kingdomexperiences

Being a Mountain Bike Instructor Is My Dream Job

When I was 15 years old I remember taking a different mindset in life. It all started when I was constantly being asked what I wanted to be when I was older. Every time I simply just answered “I want to be happy.” This was different than the answers from my peers. Some people did not take me seriously, but I was not trying to be amusing. For me to achieve happiness in life I had to live life to its full potential by living every day and all day.

At an early age I developed a strong interest in the outdoors through mountain biking and skiing. Mountain biking quickly became my passion and my drive in life. And here we are, seven years later after being asked the infamous question “what do you want to be when you are older,” I have found it with my first job out of school. I am a mountain bike instructor and guide for Kingdom Cycling and Experiences, and doing this work has brought an immense amount of fulfillment and happiness to my life. I have done a lot of thought into what makes this job stand out from others. First off, I don’t view it as a “job,” I view it as a career. I can easily say I want to be doing this for the rest of my life, whether I am guiding or just working in the mountain bike industry, this is where I want to be. Another reason why this job stands out is because of the values and passion that everyone has here at Kingdom Cycling. Whether it’s Collin and Caitlin, or any of our Instructors and guides, everybody is passionate and believes in the mission of what we do and the value of our work. I call this the “why factor.” The “why factor” is the purpose which stems from our passion.

Mountain biking has done a lot for me in my life. It has developed into something very important to my way of life. I was able to find myself through cycling and now it’s my identity. Mountain biking has benefited my life in countless ways. To name a few, riding allowed me to achieve a better understanding of my relationship with the outdoors and nature, it also surrounded me with an amazing community, helped me form many connections and deepen friendships into lifelong relationships, as well as provide an excellent and efficient way to keep my body and mind healthy. These are benefits that can seriously improve quality of life. What really makes this my dream job is that I get to help others out everyday by introducing them to this great sport. As an Instructor and guide I am motivated to provide memorable experiences through mountain biking so my clients can achieve the same benefits I was able to. Working at Kingdom Cycling and Experiences has allowed me to hack the system, because everyday when I wake up, I can’t wait to get to my dream job.

Thanks, and see you on the trails!

Alex Greco

Why Cycling is a domino effect of awesomeness for your children’s health!

By Collin Daulong


There is no denying the physical benefits of cycling and regular exercise in general, but some of the most profound benefits are now being shown in relation to mental health.
The cardiovascular nature of cycling helps to boost your brain’s neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning/experience, or following injury. A brain that is more capable in terms of neuroplasticity has been show to help kids and adults alike with stress management and memory, as well as help with learning disabilities and overall brain performance. 


With the brain functioning more capably, your children will be able to deal more efficiently with the ever increasing daily stresses that modern life entails. The time spent on the bike will also physically separate your kids from their screens! It has been proven that an increase in the amount of screen time has been linked to depression and anxiety. 
Cycling also has been shown to leave children with a flood of endorphins, both during and afterwards, leaving them relaxed and happy. Who doesn’t want that!? This is also highly correlated to better, deeper sleep which helps fuel the cycle of brain health. 
Studies have also shown that cycling in groups can be beneficial to aid in the positive socialization of children. 

As you can see getting your kids into riding is like putting them on a UPWARD spiral to life long mental and physical health…not that we are biased or anything but it’s science!

Non-cyclist’s guide to the KT/Burke area

We get asked ALL THE TIME for suggestions on things to do for the non-cyclists. Maybe you are traveling with your SO or another family member that doesn’t ride, maybe you are injured and need to take a break from riding, or maybe you are just heading to the area and aren’t necessarily interested in the cycling element. Read on for some great things that the area has to offer!

A day in the neighborhood  

Start the morning with pancakes and  local Vermont coffee at Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn. If you can, get a table on the porch right by the window – the views are gorgeous no matter the time of day.

Head over to Burke Mountain and prepare to take in the sprawling vistas from the top. If you’re feeling up for it, hike up the toll road, taking in the numerous look out spots the road offers. The hike takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half, from top to bottom. It is not particularly beginner-friendly, though, so avoid it if you’re not up for the challenge. Email us if you’re looking for a more beginner friendly hiking route; we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

On your way back down the mountain road into town, do not miss stopping off at Auntie Dee Dee’s for some truly exceptional baked goods.

