kingdomexperiences

5 ways to better plan and dress for your fat bike adventure!

By: Tom Seymour

Adventure can mean many things. Often when we think of adventure in the context of cycling, our minds immediately go to far off places and big landscapes. But adventure can happen anywhere at any time and fatbikes are a great tool for adventure seekers everywhere. This being January in Vermont, I’m mostly thinking about winter adventures right now. Winter is great here in the NEK, but the temperatures can vary quite a lot and quickly. In this article I will discuss some ways to stay warm and comfortable on your next winter time fat bike adventure.

 1: Know your abilities and plan accordingly. 

According to a 2014 article in Men’s Health, fat biking can burn up to 1,500 calories an hour. While we all won’t be burning that many calories every hour we are on a fat bike, we can look at this information as a gauge of how much work our bodies may have to do during our next fat bike adventure. The first step I take when planning for a fat bike ride is to look at the weather and the trail reports and use this information to plan my ride and to choose the clothing I will use to regulate my body temperature. If you are new to cold weather cardio, I recommend  shorter, close to home rides to learn how your body and equipment respond to various temperatures.

2: Layers!!

Most of us are familiar with the concept of layering your clothing to stay comfortable in cold weather. When exercising in sub freezing temps, the right layers are key to staying warm and as dry as possible. The first layer to consider is your base layer. Whether you choose a mid weight or lightweight layer, make sure it is form fitting to allow the base layer to move the sweat that you will inevitably produce away from your skin.The next layer will be either the mid or outer layer; it will usually have some type of insulation and if used as an outer layer should have some type of wind protection. Mid layers should be some type of breathable insulation and should fit small enough so that some type of shell can be worn over it. Though fat bike specific clothing is now being offered, most cross country ski clothing works well as does winter hiking clothing.

3: Wind  protection

Even though winter riding tends to be slower than summer time riding, we are still moving through the cold air at pace fast enough to make wind protection important.  Like the rest of our clothing, exactly how much wind protection we need depends upon the temperature and the type of riding being done. For example; on a 30 degree day in the woods, wind resistant garments are not needed nearly as much as the same day on back roads where speeds are higher and much of the tree cover is lost. Again, fat bike specific clothing is now becoming available but other types of winter clothing can work well and in a pinch, a rain jacket worn over an insulating layer or two can work to block the wind. If shopping for a new garment, look for one with a wind-proof/resistant front and a more breathable back. Also look for stretchy material to allow for full range of motion and make sure it is large enough to accommodate an insulating layer worn underneath.

4: Hands, feet and head

These are areas that a very important to take care of; not many things can change the tone of your adventure like excessively cold hands or feet. For most people, a thin winter hat under your existing bike helmet will work well, you can also pair this with a neck warmer or use a balaclava for an all-in-one solution. When Temperatures dip below 10 degrees fahrenheit, an insulated alpine ski helmet can keep you warmer and keep more of the wind off of your head. Gloves could be an entire post by themselves! To keep it simple, I recommend thin glove liners and a good warm glove that blocks the wind. If your hands are particularly sensitive to the cold, consider pogies(see next point) and/or temporary chemical hand warmers. For shoes, you can choose from some fat bike specific offerings from various brands or use an insulated winter boot with a non aggressive tread that will allow good contact with the pedal. If you are prone to cold feet, you can use chemical toe warmers or there are even heated socks available.

5: Dress your bike: frame bags and pogies

 Two last items to consider to make your next fat bike adventure more comfortable are pogies(handlebar mounted mittens) and a frame bag. Pogie designs vary but they all focus on one thing, sheltering your hands from the wind and cold. Pogies are not only great for warmer hands at lower temperatures, but they also allow the use of a much thinner glove when the temperatures rise allowing for a more natural feel of the brake and shift levers. Some pogies include pockets on the inside to use for snack or hand warmer storage. Framebags fit in the front triangle of your bike’s frame an can provide storage for tools, snacks, extra clothes and water. In fact, a frame bag in conjunction with an insulated water bottle is the best way I’ve found to keep water from freezing during colder rides. By replacing a back pack with a frame bag, we lower our center of gravity for a more stable ride and have the best solution for maintaining an unfrozen water source.

Gift Guide #2: The New Cyclist

Thanks for stopping in for the second installment of our cycling gift guide. Today we will be guiding you through some purchases for the New-to-cycling cyclist.

