Where to Mountain Bike in the Capital Region

Now that I’ve been mountain biking for about 2.5 years, I think it’s time I shared a post about my favorite places to ride locally! I learned to mountain bike on these trails, so they are as good as any to learn to ride, improve your skills, and get some exercise! My favorite app for finding new trails is called TrailForks and you can find maps of all these trails on this app.

Best Bet for Beginners: North Bethlehem Town Park, Guilderland

Not only is North Bethlehem close to Albany, it has many features, such as bridges, berms, wooden drops, and obstacles like logs to ride over. It is a great place to practice riding over things and is also a great place to practice riding fast!

There are still a few features I’ve yet to try but I’m hoping soon I’ll be able to ride everything here! The trails are windy, so it is also great for learning how to corner properly. It is one of the places I feel most comfortable riding solo, as well as at night, as the trail never strays too far from the main lot and there are always people around.

Luther Forest, Malta

Luther was one of the very first places I ever rode a mountain bike! The actual first place was Millstone Trails in Vermont, but that’s another story! Luther is another great place to ride, especially if you are learning. Trails are flowy and there are some good climbing sections.

Colonie Town Park, Colonie

Colonie is another one of the very first places I rode a mountain bike, which is saying something because some of these trails are hard! There are lots of roots and rocks and steep climbs and descents here. There is also some double track if you are just starting out and want to ride something easy. It is also right next to the Mohawk Hudson bike path, in case you really want to bail and ride on the paved path. The reason why I liked starting here is that it makes the other local trails seem easy. A lot of these trails are very fun to ride! My favorite is the Pasta loop.

Gurney Lane Bike Park, Queensbury

Gurney is a bit of a hike, located right off of exit 20 on Northway. BUT it is totally worth the ~ hour drive because these trails are incredible. They just may be my favorite trails in the area. They are fast, flowy, and there are even two new downhill style trails (E20 and Tango) that are super fun to ride. I never get tired of riding here! My favorite combo right now is riding Coaster to Salsa to Race Course for a super fun section. The trails are all very well marked and labeled according to difficulty.

Well, there you have it! Each of these places is very beginner friendly, while still fun to ride. If you are interested in learning to mountain bike, have any suggestions on where to ride locally that I haven’t mentioned, or just have a question, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. ūüėÄ Happy riding!

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Riding Lussi and Loggers Trails in Lake Placid

Last weekend I was in Lake Placid for my sister’s birthday. We rented a cabin at the ADK Loj, did some hiking and then had dinner at Big Slide Brewery. I’ll get to the hike later, but now I want to recap the trails Jordan and I rode while we were up there. My sister and her husband Brian left early on Sunday to drive back down to NJ, so Sunday was the perfect time to hit the trails. Our friends Jason and Aubrey met us at the trailhead just outside of Lake Placid on Riverside Drive. The trail system (called Lussi and Loggers) is right off the famous Jackrabbit Trail.

Trailforks is my favorite mtb app, it has trail maps that are categorized by difficulty; very handy to have while on the trail!

 

There are lots of features to ride here. The trails are technical but not to horrible, as I could ride everything, minus a few of the skinny bridges. Lots of roots and rocks, though!

And plus the views were just amazing.

Riders have the option of riding down the boulder below. Not me, yet…

We covered about 13 miles in ~4 hours. It was my longest mtb ride yet!

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Mountain Biking Getaway Weekend in Vermont

This past weekend was pretty epic! Jordan and I went to Vermont with our good friends for some mountain biking in Vermont. We left Friday morning, arrived in the Northeast Kingdom around noon and hit the trails. We started the weekend at Victory Hill near Kingdom Trails. There is one main double track climbing trail that leads to all of the other trails in the network (there aren’t that many), but most are downhill-style trails with lots of roots and rocks. I did two runs, mostly because I was tired of climbing after the first climb and wanted to save my legs for Kingdom Trails the following day. I rode Leifs and Mac Attack, both of which I found challenging but rideable (for me!). I’m finding that I’m a lot more comfortable on descents and just despise grueling climbs.