Take a drive to Sanderson’s Wooden Bowls, located on an idyllic farm. The owners are super friendly and will gladly go into detail regarding their woodworking process. An added bonus is that their farm also houses donkeys and Nigerian dwarf goats, making this stop fun for the whole family.

Next up is Burke Mountain Confectionery, a delightful chocolate shop in East Burke. Their truffles are out of this world, so be sure to take some home!

Just up the road is D-N-D Stables, which offers guided horse rides for those with no experience, and also non-guided horse rides for those 12 and older with previous horse riding experience. It was also named a “quintessential Vermont experience” by Trail Riding Magazine, so definitely not be missed for horse lovers!

After all that activity, it’s time for a drink! Head to the Hub Trailside, and sit outside (preferably just around sunset) overlooking the Willoughby Gap. It’s a truly perfect spot!

For dinner, take your pick of one of several great restaurants in the immediate area. Some of our favorites, in no particular order are:

Juniper’s (their salmon is delicious and we can never resist a slice of Elaine’s daily pie)

Cafe Sweet Basil (rotating specials, delicious burritos, and insane drinks & dessert)

The View Pub at Burke Hotel (delicious pub fare with creative drinks)

Foggy Goggle (their pizza is our favorite!)

Day 2 – A little R & R

Start your day with a delicious, local, and organic breakfast from the Freighthouse. We love their avocado toast topped with an egg, and their vegan protein balls. They also do delicious smoothies and have a great organic market for some goodies to being home with you.

From there, head to the Serenity Spa for a facial treatment and massage. Their facilities are brand new and their massage therapists are fantastic and can help you choose the perfect treatment for you.

After your massage, grab a good book and head to Cafe Lotti. Hunker down for a few hours  – their coffee, espresso, tea, baked goods, and panini are fantastic!

If you’re meeting up with your significant other after their ride, surprise them with a unique experience at the Willoburke Nordic Spa. You can book a private experience for two, which begins in their Finnish wood barreled sauna to stimulate blood circulation. The next step is immersing yourself in your own private cold tub, which closes your pores and helps boost the immune system. The final step is to take a dip in your private hot tub, then repeat the process!

Thanks for joining us on our weekend guide to the Burke area for non-cyclists! Please let us know what you would like to see next.

Best off the beaten path spots near Kingdom Trails

While you might have come to the area for Kingdom Trail’s exceptional trail network, there is so much more to see if you have the time! Maybe you are traveling with your family and they don’t want to spend the whole day riding, maybe your significant other doesn’t ride, or maybe you want to explore what the area has to offer! Read on below for our favorite off the beaten path destinations near Kingdom Trails.

Lake Willoughby

Lake Willoughby is stunning. Seriously, this is a spot you don’t want to miss! Sheer cliffs tower over deep blue water – you’d have no idea you were in Vermont! There are two beaches, one on both the North and South sides, and we recommend that you check out both. Pro tip: make an afternoon out of it and take the scenic route back to Burke by way of Parker Pie. Eat pizza on picnic tables in the middle of vast farmland surrounded by endless fields.

The Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch

The drive through Franconia Notch alone is worth the drive from Burke! The Flume Gorge  is an absolutely beautiful and impressive piece of natural architecture. Keep in mind that the Flume Gorge does charge an admission fee, and is not dog friendly. However, there are several other hiking spots (the basin, for one) in the area that are totally free and dog friendly. Pro tip: make it a day trip and stop off in Littleton before or after for a bite. We love Chang Thai for delicious thai food, or head to Bethlehem and stop in at Rek-Lis brewery!

The Newport Bike Path

Ok, this one is really under the radar but is one of our favorite things to recommend to clients! Newport, VT has an exceptional bike path that follows the natural path along Lake Memphremagog. The views are stunning, and the path is very beginner-friendly, making it perfect for a family outing. Make sure you park at the hospital as opposed to the center of Newport in order to cut out cycling through some traffic.

Protip: Bring your passport! Go through the border crossing by bike (such a unique experience) in Beebe and head into the town of Stanstead for some crepes at Le Tomifobia. We also love Cafe Chansons pour Elle. Both are easily  accessible via the main road as you cross over the border.

