Canyons, a ski resort in Park City, Utah, has slowly but surely built up their summer mountain bike offerings over the past couple years, giving it one of the more impressive collection of wooden ramp and features in the area. That’s no small feat given the wealth of world class riding in Park City, made even better by the range of clinics for ages 8 and up.
Last summer, Harrison and I took the half-day Mountain Bike 101 clinic, which was our first ever park experience. Most (read: all) of our riding at home is lightly rolling cross country trails. There are no big drops, no real elevation change, and certainly no ramps. A professionally led lesson seemed like the right introduction to such things, and Canyon’s beginner-friendly offerings looked like a good fit. They also offer group, private and more advanced sessions and guided cross country rides, so there’s something for everyone if your family’s made up of varied skill sets.
We met our guide, Alex, and were fitted on our rental bikes and given knee and elbow pads. Tyler and Cam rode the gondola up, too, and walked around and took pictures of us as we made our way down the mountain. Hiking trails abound, and they’re safely separate from the mountain bike trails.
The lesson was awesome. Our guide, Alex, was very patient and fun to talk to. Harrison was a rock star learning how to make it down the mountain – really listening to and thinking about the instructions Alex gave us. Harrison even put his own bike on the chairlift each time we went up the mountain (with only minimal help!)
Alex kept us on the easier trails, but we progressed to a few features like this roller coaster and a small wall ride. Going into the clinic, I didn’t know what to expect or have any particular goals. Honestly, Tyler lined it up for us and we just showed up. But by the end, both of us were confidently and smoothly riding bermed turns and small features (but still no drops).
Each run ended with a few minutes of discussion to analyze what we did right and what we could do better. Alex also stopped us on the trail before technical sections to explain what was coming up and provide tips on how to ride it.
Overall, the experience was very good. Quality time on the trail with your significant other is always nice, but not always the best learning environment, particularly when skill levels vary dramatically. Canyon’s clinics are not only in a gorgeous location with a plethora of outdoor, family friendly activities for all ages, but they’re staffed by friendly folks that make learning fun.
MORE ADVANCED TRAILS
Canyon’s mountain bike park continues to grow each year. It opens on June 12 for the 2014 season with the new Split Decision freeride trail built last summer. They’re peppered with bridges, ladders, ramps, gaps and drops, all served by two lifts. One-day lift passes run $27-32 with multi-day and season passes available, too. If you have a multipark pass with Northstar, Kirkwood, Keystone or Vail, it’ll get you on the mountain here, too.
Two separate skills sections let you practice different things, like graduated jumps to build confidence.