Ode to Winter – Jane LeMasurier

It’s always this time of year in New England when the weather courts us with thoughts of summer — each day patches of matted brown grass grow greener and larger. Road salt is in full seasonal fade. “Come out and play,” I hear it say to me. Those first few spring rides outside on the road offer the most brilliant feeling of freedom. Of freshness. Of newness. Of a dirt season in the near-distance.

It’s also this time of year when I want to say, hold up. Am I really ready for winter to be over? It takes winter to appreciate spring, that’s for sure. But what can be so fun about donning winter gear to go out for a ride knowing I’ll be snot-nosed, teary-eyed, and frozen in a matter of minutes? Sure, a little discomfort can actually make us feel more alive. It can make us slow down and take a look at what’s important. Like fingers, for example. As bikers, we need ‘em and I never notice my fingers more than when I’m starting into a downhill on a cold winter ride and they’re nearly uselessly frozen. Why would I embrace this? Why hold on to this?

I went for a mountain bike ride in the woods behind my house a few weeks ago. The snow had frozen into a thick undulating layer of hard crust and a dusting of new snow had fallen overnight, making the ground grippy and fast. It was 20 degrees and overcast, which usually affords me about a 30% chance of getting outside to ride. But I motivated, geared up, and decided to give it a gamble. I started to follow a summer trail I’d built that leads out from our land. The ground was sufficiently firm, but not icy, and the trail was recognizable. I set to follow it out to a tract of power line land and then turn around and ride back. But despite knowing the trail from memory I missed a turn without noticing. I just kept riding, straight ahead through the woods, with no trail under wheel, just firm packed snow, like concrete–and wavy, like a wading pool. Suddenly the woods were free game, a biker’s paradise! I could ride any line my handlebars could fit through. I spent two hours alone out there in a state of playful joy. Leaving no tracks, no trace.

The next day the temperatures rose above freezing and the snow thawed. The following day it snowed half a foot. My bike playground had vanished, just like that.

For a brief afternoon, those poor winter conditions lined up perfectly. Right there in my backwoods a whole world of new riding opened up to me, offering an experience on a bike in New England woods that I’ve never had, nor can ever have, in the summer: so unrefined, pure, and fleeting. That’s why, when the birds start to sing songs of dirt days to come I say, hold up. Am I ready to move on from this?

Please, Winter, and your motley goods: don’t go too soon.

Beat Those Pre-Race Nerves!

Battling pre-race nerves is not always an easy task. For some, channeling nerves into excitement and adrenaline comes naturally. Yet sometimes these nerves can be debilitating – they cause anxiety, fear, and flooding thoughts of self-doubt that normally don’t exist. Here are some tips to help overcome the harmful effects of pre-race nerves:

1.) Remember that racing is no different than training. It can be hard to do this with the added competition and atmosphere of a race. Try to keep your race routine as similar to training as possible. There’s no need to do anything “special” on race day that you wouldn’t do on a normal training day. Doing so can lead to added pressure to compete well.

2.) Visualize. Visualization is powerful tool and is shown to stimulate the same parts of you mind your that are used when actually performing the actions you visualize. Imagining yourself ride sections of the course the way you want will give you confidence, because in your mind you have already mastered them.

3.) Engage in positive self-talk. Positive self-talk can be used to combat doubtful emotions and thoughts that may arise from nerves. Find a mantra that speaks to you and the kinds of things you are trying to combat on race day. Remind yourself of the things you are good at so that you can channel those strengths in the race, and feel confident beforehand.

The key is to learn how to make your nerves work for you, instead of against you. If you let your nerves control you too much, they can become crippling and debilitating. When channeled properly, however, they can create a powerful source of adrenaline that can help you go even faster on race day.

Moriah Wilson

Quinn Gets Excited for Summer!

New England winters are arguably more brutal than those of any other location in the United States. The unfortunate combination of length, temperature, and severe vitamin D deficiency make spring– and the beginning of bike season– that much more tantalizing.

February has graced those of us here in East Burke, Vermont with a surprising number of pow days, and I will admit, they make the heart of winter substantially more bearable. But no matter how many turns I carve on soft groomers, or cliffs I jump in hardwood forests I can’t replicate the excitement of bike seasons first pedal strokes.

By late April, Darling Hill, sleepy and trimmed with feet of snow in the winter, is replaced by a bustling scene of locals and tourists who’ve pulled their bikes from the shed, oiled their chains, and made their way to the Kingdom Trails. There’s a constant, palpable excitement which presents itself through customers face splitting grins and muddy shins after the morning’s first miles.

