Notes From the Field: On Location in Vermont

October 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Destinations

mountain bike by shed 300x191 Notes From the Field:  On Location in VermontI remember the days long ago whence I resided in the little town of Atlanta. Anxiously waiting for the next trip up to Ellijay to rip Bear Creek and a stay at M.O.E.S. Even now, 10 years later, I still make trips down from Vermont in the spring to remember those early years of mountain bike bliss sessions. And that was before the advent of what we now call “advancements in technology”.

So I was sitting in Austin, TX about two years ago and realized that I had my fill of dirt jumping and 4x racing. I wanted easy-access DH and trails to write home about. So I headed north to the green mountains of Vermont…a paradise for those with a penchant for clean living and the great outdoors. Oh, and beer too.

What can I say? Sure the winters are snowy and cold but the riding here is great. The Fellowship of Wheel is the local trail org. and those boys can build some trails. My favorite…The Flo Trails in Essex. Imagine a pump track flow on several miles of smooth wooded trail…just the perfect thing after work or before a day on the slopes. So good, in fact, that when selecting a new place of residence, I had juxtaposition to the Flo trails in mind (5 minutes away by car isn’t too bad).

looking down from mountain bike charilift Notes From the Field:  On Location in VermontAnd for the DH’ers in the audience, there is so much up here-Bromont, White face, Mt. Snow, Sugarbush, Highlands, Sunday River…the list goes on and on. It’s a proverbial potpourri I say! And the dirt jumps in Stowe are well worth the fight through all the leaf-peepers (that’s what they call the tourists that get bussed in to see the fall foliage here).

My thoughts are this, people who love riding, really love riding. I love the love personally. Most everyone started riding bikes as a kid. I think the excitement derived from those early fires of youthful stoke was so pure and simple. And now, it is really something to be able warm my soul by those fires every time I climb aboard and take a ride. There is nothing wrong with getting older, just as long as you learn how to stay young. Well, I’ve need to wipe my eyes folks (sniff).

Stay tuned for next time, when I tell you about a little something called “The Drifter”…a full-on DH ski-machine converted from my old Santa Cruz Super 8…check it out!

the drifter Notes From the Field:  On Location in Vermont

Mountain Biking Vacation

August 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Destinations

What IS a mountain biking vacation?

This is one of the most common questions we receive and there are in fact several answers to this one.

Everyone knows what a ski vacation is -right? You fly out West, or pack up the car and head North for a week on the slopes. You stay in a condo or hotel, eat out, spend lots of money on t-shirts that read “ I skied the XXX Couloir” and come home with sore feet. Sounds pretty good actually, but while most skiers can relate to this scenario – even if they don’t indulge in them, very few mountain bikers know what the concept of a bike vacation is.

The beauty of the ski vacation is anyone can do it. Even if you’ve only skied once – you call yourself a skier. But cyclists are a different breed. They’re afraid to call themselves a cyclist if they don’t have shaved legs and a $5,000 bike. Cyclist sounds too serious. “I only ride once a week at best.” “I have not rode since western spirit base camp 300x225 Mountain Biking Vacationcollege.” “I’m 20lbs heavier than I used to be – I can’t do a bike trip”. This is where they’re wrong.

The beauty of a Western Spirit bike trip is the fact that we have trips for ALL abilities. Just like that ski vacation- you can come even if you’re a bit heavier than you were in your twenties, or if your bike is 10 years old. Here’s a couple of examples.

My Mom did our Grand Staircase trip for her 70th birthday and she did excellent. She’s certainly no Lance Armstrong, but she got through the first few days and actually got stronger as the week went on. I think she got in the van one day after lunch when faced with one of the western spirit climbing 225x300 Mountain Biking Vacationlarger climbs of the trip – but that’s what it’s there for. The Grand Staircase is one of our easiest trips and it’s the perfect introduction to a bike vacation. When she got back home she continued to ride twice a week for the rest of the summer and lost those 20lbs for good!

On the other end of the spectrum some folks think they’re so good they can’t possibly need a guide. They’re right, they don’t NEED one, but it sure is nice; especially when you want to ride at 10,000’ for five days across the Colorado Trail. Certain trips would be next to impossible to do on your own – unless your wife is willing to drive the custom F450 support truck up a 15 mile 4×4 Forest Service road, set up camp and make dinner for you and all your buddies. Oh yeah, and do all the dishes. My good friend from college who lives back East has been racing mountain bikes for 20 plus years. It was hard to convince him of the merits of a guided mountain bike trip, but after his first one there was this huge “ah-haaa” and an all knowing smile that said “why didn’t I do one of these years ago?”

The concept is simple; the truck carries all the gear and the guides do all the cooking. You, on the other western spirit broccoli 225x300 Mountain Biking Vacationhand ride your bike, eat, sleep and –repeat. The camping part is quite cushy and even if it’s been 30 years since you last camped in the army, boyscouts, or where ever, we make it easy and pleasurable. In fact the only thing you really have to do is find a place to set up your tent at camp, and if you’ve never done that, well the guides can help with that too.

Some folks ask what they do once they arrive at camp. Good question considering they’ve never been on one of these things before. The answer is it depends on what you feel like doing and what trip it is. We like to call it “unstructured leisure time”! – and it seems like none of us get enough of it anymore in our daily lives. Some may just set up the tent and take an afternoon nap. Reading a book down by the river is always relaxing – or how about with a view of the Grand Canyon! Many of our camps have million dollar views and just taking it all in while lounging about in a comfy camp chair is as good as it gets. Most folks want to get cleaned up right away to wash off the day’s sweat & dirt. So it’s down to the hot springs if you’re in Idaho, or a jump into Loon Lake with the kids if you’re on our Grand Teton family trip. For others, any western spirit sharing a laugh 300x225 Mountain Biking Vacationgood bike ride has to be followed by a round of cold beers and laughs with the other guests. One of the best times of the trip is once you’re all cleaned up, have a cold beverage or nice glass of wine in your hand and you’re enjoying some of the scrumptious appetizers the guides put out. Then you can kick back – relive parts of the ride with the other guests and watch the guides as they cook up yet another mouth watering delicacy right in front of you. The meals they turn out would be impressive in a fancy restaurant with full kitchen, but given the fact they are in the middle of nowhere with not much more than some coolers and stoves is truly remarkable. You will not go hungry on a Western Spirit trip and in fact you’ll even be hard pressed to lose any weight even though you’re riding your bike for five days straight. The food is simply that good.

Now that you get the idea of what a trip is like, you might ask what are the other guests like. Well, they just like you – or not, and that’s the other best part. They could be the high power Wall Street broker, Chicago lawyer, or the plumber from Dayton, OH. It just doesn’t matter and that’s the beauty. They’ve come together from all over the country, and beyond to ride bikes, be outdoors for a week and meet new friends.

A common question used to be “do I get cell service on that trip?” While it’s still a question some folks ask, it’s usually because they want to get away from their phones for a week. With no phones, computers or other daily distractions you can then begin to truly relax and recharge. Try it sometime – it will be a bit scary at first but you’ll be amazed at the outcome.

western spirit taking a break 300x225 Mountain Biking Vacation

So there you have it – a mountain bike vacation is just like a ski trip – only slightly cheaper, definitely warmer and no cheesy t-shirts you have to buy at the end.

Give Western Spirit a call and talk to one of their guides. They’re about the friendliest sales staff you could ever imagine and can answer any question you might have about they’re vacations. Most importantly they can help you choose the right trip for you. Do it soon, because if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do!

800 845-BIKE (2453)