Things you never thought you could do on a mountain bike

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Your brand new mountain bike is ready to take you on the many exciting trails that Deer Valley Resort has to offer. You may also know the expression, “He who can do the most, can (also) do the least,” and this perfectly applies to this piece of equipment because of its versatility and ruggedness. Today’s mountain bikes feature highly-engineered features, some powerful hydraulic disc brakes and great riding comfort thanks to a full suspension frame. This said, did you even suspect that there was more than one way to enjoy these sturdy and highly technical bikes? I found out by asking some of the experts who work at Deer Valley Resort. In just a few minutes, I was amazed to learn at what a mountain bike can accomplish.

Healing Faster

If you have injured your leg and you’re anxious to get back on your skis in the winter, chances are that your doctor or surgeon will prescribe a strong rehab program involving the use of a bike. Since stationary bikes can be boring after awhile, consider using your mountain bike instead. You don’t need to take it to any expert single track trails though; just ride it on a nearby asphalt or gravel bike path.

Earning a Living

Besides being a professional mountain bike racer, becoming a mountain bike patroler is a neat way to earn a living by using a mountain bike everyday. Patrol work involves a fair amount of trail maintenance activities and you’ll soon find yourself carrying a rake, a pick ax or even a chainsaw while riding. Earning a living this way also applies to the lift operators who, at the end of their shift or the end of the day, can jump on their bikes and ride down the mountain for fun. Policemen in Park City also share in that perk by carrying a service bike on the back of their SUV’s.

Trail Research and Development

New trail ideas generally begin on a map. Very soon however, they must be fine-tuned in their real environment. Most of the time, new trail paths cross obstacles like ski runs, undulating meadows, creek beds, rock formations and forested areas. It often helps a great deal to trace the ideal contours of the trail through that variable terrain by first riding it, before any trail is cut, to uncover the most natural path. On grassy meadows or on ski runs, the bike lays the grass down and works as a fine tracing tool.

Assistant Bike Patrol Manager, Chris Erkkila

Deer Valley Resort’s Assistant Bike Patrol Manager, Chris Erkkila.

Trail Testing

There are moments when it’s time to test a section of a new trail; the builder has to be the guinea pig and test a delicate passage or a tricky area, just like a test pilot would do. On segments of trails that are built around a big rock drop or a succession of large stumps, patrol staff and trail builders will use a bike without a rider. The bike is rolled over the obstacle to make sure that the chainring won’t hit anything. Chris Erkkila, assistant bike partrol manager, says that he uses this technique as a training tool, “When I teach new bike patrollers how to ride on tough terrain, I follow the same procedure and tell them that if the bike clears the obstacle, so can they.”

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Snow Riding

Surprisingly, mountain bikes do quite well on snow. No, we’re not talking about the fat-bikes with gigantic tires that are becoming the new rage in winter, but just your run-of-the-mill mountain bike. They perform well as long as there is fairly good hard-packed snow; you want to look for smooth surfaces and avoid too much tire penetration. Lowering the air pressure helps traction. Of course, when there’s deep snow over some hard pack, the sensation can be one of a kind especially if the snow is some dry, Utah powder. Says Doug Gormley, lead bike instructor, “I have been in a foot of dry, fluffy snow with hard-pack below and the sensation was out of this world.” The Mega Avalanche race in Europe would be another opportunity to test your bike in a group setting and experience mountain biking as a four season sport. Please remember that mountain bikes are not allowed at Deer Valley Resort during the ski season.

The Mega Avalanche race in Europe

The Mega Avalanche race in Europe

Performing tricks

Like any other bicycle, a mountain bike can do wheelies and a variety of tricks. The price to pay is a few more pounds to maneuver, but it’s doable. Wheelies, manuals, bunny hops and the whole panoply of tricks ingrained into BMX culture are totally possible with a mountain bike. Riders can take their “fat tires” on prepared tracks and do some dirt jumping. Most of the time, a bike with only front shocks will suffice and will feel a tad lighter. Besides the added weight, mountain bikes have other limitations. BMX bikes are lighter and tend to soar higher in the air. BMX bikes also have smaller wheels and a shorter wheelbase making them perfectly adapted to the terrain prepared-tracks and dirt jumps, but if you don’t own a BMX, there’s still plenty of fun to be had on your mountain bike.

Going Up and Down Stairs:

I have saved this one for last, because I’ve always been fascinated watching mountain bikers going down stairs without even thinking twice. In fact, I have been told that it’s possible to ride down huge staircases that wind back and forth into corners and zigzag all the way. Yet, as surprisingly as it sounds, the reverse is also true. With proper gearing, climbing stairs is also possible on a bike. You can also use a mountain bike as a trial bike, on which you balance the bike and literally hop the stairs. Doug can do it and he said, “My very first experience was in a building. For stairs, a full-suspension bike is better for both pedaling up the stairs and going down the stairs. A bike without suspension would actually be better for hopping.”