Photo by Cory Tanner on Unsplash

 

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash

Why You Should Go on a MTB Skills Weekend

So…you’re considering a mountain bike skills weekend, but you don’t know what to expect and you don’t know if it’s right for you. You know that you want to improve your skills (regardless of your current skill level), but how do you know if a skills weekend in the right way to go about it?  Read on for some reasons why you might want to consider a mountain bike skills weekend!

You Get Uncomfortable or Intimidated Riding with Other People

Riding with big groups of people, people you don’t know very well, or people who you know are more advanced than you gives you serious anxiety. You don’t want to hold anyone up or negatively impact their ride, but it’s hard to find people that ride at your exact level. This is where skills clinics come in! Our coordinators ensure that you are in the perfect group for you – with people who ride at your level! If you are a woman and you aren’t a fan of riding with groups of men, we have women’s specific skills weekends.

Increase Your Confidence

Increasing your confidence is THE key to enjoying your riding more! When you feel defeated or too challenged by something, your confidence will decrease and your enjoyment will go down. Our # 1 goal with our skills weekends – besides safety – is that when you drive away on Sunday you feel infinitely more confident than when you arrived. Improving your skills and then successfully applying them  to terrain which was previously challenging – this guarantees increased self-confidence on your bike! This is also why our skills weekends are riding heavy (no standing on a field doing drills all day!) – you cannot increase your confidence without repeatedly utilizing your new skills on varying terrain.

You Can’t See Yourself When You Ride – but your instructor can

It is incredible what targeted instruction can accomplish! Trying to improve on your own through study and repetition will result in micro-improvements, but the fact remains that it is impossible for you to see your own blind spots. Having an instructor watch you while, for example, you go through a cornering exercise means that you will receive targeted advice on things that you otherwise wouldn’t even realize you needed to improve upon.

You Can ALWAYS Improve – No Matter Your Skills Level

So you’re an advanced rider who has been riding for years. There is no way you will benefit from skills instruction, right? WRONG. You can always find something to improve upon, and, like we mentioned above – instructors will illuminate to you things you otherwise might not be aware of. Skills weekends offer the best bang for your buck in terms of hours of instruction and riding to relative cost per hour.

You Will Have Fun and Make New Friends!

Finding like minded people to ride with can be tough. Make new friends, eat great food, experience beautiful Vermont trails and sunsets, and spend a weekend doing what you love to do! What could be better?

We are offering several skills weekends in 2019 at Kingdom Trails. Our Queens of the Kingdom skills weekend is women’s specific, and Conquer the Kingdom is a unisex skills weekend. As always, please reach out to us with any questions at all!

We hope to ride with you soon!

The Nuances of Bike Travel

By: Quinn Campbell

I squeezed my truck between the trees. Peering past a rain streaked windshield and frantic wiper blades, I looked up at the canopy of evergreen bows which I hoped would shelter my home on wheels from the steadily falling rain. Shifting into park with a sigh, I listed to raindrops, undeterred by the trees above, plopping heavily on the roof. Opening the driver’s door and stepping outside, I surveyed my campsite for the evening. My breath plumed thickly, and the rain, falling ever harder, created a constant backdrop of noise in the otherwise still woods. I spread grime coated riding gear throughout the cab of my Chevrolet Silverado, in a half hearted attempt to dry things out, and worked on accepting the fact that it was going to be a soggy couple days. I chained my bikes to the roofrack, out of habit more than necessity, and grimaced at their perpetual exposure to the elements. Deciding to forgo dinner and avoid the cramped hassle of cooking inside my 78 x 65 inch home, I crawled into the bed of the truck, and called it a night. I lay perfectly still in my sleeping bag. The whine of a few massive British Columbia mosquitos broke through the otherwise continual drone of pounding rain. Wandering in the abyss of thoughts that comes just before sleep, I could hear my dad saying, “Life is all about compromise.” A phrase I’d heard from him on more than one occasion. With that in mind I fell asleep, managing to ignore the mosquitoes and the driving rain and the all-consuming dampness and focus on how good the dirt would be tomorrow afternoon.

A month and a half earlier, I’d left my home of Marshfield, Vermont to embark on a summer long bike trip across the United States and up to Whistler, BC. Like most words of wisdom that are imparted upon us by our parents when we’re young, I’d always taken that phrase with a nod of the head and passed it out my 2nd ear. But nothing gives you more time to reflect than traveling solo across the continent. Miles of solitude, 4,407 of them, to be be exact, gave me plenty of hours to think about the place I call home and the people who’ve given me advice along the way. And at some point in my time behind the steering wheel, I realized that for the most part, if not all the time, our parents really know what they’re talking about. I’m not sure what embodies compromise, and my father’s saying, more than a life on the road in search of pristine singletrack and word class riding destinations.