As opening day wears on, my excitement will grow exponentially, and for the last hour in the bike shop I can hardly contain myself. I sneak glances at the clock. Thirty minutes, ten, five, and the first “open” sign of summer is rolled up and brought inside. With the jitters of a six-year-old on Christmas eve I’ll tie the familiar laces of my riding shoes and plot a mental map of the trails I love so much. Threading my handlebars through the shop’s door frame as my cleats settle securely into the pedals, I’ll crank towards the trail head and into the new season. There will be countless afternoons during the summer that start just like that, but for now I’m waiting in anticipation of opening day, sucking wind on a stationary bike and wishing the turns I make in the woods were atop two wheels and a ribbon of dirt.


Meet you Guide Series, Keara Kresser

In the second installment of our “Meet Your Guide Series”, we talk to Keara Kresser. She will be guiding and instructing with us, and is also an instructor for our Momentum MTB Kid’s Camp. She’s currently attending Castleton State College, studying Photography. Please be sure to request Keara if you think she would be a great fit for your experience!

How did you get into mountain biking initially?
My parents have always been avid bikers. They dragged me out on the trails as soon as I could ride a bike.

How long have you been mountain biking?
I fell in love with mountain biking when I was 13.

What bike are you currently riding?
Pivot Mach 429 Trail

Favorite trail at KT?
Hard to choose, I change my mind after every ride. Heaven’s Bench is always up there as a favorite though.

Favorite place to ride (besides Kingdom Trails, of course!):
Canyons in Park City, Utah

What do you like to do for fun, besides mountain biking?

Favorite restaurant in the area (within a one hour drive from KT)?
Parker pie

Top tip for beginners?
Stick with it and trust your bike.

Favorite post-ride snack?

Dream MTB destination?
Anywhere in Iceland

Meet you Guide Series, Mike Bateman

Mike Says:
Mike is a seriously talented rider, who also happens to be an entertaining and engaging guide; patient and attentive with people at all skill levels – from beginner to expert. Mike’s pseudonym is “Horsey”, and he’ll be moonlighting at Village Sport Shop Trail Side this summer as well. He will be instructing some sessions of our Momentum MTB Kid’s Camp, as well as being an Instructor at Trail Ninja Training Camp in September. We can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want Horsey to be their guide, so be sure to request him if you’d like to ride with him!

Where are you from?
Hartland, VT

Nick Name: Horseboy, Batman

Favorite Type of Riding: Rough & Steep, Jumps are fun too!

Personal riding philosophy: A bad day in the woods is always better than a good day at work.

What bike are you currently riding?
Yeti SB6c. I’m jonesing to get a 29er though!

Favorite trail at Kingdom Trails?
Toll road to J-Bar. Anything worth having isn’t easy, earn your turn.

What is your dream MTB destination?
French Alps. Anywhere with a language barrier. I think it would be neat to have a two-wheeled connection with people whom you can’t exactly talk with.

What does your ideal day on a bike look like?
Wake up. Coffee. Eggs. Homies. Pedal. Up. Jokes. Laughs. SportBeans. Down. Shred. Smiles. Loam. High-5’s. Pizza…

Favorite food: If it’s wrapped in a tortilla I’m happy.

As a rider, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I would love to live in a van making the rounds to various destinations all summer. More than a couple races would be cool too.

What are your riding goals for this season?
Go fast. Do wheelies. Have Fun!

Best advice for beginners?
Use your front brake!

Meet Your Guide Series, Ian Dowling

Ian is one of our client favorites – everyone LOVES him and loves riding with him! Ian is PMBI certified, and is an encouraging, informative and all-around great mountain bike instructor. He will be one of the coaches at Trail Ninja Training Camp this September. Please let us know when booking if you would like Ian to be your guide; he gets booked up very quickly!

What initially got you into mountain biking?
I’m a very active person and mtbing is a super fun sport. I dabbled in mtbing in the late 80’s and became addicted in 2005.

How long have you been mountain biking?
I have been mtbing for over 25 years.

What bike are you currently riding?
I a Santa Cruz Nomad that I use for downhilling but my true love is my 29″ Canfield Brothers Nimble Nine single speed. Every time I get off the Nimble (Flash) I get sad.

What is your favorite trail?
My favorite trail at KT is probably Jaw. At high-speed it will challenge every skill you have.

Favorite place to ride (besides KT of course!):
Moab, Moab, Moab – there is no better place on earth. I also love riding in Oregon, Washington (Mt St Helens is amazing), British Columbia, anything in Vermont, and my home trails in the Franconia, NH area are excellent too.

What do you like to do for fun besides mountain biking?
I’ve decided that life’s purpose is to have fun. I backcountry ski and have been fortunate to do so in Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, Andorra, Vermont, and of course the White Mts of NH. I brew and drink lots of beer, play guitar and try to sing, and do a lot of hiking, traveling, and listening to live music.