After the ride, we went to stock up on groceries for the weekend and then headed to our rental house, which was a sweet place right near Burke Mountain. The next morning we made breakfast and hit Kingdom Trails, which we could ride to right from our door. The day started out cool and cloudy, but eventually cleared up. It was a great day of riding. We covered about 12 miles with 1,400 feet of climbing until I rode up and over the end of a berm and crashed, landing on my knee! I was not wearing my knee pads (mistake!) so I chose to end my ride and wait for our group at Mike’s Tiki Bar.¬† Highlight of the day: descending down Moose Alley (and managing to stay on my bike!). Runners up include Sky Dive and Nose Dive, which were fun trails too.

 

 

Jordan and the rest of the group continued riding and finished up around 5:30. After enjoying some craft beverages at the Tiki Bar, we headed back to the rental for dinner! The guys grilled up some brats and burgers, a perfect way to refuel.

The next morning it was below freezing, so we decided to go to the Lyndon Diner for quick and cheap breakfast and wait for the temps to rise a bit. Deciding against a second day at Kingdom (sadly) we drove to Barre, Vermont to ride at Millstone Trails, located in a granite quarry. This was where I rode a mountain bike for the very first time two years ago! It was fun to go back as a more experienced rider, even though the trails here are so difficult, I was rarely riding the bike.

(Below= a portion of the trail I could actually ride!) Highlight of the day: riding down roller coaster at the end of the day.

Total miles for the weekend: ~ 25 (the most for me on a mountain bike)
With every ride I gain more confidence, push myself to conquer obstacles on the bike and become a better rider. I never thought this day would come, but I’ve left running behind for a greater thrill. Mountain biking has become my sport of choice as of late and I’m looking forward to sharing many more mtb adventures!

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Ladies Mountain Biking Weekend at Kingdom Trails

Last weekend, my friends Aubrey and Crystal and I took our mountain bikes to Kingdom Trails, the mountain biking mecca of the North East.  Kingdom Trails is a trail system in the North East Kingdom of Vermont, where over 100 miles of groomed trails are dedicated to mountain biking.

image from Garuka Bars

On Friday, we put our bikes on the car and drove up to Kingdom! It was the first time we’d gone mountain biking without the guys.

On Friday we arrived at Burke Mountain Resort and Mountain Bike Park, where the inaugural NEMBA Women’s Mountain Biking Summit was taking place! The Women’s Summit was an organized weekend of mountain biking seminars, clinics and rides for women mtb riders, with five meals included!¬†We checked in, scoped things out and headed out to dinner at Burke Public House in town. After dinner, we stopped at the store for snacks and wine (essentials), and then home to our Air B&B rental. The next morning we drove back to Burke Mountain for breakfast! Instead of staying for the seminar, we decided to head out on the trails. How could we not?

We had a short route planned out so we could be back at Burke for lunch. However, we took a wrong turn and started riding down Tap & Die, a black diamond. I didn’t even notice it was a black, I was having so much fun. The trail was fast and flowy.

Day 1 at Kingdom: 3.8 mi, 411′ elevation gain

After lunch, Aubrey and I were signed up for a Gravity clinic, while Crystal did a group ride at Kingdom. The gravity clinic was at Burke Mountain Bike Park. The clinic consisted of about 8 riders and 2 instructors. Eventually we broke into two groups, so Aubrey and I had our own instructor! She was incredible-she taught us how to ride berms, jumps, and how to ride with proper form on the downhill trails. By the end we rode a black from the top. It was such a great experience! When the clinic was over, we were beat. We waited the patio bar for Crystal to be done with her ride.

We went back to the house to change and shower. Our grand plan was to come back to Burke for dinner with the group. However, we decided to stay in and order a pizza. It just seemed like more fun! The next morning it was raining, so we packed up, went to breakfast at a diner (we missed the breakfast at Burke!), and it cleared up just in time to ride the trails at Kingdom.

During our ride, I conquered a fear–I rode a skinny bridge. Well, it wasn’t that skinny-but in the past I would ride around it.

