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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.
I hope you have enjoyed my post subscribe to keep updated on other cool riding spots.
Singletrack fun in Solden.
A lazy start with a fantastic breakfast at the Die Berg hotel. We looked out onto a rather drizzly mountain, hoping the sun gods would bless us with some good weather for our endure day.
At intersport I picked up my new ride for the day a Cube Fritzz race enduro bike with 160mm travel on the fork and 27.5 tyres it looked like a serious bit of kit!
Today was the day to try the other side of the mountain. After getting our bikes and heading to the lift, I was glad, in the weather conditions, to have my Grip Grab gloves and shoes covers to help keep me warm.
Arriving at the mid-station at 2,174m we stepped out into a blizzard of snow. I instantly felt the chill in my bones and didn’t need to read the temperature gauge to know it was below freezing.
The trail from the mid-point took my mind off the cold as I cruised down large flowing berms loving the freedom and exhilaration of the smooth trails, constructed by Bike Republic Sölden.
The ‘flow trails’ are man-made with features like board rides, rock crossings and berms. These trails are designed in a way that allows you to flow from feature to feature down the mountain, hence the name. Their flowing lines are cut into the side of the mountain and maintained by a team of trail builders.
We saw a lot of wildlife from deer, stoats and plenty of birds of prey. It is one of the reasons I love biking you can really get close nature and see incredible wildlife you wouldn’t see in a car.
The other thing I love about mountain biking is the ability to go on an adventure, a journey. We traversed the side of the mountain climbing and descending until we got to our lunch stop. A beautiful hut called Gambya Thya at over 300 years old. It had been run by the same family for years, making award winning cheese and ham. We were in for a treat! The quaint wooden hut was filled with ribbons from award winning cows and photos of days gone by. The little rooms were full of character and the family’s welcome arms made me feel warm after being in the fresh alpine air.
We tucked into Austrian delicacies, drank mugs of warming hot chocolate and sipped on schnapps made from pine cones. What more could a mountain biker need on a lunch stop?
Revitalised and well fed we headed out to continue our trail adventure, stamping more lines as we weaved our way down the mountain and back to the valley below.
Heading to the airport at 1pm it seemed like a missed opportunity not to grab our bikes and head back up the mountain. This gondola was bigger and you could wheel your bike right in and sit next to it. This was much more convenient than trying to balance it on one wheel in the other gondola. Up at the top the view was breath taking. The mountains stood elegantly in the sun, their white rocky peaks towering above the lush green valley below.
The first trail of the day was called Habe line, this was a new section of trail and in places the gravel had not bedded in yet, making the sharp turns a little more challenging. After the top gravelled section we came into a muddy section of berms hitting one a little too fast I has a moment of mud slide and ended up looking like a mud monster on one side! Typical on the day I had to pack to fly home!
A bit like snowboarding having the views and the viability in the mountains made the biking a whole different experience. The trail was dry (in most places) and the bike ate up the ground underneath it, rolling from berm to berm gathering speed before I would break and re focus on the next trail feature.
Breaking out of the forest descent onto a plateau we came across some very friendly alpine cows. They were so inquisitive coming right up to us and even licking one of the guys leg!
My favourite bit of the descent was a board ride snaking its way through the trees and down the mountain side, it was like you were flying through the tree canopy alongside the squirrels. My main challenge was keeping my eyes looking ahead as sometimes through the trees would be the most amazing mountain view, which would grab my attention for a split second as I flew past them.
The flow trails were really good fun. There is a good network of trails suitable for all types of rider, but the trails are not easy and should be treated with respect and not underestimated, after all this is a mountainous playground where the weather can change in a moment so you need to be prepared and understand how to handle your bike in order to stay safe and enjoy the trails.
A two day adventure in the Austrian Alps
Monday was the first day visiting Austrian Alps in the picturesque village of Solden nestled in the Tyrol region.
This scenic village is an adventurous paradise with skiing in the winter and mountain biking and hiking in the Summer.
The Solden tourist board (Bike Republic Solden) is creating great infrastructure for biking and I was keen to try it out. So along with fellow mountain biker’s Dave, Martin and Peter we headed out on the first adventure of our trip.
Our first day in Solden was spent testing e-bikes. I had a Hai AllMtn with 150mm travel weighing in at a hefty 25 kilos I was glad I wouldn’t be needing to ‘hike a bike’ anywhere!
We hired our Hai e-bikes from intersport in the village and set off to the pump track with our guide Alex, from Bike School Ride On. As a coach I was very impressed that instead of heading straight to the trails he talked about bike techniques and we used the pump track for him to give us feedback on our riding technique.
We then headed up the mountain towards our first trail, Monday was trying the ‘silent side’ of the mountain where there are no lifts so under our own steam, with the help from the e-bikes we headed swiftly onwards and upwards.
Having never ridden an e-bike before I was pleasantly surprised, the motor works when you’re pedalling and has four settings eco +, eco, standards and high depending on how much assistance you need depends on which setting.
The e-bike made easy work of the Alpine climbs, I used the standard and eco settings mainly, rolling up the gravel paths at an easy 16km the climb to the top took no time at all which was great I can really see the benefit of an e-bike for long days climbing in the alps for those who don’t have the needed fitness levels for such demanding climbs.
The first trail of the day was a black run called Jagers Notweg, Bike Park Solden have introduced a passport system where riders can collect stamps of each trail they have ridden in return for goodies, neat huh!
This was a natural trail with sharp, steep corners which I found a little too technical for my liking. I had to walk sections with the bike and this was really hard work the e-bike weighs almost half of me so lugging it around the trail was cumbersome.
The natural trails were brilliant, if not a little testing, with steep sections, rock shoots, lots of tree routes and the odd hiker to contend with. All natural trails are shared rights of way so you need to be alert and respect other trail users.
Jagers Notweg – the start of this black trail lulls you into a false sense of security as you traverse a very pleasant path with trees on both sides. The trail soon turns into a testing singletrack with hairpin turns, jagged rocks waiting to pinch either you or your tyre and roots at the most unhelpful of angles. The days previously it had rained which had made both rocks and roots slick and the payment for getting things wrong on this tiny trail was not worth thinking about so there was a lot of negotiating on foot this is where e-biking was an issue weighing in at around 58kg my bike at 25kg was nearly half my weight and keeping myself and it upright was a work out in itself.
Just as you think this little singletrack has thrown all it can at you, you reach a bridge and then a 10 minute climb to the double track path. Delighted to reach the top Dave and I chilled and chatted about our attempt at the most technical trail in the whole of Bike Republic Solden, happy to have that stamp in our passports we headed onwards and upwards. I was happy to have some assistance from the e-bike which plodded along nicely in eco mode my feet turning the pedals around 80rpm. Sometimes forgetting I had assistance at all until I stopped pedaling and the bike would coast along like a normal bike losing power. With an e-bike the more power you put in the more it gives back.
We then headed back up towards our lunch spot at Kleble Alm, a typical Austrian chalet serving delicious Goulash Soup. Batteries re-charged we headed down the Kaiser trail and back towards the village.
Overall I would say e-bikes have a great place within mountain biking to help those who don’t have the fitness level to have access to the outdoors and go on adventures.
Tomorrow is Enduro day using the uplift to get to the top and enjoying the flow trails on the way down.
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