Mid day snack break.                                                            Whistler, BC.

About a year and a half ago I decided I had to spend a summer in Whistler. But I shortly realized that the only way I could afford to live in Whistler was if I worked essentially every hour of my stay. So I compromised. I gave something up –a house, and the security and comfort that comes with four walls, a roof, and indoor plumbing–  in order to get what I really wanted, the opportunity to rip bikes all day, every day.

For the last three months, and the next two, I’ve lived out of the back of my pickup truck. My bed is 30 inches wide, and not quite long enough for me to stretch out fully on. My clothes live in a bag on the floor and get washed when I notice that people don’t want to ride in the gondola with me. My kitchen is a small cooler, that perpetually smells like beans, a 6 gallon water jug, and a two burner stove that I can almost never find a level spot to use. My shower, the rivers of glacial melt, which are as close to ice as you can actually get without becoming a solid. And Regardless of my craftyness with a silicone gun, it’s always wet inside when it rains.

Life in the woods.

The lack of an actual house trickles down in compromising affect. My bikes live outside, constantly exposed to the elements and in danger of being relieved by a passerby. And I’ll guiltily admit that they don’t receive the same level of kindness as they do at home. Extreme frugality being a side effect of multiple months on the road. When I run out of chain lube, or my suspension wheaps for new seals, I juggle my options and decide that I’d rather have chicken every night. However, I’ve decided that being a little cramped, a lot stinky, and having occasionally clapped-out bikes are all compromises I’m happy to make, because what I get in return is more than worth the hassle.

Tailgate/ table/ work bench.

My days start in the woods. I usually wake up to the sound of morning birds, hidden in the tall British Columbia evergreens. Crawling from my sleeping bag and dropping the tailgate I get to examine the early morning scene. The last month and a half I’ve been watching BC fog lift from the valleys and hover delicately around snow capped peaks. But when I was traveling across the states, my morning view was often a high desert sunrise. The open tailgate and back window framing a masterpiece of watercolor skies and rocky outcroppings still in shadow. And then, while cracking a few eggs into my cast iron pan, I get to decide exactly what I want to do with my day. What trails do I want to ride? What peaks and rivers do I want to explore? Where do I want to drive to? I’m constantly exposed to the new and exciting.

Early morning in the Colorado high desert.  

Each time I park at a trailhead my body fills with the jitters of a kid on Christmas morning. Every new trail a present, full of turns and descents completely different from those in states before. And with every new riding location, I get the opportunity to meet the people who call those trails home. Whether it’s home for a night or two, like me, or where they’ve learned to ride and cultivate an addiction for two wheels and a path of dirt. If I’m lucky, I get to spend an evening around a campfire with people I met hours before. We lounge on tailgates and camp chairs, telling stories of how we got here. Whatever food we’ve found in our funky smelling coolers is mashed together and used to refuel spent legs. When the firewood runs out, or I’m too whooped to fight my drooping eyelids, I’ll crawl into the truck bed and fall asleep, with excitement for the next days adventures. That routine, in my opinion, makes abandoning normalcy and the comforts of home, well worth it.

You never know who you’ll meet. There are rippers everywhere!  

Though I’d highly recommend it, it’s important to note that your bike travel doesn’t need to be a multi month voyage across the continent and into a different country in search of the best trails. Just take a chance, make the compromises required, and give yourself the opportunity to explore something fresh. Put yourself in a situation to make new friends, discover new trails and have a campfire with some strangers. Even if that means letting go of a bed for a few nights, or a house all together.   

                

KT 50/100K – A good times trail ride!

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

Have you ever wanted to hop on your bike in the morning and ride all day on some of the best most beautiful trails in North America? Ever wanted to do that also have food stations with local and authentic maple donuts, coffee, sandwiches and brownies to fuel you along the way? Well this is the event for you bringing you the second annual KT 50/100K. Last year a hearty group of riders departed on a 62 mile trail ride that was 99% single-track finishing at the iconic Heavens Bench for delicious and well earned food and post ride libations. This year we have added a 50K (31 mile) option that will be for those who want to have a stepping block to the 100K or who just want to spend the day on some of the best trails in the world. This is a guided ride and is not a competition, this is a good times trails ride and a great excuse to go out and enjoy MOST of the single-track that Kingdom Trails has to offer!

