Since the early Spring, we’ve been filling our reports with tips for training in the offseason, starting with Michael van den Ham’s investigation into what was better for preparing for cyclocross, focusing on skinny tires or flatbars. The coaches he spoke with concluded road was their preferred choice. We’ve also been providing great content in our Technique Tuesday Columns from Adam Myerson, and while much of his advice is almost flawlessly applicable to the cyclocross season, much of his advice focuses on road in the cyclocross offseason.
With so much skinny-tire love, it was only a matter of time before someone took notice and argued for the fire roads and single tracks across the world. The folks at Mountain Bike Park City extended an invitation to stay with them for four days before Press Camp 2015, and show us what their trails had to offer.
On my first day out, we joined the team at JANS and White Pine Touring and took off on part of the city’s 400 non-motorized miles of public access trails.
It didn’t take me long to remember the allure of the mountains. After all, while high-intensity training and racing on the pavement might be better on paper for training heading into the fall, being able to explore the outdoors far away from car horns and potholes offers a mental training that is sorely needed to prevent competitive burnout.
The guides were quick to boast that Park City is the first and only International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) gold-level ride center in the world. Most of that is a result of trails of varying terrain as well as their proximity to lodging and restaurants.
While mountain bikes offer the greatest chance at exploring most of the trails that Park City has to offer, including their three ski resorts with chairlifts, I spotted a few gravel bikes heading out for adventure as well.
When the Mountain Trails Foundation was founded almost 25 years ago, the original purpose was to create Rail to Trail conversions from all of the old Union Pacific railway lines from Park City leading to Coalville. Although it was a quick success and resulted in the Mountain Trails Foundation looking to expand their vision to the mountainsides for everyone in the area, their original plan resulted in plenty of gravel-oriented trails to loose yourself in.
Over the next few days, we moved from the tamer trails to the resorts of Deer Valley and Canyons Resort, and got the special treat of being joined by the Pro mountain bike athlete and local resident, Eric Porter. While it was great to have him provide the tips and lines on the trails, it was also a little humbling to watch him wheelie down singletrack that was hard enough to navigate with both tires on the trail.
As an added benefit, I got to see him get inventive when the sidewall of a fellow rider’s tire ripped apart. As no one had a dollar in their pocket, which serves as an amazing temporary tire patch, Porter re-purposed a Clif Bar wrapper to do the job, which held for the full run.
Deer Valley, which also hosts Press Camp, was one of the first places in the area to bring mountain biking trails to the resort setting at such a scope, which they began back in 1992, back when rigid forks and cantilever brakes were the mainstream. Since then, they’ve been reworking their trails to accommodate for the ever-changing technology, including creating larger trails that offer more burms and flow.
Canyons Resort sports a large bike park that reminded me of a few features present at CrossVegas, but they also have over 20 miles of cross country trails. For riders not quite ready to start their day with a brutal climb, Canyons Resort has a red gondola that takes riders up to 8,000 feet. One of their most famous trails, the Mid Mountain Trail, often shows up on many internationally-notable bucket list rides.
Certainly the days on the trails brought all the quick lessons that technical riding has to offer, such as scrubbing speed in the corner for faster exit speeds, and steering on the trails with hips and legs rather than handlebars. But even better was the surprising full-package that Park City has to offer, including the hundreds of restaurants and activities at the Olympic Park from 2002.
Certainly Park City is a great destination to help cyclocrossers fine-tune their technique in the offseason, but it is also a great way to escape the grind that comes with training on the road and the daily commute.
More info: mountainbikingparkcity.com