In the early 90’s snowboarding was a relatively new sport. Resorts weren’t quite sure what to do with the new breed of snow sliders. Some resorts restricted them to certain areas on the mountain and others outright banned them from riding. Snowboarding in the early 90’s as a teen was my obsession. Each fall when the first cold night rolled in, I hoped that the snow was not far behind. I spent days flipping through snowboard magazines daydreaming of deep powder days on some empty mountain. When the snow did finally come I would hustle to a local hill and build jumps trying to perfect spins and grabs, the more snow the bigger we would build the jumps. On the weekends I would try to hitch a ride to the local resorts outside of Pittsburgh for some proper big hill riding.
After school days if I was lucky I would be able to catch an episode of SBTV on ESPN. It was 1994 and snowboarding had found its way on to cable television by way of a 30-minute video magazine, profiling riders, and spots set to the tune of ‘alternative’ music. It appealed to all my senses, loud music, dudes in baggy snow clothes shredding on big mountains, it was everything I aspired to be. One episode, in particular, stood out, a group of local riders on their home mountains in Brighton, UT. The mountains of Snowbird and Brighton looked as though they had become covered in the world’s most perfect snow. It was decided at the moment that Utah was the ultimate and was exactly where I needed to be.
As I stood on the backside of Deer Valley Resort staring across the valley to the lake below, “25 years” I thought. It had taken me 25 years to get here but there I was, about to point my self down the slope. I pushed into the first turn with a bit of reluctance not knowing the terrain but after a few turns, my confidence increased. We flowed down the mountain between the trees and out into the vistas and it was everything I had dreamt of accept one thing was missing, snow! There was no snow, it is the beginning of August in Utah and the landscape resembles a mix of high desert and alpine forest instead of a winter wonderland.
I had always felt that mountain biking and snowboarding shared similar traits and thankfully, many mountain resorts began to feel the same way. As all-mountain, downhill and freeriding have evolved, so too has the way in which trails are built and accessed. On mountains like Deer Valley and Park City chairlifts give riders of all levels access to purpose-built flow and downhill trails. As much as the mountains of Utah remain a destination for winter sports, one could argue that they are just as sought after for two-wheeled fun in the summer.
The resorts surrounding Park City, UT have combined to offer some 400 plus miles of mountain bike trail while maintaining all of the amenities of the winter season. Restaurants on Main Street stay open year round, and the resorts a buzzing with more than just the sound of freehubs. Deer Valley Resort has a summer-long concert series at their amphitheater so after a day of laps on the Tidal Wave trail, you can kick back to some live tunes.
In comparison to snow sports, a good day out on the bike isn’t as dependent on quite as many variables. Mountain biking does not require epic snowfall to be a great day out; dry trails and a couple of good friends will do the trick. With the current pattern of ‘Climate Weirding’ as our local guide, Scott called it, mountain resorts are looking to bikes for a sustainable future. While I may not have slid through waist deep powder with Jeremy Jones, I did ride some rowdy trails with local pro Eric Porter and besides, mountain bikes are the new snowboard.