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Upon reading this short overview, you now have a good idea of the amazing capabilities of your mountain bike. What cool things do you do on your mountain bike? Tell us on Twitter @Deer_Valley or in the comments below.

A Week’s Worth of Mountain Bike Trails at Deer Valley Resort

dvr-1wkBike1 Just as we proposed a selection of hiking trails to fill a week’s vacation at Deer Valley Resort, Ski Patrol/Mountain Bike Manager Steve Graff suggested we do the same for mountain biking. Steve wanted to contribute his intimate knowledge of and experience with the local terrain, in an effort to build a fun-filled, week-long, mountain biking itinerary. If you’re looking for some great rides next time you visit Deer Valley Resort, read on.Day 1Whatever the vacation, the first day is often best spent getting acquainted with the destination, its environment and everything it has to offer. If your mountain bike skills aren’t that great or if you never had any opportunities to ride single track on a mountain bike before, a wonderful idea is to come up to Deer Valley Resort and let one of the mountain bike guides familiarize you with the equipment and give you some useful pointers on how to make your whole week a fun and life-changing experience. If you are already very fit or have some serious riding skills and are comfortable negotiating single track trails, a good introductory ride might be “Lost Prospector” in Park City, one of Steve Graff’s little secrets:

“A great entry-level trail, with nice views, shaded tree sections and some exciting switch backs. The trail is moderate in terms of difficulty level and a wonderful way to refresh your riding skills. “

If you are renting a bike, make certain it fits you properly and will work with the kind of riding you plan to do; either cross-country, downhill or something in between. If you own your bike, make sure it has recently been serviced, is well adjusted, the gears and brakes are functioning perfectly and tires are in good condition and adequately inflated. Be sure to wear a good pair of gloves so you can get a good grip on your handlebars. Of course, you must wear a helmet and bring sunscreen, wrap-around sunglasses, food and water. If you forget any of these items, you can find them at the shops around Deer Valley Resort. Having some tools or replacement parts, like an extra inner tube and some basic bike tools is also a good idea, especially if you ride alone. Even if you are not a seasoned bike mechanic, make a point to pack some tools and some essential replacement parts as you may find a good samaritan on the trail who may stop to help you out. When riding Deer Valley’s lift-served trails, you can call Bike Patrol for assistance at 435-615-6208. dvr-1wkBike3 After reacquainting or familiarizing yourself with basic riding skills, your second day should be filled with lift-served mountain biking. Using chairlifts will provide you with a full day experience that would be near impossible to accomplish if you were to climb on your own, unless you are a fitness machine or an endurance athlete. Using the chairlifts enables you to fill your day with mountain biking activities and practice all the skills that have either been dormant or that you’ve learned the day before. A lift-served day should be on any weekly mountain biking itinerary. It’s best to stay on the Sterling Express chairlift and find a trail you like, such as Naildriver, the least difficult route down Bald Mountain, or Sunset, another easy trail, and ride those down as many times as you possibly can. Familiarity with a trail breeds confidence, develops quick responses and yields much more enjoyment since you’re not worried by what’s coming up next. Steve Graff is partial to Deer Camp Trail:

“This is another fun trail I like to recommend for its variety of terrain, its scenic views, its aspen groves and its frequent wildlife sightings.”

