Powder days are the subject of every skier’s dream – that weightlessness and effortlessness of a snow turn keeps us coming back for more. The summer version, mountain biking down tacky trails, is affectionately know as “brown pow”. Same great gravity sensation, same great view, just about 60 degrees warmer! Here’s a few tips to tackle a few hours on the hill in the “other” season.
Tip 1 – Park at Snow Park.
Parking at the base area is a solid choice, especially for the return trail options. While most bikers spend the majority of their time above Silver Lake, a final run down DEVO (expert riders) or Deer Crest is hands-down the best way to end an evening of pedaling. Not only is the drive shorter to Snow Park than up to Silver Lake, a final bonus run after the lifts close always leaves me with a smile on my face.
Tip 2 – Warm up on Holy Roller.
Holy Roller, begins at the top of the Sterling Express chairlift, and deposits riders a few miles later in the large meadow between Bald Mountain and Flagstaff. (when finished it will take you all the way back down to Silver Lake) From the meadow options abound: a loop on Bowhunter, down to Flagstaff or Ontario loops, or keep the downhill flow going on Tidal Wave or Naildriver.
The reason to warm up on Holy Roller is that beginner and intermediate riders can get a feel for downhill biking, berms, rollers and other “flow-trail” features. For more timid riders, Holy Roller is a great “bridge” from easier trails to more aggressive riding, but still provides enough features for more advanced riders to practice their skills as well.
Advanced and expert riders can (and should) jump immediately on Tidal Wave, an exhilarating top-to-bottom trail that features more air time than trail time. Just keep the rubber side down!
Tip 3 – Ride Evenings
On Wednesday nights in July and August, Deer Valley is keeping the lifts spinning until 8 p.m. For those with a typical work week, adding a weekday option after office hours is a game changer. For just $20 the SCOTT Sports Twilight Ride Pass provides lift access from 4 – 8 p.m. Most riders can get about eight or more laps in: a huge bang for the buck.
For many people who go on long rides both weekend days, the legs can still be a bit sore from pedaling big miles, making Tuesday a great day to spin the lifts. Not to say downhill biking is easy, but a little gravity assist is a great way to get an extra day in the saddle.
Tip 4 – Ride cross-country
On a hot summer day getting to high(er) altitude for cooler and shadier temperature is ideal for riding. Taking the Sterling Express chairlift to access trails above mid-mountain is an express lane to high country singletrack.
A quick ride Tidal Wave or Nail Driver to the meadow mentioned above presents a littany of options via Road to Ruby and a connection to some really fun pedal trails:
One favorite option is to link Team Big Bear to Moosebones to a downhill or Corvair to Boulder. Seeing winter ski runs in summer is always a wild experience – this ride will surprise you how different you look at the mountain in each season.
Tip 5 – Seat Dropper
The three best inventions in mountain bike history: round wheels, suspension and seat droppers. Having the seat out of your way on the way downhill is key to riding laps. Getting your weight back, as in way back over the rear wheels, is crucial to maintaining control on downhill bike trails. Plus, you won’t get an surprise taps on the backside, which usually leads to a congratulatory trip over the handlebars.
Originally written by Nick Como for Deer Valley.