How Mountain Biking May Help Your Skiing

Skiing is a sport in which a vast majority of our cues come from what we see. Since this sport is second-nature to me, I’ve long learned how to look far beyond the tips of my skis to discover what’s ahead and plot my next moves accordingly. Somehow, the line I follow develops in my mind from the information I’ve been able to gather in the short time I was glancing ahead. My feet pivot, my ankles bend, my knees rotate just at the ideal moment, as if all had been carefully scripted and was now flowing as seamlessly and perfectly as planned.

Around six years ago, when I seriously began riding my mountain bike on single tracks, all my senses and attention were at first totally mobilized on keeping the bike going within the narrow corridor the trail forced on me. More than once, as my entire body was tense and I was trying too hard, I would over-correct, wobble, slow ridiculously down, become totally inefficient and get off track anyway. My field of vision was limited to my handlebar and my front tire, while I was micro-managing the moment instead of following the meandering pathway that was streaming towards me. Of course, I’m mostly talking here about coasting or descending. My climbing rate is still too slow to strategize about speed except for the occasional burst of energy required by a short, steep bump on the trail that can only be cleared through an extra burst of energy.

It took many rides to tame my attitude and force me into seeing farther and farther away down the trail. That longer view enabled me to estimate my rate of speed, plan when to hit the brake, assess how fast I could negotiate a hairpin turn in relative comfort, and little by little, my choppy pace became much smoother. Today, while it’s still lagging behind my half-a-century ski instinct, my bike riding has become a lot more fluid than it used to be. Both sports of course remain different; recreational skiing offers a maximum range of freedom as one can pick from an infinite array of lines on a fairly wide, open slope, through trees or across a totally open bowl. While skiing allows to marry terrain variations with a multitude of routes, creating for a smooth cruising experience, mountain biking also offers that possibility, albeit in much subtler increments, generally within the width of the track.

In fact, mountain biking is akin to going through an alpine race course that could alternatively resemble a slalom, a giant slalom or even a downhill. The pathway is clearly defined and the only other option is going off track which seldom is a good option. In all situations however, and in both sports, there’s always an opportunity to pick up special skills that will serve us well for the other. Mountain biking brings a special blend of speed, precision and anticipation that are priceless in skiing. So you have it right there; the more mountain biking you’ll do this summer, the more dividends it will pay for your skiing next season. With this in mind, don’t delay riding your mountain bike; your skiing demands it!

Deer Valley Mountain Biking

Summer in the Mountains

With the long cold spring almost in the foreground, I think that summer is finally in the air.  The snow has almost melted, leaves are coming out and the wild flowers are blooming, you have to love summertime in the mountains.  Deer Valley is just a few days away from kicking off its summer activities on Friday, June 18.  

My favorite part about summer is literally all of the music in the air.  June 23, starts our free concerts on Wednesday nights which are great for the whole family.  My husband and I love to bring our daughter up to have a nice picnic and enjoy the music. Then every Friday and Saturday evening through the summer the Utah Symphony plays in our outdoor amphitheater.  Other concerts I know I won’t be missing this summer are Earth, Wind and Fire presented by Big Stars Bright Nights on August 20 or B.B. King Blues Festival on August 24.  But the list of performances goes on and on.

 I am also looking forward to Royal Street Café opening for lunch on the deck.  I love to take in the whole experience by riding up the Silver Lake Express chairlift for a leisurely lunch. Then once I am there just sitting back to enjoy a blueberry mojito, the tuna tartare with the arugula truffle oil lemon salad and finishing it off with a piece of the frozen lemon meringue pie on a beautiful summer day. 

One nice thing about Deer Valley and the Park City area is all of the hiking and biking trails.  I love to hike, not so much bike, so hiking is something that I do year round but only get to enjoy Deer Valley trails during the summer.  My favorite hike at Deer Valley is leaving from the Snow Park area and taking the Tour de Homes trail up to Silver Lake.  There is nothing better than being outside taking in that deep breath of mountain air!

I hate to see winter leave but I have to say I am really looking forward to the lazy days of summer!

A Painful Transition

In recent years, I have skied more than my share and this season was no exception. I believe that at last count, I have been 100 days on my skis; this, by my own admission, is an awful lot and I would need to travel back to my twenties to exceed that impressive attendance on snow. Over the past five years, besides skiing a lot, I’ve also experienced my share of mishaps; none of them too bad, but between some broken ribs and a snapped Achilles’s heel, I can’t say that my past seasons were totally pain-free. So once again, this ski season ended up absolutely flawlessly, without one single injury to report. I had dodged the proverbial bullet. As I put away my ski gear, my next move was to take our mountain bikes to the local shop for a full tune-up in time for another riding season. I was already picturing myself coasting amidst a sea of sagebrush and clearing hairpin turns almost flawlessly.

This was without counting on some real labor that was waiting for me between the skiing and the mountain biking seasons. I had been extremely ambitious and had set to repaint a deck composed of an endless metal railing wrapped around a large wooden floor. I’m not as good a painter as I’m a skier and even though I consider myself a medium-level mountain biker, I tend to ride the single track much better than I can pilot a paintbrush around intricate wrought iron patterns. This means that it takes me a lot of time to do an okay job, not even including all the contorting, bending and laying on my back that come with reaching these almost invisible and unattainable spots. After two days of doing that, my body began to revolt, my legs ached and I was visibly limping as if I had aged an extra 20 years! I was in fact so tired, that I took two days of pure rest. A wise move that very unfortunately, happened to be “too little, too late.”

The next morning, while standing up from my office chair, I must have snapped something and my lower back was elevated to a dire state of lumbago or acute back pain, as doctors like to call this ailment. I instantly visualized my ski career coming to a screeching stop and my anticipated mountain bike exploits vaporizing on the spot. I made an appointment with a physiatrist who listened to my story with extreme empathy, asked me lots of questions, ran me through a series of physical tests and reassured me that there would be more ski and mountain bike days in my future.

The morale of that story is that there are many activities more dangerous than skiing or mountain biking, but what I appreciated the most was that my doctor didn’t ask me if I wore a helmet at the time of the incident!