#DeerValleySummer Mountain Bike Lesson

The #DeerValleySummer is filled with more adventures than I could have ever imagined. Friends and family ask me all of the time, “What do you do when the ski season is over?” Lift-served mountain biking, hiking, concerts, standup paddleboarding, the list goes on and on. The question isn’t what do I do, it’s how do I find time to do it all?

Before I started working at Deer Valley, I didn’t know you could take a mountain bike lesson. I soon became aware that Deer Valley Resort’s Bike School offers knowledgeable mountain bike instructors who will teach you the proper techniques to help you ride safely and confidently, while navigating the nearly 70 miles of trails at Deer Valley Resort.

I signed up for a mountain bike lesson so I could learn the ropes of downhill mountain biking. Unlike skiing, I had zero experience in mountain biking, unless you count riding my bike around the neighborhood as a child. I knew that if the instructors in the Ski School could turn me into a skier, then the Bike School could turn me into a mountain biker.

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Not having a mountain bike myself, I rented one from the mountain bike rental shop in Deer Valley Resort’s Snow Park Lodge. The rental shop also made sure I had a helmet, elbow pads and shin guards. Going into the lesson, I was very nervous; after leaving the rental shop, I felt prepared to take on the mountain. I met my bike instructor, Doug Gormley, and we made our way outside to start the lesson.

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Doug showed me the basic braking functions of the bike as well as the gears and how to properly shift. He taught me a trick that I used all day; easy or lower gears, use your thumb and harder or higher gears, use your index finger. I was very surprised how light the bike was and the incredible amount of spring in the shocks.

We went over the four basic riding fundamentals I would need for downhill mountain biking; balance in an athletic position, look ahead, smooth braking and controlled momentum. 20140815_101753

Doug asked if I played on my bike as a child. He said that people who have experience on a bike, even if it’s just jumping off curbs, have a huge advantage when it comes to mountain biking. This helped me get into the balanced athletic position or “platform” as Doug called it. Doug emphasized that I needed to be standing on the bike with both pedals even and my weight balanced. Since this was downhill mountain biking, leaning back was encouraged and being light on the handlebars to avoid going over them.

Looking ahead was the next lesson in my biking education. “Don’t look down, you need to see what’s coming up, not what you’re on. Trust your vision and your body to react.” ,Doug stressed. At first this was the most difficult thing for me to do. I wanted to see what I was rolling over. I soon realized that I needed to see what to prepare for and be looking ahead to properly position myself for the upcoming obstacle.

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Smooth braking was the third fundamental Doug taught me before we made our way to the mountain. I learned how to use the front and rear brakes evenly. I had never been on a bike with hydraulic, disc brakes. These were not the same brakes on my 1998 bike I rode around Taylorsville as an 11 year old. I could tell that too much front brake would cause you to fly over the handlebars. Doug showed me how to place my hands so that my index fingers were on the brakes at all times near the end of the handles. This allowed me to evenly brake and not use one more than the other.

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The last of the four fundamentals was learning how to control my momentum. We practiced in the parking lot going down stairs and hills, controlling my momentum, not too fast and not too slow. A consistent motion all the way down was the goal. Doug stressed going into turns slower with a consistent speed and accelerating out of the turn when I felt comfortable to do so. By this time, I was ready to take on the first trail which was Naildriver, Deer Valley’s easiest downhill mountain bike trail on Bald Mountain.

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After riding up Silver Lake Express chairlift, we rode Sterling Express to the top of Bald Mountain. We stopped at the beginning of the trail for a few last-minute pointers and we went over the four fundamentals again. I was so excited; being scared in the rental shop beforehand felt like a lifetime ago. After the fundamentals, I honestly can’t remember what Doug said. I’m pretty sure it was just “follow me.”

We headed down Naildriver trail, a smooth single track. The views of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the Heber Valley were breathtaking. I followed close behind Doug and felt at ease on the mountain bike. I tried imitating Doug’s route. Little jumps in the trail made for fast learning experiences. If I saw Doug run over a huge rock, I then knew that the mountain bike I was on could handle it as well. I just needed to remember the fundamentals and stay loose.
20140815_121331 (1)Like my first ski lesson, we would stop and talk at certain spots on the trail. Doug gave me pointers and praise along the way. During one of the stops, I learned to lean to steer. The key to this was to lean your bike, not your body. Doug showed me how to make long arm turns and turns with one pedal up and one down. I tried to soak up the 26 years of mountain biking knowledge Doug was sharing with me like a sponge.

We made our way down Bald Mountain and to the end of Naildriver trail. I was surprised at how many different muscles I used navigating down the mountain. The other person in my lesson was wearing a heart rate monitor. It said she burned 800 calories in the short time we had been in the lesson. This was easily the most fun exercise I had ever done. After a few more turning lessons, I said goodbye to Doug and my lesson partner at the bottom of Sterling Express chairlift.