While Deer Valley’s weather is great most of the time, what should you do if the weather suddenly turns on you? “If you are on the trails and a thunderstorm happens and if you’re in the middle of a meadow, you don’t want to be the largest object around,” said Steve. “Likewise, in the trees you don’t want to be under the largest pine tree; seek shelter in places that aren’t too exposed.” To preserve the trail, do not ride when conditions are rainy or muddy. Rain storms are generally short-lived, so be patient. Any trail on the valley floor that is either asphalt or gravel is where you should be. If rain persists, take the rest of the day off, visit Park City’s historic Main Street, or do some shopping until everything dries up and the sun returns! dvr-1wkBike4 Now that you’ve spent time on these trails and practiced your skills, taken advantage of the energy-saving chairlifts and become comfortable riding single track on easy trails, you might want to increase the technical difficulty. On the third day, if “downhill” appeals to you, you can seek out more challenging trails. The Aspen Slalom trail which follows the Sterling Express chairlift down, is a good candidate to begin that process. Another one that Steve recommends is Twist and Shout, a steep, single track with tight curves and lots of trees. He also suggests that you hit Payroll trail in the Empire Canyon area, “This is a wonderful course that really flows well, with a number of rollers, drops and bermed-out turns.” dvr-1wkBike5 On the lower mountain, there’s Devo, another trail with steep sections and numerous turns that will test your technical abilities. Keep in mind that lift-served mountain biking runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week at Deer Valley Resort through Labor day. Also, know that the trails aren’t patrolled or swept at the end of the day like ski runs are in winter; there are 60 miles of trails on the resort, with multiple entry and exit points along a given trail, making any attempt to sweep them totally unpractical. This said, if you need any assistance during the hours the chairlifts are open, Deer Valley Patrol Staff are available to help patch an injury or solve mechanical problems. Just call 435-615-6208 or speak to a lift operator for assistance.Day 4To ramp our itinerary up, the fourth day is a great time to venture out to the Mid Mountain Trail. This stunning, single track trail traverses Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort at elevation of 8,000 feet, offering scenic vistas and lush pine forests interspersed with aspen groves. Before leaving, make sure to obtain Mountain Trails Foundation’s map at any Deer Valley Mountain Bike Office for the sections of the trails that are beyond Deer Valley Resort’s boundaries. The best plan is to leave from Silver Lake Village in the morning and head towards Park City Mountain and Canyons resorts. This itinerary can take two forms; either you ride between Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort or you continue on all the way to Canyons Resort. The decision time occurs 15 miles along the way, when you are in sight of the Spiro Trail sign; either you choose to descend via Spiro Trail into Park City and cover the remaining three and a half miles to the base of Park City Mountain Resort, or you carry on for another nine miles, all the way to Red Pine Lodge at Canyons Resort, where you can either download the gondola at no charge or drop down to the base of the resort via Holly’s Trail (expert) or Ambush Trail (Intermediate). In terms of time, count on two hours to ride Silver Lake to Park City and three to four hours to ride to Canyons Resort. From either base areas, there is always the possibility to catch the free city bus back to your place. dvr-1wkBike8Having proven your mettle on the fourth day, the end of the week deserves another great ride with one of two adventure-filled options. The first choice is mostly uphill and begins in Park City at the Spiro Trail. To access the trailhead, park in the Silver Star lot or use the nearby bus stop. From the trailhead, keep to the right and merge onto Armstrong Trail. Climb four miles to Mid Mountain Trail, turn left and continue until you see the new Pinecone Trail. This combination is not for the faint of heart as it grinds its way from Park City, at 6,900 feet all the way to the top of the Wasatch Ridge at 9,500 feet! An alternative is to begin at Silver Lake Village and ride the Mid Mountain Trail to the Pinecone Trail. dvr-1wkBike7 Another option is to ride the Wasatch Crest Trail that straddles the Park City valley and Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyons. The Wasatch Crest Trail can be taken from Guardsman Pass, using the Scott Bypass Trail or the Wasatch Connect trailhead, located just down the road on the Big Cottonwood side of the valley. It can also be accessed from the top of Pinecone trail. This trail eventually continues towards Millcreek Canyon which comes out in the Salt Lake Valley. This route is smooth and fast with awesome views of the Wasatch Back and Big Cottonwood Canyon, fields of wildflowers, meadows and trees. Upper Millcreek Trail opens July 1. Bikes are only allowed on this trail on even-numbered days and this classic ride leads you all the way down to the mouth of Millcreek Canyon. Of course, you will need to organize a shuttle to pick you up at the bottom, upon completing your ride for your return back to Deer Valley Resort. Pack your lunch, for those both make for big, long days filled with lots of adventure!

Once more, we have suggested a week’s worth of mountain biking filled with miles of excitement, memorable views, athletic ascents and thrilling downhills. I asked Steve Graff if he had anything to add to this impressive Itinerary. He just said; “Make sure to have fun every mile of the way. If you find some trails too hard, simply return to some easier ones. Again, the name of the game is to recreate and have fun!”

Midweek Mountain Bike Race Series: A Family Affair

When Mom and Dad are avid mountain bikers and love to race on fat tires, the next great thing to do is bring the whole family along and have a fun, late day competition, where every one can enjoy the company of friends in a cool mountain environment. That’s what the Midweek Mountain Bike Race Series is all about and they have two upcoming events at Deer Valley Resort. To learn more about the series, I met with Brooke Howard, one of the race co-directors, during a Round Valley event, in Park City, Utah.

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JF: How did this program get started?

Brooke Howard: Jay Burke, the original founder of the series, started it at nearby Solitude Resort. At first, it was just a very casual, small group of racers who wanted to compete. Jay was also the founder of the Park City Point 2 Point and as this program grew in popularity, it quickly captured his entire focus away from the series.

JF: So what did you do?

Brooke Howard: At that exact same time, I wanted to start a midweek type of event, maybe not necessarily in mountain biking, but our family came out to the series every Tuesday; it was a wonderful event. My husband and my kids raced and the idea of seeing the series go away was simply terrifying. I met up with Jay and we took over the series. Today, Luke Ratto is my partner and the series’ other co-director.

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JF: When did you take over?

Brooke Howard: In March of 2011, so this is our fourth year.

JF: At the program’s inception, how many participants did you have in a given race?

Brooke Howard: Jay was averaging 75 racers and when we took the program over, our first race attracted close to 150 participants, including the kids. We nearly doubled the attendance and today we are averaging about 230 participants per event.

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JF: Counting the kids?

Brooke Howard: Not counting the kids! We have about 40 plus children at each event and those are free to participants.

