My first day in Utah unfortunately was a wash out, the trails around Park City are clay so to protect the trails no one rides in the rain. I was quite happy to chill considering the 7 hour time difference from the UK.
Our guides for the week would be White Pine Touring, based in Park City. They do mountain biking, hiking and climbing in the summer and cat-ski and guiding in the winter. White Pine Touring has been leading Park City’s mountain bike scene since opening in 1972.
During our trip we would be staying in the beautiful Stein Eriksen Residences in Deer Valley. Named after the
Norwegian skier and Olympic gold medalist Stein Eriksen. He went onto become ski-school director and ambassador for many ski areas across the United States. The residences sit overlooking the valley below, this five star luxury ski in – ski out hotel, with awesome access to hiking and biking in Deer Valley and Park City.
I was keen to get riding and take it all in. For the duration of the trip I would be riding a Santa Cruz 5010. This stunning all mountain bike was super light carbon construction, came with 130mm Fox Rhythm fork and SRAM NX 1×11 drive train on a 27.5 wheel.
Saturday mountain biking begins at High Star
After a great nights sleep only waking from 3 to 4am and then again at 7, we had breakfast bagels at White Pine before heading out on the 30 minute drive to High Star Ranch. These trails were built by Derek Thomson of Sagebrush Trails.
We started our climb up the trail on singletrack switch backs with a few rocks scattered here and there. It was a leisurely climb and not too steep at the top. We started the sweeping descent down, very much like the up, this trail was a mixture of sweeping bermed corners, rock gardens and natural features. I loved the pace of the trail it felt more natural than a flow trail with obstacles to work your way round and interesting features to look out for, it kept me on my toes all the way to the end and left me wanting more.
Lunch was fantastic at the ranch, there is a restaurant serving delicious food and drinks and a balcony to chill out on and discuss your next ride. Perfect for hungry bikers and hikers!
From this trail centre there is 16 miles of singletrack at an altitude of 6400 feet and a top elevation of 8000 feet.
Next stop Park City…
We spent the afternoon at Park City using the main town lift to get our bikes to the top. After signing our waivers and getting our lift passes we headed to the lift station with our bikes.
Top Tip – Put on an extra layer for the lift ride it’s exposed and chilly!
The bikes were easily placed in a bike rack gondola before we sat on the chair lift behind them to make the journey to the top.
The blue flow trail from the top snaked its way through Aspen forests with their silver trunks and green leaves juxtaposed against the old mining buildings, it was a stark contrast between the lands hardship and past and new enjoyment and leisure pursuits.
Top Tip – These trails are multi directional which is worth bearing in mind when you’re riding them, up always has right of way.
At points in the trail we stopped to look around and learn about the history of the area it was incredible to think that so many people had lived and lost their lives right under where we were now biking.
The trail was really well made and just like beginner trails in the UK it would be perfect for young riders and beginner cyclists as their first taste of singletrack flow trails.
That night we were in for a treat! With an invite to the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour, where five of America’s greatest chef’s, including Seth Adams owner of Riverhorse, demonstrated their cooking prowess, serving up stunning courses full of flavour and fun. Each course was a celebration of local produce and was accompanied by local wine from Parallel Wines.
In 1995, the Riverhorse became Utah’s first restaurant to receive the prestigious DiRōNA Award, dedicated to “excellence in dining,” and it has received the honour every year since.
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honours America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful, and delicious food.
Deer Valley trails are calling…
The next day we rode from our residences up to Deer Valley for our second day of up lifting biking flow trails. With over 70 miles of singletrack spread over 6 mountains, accessed by 3 chair lifts, Deer Valley was a singeltrack heaven and a day was not nearly enough time to get the most out of what the area had to offer. We started our experience on Holly Roller (from the Sterling Express lift) a green flow trail ideal for beginners. It was a wide flowing singletrack trail with gentle berms to ease beginners into the singletrack experience.
Ideally before anyone gets on uplift it would be good to spend some time on the pump track in the bike park to build your skills and confidence, before taking on any flow or natural trails.
On the top of the chair lift the valleys stretched out for miles and you could see the expanse of trails to investigate. Many were downhill flow trails however there are some connecting cross-country trails and rides which allow you to connect from place to place.
My favourite trail was “Twist and Shout” , a black run that was one of the first trails at Deer Valley. It included the biggest berms I have ever ridden as a warm up from the start and then twisted its way into a tight track through woods of Aspen, where each corner brought a new surprise, whether that was a rocky feature or large root bed to negotiate. I loved the variety and the technicality of this trail.
After another knock-out lunch at Stein Erickson lodge where we feasted on hot and cold buffet inspired from all over the globe.
I couldn’t imagine anywhere else in the World where I could have this much fun and variety on two wheels. Not only that Utah has catered for all abilities and is dedicated to support the development of new riders. This was evident from my next pit stop at Trail Side Bike Park where, as a coach, I was impressed and inspired with the opportunity and at a free centre! Standing at the top of the 5 minute climb we surveyed the sprawling desert with its vast green/ grey sage bush it wasn’t the most colourful of landscapes but what it lacked in colour it made up for in opportunity. With three different graded flow trails, a dirt jump area with 3 different height jumps, a natural trail with rock garden and board rides and a pump track this mountain biking oasis catered for everyone from the little 2-year-olds being pushed along by eager parents on the pump track to the budding 15-year-old dirt jumper nailing his technique.
In five days I had ridden some of the best singletrack I have ever encountered, met some truly passionate mountain bikers and ate some incredible food. Park City has a huge amount to offer with over 450 miles of trail system you can see why it is rated gold standard by IMBA.
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