BIKE Mag’s Heavy Pedal Tour: Episode 3
Natty and Trey hit the trails in Park City, Utah and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
By Natty and Trey
Back on the road again.
We’d heard about the killer trails that just had to be shred at the “Canyons Bike Park”, something we needed to check out for ourselves. Driving from Vail to Park City, Utah is about 477 miles if you go through Grand Junction, Colorado.
It’s a scenic road trip ringed with gargantuan, eroding mountains. The colors are rich and creamy with grays and pinks. It’s like no place else. We made it about half way and stopped at a Wal-Mart in Price, Utah, to hit the sack and catch some much needed Zzzzzs.
The next morning, we had only 120 miles of twisty mountainous roads left to drive. Along the way, we watched people in rafts floating down the river. We both agreed, the next time we are in town, this would be on our not-to-miss list.
Jealousy of the people in the cool water, however, did not break us down. BIKE PARK, BIKE PARK, BIKE PARK squawks floated around our brains like a baby chick lost from its flock. We obeyed those inner squawks and drove, bike park-bound, to the “Canyons.” By the time we arrived and checked into our room, we had only one hour to shred and that was plenty of time. We hopped on our bikes and up the lift we went!
Right away, we noticed a unique vibe while standing in the very short line to get on the lift. Park City, Utah is no bustling metropolis, and its bike park has a small town feel that’s immediately noticeable. People are happy and talkative, hooting and hollering from lifts. Riders yell” down to their friends, “Hit that S#!t”, and “You can do it!”
We felt right at home, and in no time, we were yelling down at people too. Apparently, you don’t need to know them to give words of encouragement or razz them for not doing something. That “something” we’re talking about here are two step-downs on a trail called “Rally Cat.” You can see the step-downs from under the lift. Everyone regroups just before them, on a hip jump, and then, in a buddy system, people “Hit that S#!t.”
“The Canyons” has three lifts. The first lift takes you to the mid mountain. The second chair will take you to the top where the “park” style trails exist. The upper half of the mountain has five groomed trails that have supreme flow. The difficulty level of each trail “up top” varies and sets riders up nicely to improve their skills before moving on to the next, more challenging trail. The runs “up top” are short, but they are packed with features. These trails are very well made, starting with rollers on the green runs, leading to large tables with side booters on the black runs.
The third lift takes you across the canyon to another peak where you will find their newest trail called “Dark Hollow.” We’d heard mixed reviews on this trail, but after sampling it ourselves we think the people who diss it, just can’t handle it. This trail is no joke, it dishes out a bit of everything.
Packed with a huge variety of features, “Dark Hollow” has rock drops, step downs, hip jumps, tables, and ladders. It definitely takes more than one run down “Dark Hollow” to feel the flow and clean all the features with style. We had to really work for this one! The trail crew are currently working on side shoots for the most extreme/advanced riders. Darren, the trail supervisor, took us on a behind the scenes sneak peak of their new digs. Two words come to mind “Holy Gaps!” Be ready!
Natty’s Canyon Favorite: “Wild Mouse” (intermediate)
Trey’s Canyon Favorite: tie “Rally Cat” and “Dark Hollow” (advanced)
Taking it to the Hole
Next on the menu, “Jackson Hole”, but first, cliff jumping! We faced a long 300-mile drive from Park City, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had about 40 miles left of driving to do, when everyone in the truck started getting a little stir crazy.
We were loudly inventing songs about horses, cows, and green grass, when we saw the ultimate spot to explore and cliff jump into the Snake River. As we hiked down to the bottom of the canyon, we saw a bald eagle, and we figured that it was a good sign. For what? Who knows, but Trey didn’t drown when he decided to jump off the cliff and into the Snake. It was a welcome break from the monotony of the long drive and the ridiculousness of our voices lacking in harmony. After the cool-down at the river, we arrived at “Teton Village”.
The song lyrics “Little in the middle but she got much back” aptly describe Jackson Hole Mountain Bike Park. This place may be small, but the trails are packed with flow and are easy on the eyes.
“Bronco”, is an intermediate trail that flows through the aspens with perfectly curved berms. They are so perfect, it’s like a physicist worked on this trail. By the time we made it to the bottom, our arms were pumped from the g-forces at work while carving through each turn. We were ear-to-ear with smiles and ready to do it again! And again!
The other favorite trail is “True Grit”. This trail, once again, seemed concocted to perfection by scientists. It is jam packed with jumps. The transitions are exceptionally smooth. Following Rob LaPier, Jackson Hole’s Bike Park Foreman, down “True Grit” was a cool experience to witness his mad Steez (that’s style with ease) bike skills. You’ve got to check out our helmet cam footage and give due props to Rob.
We were never bored—not for a minute—while riding Jackson Hole. The trails beg to be ridden. Don’t let the size of the mountain fool you. You will NOT be let down. The quality is worth the trip to Jackson Hole.
Let’s talk about a moose and getting hurt. While riding “Bronco” we heard someone yell out “Moose!” Naturally, we dropped our bikes and went hunting with our cameras. Two huge, velvety brown, bull moose were hanging out in the trees. As we got close, they started to move away, but we did manage to snap a few shots. The photos taken with our phone were of superior quality! Not really, but Devon, our photographer, did manage to snap off a quality shot. We had never seen a moose before, so this was a big moment for us.
Later that day…
Accidents are bound to happen, especially when your job involves riding your bike down a mountain. Natalie had a bit of a spill. While following Trey and Rob LaPier down “True Grit”, she was about to miss the turn off for the trail, but decided at the last minute, she could make it. Wrong!
Instead, Natty became entangled with her bike. Her calf wedged between her seat and top tube, crushing her calf muscle. Natty said the pain made her nauseated, and she almost passed-out while riding down the mountain in a 4-wheeler. The first aid responder had to pull over and give her oxygen. Natalie is tough though, her calf was twice the size that it should have been. She wanted to ride the next day, but she couldn’t even walk, so riding was out of the question.
With Natty on the injured reserve list, Trey, Rob, and Devon headed out early the next morning to sample some shuttle trails off of Teton Pass. Rob had said the day before, “I can’t let you guys leave here without doing at least one shuttle ride from the pass.”
An endorsement like that cannot be ignored, and we were so glad that we Cowboy’d Up! The drive up from Wilson, Wyoming on the Teton Pass Highway was ridiculously short (10 minutes). Unfortunately, we only had time for one run. Our route started with “Fuzzy Bunny” trail to “Candyland” and ended with “Parallel”.
If it wasn’t for Rob setting the pace and leading the way, we wouldn’t have had the cojones to hit most of the big gaps. The trail system off Teton Pass adds a whole new dimension to the scope of riding that the Jackson Hole area has to offer. It was one of the best shuttle rides we’ve ever done. And, we had only scraped the surface when it came to the amount of bitchin’ trails in this zone. It is not to be missed.
Natty’s Jackson Favorite: start with “Bronco” and end on “True Grit” (hope to see a moose and don’t crash)
Trey’s Jackson Favorite: “True Grit” and the “Teton Pass” shuttle trails! (Teton Thai restaurant)