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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Mountain Biking at Green Mountain Trails

On Saturday, Jordan had a rare day off, so we joined our friends and went mountain biking in Vermont. The Green Mountain Trails are located near Killington in the town of Pittsfield, Vermont. They have 25 miles of singletrack trails labeled by difficulty.

Mountain bike trails are categorized just like ski trails. Thankfully there was a wide range of greens, blues and blacks to ride. I like to stick to greens and blues.

Mountain biking on trails I have never been on in kind of nerve wracking. Thankfully I could ride most of them. We climbed up to the summit to a little stone cabin.

There were also some really great views!

The guys wanted to ride the “Devils Throat” down. Just the name of that trail scares me. Thankfully when you can’t ride the trail you can always hike it. Hiking with a mountain bike is just a little bit harder than regular hiking…

(No, I do not ride in Chacos…)

After I made it down Devil’s Thumb, thankfully there were many blues and greens to ride. The last mile back to the car was a downhill style trail that was so much fun! In the end I think we rode about 10 miles. It was tough!

I think I’m improving every time I ride. This summer a few friends and I are going to Vermont for a women’s mountain biking event where we’ll take clinics to learn proper riding techniques. I’m so excited!

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Winter Adventure Update

No, I did not fall off the face of the Earth! I’ve neglected this space for the past month because I’ve been busy with my clinical rotation of my Dietetic Internship! On January 16th I started this 13 week rotation at a hospital in Western Massachusetts, so I’ve been living in the Berkshires during the week and returning back to the Capital Region on the weekends. It has been going pretty well so far! I plan on doing a Day in the Life of Clinical Dietetic Intern pretty soon! But here’s what I’ve been up to.

+Fat biking! Last weekend Jordan and I drove with a few of his friends to Northfield Mountain Bike Park in New Hampshire for Winter Woolly, a downhill fat biking festival! The park opened up the lifts for one day so we could ride our fat bikes downhill in the SNOW! We haven’t had this much snow in about two years so it took some getting used to. The first time I ever rode a fat bike was during Winter Bike Fest in Vermont 2 years ago…and that was the last time until now. I got my own fat bike for Christmas and love love love it! Next weekend we are doing our annual trip to Vermont to fat bike at Kingdom Trails and Ski at Jay Peak. Cannot wait!

+Skiing! Jordan and I bought value passes for Jiminy Peak so we could meet there and go skiing after work. The hospital is only about 20 min from Jiminy so I can drive straight from work and meet Jordan to go skiing. We’ve done this a few times and I’ve also met some other friends there for a Ski date. Twilight skiing is so fun! I learned to ski a year ago and I’m slowly getting a little better each time I do it.


+Training for Seneca 7. Nothing much is happening on the running front. After taking a break this fall from training and racing, I’m slowly upping my mileage for the Senenca 7 Relay in April! We have our team from last year together again because we had such a blast. I’m looking forward to running 77.7 miles with them around Senenca Lake in April.

+Snowshoeing. We finally got enough snow to strap on snowshoes. Last Sunday during the big snow storm Jenna and I met some friends at the Pine Bush in Albany for a short three mile snowshoe. This was the longest hike I’ve been on since January 2nd and I’m really missing the mountains! I have plans to get up to the Adirondacks tomorrow to do some exploring.


+46r # 10,007. After waiting patiently for MONTHS, I was finally assigned my 46r number! It’s official, I’m 46r #10,007! I promptly ordered a few pieces of gear with that logo on it!

I’ll be back soon with a trip report for my hike tomorrow!

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Over the Top Trail Run/ Mountain Bike Ride at West Mountain

So, I’m behind on my blog posts, but it’s never too late to catch up, right? Back in August, I signed up for my first ever duathlon, a 5K trail run and 10k mountain bike ride at West Mountain in Queensbury.

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image from West Mountain’s facebook page

I really had no idea what to expect from this race. I signed up for it with a few of our friends, and none of us got any emails or anything about the logisitics. We just knew it started at 10:00am at West Mountain Ski Resort. We got there at about 9:15, picked up our shirts and bibs and headed over to the starting line, which was at a different area than the main lodge where packet pickup/ the afterparty was located.

I set up my bike at the transition area (a first for me!) and got ready to run.

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The only picture I got from the whole race, my mountain bike at the transition

The run portion started off great. But soon, the hills began and I found myself walking a lot. But my only goal for this race to was to have fun (and finish it).

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Run Time: 36:08.7
Pace: 11:39

Transition time: 2:04.2

I got on my bike and pedaled away. The first part of the bike course was on the same course as the run, which was weird. But then I found myself going up the mountain. I guess they don’t call it “Over the Top” for nothing.

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There were some nice views at the top of West Mountain! But I was on my bike so my phone was in my pack.

Bike time: 1:01:33.4
MPH: 6.04 (I am SO SLOW at climbing on my mountain bike. So not efficient.)

Total Time: 1:39:46.4

There were 20 individuals in this race (some people were competing as teams) and my friend Aubrey was the 3rd fastest woman! I was the 3rd from last. At least I wasn’t last!

After we all finished, we loaded our bikes back up and drove back to the main lodge for the post-race party, where hamburgers and beer awaited.

Overall, I think this was a nice little race. The volunteers were friendly it it seemed to be organized well. The course was marked  well, too. I would do it again!

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