Fraser Valley trails help riders hone skills
Mountain Biking with Keith
I am really enjoying incorporating the new trails into my rides. Being able to create new loops makes my riding experience even better. One thing about some of the new trails is that they let you challenge yourself technically.
Winter Park has some great fun trails but overall our trails are fairly moderate when you assess technical skill level. Sure, they offer some great flow and build confidence, but if you want to ride a trail with technical challenges, you need to know the trail system fairly well.
You can test your skills a bit by using knowledge about our trail system. Oftentimes users think of technical trails as those with rocks and other slow speed obstacles. Technical trails are those trails that give your bike-handling skills a test. That may be rocks or roots but can be steepness both up and down as well as ruts and other challenges.
I thought I would give you a few options that are close to town where you can work on your technical skills. The east and west side of US Highway 40 offer distinct trail challenges. These suggestions are hardly the complete list but simply a few near town that come to mind.
East of Highway 40
Yankee Doodle has some hard to navigate switchbacks. Some of these are very tight and difficult to get around. If you can’t make the turns then stop and look at the switchback in order to analyze the challenge at hand. At the beginning of the switchback give a bit harder effort, look ahead and avoid the natural instinct to lean too much into the apex of the turn.
The Idlewild Trail in Idlewild is a great place to practice your steep climbing skills. Start at the bottom just above the bridge on the low part of the South Fork Loop. The first part is steep and loose, which makes it a great place to hone your climbing skills. As you approach the steep area, accelerate a bit and then give it a hard effort in order to keep your momentum high. Move your weight back a bit as that will give you more traction over the real wheel.
The lower part of Arrow Trail offers some great tight singletrack as well as a few places with short power climbs and speed. Look ahead, keep your upper body loose including those elbows! Avoid leaning hard on the handlebars as that can shift your center of gravity too far forward- especially on descents.
West of Highway 40
Sundog offers some great slower speed obstacles. Tight switchbacks with a few roots here let you work on a few things at once. These switchbacks are a bit easier than those found on Yankee Doodle but still a challenge.
Akimas Way is a traverse that has plenty of smaller rocks and roots. Look ahead and determine your route, this is key in mastering any obstacle. Be light on the front wheel as that will help it roll over rocks and roots.
Leap Frog (not yet signed as it is a new trail onto the official trail system. It starts at the top of D4 on the east side) lets all ability levels test their skills. This trail is a great place to challenge yourself on what are mainly rock features. I often stop to look at the challenge in order to determine how to do it and is it within my ability. As you roll up the rock keep enough power to the pedals. As you roll over the rock, be light on your hands which will naturally shift your center of gravity back allowing you to be more balanced on the bike.
Anytime you test your skills be sure that you are within your skill ability. Progress gradually as you increase difficulty. If it looks too hard then it might be best to wait to try that technical challenge once you have improved your skills.
Beavers Sports Shop next the Best Western Hotel does a group ride Friday night at 6:00. This ride is for the intermediate and above rider. We will explore the local trail system as a group. For more info call the shop at 726-5988.
Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!
Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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