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JF: How many events do you have in a season?

Brooke Howard: We organize 12 events.

JF: Where do they take place?

Brooke Howard: We have two at Corner Canyon (near the Point of the Mountain, in Draper, Utah), one in Heber, Utah, four at Solitude, two at Deer Valley Resort, two in Round Valley (Park City) and one at Snowbird.

JF: How long is a loop for the kids?

Brooke Howard: For the kids, we do a mini loop that takes about 15 minutes and depending on the location, we offer different options. For instance, at Deer Valley Resort we create a skills course for them.

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JF: What’s the course for adults?

Brooke Howard: For beginners we average four miles. The sport class is about eight to ten miles and the Pros and Experts are between 12 and 16 miles.

JF: Is it the same course for everyone?

Brooke Howard: Yes, for the most part. In the majority of cases, it’s just a matter of doing loops and on other courses, we will have a break-off loop.

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JF: Is it always a cross-country type race?

Brooke Howard: Yes.

JF: Why do you offer free registration for children under 12?

Brooke Howard: Mostly to give them a taste of what mountain biking is all about, get them outdoors and exercising. As a matter of fact, and with few exceptions, all the children that come out here are children of racers competing in the main event.

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JF: Lucky kids!

Brooke Howard: Right! But that’s not all. Summit Bike Club coach Kristi Henne coaches the free kids race too, so you can see that children are especially cared for and receive our undivided attention.

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JF: So you’ve created a program that fosters both a fun and active family outing that everyone can look forward to?

Brooke Howard: Absolutely!

JF: Did the series start with that scope in mind?

Brooke Howard: For me personally, that’s what it was from the beginning: something we did on Tuesday’s with other racers. It’s a casual, family-friendly event, filled with camaraderie and aimed at encouraging health and fitness while helping grow the sport.

JF: How do you get the word out?

Brooke Howard: Facebook is a very good friend of ours, but most importantly, it’s word of mouth.

JF: Are bike shops helping you too?

Brooke Howard: Yes, we have flyers and posters in all the Wasatch Front bike shops, from Springville all the way to Ogden, Salt Lake, Heber, and of course Park City. Bike shops are also actively involved with the series. Locally, we work with White Pine Touring; they support the races in Park City and at Deer Valley.

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JF: I’ve also noticed your impressive list of sponsors.

Brooke Howard: Among the main ones, there’s Mark Miller Subaru, our title sponsor behind the funding of our series, and there’s also Backcountry.com who came in last year, as well as Scheels, our 2014 “Wrench’n Sponsor”. Sheels has “trail marshals” who are out on the course, packed with a supply of tools, tubes and the like to help those in need of a fast repair or a tire change. All of our sponsors provide raffle prizes at the end of each event and the end of the season.

JF: Are there prizes at each event?

Brooke Howard: Yes, there are prizes at every single race and our sponsors also provide a monster raffle at the end of the season. Instead of honoring the winners after each race, we accumulate their points and, at the end of season, we award the top five finishers in the expert and pro class with some money and winners in the sport class are awarded with some prizes or a pass for next year. We also give a little goody bag to all the children.

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JF: What about the monster raffle?

Brooke Howard: We reserve this one for those who participate in six or more races; prizes are season passes to a ski resort, bike racks and other sporting equipment.

JF: That’s quite a comprehensive program.

Brooke Howard: Indeed! While we are on the subject of rewards, I would also like to mention that, at the end of the season, a portion of our proceeds go back to help maintain the trails and keep providing a wonderful experience to all trail users. All of our funds go back to the trail community both in terms of physical work and cash.

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JF: You said earlier that you have two events scheduled for Deer Valley Resort?

Brooke Howard: That’s right. The first event is at Snow Park on June 24 and the next one is at Silver Lake on July 22.

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JF: Are both events for children and adults?

Brooke Howard: Yes. Snow Park will be set up as a skills course for kids, while Silver Lake will offer the regular children’s race.

JF: I’m sure many locals will be eager to participate. Could you tell us more about these two events?

Brooke Howard: Registration always begins at 5 p.m. If you register online, the adult entry fee is just $15, or $17 if you register at the race. The free kid race always starts at 6 p.m. and the adult race begins at 6:30 p.m. The adult race is a staggered start, beginning with the pro men and continuing all the way to the beginners group.

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JF: Are spectators encouraged to come and cheer the racers?

Brooke Howard: Absolutely! Spectating is free and we love to have crowds at the finish line. We would just love to see you all come out and have a great time mountain biking and cheering the competitors.

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Interview with Steve Graff, Bike/Ski Patrol Manager

Last week I caught up with Deer Valley Resorts’ Bike and Ski Patrol Manager, Steve Graff, as he was returning from inspecting the impressive network of hiking and mountain bike trails the resort will soon re-open to the public. Here are some of the many interesting things I learned about his busy department and their myriad of responsibilities…


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JF: Steve, it’s good to be visiting with you and the patrollers again. Tell me, where’s all the snow? What has happened to you and your staff since the end of the skiing season and what are you up to now?