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I had the option to download on Silver Lake Express chairlift or take Tour Des Homes trail down to the Snow Park Lodge. This trail was a lot different than the first one I had been on. Lots of loose gravel and wider trails made for a different experience. It was very cool to see this part of the resort during the summer. Tour Des Homes mountain bike trail follows much of the same trail line as Silver Dollar ski run. This is one of my favorite ski runs, because of the views you see along the way and the homes that line the trail.

I can’t wait to explore more of the fantastic trails Deer Valley Resort has to offer. Have you ever had a mountain bike lesson? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley.

Want to explore Deer Valley’s variety of trails? Sign up for a guided mountain bike tour led by Deer Valley’s professionally trained instructors. Gain some riding tips while meeting other riders and learning about the mountain and the resort. Participants must be intermediate level and 13 years or older.

For more information on mountain biking or to reserve a space in the Mountain Bike School, please call 435-645-6648 or 888-754-8477.

Summer Training with Bryon and Brad Wilson

On a warm sunny day, during the #DeerValleySummer, I headed out of the office and caught up with Bryon and Brad Wilson at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. It was my first time at the Utah Olympic Park and I was surprised to see so many skiers jumping off of ramps into water and then swimming to the edge of the pool with skis on. Air bubbles, operated by a Utah Olympic Park employee, softened landings into the pool. I thought this was an ingenious idea.

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For those of you who might not know, Deer Valley Resort sponsors Bryon and Brad Wilson, two of the current U.S. Freestyle Ski Team athletes. Deer Valley began sponsoring Bryon in 2010 and in 2012 added Brad to their roster of athletes. I wanted to know what it took to be a world-class athlete and how a winter athlete trains when the snow melts.

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Ryan: How do you guys train during the summer?

Bryon: We have a great facility at the Utah Olympic Park, where I spend a lot of my time.There are many ways for us to access crucial training time nowadays. Later this summer, we will be in Whistler BC, Canada, getting some snow time on the glacier.

Ryan: As brothers do you always train together or do you have different training techniques?

Brad: We always train with each other, which is really nice because we are constantly pushing each other.

Ryan: How often will you be at the Utah Olympic Park training?

Bryon: We can get a good two months at the Utah Olympic Park. I really enjoy training up here.

Ryan: What is the biggest difference jumping into water instead of onto snow?

Brad: Jumping in water allows you to crash without the consequences you have crashing on snow.  And a lot of crashing is involved when learning a new trick.

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Ryan: What do you wish to improve upon, going into next ski season?

Brad: I am currently ranked fourth overall and there is a lot I need to work on to be in that top spot.  Improving my jumping skills is going to be a major focus this summer.

Bryon: I’m always looking to push my abilities to the next level and learn something new to help myself improve.

Ryan: Looking back on the last ski season, what stands out the most for each of you?

Brad: The Olympic experience stands out the most for me. Being able to compete in the Olympics has been a dream ever since I started competing.

February 9, 2014 - Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Europe

February 9, 2014 – Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Europe

Bryon: One thing that stands out for me every year is competing at Deer Valley Resort in front of huge crowds. I also love Champion ski run.

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Ryan:  What do you guys do for fun, when you are not skiing?

Bryon: We got into mountain biking since we moved to Park City, also golfing and fishing.

Brad: The thing I do most is art; I think it’s the perfect thing to do to relax in between training sessions.

Ryan: How did you get into art, Brad?

Brad: Being from Montana, we grew up in the outdoors. Everything we did, we did outside. But the art is just something I was inspired to start doing and have been trying to perfect ever since.

Ryan: What do you have coming up in the next few months?

Brad: Off-season training is in full force. It is going to be very busy until the snow falls. We’re in Whistler this summer for three weeks, we go to Mount. Hood for a week, then Chile for two and a half weeks. Next, we go to Switzerland in September for another three weeks. Between these camps, we will be spending our time at the Utah Olympic Park.

Have you ever gone off the ski jumps at the Utah Olympic Park? Tell me about it in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley and don’t forget to keep up with the Wilson brothers on Twitter; Bryon   Brad  

OCEARCH at Deer Valley Resort’s Summer Adventure Camp

For the second year in a row, Chris Fischer from OCEARCH enlightened Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Campers on the importance of preserving our oceans.

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Mr. Fischer and his team allow scientists to study sharks in an environment safe for both the researchers and the sharks. They do this by catching and tagging sharks so scientists all around the world can study them. While most people would say they’re afraid of sharks, Mr. Fischer explained that sharks should actually be scared of humans; nearly 200,000 sharks are killed each day and if this continues, future generations will not be able to enjoy these awesome creatures.