Let’s start at square one, a balance bike! These are bikes that have no pedals and generally are designed for young children to help them develop their sense of balance before dealing with the complications of gears, brakes or pedals. A few years ago my wife and I gave our nephew a balance bike for Christmas and it was much more than just giving a gift or item that they may throw to the side in a few months time. This is a gift that can help put forth the foundation for a life long of healthy and happy habits. I wish when I was growing up there were cool looking balance bikes; I was stuck with a huffy that I spray painted and which caused me multiple leg lacerations because training wheels never did the job as well as they were intended to do. Cannondale makes one of the coolest looking balance bikes out there with their single sided fork, affectionately known as the Little Lefty on this bike. This cool looking bike will have youngsters eager to engage in healthy lifestyle choices from an early age.

A new helmet! Anyone that has spent any time with me will know that I am a stickler for helmets; there is no piece of equipment that is more important than something that is going to save your noggin! Everyday on the trails I see some poor sap riding with a mid-90’s Styrofoam facade of a helmet that would not do much at all to take an impact. A good rule of thumb is to replace your helmet every three year, this will assure that the helmet will take the impact the way it was designed, it will also keep you up on the latest fashion trends :).  When looking for a helmet find one with MIP’s technology, this is an added layer of protection that has been shown to reduce the incidence of brain injury in impacts. 

Finally, some instruction! There has never been a better time to be a biker, the technology that is available to riders at the prices that it is makes it very attractive to get into cycling. That being said, you can have all the best equipment in the world but without proper education you won’t get the full benefits of your sweet new bike or equipment. Think about it this way, you have an awesome new Google Pixel 2 XL phone designed using all the best hardware, but it is using a Window’s 95 operating system, now that wouldn’t be too awesome would it? There is a foundation of knowledge that can learned at the beginning of a riders activity career that can help shape a safer and more confident cyclist. 

If you have any questions regarding any of the gift suggestions above please feel free to email us or call/text 802.427.3154 .

Thanks and hope you are all having a Happy Holiday Season!

Collin

Cycling Gift Guide #1 – The Basics

 Do you have a cyclist you are buying a gift for this winter but have no idea what to get them? We’re here to help!
 
1. Dropper Post (if they don’t have one already). This is for the mountain bikers out there. As someone who gives mountain bike instruction regularly, I can safely say that there is not one piece of equipment that is more necessary to help take a rider’s ability to the next level than this! Being able to get the saddle out of the way to create “bike body” separation is key to being able to use the bike as a tool for fun rather than to be a passenger on it! When you are buying one of these you can expect to spend between $300 and $500 and will need to know a few pieces of information: what size the seat post is that the rider currently has, what length seat post you need (your Local Bike Shop can help with this) and which cable routing the bike will need (internal or external).

 2. Cycling Shorts If you are looking for a no-brainer good gift idea for any type of cyclist think about purchasing a pair of padded cycling shorts. I am speaking for the men here, but I know many of us will run cycling shorts until they are falling apart and nearly require a hazmat suit to handle. This is a piece of equipment that gets used and abused heavily during each and every ride. Spoil your cycling friend, family or significant other with a fresh pair of padded cycling shorts. You can snag a good pair for between $80 and $130. If you are buying padded cycling shorts for the mountain biker, check out Sombrio’s Smuggler Bib Short, these sweet shorts have 3 storage compartments sewn in just above the butt to store water bottles, food, or any other trail necessities.
 
 
3. NEW TIRES! Whether you are a mountain biker or road biker, a new set of rubber is always a welcome addition. There are so many tires out there with different tread patterns, rubber compounds and sidewall compositions, that you can easily change the ride quality of any bike with some new tires. For mountain bikers focused on trail riding 
we like the Maxxis Minion DHF in the front and Maxxis DHR 2 in the rear; having this combination will give your rider the assurance they need to ride that section of trail that has given them trouble! Depending on the type of compound and rubber compound these tires can range from $45 to $75.
 
 
4. Some good eye protection! I see so many cyclists out on the trails and on the roads without any sort of eye protection and that is just plain stupid. There are low lying tree branches, mosquito flying around, dust in the air, and your buddy blowing out a snot rocket in front of you! A little bit of eye protection can go a long way. I am personally a fan of the Ryder eyeware because they offer a great product at a reasonable price. Be sure to get a pair of their glasses with a good anti-fog lense (especially for mountain bikers who stopping and starting often). You can get a good pair of glasses for $80.
 
