Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ride the Beast Naked: Mountain Biking at Killington in the Summer

“Weave left, right, now around that big rock - don’t look at the big rock - now the root, root, push down, don’t slip, tilt the bike, root, rock, around that branch, pull up, move left…whew, wait - ”


I was amazed at how fast these thoughts came flying through my head as I headed down Trail 7, one of the Black Diamond Trails at Killington Resort. I was riding with my friend, Will, who was visiting from Boston. Earlier, we had reintroduced his 17-year old niece to the sport and were excited to spend some time riding hard on the more difficult terrain. Moving fast through the rocky, off-camber sections that traverse through Patsy’s, I was definitely glad we had spent the morning warming up on the easier trails. Dropping right down the Rock Garden on Double Black 7, a gnarly section of the Gravity East Race Series Downhill course, would definitely not have been a great way to begin my season.

Berm Track on Trail 7: Killington Resort
If you’ve ever enjoyed Killington on your board or skis, whether ripping through the woods or flying down Cruise Control, then you have got to try Downhill Mountain Biking. Just riding in the gondola is enough to make the skier or rider in you smile with anticipation. You’ve already felt the rush of the cold winter wind squealing through your goggles as you cruise down the Beast. Downhill Mountain Biking bring back all the same excitement - without the fluffy white stuff to protect you from the rocks, roots and gravel waiting to claim their next unsuspecting victim. But that’s why we all look like we could claim victory on American Gladiators - you don’t dress for the ride, you dress for the fall. Shin guards, Full-Face Helmets, Goggles and Gloves are the minimum recommended requirements when riding what looks like motor-less dirtbike down 2000 vertical feet. You’ll even see the more committed rider wearing full chest, shoulder and spine protectors, just in case.

That’s why the shop guys spend a good chunk of time lecturing everybody that rents. It doesn’t matter whether you want to hear it or not. As you come around the first turn of loose gravel, your eyes will pop out of your head as the bike wiggles underneath you. Only then will you wish that you’d paid more attention to what the rental guy was lecturing you about when he handed you the bike. But you keep riding, mostly because it would be embarrassing to hike back up, and then something wonderful happens. Maybe it was in the woods at the end of Green 2, pounding the rocky drops on Blue 3 or even the mini jumps on Blue 24; but about halfway down, a big smile reaches your eyes as you realize, “Hey, THIS IS AWESOME!” And then it hits you - you’re really not good at this yet, and maybe - just maybe - you should slow down! Instead, you smile and head to the K1 for one more run .


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