You know the phrase, “it’s just like riding a bike.” But, what if said bike is meant to navigate down miles of winding singletrack on one of the East Coast’s biggest ski resorts? Not so simple.
Like many ski resorts across the country, Vermont’s Killington Resort offers lift-served mountain biking during the summer months. From mellow beginner trails to technical freeride terrain, lift-served mountain biking is reminiscent of a day spent skiing or riding during the winter months. Along with a ticket to ride, beginners can opt for rental gear (which includes everything from a full suspension bike to full body armor) as well as a lesson from a professional instructor.
A recent outing with Kinley Tener, one of Killington’s instructors, helped break down the mountain biking mystique and had us shredding the trails in no time. Here were the top five takeaways.
1. Gear Up
Resorts rent top-notch mountain bikes, complete with front and rear suspensions, hydraulic disk brakes and oversized, knobby tires. With all that bike underfoot, it’s also important to take proper safety measures: helmet, knee, shin and elbow pads not only add confidence, they can save your skin if things get squirrely. Pro Tip: Don’t just dust off any old bike and take it down the mountain—part of the safety factor includes what you’re riding on.
2. Learn the Basics
Hopping on a mountain bike and cruising down a ski hill is unlike any other experience, so it’s important to keep yourself and those around you safe and in control at all times. Kinley started us on the basics with a quick beginner run at the base of the mountain. He showed us the ropes on the transmission, brakes and all around maneuvering of the mountain bike. Pro Tip: Don’t grip the handlebars too tight, but instead, keep them light and have one finger on each brake.
You’d think you’d just lean back in the saddle, right? Wrong. We learned about balancing our weight, standing up on the pedals and the importance of keeping both feet level. Adding weight to the handlebars gives the front tire added grip when cornering. Pro Tip: Like skiing and riding, look ahead, not down. Your bike will follow your eyes, so look at where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go.
How you hold yourself on the bike feels similar to a yoga pose. We learned it was important to fold at the waist, keep our elbows back and position our faces just past the handlebars. Pro Tip: Embrace the curves on the trail by leaning into them. Pro Tip: Get used to hanging your hillside foot out for balance—Kinley called this “doing the flamingo.”
5. Enjoy the Ride
Ski resorts have mountain bike trails carved out much like downhill ski runs: green, blue and black. There’s no shame in riding a green trail. Choose a line inside your comfort level and go with it. Pro Tip: When picking your line, look ahead and be prepared for any obstacles in your way. But most of all, enjoy the ride!