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“I’m thrilled to be part of Deer Valley’s Summer Camp. Park City is home for my family and I, and I’m excited to be able to connect these kids to the OCEARCH mission and bring the ocean into their summer camp. Thanks to Deer Valley for inviting me!” - Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader

OCEARCH is a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on great white sharks and other large apex predators. After having Mr. Fischer speak with the campers last year, the kids decided to donate the proceeds from the annual end-of-season Art Show to OCEARCH; nearly $800! They were also able to SKYPE with Mr. Fischer while he was on an expedition in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This year Mr. Fischer returned with Dr. Alex Hearn, a world-class scientist who specializes in the study of fish movements with a strong focus on conservation. Mr. Fischer and Dr. Hearn not only spoke about the importance of preserving our oceans but also gave some great life advice to the young campers.

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“An inch is a cinch and a yard is hard.”

Mr. Fischer explained when his team first started out, no one had ever done what they were attempting to do. By working together and taking little steps, they have been able to accomplish a lot, but there is still room for improvement. Mr Fischer shared his message that we have a lot of things we can improve on when it comes to ocean conservation and it starts with an inch.

One way OCEARCH is bringing attention to ocean conservation is with the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app, available to download for free. The app allows you to see the shark migration patterns, just like the scientists who are studying them; you can even track individual sharks by name and see where they were tagged and where they have been since. I downloaded the app and follow OCEARCH on Facebook. I think it’s so cool to be able to see where the sharks have traveled.

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After OCEARCH was done with their presentation, I spoke with Kurt Hammel, Deer Valley Resort’s Children’s Programs Assistant Manager.

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Ryan: How did Deer Valley Resort get involved with OCEARCH?

Kurt:  We learned of OCEARCH from one of our staff members. We are always looking for people who have ties to the Park City community to get involved with our Summer Adventure Camp.

Ryan:  What is the biggest thing the kids take away from these presentations?

Kurt:  I think the oldest kids realize the impact that killing sharks has and that they need to be the next generation to help. The younger kids seem to be really fascinated with sharks.

Ryan: Do the kids ask you a lot of shark questions in the days after the presentation?

Kurt: Some of the kids could talk about sharks all day, every day! The boys love to make shark pictures. A lot of these pictures will end up in our Art Show at the end of the season.

Ryan: Can you tell me more about the Art Show?

Kurt: The annual Art Show is held the first week of August. It allows the campers to proudly display the many and varied art projects they worked on so diligently all summer. The pieces are available to purchase for a donation to that year’s S.A.V.E. project.

Ryan: What does S.A.V.E stand for?

Kurt: Summer Adventure Volunteer Effort. This effort raises money through an art show for a selected organization. Some of our past recipients have been the Carmen B. Pingree School for Children with Autism, Recycle Utah, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project and the Blind Children’s Learning Center.  In 2013, the kids raised $800 for The OCEARCH organization.

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Ryan: What other speakers do you have lined up for the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: This summer we have some great speakers lined up, including former Olympians, the “Hired Guns” cowboy entertainers, Hawkwatch and an Origami demonstration during the week of our Art Show.

Ryan: Origami; see if they can make hawks and sharks.

Kurt: I’m sure the kids will ask for those first.

Ryan: What is your favorite part of the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: The great thing about Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp is that we are involved in a broad variety of activities with the goal to be active in our community and at the resort as well. We are not sport/activity specific and kids get to experience a lot of different things in just one week here.

Ryan: Can guests still sign up their little ones for Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: Absolutely, Summer Adventure Camp is open until August 20. Parents can sign their children up weekly or even for just a day or two. For more information on the Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp, please visit the website here.

Have you downloaded the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app? Tell me what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley.

Double Blues for the Views

Growing up in Utah, I have always been surrounded by the mountain scenery. It’s not until I leave the friendly confines of Utah or ski at Deer Valley Resort until I really appreciate what I get to see every day. Recently I headed out on the slopes with a friend from North Carolina named Cash. All day Cash was raving about the incredible views at Deer Valley.

Cash is a strong skier and you could say that I still have a few things to learn. We stuck to green and easy blue ski runs for most of the day. During lunch at Empire Canyon Grill, where I introduced Cash to the famous Deer Valley Turkey Chili, we started planning new runs we hadn’t skied. Cash assured me I was ready for more difficult terrain.

Using the new Deer Valley Resort App we scouted out the best places to take my skiing to the next level. We started off and took Empire Express chairlift to the Orion ski run. Cash and I were taken aback by the amazing view at the top.

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The view made me forget I was about to embark on a double blue ski run, the most difficult run I had ever attempted on skis. When I passed the sign that said Orion I thought it was only appropriate my first double blue to be named Orion, a name so close to mine. Right before I made the turn to totally commit to the ski run I thought to myself “OhhhhRyan what are you doing?” And got a good laugh.