 
5. Experiences! What is probably the one reason why every cyclist rides their bike?? For the experience of it! We offer a whole range of services from multi-day skills retreats
to hourly mountain bike or gravel touring and instruction. We’re currently offering an amazing Black Friday deal beginning on Monday, 11/20, with another offer on Friday, 11/25. Let us help your favorite cyclist revolutionize their experience!

 
We hope that these gift ideas are helpful and if you have any questions about any of the ideas or others feel free to email us! Thanks so much and happy holidays!

Gravel & Gastronomy FAQ’s!

VT GRAVEL AND GASTRONOMY FAQ’s

Thank you all so much for your interest in our Vermont Gravel and Gastronomy Experience. Based on the feedback and questions we have received, we thought it would be helpful to answer some of the most frequently asked questions below. Please let us know if we missed anything!

I can’t make the dates you have listed. Will you be running this again?

Yes! Not again until 2018, but we plan to run this at least annually, and potentially bi-annually.

70 miles is a lot for me to ride per day. Will you be running something like this with less mileage per day?

Yes! We want to have options for everyone: any age, any ability level. We will be running this exact experience with different mileage, as well as similar experiences with more moderate daily mileage, also.

What is included in the cost of this trip?

The cost of this experience includes 4 nights of lodging at some of the finest Inns in Vermont, breakfast and lunch each day, dinners and tastings each night at amazing local restaurants and breweries, seasoned guides, and sag support.

Do I get a discount if I sign up with more than one person?

Yes! If you sign up with 1 or more people, you each receive $150 off of the cost of the trip.

Do you offer any kind of a payment plan?

We take a deposit at booking; the remainder can be broken up into installments prior to the trip.

Will you be offering this kind of a trip at any other locations?

Yes! Please sign up here  to be put on our email list for Gravel & Gastronomy Experiences, and receive information on the next dates for this trip, as well as other similar experiences.

Is there a way to sign up online?

Yes! This link allows you to pay for your deposit online and secure your spot!

Backwoods Benediction

By Jane LeMasurier

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with three siblings and lenient parents. Given our proximity to the woods and mountains, it was free-range biking for us for many years. Most of our childhood days were spent exploring old logging roads and trails in our backwoods. I have memories of barreling down creek beds with my younger sister, no gps, no map, no cell phone, just a sense of general direction and a couple of quarters in our pockets to call from a gas station pay phone if we could get to one. Things were certainly different back then. And somehow we survived.

Now in my adult life I teach mountain biking classes to kids in my town. I’m just as enthusiastic to teach them bike skills as I am to teach them how to appreciate the woods for the bona

fide joy they provide. I took a group of 12 kids on a ride last fall. We followed an under-ridden and overgrown trail near the school. Shortly into the ride I spotted some ledge just off the trail with a short and steep roll-down section that looked like something we might be able to clear off, scope out, and attempt to ride. So I slowed down, got off my bike, pointed it out to the kids and asked if anyone wanted to try it. They all raised their hands, some with blind enthusiasm, some with slight skepticism.

“But is this even a real bike feature?” one boy questioned.

“Touch that rock. Is that rock real?” I responded. He looked at me, looked at the rock, looked back at me, and smiled.

My sense of safety has evolved from the days of setting out into the woods feeling convinced all would work out for the best. I carry a med pack and bike tools and have an action plan if something goes wrong. And I stick to the trails, because there are trails. But I still carry with me the general feeling that, more than anything, a bike is a tool for exploration, into ourselves and the “real world” of nature. So I climbed up on the ledge and asked all 12 of the kids to climb up with me. We took a look at potential lines and determined a “hard” route and a “harder” route. There was no easy way down. The kids asked if anyone had ever ridden this before. And I told them, judging from the overgrowth, they just might be the first. They looked at each other with big eyes. We cleared away some brush at the bottom of the roll down and then I gave it a go, explaining first to the kids how to pick their line, get into position, and commit.
Over the next hour and a half the pack of us explored this rock: looking at it, walking on it, riding over it, all in an effort to get to know it, to learn how to roll it as smoothly and successfully as possible. The kids couldn’t get enough. It would have gone on, trial after trial, but our class was ending, so we headed back out the same quarter mile of trail we came in, back to where we started, so much further along than when we began.

