I like the idea of mountain biking, but I’m terrified of going over the handlebars. I took that fear with me to Park City, Utah, on a trip designed to put me atop two wheels and send me down singletrack for the first time.
After arriving in Park City, I headed to a reggae concert with an old friend. We tracked riders moving through the trees above us at Deer Valley, and his trail map kept drawing my attention from the stage. With 350 miles of trails in the area, it was nearly the same size as our picnic blanket. He pointed out his favorites, and our companions shared their plans for a ride on the Wasatch Crest Trail. Their enthusiasm was matched in volume and hyperbole only by their praise for Utah powder skiing.
The day came for my mountain biking debut, and the rest of my group shared some tips on form and using clipless pedals, then took off for the advanced trails. Scott House of White Pine Touring led me to Round Valley and gentler terrain. After transitioning from dirt road to singletrack, we stopped for a coaching session. A dozen day campers approached, all around 10 years old, and I awkwardly hopped off the trail with one foot clipped in to make way. If they can do it, I thought, so can I.
Turns out I can. Scott walked me through the basics, from shifting through ascents to looking down the trail on switchbacks. My death grip eased and I learned that speed is my friend. I took enough falls to make my legs look like they’ve been through a meat grinder, but the sweet smell of a sagebrush landing and stretches of clean riding kept me smiling. —Olivia Dwyer
Check out White Pine Touring for biking, hiking, and rock climbing trips in summer, and skiing and snowshoeing tours in winter