Steve Graff (SG): After we closed the mountain down in April, we spent another week taking down signs, ropes, pads and getting everything ready for snow melt. After taking a little bit of time off to transition between seasons, our staff is back to work. As you can imagine, our personnel shrinks a bit at this time of the year; most get back to their seasonal jobs. Many go to work as National Parks Rangers all over the country, while those who can never get enough winter continue ski patrolling in New Zealand and Australia. Some are wild land fire fighters or smoke-jumpers, and the rest of us are back at Deer Valley Resort getting the place ready for warm weather activities.

JF: How many employees return for Mountain Bike Patrol?

SG: Out of our 70 or so ski patrollers, about 15 stay on during the summer.

JF: How long is the season?

SG: It goes from mid-June through Labor Day (September 2, 2013).

JF: Are you the crew in charge of maintaining trails and cutting new ones?

SG: Our main priority is helping injured but the bulk of our work is actually trail construction and trail maintenance.

JF: Any new trail this year?

SG: The two newest trails were actually started last season. Both are in the Empire Canyon area, off the Ruby Express chairlift.

  • Drift: An intermediate trail
  • Payroll: More of a free riding, “flowy” trail, with some nice jumps and drops that should add some extra levels of excitement in that general area

JF: This sounds promising! By the way who comes up with these unique trail names?

SG: Payroll is actually a mine name and Drift comes from a drift road that is off Tour de Sud. Some others come directly from the public, “Devo” is a good example; we were just finishing constructing it when we ran into a lady that said “Yeah, that trail is ‘Devo.”

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JF: Does your remaining staff receive summer-specific training?

SG: There’s a lot of cross-over between summer and winter duties like medical training and lift evacuation skills and those are regularly being refreshed.  We add motorcycle, ATV and six-wheeler riding that are unique to our summer season.

JF: You mean, training on vehicles that get you around the mountain?

SG: Right; instead of snowmobiles, toboggans or skis, we use bikes, motorcycles and ATVs!

JF: What types of interventions are typical to the warmer months?

SG: Overall, the few injuries we deal with are less severe than in winter because speed is less of a factor. We see a quite a few scrapes and bruises though, maybe a few dislocations, perhaps more blood than usual, but in general, far less severe injuries.

JF: It seems to me that you and your staff aren’t always on the mountain; over the years, I’ve noticed your presence at all the Deer Valley’s summer concerts. What’s your role there?

SG: To attend the concert!

JF: I should have expected this! So, all Patrollers are music aficionados?

SG: Well, this is another one of our Mountain Bike Patrol duties. We offer first aid response at the Deer Valley concerts, so we attend them all. Depending on the event, between two and four of us are present. We’re there for medical emergencies or other situations.

JF: Are they specific recommendations you’d like to share with mountain bikers and hikers intent to use the Deer Valley Resort trail system?

SG: There are a few good rules; first, we don’t charge for uphill travel outside of chairlift rides. If trail users bike, they must wear a helmet and dogs must be left at home whether their owners hike or bike. Always make sure to look at the map and come up with a route before heading out; remember that there are some trails that are specifically for downhill mountain biking, others specifically for hiking and then they’re others that are designated for both. So, it’s good to know what kind of trail you’re planning to take. If you want to hike and don’t want to see bikers, go on a hiking-only trail. If you want to pedal up, make sure you chose the multi-use trail, not the downhill-only one. That way, everyone can enjoy their experience to the fullest.

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JF: Are there lessons or orientations tours visitors can take?

SG: Yes; both are available and are highly recommended. We offer guided tours of the mountain that will also provide some mountain biking tips; those are for intermediate level and above, but they’re also “mountain bike 101” lessons that will take a rank beginner straight to the single-track trails. Many riders often say: “I know how to handle a bike, therefore I don’t need lessons” but as you know JF, mountain biking is a very different deal, it’s not like riding in the neighborhood; there’s weight transfer, forward-and-back and side-to-side involved, it’s a lot more dynamic experience than pedaling on asphalt around the block.

JF: What other recommendations would you give hikers or mountain bikers visiting Deer Valley Resort?

SG: I know some people who chose to ride their mountain bike by themselves, purely for exercise. If you’re one of them, just let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back. Always wear a helmet and sunglasses. Even if you’re going on a short trip, throw an extra power bar in your pack, a replacement tube, enough water, some basic tools if you ever break down.  Even if you aren’t quite sure how to fix it, some passer-by might be able to assist you and get you back on your way. Always wear gloves; if you ever fall, the first thing that’s going to hit the ground is your hand. Some extra protection goes a long way!

JF: Any tips about the weather?

SG: Always be prepared for anything! In the mountains, the weather can change rapidly. Look for thunderstorms. If you can hear thunder, lightning isn’t far, so get off the high ground, don’t huddle under the tallest tree, just wait for the storm to pass; it generally never lasts very long.