“Nothing Compares to the Simple Pleasure of Riding a Bike” – JFK

By Quinn Campbell

Mountain bikers get so wrapped up with the start of the season. New bikes, new gear, new trails, more training during the winter– there’s an agitated frenzy that surrounds the cycling community as we wait for the snow to melt and the trails to dry. Normally, I’m as guilty as anyone, chomping at the bit to touch tires on dirt and begin spinning the pedals. But this spring has been different, and I’ve been, admittedly, a little lazy. My trail bike is still sitting in a box at my house, waiting to be assembled. And before too long, I’ll spend an afternoon upstairs in the shop, prepping my brand new bike for the next six months of abuse, routing cables into my new frame, sloping sealant into squeaky clean tires that haven’t punched through mud holes or broken loose across abrasive Vermont granite. But that hasn’t happened yet because I’ve been so infatuated and blissfully distracted with my reconnection to the most basic, youthful aspects of riding a bike.

This spring I’ve put countless hours in atop my dirt jumper. Out of my three bike quiver the dirt jumper most closely resembles my very first bicycle. Bare bones– one speed, one brake, bald tires and a short travel fork. It pales in comparison to the sleek lines of a carbon framed, well engineered full suspension trail bike, but the notable lack of expensive, high-maintenance parts, make me think a lot less about the bike itself and a lot more about the ride. It’s simple to step outside the house and leave directly from my driveway. There’s no Strava to turn on and clipless trail shoes are replaced by my most comfortable pair of well worn Vans. Riding shorts, jersey, gloves, and backpack are all left behind– I won’t be going farther than a few miles. Without needing to prepare for an afternoon in the saddle, load all my gear into a car and drive to the driest spring trail system, I’ve been able to get out frequently, and it’s just goofy, unhindered childish fun.

Rolling out the driveway I’ll cruise through familiar village backstreets, bunny-hopping curbs, hunting for natural jumps on driveway corners, manualing over speed bumps and wearing away any remaining tread with long skids. It’s been a good reminder to ride for fun this season and focus more on the trails beneath my tires than what bike I’m on or how fast I rode. Tune out the distractions and throw a leg over your bike for no other reason than because you love to ride.

Loosen Up and Let it Roll: Tips for Descending Better!

By: Jane LeMasurier

A few years ago I went riding with a friend who was a much better technical rider, but someone of about the same fitness level. I’d stick with him no problem on the climbs and flats. However, within ten feet of starting into a descent, he would pull away from me. It felt like in a single pedal stroke he’d be gone, bounding off over rocks and through tight trees like a deer in the woods. Naturally I would start to pedal harder. But no matter how much physical effort I put into going faster, I couldn’t catch him. On a particularly long and rocky descent, I came barreling to the bottom of the trail, my forearms on fire, my tires smashing into rocks, huffing and puffing, only to see my friend sitting and resting on his bike, as if he’d been waiting for hours. He said something to me at that moment that I will always keep in mind. He told me that I needed to realize that going fast downhill isn’t like going fast uphill. He told me to loosen up and let it roll.

So, here are a few simple tips to loosen up before you descend:

Start with the Hands: You obviously want a good grip on the bike and a quick trigger for the brakes, but if you’re clamping down for dear life, that sends a fear signal to your brain, which can tense your entire body. The same is true for how you position your body over your bike. Stay rooted to the bike but give it space. The more you try to control the bike, the rougher your ride will be. Open your knees and let the bike move underneath you. Give the bike some room to perform! If you give the bike space to maneuver as it’s been built to maneuver, you’ll ride happier with more finesse. Certainly staying loose and relaxed is just as much a frame of mind as it is a body position.

Follow A Better Rider (and ride their line): I’m a visual learner, so following better riders down more and more technical lines has improved my riding significantly. Ask a faster friend to slow down so you can stay on his or her wheel. Just as important as it is to watch someone pick tougher lines, it’s important to learn how to see your own line. This means scanning the trail both directly in front of your tire and off in the distance. Scanning between the two visual points will help you prepare for what’s immediately underneath you as well as what’s coming up. And don’t be afraid to take a moment on your ride to turn around a try something again — a bridge, a rock garden, or a rolldown, for example. Getting out and riding technical terrain is the first step to improving, but slowing down and looking at the terrain, or having a friend encourage you to ride it (and be there in case you fall!), will help you relax and improve your descending.

