Featured Freeride 101: Learning the Basics of Downhill Mountain Biking

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by Tricia, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    I've taken many steps on my journey to get my mojo back on my mountain bike, not the least of which was a Downhill 101 (now called Freeride 101*) course at Northstar. If you're thinking about trying downhill, this is a great way to learn a few basics and get the lay of the land on downhill terrain, but it will translate to your cross-country riding as well.

    I started the day with the bike crew getting suited up and fitted for a bike. This gear made me feel pretty darned invincible --some would even say bad ass.

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    We met our coach for the day, Kristen, who took us through some basics on understanding the bike and how we want to be positioned on it, beginning with saddle position, which was much lower than I had been riding, and hand position, reinforcing a relaxed grip and one finger on the brake levers.

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    After a few drills to make sure that everyone in the group was comfortable with braking, we headed up the lift for some action.

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    We used some of the mellow natural terrain to learn some skills like rolling over obstacles (errrrr, opportunities) and cornering with balance.

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    These skills were immediately helpful when applied to the trails.

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    If you take advantage of the morning course, you can continue to put your skills into practice with your all-day lift ticket, which is a great way to enjoy the mountain on a summer day.

    The best part of taking a lesson like this is that even if you don't consider yourself a serious freeride mountain biker, you'll get more out of your cross-country riding. I know I do.

    *Northstar's Freeride 101 lesson offers several options. Some include the bike rental and lift ticket, others do not. This makes it a bit more affordable if you have a suitable bike and pass for the mountain. Both options include the gear and helmet that you'll need to take the course. Check with a resort near you to find their lesson options.
     
    elemmac, luliski and Ken_R like this.
  2. epic

    epic Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    Stupid question? Was it hard loading the bikes on the lift? I've never seen them loaded sideways. Seems very awkward.
     
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  3. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    It was a side load IIRC, pretty easy.
     
  4. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    At Northstar, the lift they use is a Chondola, so they have a platform for gondola passengers to get on and off at Shaffer Camp at the top. This platform makes it pretty easy.
    A couple more pics to show how they do it.
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    *This is the chondola they use to host the mountain table dinners during the winter. Also @Ron used it to attend our wedding at Schaffer Camp.
    Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 4.46.04 PM.png
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
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  5. Tony S

    Tony S aka qcanoe Skier

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    I want to know more about Kristen.
     
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  6. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
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  7. Pumba

    Pumba Out on the slopes Skier

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    Wow! I clicked on the lesson link expecting the class and rental to cost hundreds of dollars, it being northstar and all. 59 dollars. That’s pretty awesome! Is the lift ticket 200 dollars or something? :roflmao:

    I am trying to figure out when I can get out there to get my mountain fix in before the biking season ends. Mtb has always been on my list of things to try. Maybe this year it will actually happen...
     
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  8. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    If you wanted to take a really affordable clinic at a place like Northstar, their Pumps on Pedals program on Friday nights is a great deal. I think its 65.00 for lift ticket, clinic, and bike rental.


    Here is a comprehensive page about the women's programs.
    https://www.northstarcalifornia.com...bike-and-hike/specialized-academy.aspx?tc_1=3
     
  9. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

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    I'm a Vermont girl but I clean up well
    We did this once a couple of years ago, not at Northstar but in Vermont and had a blast. We've been wanting to do it again. It is incredibly fun!! I'd like to take the class at northstasr, sounds like a great deal and oh that scenery...........
     
  10. Ken_R

    Ken_R Living the Dream Skier

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    Me too. Other than free basic clinics sponsored by some local bike shops all I have seen are $500 + MTB clinics/workshops...
     
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  11. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    An example of another bike clinic guru in Truckee is A Single Track Mind. I did this to write a story about t his clinic two years ago and really liked his clinic, but it didn't quite get me over the hump with my fears.
    Here is a thread I had on it.
    https://www.pugski.com/threads/singletrack-mind-skills-clinic.2281/
    Though I understand why they have to charge what they do, I don't know how they can compete with places like Northstar. His average clinic is $300.00 and he encourages you to do more than one clinic to optimize your skill set.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
  12. Alba Adventures

    Alba Adventures Putting on skis Skier

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    I haver done any DH mountain biking, though have ridden up and down on MTB trails. My summer schedule up until a few years ago was road bike racing, doing well over 100 races a season from March/April through October. Certainly, on my bucket list I need to do a bit of DH, though again prefer to ascend on my own power if I can :).. DH biking has a whole different set of skills that I would love to develop with my family.
     
  13. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    @Alba Adventures Surprisingly, many of the techniques taught in the Freeride 101 course are the same as the two other bike clinics I have taken.
    I can imagine that the advanced clinics take it to the next level.
     
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