It’s been three years since my last trip to Northstar. On that visit, I received a thorough ass kicking. I returned this Labor Day with three additional seasons of experience, a full face helmet, arm and leg armor, and a Giant Reign from the rental shop with 6.7″ of travel. I had a kick ass time!
I summed up the last visit with dirt, rocks, and pain. I wrote of ungraceful dismounts, going over my handlebars, and a bunch of bumps. We called it a day an hour or two before the lifts closed because we were so beat up and tired.
This time around, I remained mostly dirt-free. I had a ton of fun picking my way through the rocks, dropping off some, doing manuals off others. Despite riding more difficult trails than last time there were no ungraceful dismounts; even when I got bounced off my pedals I still landed on my feet. I have no bumps to show for my visit, and we finished our last run so late we couldn’t take the lift back up to mid-mountain to return our bikes.
So what made the difference? Sure, the extra 2.7″ of travel helped, but what did I learn in the last three years that kept me on the bike the whole way down the mountain? Just a few simple concepts. Mostly just keeping my weight back and my knees bent, staying relaxed, and believing that the bike could handle the terrain ahead as long as I remained smooth and balanced.
My quads were toast by the end of the day. That’s a good thing. It meant I really was bending my knees and getting low. Now, if only I could remember to do that in hockey…