Go Faster: Really. The slower you go downhill, the harder the technical features become. At slower speeds these features require more balance and more skill to ride them. I’m not encouraging reckless abandon, but a little confidence to let it roll faster than your comfort zone will actually help you ride downhill with more success!

The 5 most important things I learned while in Rome

By: Collin Daulong

Recently Caitlin and I went to Rome, Italy for a little R&R before the season heats up as well as to do a fact finding trip for an experience we are planning for this fall.

Before we got to Rome, Caitlin gave me some disclaimers (as she lived there for nearly 7 years before we met) about Italians, the city and their pace of life in order to prepare me (an admittedly “type A” American) for the potential culture shock.  I decided in advance to go in with an open mind, and try to embody the adage of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Armed with this mindset and my wonderful tour guide, we set off to one of the most ancient cities in the world. Here are some things that I learned:

1) Life is not all about money and working yourself to the bone. One of the most clear distinctions that I noticed between the States and Italy (at least Rome) is that their daily rituals prioritize quality of life over work. A long (at least by American standards), leisurely lunch – with vino of course – certainly sets the rest of your day up for success and feels downright luxurious in comparison to a quick sandwich or salad next to my computer while working. A nightly passeggiata (walk around the neighborhood) was not only good for digestion but worked wonders for my sleep schedule (even with 11 pm dinners).

2) Do not expect things to be on time, or even open necessarily. One thing that we are accustomed to in America is hyper-vigilance of hours of operation, timeliness of public and private transportation and strict adherence to a schedule and deadlines; in Rome this is not so much the case. This is not necessarily a problem if you are willing to approach it with an open mind and fully immerse yourself in the culture (both positive and negative) of Romans. Realizing that most restaurants close around 3 and do not re-open again until 7 or 7:30 is hugely helpful in planning for meal times.

3) The food is simply amazing. In my experience, Italian cuisine relies on simple, fresh ingredients that are cooked to perfection. There are not many meals that I had over there which were overwhelming flavor bombs (like a triple bacon cheese burger) but all the flavors and ingredients were appropriate, delicate and delicious. The portion sizes were also interesting: they are moderate and leave you feeling renewed after a meal, not like you need to take a nap from a food-coma!

4) The riding was unexpected and it over-delivered. When you think of riding in Italy, most people think of Northern Italy in the Alps, which is what I thought as well – until I went to Rome. I took a tour around ancient volcanic craters and quaint, colorful hillside towns, and it blew my mind. Within a 45 minute drive from the city center, our friend Linus and I departed on a 30 mile mountain bike ride leaving from a beautiful lake side town, Castel Gandolfo (known as the pope’s summer residence). We rode around a couple of mountains with increasingly impressive vistas and fast flowinig single track. On our way back to Castel Gandolfo we passed through a town, Nemi, where we had ridden the day before with Darius Arya, one of our celebrity tour guides. The single track was amazing here, the dirt was tacky and fast and there were just enough technical features to keep you on your toes.

5) It is important to have someone with local knowledge. When we were walking around Rome we saw enormous groups funneling into all the same museum entrances and restaurants; this lead me to believe that these were the best places, or where we needed to be going, but this was far from the truth. One of the most important things I took away from our trip is that you need to be guided around like a local – not like a tourist – to experience the true Rome. Some examples of this would be that we would go to restaurants off the beaten path and away from the high traffic tourists area because that is where real roman food is. Food around the major monuments is overpriced and less authentic. Another example of going with a “Local”: we went to see Saint Peter’s Basilica at the most inopportune time, Friday evening. The line was enormously long and they were actually closing down for visits due to a Papal mass. Our local friend shuffled us around to the back where we gained access and were fortuitously seated within 20 feet of Pope Francis.

We will be taking a mountain bike trip to Rome in the fall. If you would like more information, please follow this link! 

