the bike, the armor, and simply riding a lot with friends. Also, Mammoth has made some wonderful improvements to their trails- concrete mat bermed turns, features, etc. Today I passed a couple of employees working on a particularly nasty switchback and thanked them profusely. Unfortunately this site just won't let me upload cell phone pics, or I would. I totally agree with you that bike parks are super fun.

    Yeah, I had a blast on my TX 29er there. Too funny, I also bought a full-face helmet a few months ago, although I didn't have it with me for the park. I need to break it in a bit, I think. I'm sure it's not too small, but I feel a bit claustrophobic in it and my face initially turns beet red when I put it on.

    Wish we could see pics . I thought I had some taken of me, but they haven't been posted yet.

    Anyway, sounds like you had an awesome time. I sure wish we had that kind of place a lot closer to me. Rumor was the new owners of our local ski resort were interested in the idea of putting in a bike park, but I'm not sure if that will happen.

  22. #22
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    Stripes - and anyone else in CA - have any of you been to Downieville or Northstar? Which one would be a better first experience for that kind of thing? I mostly ride in the Bay Area right now.

    thanks.

    edit: Does anyone have any specific Tahoe trail recommendations as well? Heading up there over Labor Day Weekend.

    I've never done true downhill (hence the original question), but I like rolling/flowy/technical trails. Oh, and I'm a terrible climber.
    Last edited by laine; 08-10-2013 at 11:53 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyDi View Post
    Glad you had a great time, Petey! I am at Mammoth Mountain in CA...well, I will be on the trails again in the a.m. Mammoth is, to my knowledge, the largest bike park here in California; many trails, high *very high* elevations, and the entire area (mountain, town, valley below) is a giant volcano. Though I'm not new to bike parks, this is the first bike park with my Trance. I am stoked and loving it! The Trance X29er is no dh bike, but that's okay- I am more of an xc rider. I trust Giant's suspension far more than previous bikes I've owned. And tubeless? Awesome. This year I also invested in a good full-face helmet and lightweight, comfortable knee & arm guards. I have eaten dirt pretty badly here in the past, but today I found myself riding with more confidence than ever- presumably it's the bike, the armor, and simply riding a lot with friends. Also, Mammoth has made some wonderful improvements to their trails- concrete mat bermed turns, features, etc. Today I passed a couple of employees working on a particularly nasty switchback and thanked them profusely. Unfortunately this site just won't let me upload cell phone pics, or I would. I totally agree with you that bike parks are super fun.
    Hey Di,
    I think that we were there at the same time. I made my first trip to Mammoth (or any pure DH park ever) last weekend. 2 full days of riding, what an experience! How did it go for you?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by petey15 View Post
    I just received an email notification about that, it sounds like so much fun! I highly recommend checking it out 'explorer, if you can.
    I did check it out. It was a great time, not just the lift-served, but just being able to ride with 25+ women. Little recap here: SheJumps The Norco Truax I rented (with help from a guy I know from the commuter subforum) was a lot of fun. Believe it or not, it's the first full suspension I've spent more than 60 seconds on!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    I did check it out. It was a great time, not just the lift-served, but just being able to ride with 25+ women. Little recap here: SheJumps The Norco Truax I rented (with help from a guy I know from the commuter subforum) was a lot of fun. Believe it or not, it's the first full suspension I've spent more than 60 seconds on!
    That's awesome! What size Truax did you rent? What was the standover like on it? Which trails did you ride? What did you wear for protective equipment? i had knee and elbow pads, and Just my xc helmet. did you get to ride Roly Grail? They are making all kinds of Improvements to that. I'm glad you got a chance to go. I'm planning on going to the women's freeride clinic at Highland in October. Should be a blast!

  26. #26
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    ^^ It was a small Truax, I'm 5'3" and it was fine for me - but I didn't spend lot of time "standing over" it My group stated with Roly Grail, which was a lot of fun and being smooth it was easier to practice skills on. Then we did Enchanted Forest, that was fun too. After doing those a couple times, we were going to move on to Jester, but it was closed (someone got hurt I think), so we did KnightSlayer, rolling the big tabletops - even so, they were a bit intimidating being so steep and big! Then we went on to Jester for the last 2 runs.

    I had bought a nice fullface on Chainlove last winter for $50 so I used that, along with G-form elbow pads and some old 6-6-1 knee/shinguards I had. The fullface felt funny at first, but once I got rolling it was fine.

    October is tempting, and someone also mentioned the Killington Freeride Fest, but I don't think that one is (solely) women-oriented.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    ^^ It was a small Truax, I'm 5'3" and it was fine for me - but I didn't spend lot of time "standing over" it My group stated with Roly Grail, which was a lot of fun and being smooth it was easier to practice skills on. Then we did Enchanted Forest, that was fun too. After doing those a couple times, we were going to move on to Jester, but it was closed (someone got hurt I think), so we did KnightSlayer, rolling the big tabletops - even so, they were a bit intimidating being so steep and big! Then we went on to Jester for the last 2 runs.

    I had bought a nice fullface on Chainlove last winter for $50 so I used that, along with G-form elbow pads and some old 6-6-1 knee/shinguards I had. The fullface felt funny at first, but once I got rolling it was fine.

    October is tempting, and someone also mentioned the Killington Freeride Fest, but I don't think that one is (solely) women-oriented.
    I highly recommend going to the woman's weekend @ Highland, Oct 5th and 6th. There are all types of skill clinics and its a blast. There is a ladies day at Killington in early Sept (I think?). Went last year and it was fun, also for all abilities.

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