kingdomexperiences

Conquer the Kingdom – Skill Clinic

Take your riding to the next level with a skills building weekend for both men and women of most ages and ability levels. Our experienced, certified instructors will ensure you equipped you are taught proper techniques to improve your skills while having a great time in small groups.This weekend will be perfect for those interested in skills building with individual attention and small group sizes, ample riding time, time to enjoy other authentic parts of mountain biking in the Kingdom, and, of course, FUN!

FAST FACTS
– All abilities welcome from absolute beginners to intermediate/advanced riders
– Great for most ages (16+)
– perfect for you IF: You love riding your bike, meeting new people and want to become a better more confident rider!

Includes:
– Meet & Greet with drink voucher
– Kingdom Trails Pass (2)
– All guiding and instruction
– Lunches (2)

Quick Trip Outline:

Friday Evening:
– Meet and Greet and Orientation

Saturday:

  • Morning Drills and On-Trail Skills Instruction
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Skill instruction and applicational ride

Sunday:

  • Morning On-Trail Skills Instruction
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Ride!

3 ways to improve your jumping skills!

Words and Photo by: Quinn Campbell

One of the best ways to become more comfortable and capable out on the trails is to improve your jumping skills. However, it’s essential to leave the ground both confidently, and more importantly, intentionally. Whether you’re a seasoned rider looking to refine your technique, or someone who’s just tapped into their love for two wheels, here are three ways you can improve your jumping skills.

1) Start Small

I’ll begin here because safety is key. I hate to break it to you, but mountain biking is inherently dangerous even before you leave the earth, there’s no sound reason for your practice jump to be the biggest thing around. To start, find a jump you feel reasonably comfortable on and begin to familiarize yourself with the feeling of catching air. How does body position affect your takeoff and landing? How does your bike respond in the air? With a little repetition on the same jump you can move up in size and begin pushing your boundaries with more confidence.

2) Hit The Pump Track

Do a little research and find a pump track near you. Each time you hit a jump your body does a very similar motion to “pumping” a roller. You push the bike into the takeoff and pull upwards into the air while leaving the lip. It all happens in a matter of seconds, each movement practically indistinguishable from the next. Laps through the dirt rollers and tight berms will dramatically improve your timing and additionally cultivate an understanding of how your bike moves beneath you, both of which are essential components for a graceful takeoff.

3) Hone The Bunny Hop

This is the most difficult, and consequently, the most beneficial skill to learn. The bunny hop will allow you to properly control your departure and trajectory. It also gives you the ability to make jumps out of natural trail features, rocks, roots, and rolls will become opportunities to lift your bike off the ground. Don’t worry if you haven’t quite mastered the bunny hop, with a few pointers and some practice time it’ll become effortless.

Learning on flat pedals will help build proper technique. If you were hopping with clips before reading this, I’d change out your pedals and give it another go! There are three main steps to complete a proper bunny hop. Begin by lowering your chest and bending your arms and legs, essentially preloading your body. Next, in an explosive motion, move up and slightly back, pulling the bars toward your lap while pushing against the pedals. Your hips should be just behind the rear axle. Then, once your front wheel is off the ground, point your toes at a downward angle and scoop the pedals with your feet while bending your knees. This will pull the back wheel off the ground. If may feel awkward at first, but with repetition the motions will begin to blend and before long you’ll have both wheels off the ground!


When spring rolls around, or if you feel ambitious and want to haul out the fatbike and get some preseason practice in, take these three tips and put them to the test. New lines will present themselves on old trails and your confidence and bike handling skills will increase. Before long your rides will be filled with newfound airtime, greater control, and a propensity to show off.         

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

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!

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 Butt Smear – Collin Daulong

Mountain biking and instruction are two things that have not come together universally until relatively recently. I have done some thinking on why this is and came up with a few reasons why.

“ It’s as easy as riding a bike”; one of the oldest cliches in the book. Used to describe anything that is easy or intuitive; mostly used because of how young we are when we start riding a bike.
The sport of Mountain Biking is relatively young, only in the 70’s did Gary Fisher and Joe Breezer start making klunkers to descend down sketchy fire roads with reckless abandon.
The final reason why I think these two have not been tied together more tightly is because the race scene has been relatively under exposed compared to some of it’s other outdoor counterparts like skiing and snowboarding.

Now that we are living in the age of social competition like Strava, the price of admission in the form of equipment is becoming lower and race formats are becoming more friendly for all ability level and age groups, we are seeing more and more people seeking out assistance in the form of instruction to make themselves better riders. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting targeted instruction – even if you think you do not need it (sure says the guy trying to sell instruction). Before you judge, let me explain myself in the form of a story.

I have been deeply passionate about all things mountain bike since around 1997. I was a “husky” kid with pimples, braces and 4 eyes who did not fit into the regular repertoire of middle school and high school sports (let alone their jerseys) so I sought out something I could call my own: mountain biking. Ever since then I have made it a goal to remain competitive against myself and try to be my best. Over the years I thought I had gotten it, I was riding faster and faster, becoming more skilled, cornering better and even getting fit!

Last year, I took a certification class to become a certified mountain bike instructor through PMBIA. I went in expecting to check off boxes and not learn much that would be new, as I felt that the skills taught were things I was doing intuitively for years and even decades. I went in with an open mind and acted like a sponge. Many of the things we learned like how to shift your weight when climbing, how not to shift under load and using front brake versus rear brake….boring right? Especially at my superior level (insert heavy sarcasm)?!

And then BOOM, it happened, I learned something game changing, something that I use hundreds of times a ride that sets my riding apart – it was the butt smear. Ah yes, I am sure you are dying to hear more about my butt smear! It is actually a pretty ingenious way of thinking about cornering and how to position yourself and your butt for that matter. It means that when you go around a corner imagine smearing your butt on the outside edge of the corner to position your body correctly to get the best traction to carry your speed better. In all honesty this is something that I was doing for years prior, but it was not until I had an instructor help me visualize it in this way that helped me optimize the motion. This visualization and different way of thinking about something has lead to an increased amount of fun and excitement on EVERY SINGLE RIDE I have had since then.

There is a quote: “the physician that treats himself has a fool for a patient” and this could not have come to life more thanin the PMBIA Course. I am not saying instruction is for everyone or for you, but what I am saying is that if you open yourself to the opportunities that targeted instruction can present it can enhance EVERY SINGLE RIDE of yours after that.

Now let’s go smear our butts and ride to a better future!

Happy Trails,

Collin

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.