Favorite place to eat in the area (within one hour of KT?)
Post ride, there’s nothing better than a beer at the Tiki and then take in the sunset from the balcony of the Tamarac with another beer and blue chips.

Best tip for beginners?
Don’t be afraid – fear will prevent any kind of progress. By learning and practicing the six skills of mtbing your progress will be quick and your fun cup will spilleth over.

Favorite post-ride snack?
Chocolate milk, a cold Coke, and beer – in that order.

What is your dream MTB destination?
My current dream mtb trip would be to Croatia. I’ve seen and heard some amazing things about the riding there.

What is your ideal day on a bike?
It’s 70 degrees, sunny, and I’m with a bunch of great friends. In the morning, we have a nice relaxed cross country ride followed by lunch and a beer. Then in the afternoon, we go downhilling, followed by a burger and a beer. Nothing better.

As a rider, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I want to improve in my trails riding skills so that my trail options are more abundant.

What are your riding goals for this season?
Front wheelstand into a rear wheel swivel to realign the bike to achieve a better line on gnar.

Meet Your Guide Series: Kory Buck

Welcome to the “Meet Your Guide” Series!
We are psyched to bring you the first installment of this weekly series, featuring our guide Kory Buck. Please remember to request Kory when booking online if you think he would be a good fit for you!

Let’s get to know Kory a little bit more…
Kingdom Experiences: How did you get into mountain biking initially?

Kory: I transitioned to mountain biking from BMX racing once I started to feel a little burnt out on BMX. I started with some dual slalom races here and there before making a full transition to mountain bikes. Once I started college at Lyndon state I really got interested in the mountain bike scene, seeing that it is so prevalent up here. I’ve always been a biker though; I started racing BMX when I was just 7 years old.

KE: How long have you been mountain biking?
Kory: 6 or 7 years.

KE: What bike are you currently riding?
Kory: Transition Bottle Rocket

KE: Favorite trail at KT?
Kory: Leap Frog! It’s out by the pump track (I might be biased because I built it!)

KE: Favorite place to ride (besides Kingdom Trails, of course)?
Kory: Highland (Mountain Bike Park, in New Hampshire), or any dirt jump spot.

KE: What do you like to do for fun, besides mountain biking?
Kory: Most building jumps or new trails! Also I do a little skateboarding and snowboarding in the winter.

KE: Favorite restaurant in the area (within one hour drive from East Burke)?
Kory: Mike’s Tiki Bar and the food truck of course.

KE: Top tip for beginners?
Kory: Stay loose and look ahead

KE: Favorite post-ride snack?
Kory: Country turkey sandwich from the country store.

KE: Dream MTB destination?
Kory: Probably Whistler, BC. I’ve also always thought competing in one of those urban downhill races in Europe would be awesome!

Places mentioned
Mike’s Tiki Bar
Vermont Food Truck Company
NEK Country Store
Kingdom Trails

MTB FUNDAMENTALS: How to Corner Like a Trail Ninja

You can’t cut corners when it comes to cornering! Yes, we said it, you gotta go all in to master the corner.

Below are our fundamentals of cornering. Enjoy!

1. Look Ahead & Relax Your Grip
Sounds obvious but it bears repeating: set yourself up for the corner before you get there. Check your stance. Loosen your grip on the handlebars and relax your shoulders so that they are not hunched or shrugged. As you approach the corner, look ahead into the corner and about halfway through the turn, look ahead to the corner exit and beyond. Don’t get caught up on insignificant trail obstacles. Focus on dominating that corner!

2. Set Up The Perfect Exit.
Exiting the corner well is almost more important than entering the corner well, so set yourself up for success. If you need to decrease your speed, brake before you hit the corner, and release the brakes through the corner. This will help you to regain control and speed as you exit. Switch gears prior to entering the corner. This will ensure you are in the correct gear for a strong, quick exit.

3. Use Your Body.
The tighter the corner, the more you should be putting your whole body into it. Turn your outside knee into the turn to encourage your bike through the corner. Use your hips! One of Seamus Powell’s top MTB tips, using your hips is crucial to cornering like a pro. Tilt your hips into the corner, and put the weight of your entire body into it! Using your body to connect with your bike is a great way to improve on a variety of MTB skills, not just cornering.

The Key to the Corner: Focus on the exit, not the entrance. And by this, we specifically mean speed. You want to leave the corner faster than you entered it.

Master these fundamentals of cornering and you are one step closer to #trailninja status. We’ll be covering all of these fundamentals, as well as much more advanced cornering techniques, during our Trail Ninja Training Camp.