As a passionate skier, I love exploring new activities to enjoy at the ski resort during the ‘off’ season
Downhill Mountain Biking has intrigued me for a few years, I mean, who wouldn’t love going up the hill on a chair lift? But the Downhill terrain was quite intimidating, fueled by my active imagination of careening down a mountain, out of control, with various obstacles to challenge my timid skills. Heck, have you seen the photos epic has posted from the DH courses?
(note: this first photo is NOT me!)
Photo Cred: epic
When the opportunity arose for me to take a Down Hill Mountain Bike 101 course, at Northstar, a mountain I’m familiar with, I seized the opportunity to lay down the fears and learn from a pro. Because this was such a great experience for me, I thought I’d share the day in detail and let the timid riders know that it’s achievable and enjoyable.
To begin with, let me say that Northstar has a great set up, and reasonable rates for someone to get their first taste of this type of riding @ $80.00/2 hrs which includes helmet, shin guards, full finger gloves, body armor jacket/kidney belt, and bike.
When I arrived and told them that I’d reserved a spot in their DH 101 course, they immediately started sizing me, and suiting me up for the day. I don’t have to tell you, I’d never suited up like this before and I was feeling pretty bad ass.
After making my way to mid mountain, I was fitted with a small Giant Faith with a 1X9 gear set up. I double dog dare anyone to call me a Giant Chick!
Things I noticed right away were - shorter crank and lower saddle
After meeting the coach for our group of 7, Kirsten Martin DeCampo, we worked on some basic stuff, like body position, braking and pedal position before heading to the chair lift.
The first obstacle we worked on was rolling over a rock. Key things to think about are not coming in too fast or too slow so you don’t need to brake or pedal on approach. Up and over, easy peasy!
Next up steering without steering…
We spent some time on a fire road learning to steer the bike by leaning, or tilting, the front wheel while keeping the body upright. This is not necessarily a new technique for me, but this is the first time I’ve really thought about it, and definitely the first time I felt the stability of this kind of steering. This makes it easier to maneuver switchbacks and banking.
We spent the rest of the lesson time working on these skills and maintaining balance and graduated to some slightly more advanced trails.
Before I knew it, the lesson was over, and I was feeling more confident.
In the afternoon, I took my own Trek Fuel 8 out on the mountain and couldn’t believe how nimble and playful it felt. I took a few more runs and finished out my day with a smile.
For those who have thought about DH Mountain biking but haven’t tried it, do it!
You’ll be happy you did and want to come back for more.
If you live in the Tahoe area and are thinking about Northstars program. DO IT!
They have a great staff of fitters and instructors to help you out. Ask for Kristen and tell her I sent you!
If you are an experienced DH Rider and are looking for a great place to ride, Northstar has some great terrain for you.
Heck, they had a national competition the weekend after I did this DH 101 course.
They are still open and will be long after Labor Day Weekend.
Thank you Kristen for helping me find my mojo!
Edited by Trekchick - 8/25/12 at 6:49am