JF: What about encounters with wildlife?

SG: We do see quite a bit of wildlife. This is one of the great things about hiking and mountain biking around Deer Valley. I’ve had the pleasure to see all kinds of animals around this mountain. You just got to give them space. We’ve taken a lot of space away from them and we should always treat the mountain as their own domain. If I see a moose on the trail, I make my presence known, and hopefully he’ll amble on.

JF: So, how ready are you for Deer Valley Resort summer opening?

SG: Well, we’re opening on June 14, and based on my most recent trail inspections, we’re going to have a fantastic opening, with ninety percent of the trails perfectly passable, so please, come and join us!

 

Easy Breezy Summer Day

Some days you don’t feel like exerting yourself -no biking and no hiking.  You just want to chill, relax and have an easy -breezy day.  Last Saturday was one of those days. We had some friends visiting from California so the chairlift to Deer Valley’s Bald Mountain was just what the doctor ordered.Great views – aspens, pines, and mountain bikers below us.  Now you are talking!

As we approached the top of Bald Mountain, my friends innocently asked me which runs I ski.  Since they aren’t skiers, I could easily have said something like, “Oh Grizzly and Orient Express but my favorite on powder days is Mayflower Bowl.  I stay away from Morningstar when it is really cold because I just can’t catch my edges but otherwise it is an exhilarating run.”

All that would have been a completely fabricated — a bald faced lie so I didn’t do it but it would have been fun to see if they believed me.  Well, instead I looked at them and laughed saying, ” None! Are  you crazy?  See the black diamond?  Let me explain what that means.  That  means not Nancy.” (Well, not yet anyways). 


We walked over to Sultan Express lift to see views of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the Heber Valley from what felt like the top of the world. We could see the Uinta mountain range from there.  I pointed out the Blue Ledge run to my friend and we stood at the blind drop off edge to get a feel for what it would be like to fly over the ledge on skis.  We stood near the top of Thunderer run and looked down on a black diamond run but with our feet firmly planted on the ground.


Mountain bikers and hikers were unloading to make their trek down the mountain as we climbed back on the lift to ride down.  The view of Park City and the valley was breathtaking.  I pointed out Flagstaff Mountain where I do hang out on the single blue and green runs.

All this sitting on the chairlift and relaxing made us thirsty! 

We headed up to Stein Eriksen Lodge to lounge on their patio, drink local brews, visit and watch the wind blow through the aspens in an easy breezy way.

Biking is for the Whole Family

Spring came early to Park City—in a town where odds run high for snow on graduation day, it can be confusing to be able to play outside like it’s Summer in April or May. But, friends, we’re muddling through, somehow. What with all the Chamber of Commerce weather, and the fact that my kids look at bike time as cross-training for skiing (Opening Weekend), this is bound to be the summer that improves our skiing by leaps and bounds.

In fact, it didn’t take long for us to get rolling in summer mode in our house. Seth, our newly-minted five year-old, with his newly-missing two bottom teeth, has determined that this summer’s theme is “Two Wheels or Bust!” It didn’t take much—just like when he wanted to learn to ski, he saw big brother do it, and that, friends, was that (Secrets to Success). We started offering various tips on technique, offered to put a broomstick in the well under his seat so we could help him balance, suggested he use his feet to push and glide off the ground while he got the feel for it. And, in typical Seth fashion, he looked at us and said, “Why don’t I just ride?”

So, he did. Here’s the footage

The next thing I knew, Jeff was in the garage, finding the pedals to put on his own bike. Poor guy had been so busy in the last few years, the only time his bike got to roll on the trails around here was when our friend Cheo came for visits and borrowed the bike (he’s a BYOPedal kinda guy). Now, though, the kids were on a roll, and Jeff was not going to miss out.

So, with images of family bike rides dancing in our heads, we hauled Lance’s first mountain bike with gears into Jans for a tune-up (it was a hand-me-down from friends), and took mine there for good measure. While we were there, Jeff noticed some shiny new objects—and started chatting with Stephanie, one of the expert bike fitters. Before long, she had Jeff set up on demos, and he was tooling around the neighborhood, trying to choose a new bike. I won’t bore you with the list of complaints he has for his old mountain bike. We think of it as Cheo’s bike, anyway, and now this will allow the two of them to go on rides together when he’s in town…but I digress.

I owe Stephanie, Marty, and the team at Jans a debt of gratitude for helping Jeff find a new bike. First, she took the guesswork out of what gift to give my husband for our 17th wedding anniversary this month. Yes, friends, in case you were wondering, the official gift for 17th anniversary is One Sweet Ride. Second, she singlehandedly helped reconnect my guy, who raced bikes in high school, with a lifelong passion—that’s going to help push his healthy lifestyle agenda to the next level. Also, they helped me entertain my kids during the whole bike demo process, allowing many pairs of shoes to be tried on, and selling us a couple of bags of candy, to boot. As in winter, I’m not above bribing with candy. [Upping the Ante on Bribes]

After all was said and done, I was inspired to get my like-new (as in gently used, because I bought it eleven years ago and have ridden just a handful of times) bike into the shop for a tune-up.