We also rode a double black–Side Winder. It’s one of the most popular trails at Kingdom. For good reason.

I made it through the first half of the trail. If you don’t keep up speed, you can’t ride the trail, so I made the mistake of stopping on top of one of the big turns. It was still fun though!

We stopped for lunch at The Hub Trailside, a little bike shop and restaurant right off the trail. After our break, we rode about a mile and a half back to the car, packed up, stopped at the bike shop in town, and then headed home. It was really great to spend a weekend mountain biking with the girls. We love riding with the guys, but it was nice to not have to worry about keeping up with them. We felt free to do our own thing and ride what we wanted–less pressure! We had so much fun we decided to make it an annual event!

Day 2 – 11.7 miles, 1,134′ elevation gain

The NEMBA summit was a great idea in theory–to bring women together within the mtb community, however it was very disorganized! We also didn’t feel like sitting around in seminars, so we just did our own thing most of the time. But I think the Gravity clinic made the whole event worth it.

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My Favorite Mountain Biking Gear

With an outdoor sport comes gear. Unfortunately mountain biking is not a cheap outdoor sport. Not only do bikes cost $$$, the gear does too. Fortunately I’m pretty good at finding deals. I shop online at Sierra Trading Post and Steep & Cheap and usually end up buying last season’s gear at discounted prices. I’m not an expert by any means, but this is what I’m using right now as a novice mountain biker.

Women’s Giro MTB helmet with MIPS.

First and foremost, the most important piece of gear you buy will be the helmet. The main difference between a mtb helmet and a road bike helmet is the coverage. Mtb helmets cover more of your head, especially in the back. MIPS stands for Multi-impact Protection System, a technology that “reduces rotational forces when the helmet gets hit at an angle.” Buying a helmet with this newer technology is a no-brainer (see what I did there?) because it’s one of the most important pieces of gear you will buy.

POC VPD 2.0 Shin Guards

Buying Body Armor can quickly get out of control and before you know it you’ve spent thousands. Since I do have a budget, I wanted to pick one good quality piece. I don’t ride aggressively so Jordan and I decided shin pads would be the way to go. POC makes the VPD 2.0¬†shin guards¬†that have¬†flexible padding that’s soft until impact, it’s really quite amazing. I ride with flat pedals that have spikes on them to keep shoes connected to the pedal. When those spikes come in contact with your shins it is NOT good. Therefore, shin pads are quite necessary. However, they are sold individually, which I think is pretty stupid. Who only wants to buy only one shin pad? My next purchase will probably be¬†POC’s VPD knee pads.

Speaking of shoes…

Women’s Five Ten Freerider Shoe

When I first started riding, I was wearing regular trail running¬†shoes. But¬†when I upgraded my bike, I got flat pedals with spikes that were tearing up my shoes. Enter mountain biking shoes. Yes, they look like shoes that high school skater¬†kids wore back in the 90s, but they work for mountain biking. And they are comfortable! They have special grippy bottoms that keep your feet glued to the pedal, most of the time… and they are also surprisingly waterproof.

 

Fox Racing Sidewinder Glove

These are my favorite full-fingered gloves for downhill parks and trail rides. They fit perfect, they aren’t too hot, and they have protective coating on the outside incase you get too close to a tree!

Osprey Zealot Mountain Biking Pack and 3L Hydration Bladder

Osprey is my go-to for packs. I’ve been hiking with their Sirrus daypack for years and love it. When I found a mtb specific pack on sale on Steep and Cheap for $60 a few years ago I got it and do not regret it. This pack has a sleeve for your body armor, along with a helmet attachment that I believe also works with full-face helmets. It also comes with a built in zippered bag¬†for your mountain bike tools. Mine is blue, not orange, but you get the gist. I love it.

Pearl Izumi Launch Capri

These are my favorite pants for mountain biking! Not only is the color awesome, but they have pockets with zippers and are made of a breathable, stretchy material. They are so comfortable!

So there you have it! My favorite pieces of gear for mountain biking. Obviously you don’t have to spend a ton of money to be safe while biking, but certain items are worth it. You can always find deals online, too.

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