FAST FACTS
– Most abilities welcome from Intermediate to Intermediate/Advanced riders
– Great for most ages (18+)
– Perfect for you IF: You get on you love riding your bike a lot and are looking for a challenge!

Includes:
– Kingdom Trails Pass (1)
– Morning pastries and Coffee
– Aid station food/beverages
– Lunch
– Apres drink voucher (1) and food

2018 KT Retrospective and planning for the 2nd Annual KT 100K & 50K

There are not many places in North America where you can link up 75 miles of nearly continuous, pristinely made and maintained singletrack, but Kingdom Trails is one of them. Situated in the bucolic countryside of northern Vermont, Kingdom Trails was created out of passion but sustained and grown by necessity to balance a dying agriculture industry in Northern VT.

In 2017,  Kingdom Cycling & Experiences, a locally owned and operated mountain bike instruction and tour company, had their first annual KT 100K (62 miles) Guided Trail Challenge. There were 20 hearty riders who embarked on the challenge, but only 13 who finished the full 100K. Groups departed from KC&E trailside headquarters around 8 am and finished between 4 – 7pm. Along the route, the riders were supported mechanically and nutritionally with 3 aid stations packed with maple glazed donuts, homemade brownies, maple syrup, coffee and a fully catered lunch. The ride began with amazing pastries and coffee from local pastry purveyor, Aunt Dee Dee’s Bakery, and finished with freshly made pizzas from Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn and ice cold beers at the Hub Trailside Beer and Espresso bar.

Riders face many challenges on the ride, both physically and mentally, in order to get through 62 miles and 8000 ft of climbing on 99% singletrack. The challenge is set up to be exactly that: a challenge built around a group mentality to finish the feat and help one another reach their goal. Since this is a guided trail challenge this will not turn into a race, as groups are divided by the average pace of the group.

Moving into 2019, KC&E will be adding a 50K option as well to make the ride more accessible to riders and have a step for people to build up to the 100K. Beyond adding the 50K option, KC&E’s Certified Skills Instructors will be providing free skills clinics on the day before to prepare riders technically for the challenges that await them the following day.

To sign up for this year KT100K and be apart of an amazing and unique trail riding experience click here! If you have any questions about the event please either email info@kingdomexperiences.com or call/text 802.427.3154.

Happy Trails,

Caitlin, Collin & Taco the Trail Dog

Conquer the Kingdom – Skill Clinic

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

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!

Gravel and Gastronomy Vermont – With guest rider Tim Johnson

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

Vermont Gravel & Gastronomy w/ Tim Johnson
June 1st – 3rd

Gravel & Gastronomy is a beautiful dirt road journey through the bucolic Vermont countryside. Beyond the serene dirt roads and beautiful landscapes you will be enjoying in you will also be immersed in the unique and authentic gastronomic scene of northern Vermont. Coming along with us for the adventure is Tim Johnson; Cannondale Cycling Pro, 6X Cyclocross National Champion, Red Bull athlete and all around great guy to ride with!

Trip at Glance

Friday
Ride of the Day: Kirby, Burke, Victory Circumnavigation – 36 mi ↑3.8k ft
Vermont Cheese, Charcuterie & Local Libation Tasting at The Spoke Easy Lounge
Dinner at Junipers Restaurant on the beautiful Darling Hill Ridge

Saturday
Delicious and Healthy Breakfast at Junipers Restaurant
Ride of the Day: Tour to the world renowned Hill Farmstead Brewery – 28 mi ↑3.5k ft
Picnic with Hill Farmstead & Jasper Hill Farm
Dinner at on the deck at The View Pub overlooking the dramatic Willoughby Gap

Sunday
Delicious and Healthy Breakfast at Junipers Restaurant
Ride of the Day: Beautiful Lake Willoughby – 28 miles ↑3k ft
Apres ride bites and libations at Lake Willoughby
Farm-to-Table dinner at the beautiful and iconic Heaven’s Bench with 360 degree views

All lodging provided by The Wildflower Inn