Some people in my house have described me as a reluctant biker—I’m not. I swear. I really, really WANT to bike. But I’ve never been a confident biker, which makes it hard to just get out and ride. When I first bought my bike, I took advantage of the variety of free, guided rides available to all levels of bikers through Jans and White Pine—some are even women-only. Somehow, though, once the boys were born, I couldn’t make the time for those rides. No, boys, I’m not blaming you. In recent years,  I promised my pal Emily that I would take some mountain biking lessons at Deer Valley—but other things took precedence.

Now, though, the same thing that motivated me to up my game on the snow has been brought to bear for biking; I will not be left behind by my family. So: First things first, I’m going to start riding on the flat trails around town. Next, I’ll join some of those evening rides at White Pine and Jans. And, because my kids are going to check out some Deer Valley Summer Camps, I’m going to book myself a mountain biking lesson on the mountain, too.

Let the games begin!

Where to Bike in Park City during “Shoulder Season”

Hidden Gems in Park City – Bike Edition

Where can you take a detour from your trip to Home Depot and find an amazing mountain bike course that is free to the public?  Park City, of course! This past weekend my husband and I were headed to the hardware store east of Park City on Highway 40 and decided to take the scenic route and drive through a neighborhood.   We stumbled upon Trailside Park and its soccer field, skateboard park and the amazing mountain bike training course.

We looked at each other and said in unison, “Let’s check it out.” We didn’t see any bikes on the course (maybe because it was really windy.)  So we opened the tailgate, let the dog out and headed up the trail.  It started off with a beginners course called “Bella’s Course” with a couple of stone bridges and curved dirt trails for little ones to try. I can imagine a little girl with a pink bike and helmet tearing around those corners like there’s no tomorrow!

Not for the faint of heart: this trail is challenging!  We hiked up the path and found tons of strategically placed wooden ramps and side rails that were six feet tall!  The course was full of small and large dirt ramps to test the skills of every mountain biker young and old.  We saw a few when we ran into a couple of teenagers with helmet cams taking the big jumps and filming each others landings.

 

This course wouldn’t be for the beginner but if you or your kids love a challenge,   check out Trailside park.  www.basinrecreation.org/trailside_park.html

For the faint of heart: Willow Creek Park. We found this park  in much the same way – we went for a leisurely drive through a neighborhood  and out popped this amazing park with two play structures, finely groomed soccer fields, a pond, and wide paths for walking,running or biking.  The bike paths connect to a couple of nice trails.  On this ride, you won’t find a ramp or a bump in sight but what you will see are wide rocky pathways that are great to either pick up some speed  for a good workout or to take at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery.

I sometimes start at Kimball Junction and ride along the Swaner Nature Preserve past the Swaner farm on the Highway 224.  The bike trail winds past some wetlands and creeks  before it opens up to the meadow at Willow Creek Park. You can ride up to the soccer field there and grab some cold water from the drinking fountain. Take a rest in the shade before heading up further to catch up with the Farm Trail for more stream side riding or head back the way you came.  Www.basinrecreation.org/willow_creek.html

Whether you are a hard core thrill seeking biker or looking for a scenic spring ride and  some exercise, Park City parks are a great way to explore while waiting for Deer Valley’s lift-served biking and hiking to open on June 15.

Final Notes on Another Great Ski Season

Once more and just like last year, Deer Valley Resort made it to its last day with flying colors!  On closing weekend, the mountain was dressed up into an immaculate coat of white; in fact it had been snowing almost all week long, ending the winter season, just like the previous ones, on the highest possible note.

It’s quite fair to say that Mother Nature didn’t do much to help during the peak winter months, as if she were avariciously hording snow for some unknown purpose, but the Deer Valley’s snow-making crews came to the rescue and more than compensated for a lackluster snow-year and sparse precipitations.

(Photo by Daniel Diyanni)

All along, I never held great expectations about natural snowfalls and, as a result, was never disappointed. Instead, I skied more than my share and I could only rejoice when a number of providential blizzards transformed the mountain. These abundant precipitations first came in the later part of January, lasted for days around mid-February, and then in a more routine, spring-like fashion, during March and early April.

(Photo by Ryan Turner)

Of course, the credit for what ended up being another great season, rested more on the snow-maker shoulders and the groomers fine-combing expertise, than on the skies natural bounty, and for once, the snow-making insurance-policy protection came into full force and delivered the goods!

(Photo by Ryan Turner)

This said, the season was packed with wonderful days of skiing, powder snow, both untouched and meticulously manicured, and at times it was hard to believe that it was a dryer-than-usual winter. When January came around, tree skiing was again a possibility and the opportunities for powder “face-shots” were much more frequent than I would have imagined.