Conquering your Fears

By: Moriah Wilson

I want to talk a little bit about fear. When I was younger, I used to have a fear of riding bridges. It started when I fell off of a twisty bridge one summer day. I distinctly remember the situation: I just came in a little too tight on the corner and my back tire slipped off. Although I came out unscathed – except for maybe a slight scratch here or there – it was traumatic for me as young rider. From there on out I was fine on straight and wide bridges, but anything narrow, turny, or high up gave me anxiety. I began to walk these bridges, and the more I walked them, the harder it became for me to attempt crossing them again.

Fear for beginners is normal, especially after an incident that can be used to justify that fear. It’s even deeply rooted in our biology, and can commonly be described as the “fight-or-flight response,” in which our sympathetic nervous system releases hormones during stressful situations to determine whether we should flee or fight. From an evolutionary standpoint this response has been extremely useful. However, in modern times it is often overused in situations that don’t actually pose serious threats to our survival. Is falling off a bridge while riding my bike an extremely dangerous threat? In the grand scheme of things… the answer is no. I’m not trying to disregard fear altogether – it’s just important to realize that many of our fears are a little irrational. And the real kick is that they can always be overcome.

For me, the process in overcoming my fear of bridges involved taking baby steps. I started with some of the easier “hard” bridges, and focused on the things that would help me succeed in crossing them. For me that was looking ahead on the bridge so that I would stay balanced and keep myself moving in the direction I wanted. The small victories gave me the confidence and the motivation to try harder ones. And the feeling I got from doing something that scared me was the most rewarding of all.

So whatever your fear may be, know that it can be overcome. Make a plan, and gain confidence in each step of the process. The reward will be worth it.

“The young learn from the old”

By: Quinn Campbell

I always tell people that East Burke and the riding community which surrounds Kingdom Trails is the best place to live or play if you love mountain bikes. And I realize, you may read that statement and think to yourself, “Everyone says their hometown riding location is the best.” But I’ve visited and sampled some of the premier cycling meccas on our continent, and I really, truly, mean it. Nothing compares. And here’s why: There are the obvious reasons– more than 120 miles of pristine single track which straddle Darling Hill and circle the town of East Burke, filling the woods with lines of rich dirt that snake between sugar woods and pine forests. Locally sourced burritos as big around as your fist, which can be devoured no more than a minute from the trail head, and the only outdoor tiki bar in the Northeast. But all of the best riding locations have a similar composition, what’s special about East Burke is the multigenerational group of skilled local riders. 

The small mountain town is called home by riders from the ages of 50 to 10 and they contribute something positive to the area. I like to simplify the generations into three larger categories. There are the “OG’s”, those in their 40’s and 50’s who witnessed, supported, and created the first legitimate mountain bike trails in the North East Kingdom. They know everything about the region and have provided a foundation for the growth of every generation to follow. Many of them have invested their lives in the area and remain deeply involved in the continual growth of Kingdom Trails and the mountain industry which revolves around the riding mecca.

The 2nd age group makes up the largest portion of East Burke’s riding population, as is the case with most mountain towns that center themselves around a bike or ski culture. The cyclists in their 20’s and 30’s provide the majority of the driving force behind the area’s industry. Running bike shops, bars, restaurants, and hosting events which allow Kingdom Trails and the Burke Bike Park to deliver a well rounded tourism experience for those traveling to sample pristine dirt, and a vibrant mountain town lifestyle.

Finally, there’s a gaggle of kids who chase the rear wheels of the area’s more experienced riders. Ranging in age from 10 to 18 most have grown up in or near East Burke amidst a community that’s focused on enjoying where they live by way of two wheels. All members of the youngest group are wildly talented in their own right, which comes naturally with a wide variety of terrain at their fingertips. They’ll eventually be responsible for the direction and structure of the North East Kingdom mountain bike culture. But for now they’re focused on doing better wheelies than their friends and riding uphill as little as possible.

I’ve spent time in both Whistler, British Columbia and Durango, Colorado– among others– and they’re riding is unarguably fantastic. The mountains are massive and everyone who lives there is in pursuit of an outdoor adventure lifestyle. But, almost everyone that lives there is 28. I have yet to visit a riding destination that possess a similar multigenerational connectivity to East Burke, Vermont, and that makes the East Coast town special. There’s a grain to the culture because people of all ages ride together. The youngest learn from the oldest, which cultivates a community that’s wholeheartedly devoted to the mountain town we call home.