Orion Sign

After making it down in one piece my skiing confidence was at an all-time high. Cash and I made our way over to Little Baldy Mountain to take on our next double blue ski run. After taking Ruby and Homestake chairlifts we found ourselves at the base of the Mountaineer Express chairlift after a few runs. We took Mountaineer chairlift to the top of Little Baldy Mountain.Taking a left off the chairlift we made our way down the Jordanelle ski run, our second double blue of the day. The top of the run is lined by homes to skier’s right. Once we passed the homes the view becomes breathtaking. The white snow paired with the Jordanelle Reservoir made for an incredible sight. We were clearly not the only ones who thought the view was incredible. Two sets of skiers were pulled off to the side taking pictures. We couldn’t help but stop and take pictures of our own. One skier offered to take our picture after Cash struck up a quick conversation with the gentleman.

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From the views to the terrain, this was the peak of our ski day. According to my Deer Valley app this was also the fastest I skied all day, 39 MPH. What are your favorite views from around Deer Valley? Share your thought with me in the comments below or on social media @RyanMayfield on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Ryan’s First Ski Lesson

Learning to ski can be very intimidating. I was nervous leading up to my first ever ski lesson. This wasn’t my first time on skis however, it was my first time since I was a small child. I have been a snowboarder my entire life. After finishing college I planned to learn to ski. I have a lot of friends that ski and instead of take the time to learn, I continued snowboarding.

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In the fall of 2013 I started a job at Deer Valley Resort. The job called for an intermediate skier. I figured that I would pick up right where I left off when I was 4 years old (It’s just like snowboarding, right!). Boy was I wrong. My first day on skis I did everything wrong. I couldn’t turn, crossed my skis, and  dropped my pole off the chairlift. It was safe to say that I was a little rusty. I knew then I needed the help from an experienced ski instructor. After recovering from a few rough falls, I scheduled my lesson for the middle of January.

I felt like I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. The Deer Valley rental shop had a sign on the wall explaining the six different skiing levels. I thought I was a “Beginner.” So I signed up for this level.

Ski Lesson Sign

Deer Valley made it really easy to find my ski instructor. Signs outside of the ski school pointed me in the right direction and signs marked where each skill level gathered. I soon met a very nice young man named Brandon. He took my lesson receipt and put me in a group of three other skiers with the same skill level.

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We took the chairlift up to the top of the Wide West ski run, after introducing ourselves to the group. After making sure we all knew how to stop, our instructor gave us some pretty basic instruction. Like, get in an athletic stance, hands in front of you, and keep your weight balanced. Brandon explained that he needed to watch us ski a little bit before he could instruct us. We made our way down Wide West making slow parallel turns as our instructor watched.

Ski Lesson Chairlift Ride

When we reached bottom of Wide West Brandon informed us that we were all actually “Advanced Beginners” and were done with the training hill.

One person in our group said she felt more comfortable staying with the beginners on Wide West. So my “max 4″ group lesson became a lesson of three and one instructor, we were about to get upgraded to “Advanced Beginner.”

I would have to say my favorite part of the lesson was getting to know the other two skiers and the instructor. Adriana was around my same age and from Washington D.C. She moved to Park City to ski for the winter with her boyfriend. Greg was an older gentlemen who had retired and lived all over the world. He told us interesting stories all afternoon about the places he had lived. Our instructor Brandon explained that he was the youngest instructor at his level of expertise at Deer Valley. This gave him the nickname “Pampers.” He was from Oregon and moved here to teach skiing and be a part of, in his words “The best ski resort in America.” I’m a huge people person and these memories are the ones really took away from my ski lesson.

Ski Lesson on Wide West

Brandon told us that he liked teaching skiing by what is called the mileage method. He explained that the only way you will get better at skiing is to ski. This was really cool because we got in a lot of runs during the lesson.

Our first run was a green run called Ontario. We got there by taking Silver Lake Express to Silver Lake Lodge, then skiing down to Quincy Express. The best part of this run was that there were a lot of designated Ski School areas. We would ski down to the signs out of everyone’s way, and get instruction from Brandon. This worked really well for me.

Ski Lesson Sign

We skied from 1 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. Skiing from one Ski School area to the next. Brandon would ski in front of us a little bit and then watch as we came down. We would work on new stuff on the easier parts and things he had already taught us in areas where it was more difficult.

At the end of the day Brandon told us that we were done with the green runs and we needed to tackle our first blue run. The group was a little nervous to say the least. We made our way up Carpenter Express and took Little Stick ski run down. This run was a little narrow in some spots. The best part of Little Stick was being able to see the resort from a different view, which was very beautiful. After reaching the bottom Brandon explained that we were now intermediate skiers!

Ski Lesson

Have you had a lesson at Deer Valley or another ski resort? Tell me about it in the comments below. Also, check back I will be updating my progress throughout my first season as a skier!