It’s too bad that these sensations are so hard to share, because if they could be telegraphed in more vivid terms, many folks who ended up staying on the sidelines might have made the effort to come out and experience these great ski days for themselves. I, for one, discovered new runs, new path in the trees and by the time the resort closed down this past Sunday , I still could not get enough good skiing!

Of course, I’ve always been a late bloomer as far as skiing goes. I never get really excited too early in the season. My passion for the sport needs to build up and as April comes along, I’m still eager and ready, but nature thinks otherwise… The morale of the story is that, whether we live next to Deer Valley Resort, in the Salt Lake Valley, Los Angeles or New York, we should never assume that “conditions are bad.” The ski reality that Deer Valley creates always exceeds our best imagination!

(Photo by Gus Steadman)

As our delayed winter may linger for a few more weeks, there still might be a few turns in store for me under the form of alpine ski touring, as soon the skies clear and the snow return to “corn” quality. Mountain biking is still a good distance away, and frankly, before thinking too much about the upcoming summer and its endless array of activities, I need to take a long mental vacation from this past winter!

Start of Summer

Welcome to summer at Deer Valley Resort! It has been a colder and wetter spring than normal here in the mountains following the second snowiest winter on record. But we can finally see the higher elevations turning green and a steady progression in the snow melt.

Our summer operations begin in just two days!  We will have a limited mountain biking opening, anywhere there isn’t snow! We will open the Silver Lake Express and Sterling Express chairlifts as well as the Ruby chairlift, new to the summer operation, on Friday June 17.  Silver Lake Express chairlift from the Snow Park Base area will offer scenic rides and limited mountain biking on Devo, Four Point and Tour Des Homes trails. Sterling Express chairlift from Silver Lake at mid-mountain and Ruby Express chairlift from Empire Canyon will only offer scenic chairlift rides.  New biking and hiking trails will open as conditions permit. 

For a map click here: http://www.deervalley.com/activities_skiing/mountain_biking/trail-map-and-descriptions.html

We will offer an early season biking rate of $20 for an all day pass on Silver Lake Express.

Friday is the first day Royal Street Café is open for the summer! I’m already thinking about the Dungeness Crab Tower and the Lemon meringue pie. We will also be showing you how to make our signature Blueberry Mojito in the next couple days, make sure you’re a fan of Ski Deer Valley on Facebook to catch the video. www.facebook.com/skideervalley.

This summer’s exciting line up of concerts in our Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater is sure to please.  It all kicks off with the FREE Community Concert Series by Mountain Town Music on Wednesday, June 22 with local band Holy Water Buffalo.  Don’t worry, our hard-working guest services crew was able to get the stage up already.  They worked around the snow in a unique way this year in order to raise the canopy on the amphitheater.  For the first time ever, we had to bring out a snow cat!  See the video below:

Thanks to Mother Nature all the snow in the venue has melted over the last week and concerts are on as planned.  The venue however, is still drying out, so please bring chairs or extra blankets if you plan to attend next week’s concert.  And of course, don’t forget your picnic!  In addition to our gourmet picnic baskets, this year we will also offer gourmet picnic bags which include my favorite Deer Valley sandwiches and homemade potato chips!  A complete list of what is featured in both the baskets and bags can be found at: http://www.deervalley.com/dining_shopping/gourmet_picnic_baskets.html 

Snow Park Lodge is full of activity again as we welcomed back our summer campers this week!  Summer Adventure Camp kicked off the 10-week program on Monday. Today the kid’s enjoyed the warm weather with their first Bike, Blade and Bounce Wednesday! 

We still have availability for children ages two months to 12 years.  Upcoming weekly themes are:

June 27 – July 1:  Bucky’s Great Adventure
July 5 – 8: Quincy’s Water World

We look forward to seeing you at Deer Valley this summer.  I will make sure to keep you posted as the snow melts and new trails open.  Think Sun!

Thanks for Another Great Season!

It is hard to believe that our 30th winter season has just come to a close.  Thank you to everyone who visited this year!

Deer Valley Ski Patrol on Closing Day (photo: Matt DeWaard)

If you made it up here over closing weekend, you know that the snow conditions actutally felt like mid- January.  The season ended with back-to-back powder days!

Our summer season of lift-served hiking, biking and scenic rides is scheduled to begin on June 17 (conditions permitting). We will keep you updated on summer operations as there is still A LOT of snow that needs to melt. The resort closed on Sunday, April 10 with an impressive snow base depth of 132 inches!

In the meantime, you can still enjoy some of your favorite Deer Valley foods.  Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe is staying open year-round and will continue to offer a changing daily selection of freshly-made on-site and to-go items throughout the spring and summer.  Hours will be expanded to 8:30 p.m. to include dinner service during Deer Valley’s summer season.  Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe has a beautiful deck overlooking the Deer Valley duck ponds and will continue deck service throughout the spring and summer as weather allows.

Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe

 

Thanks again for a wonderful ski season!