As I get older, I learn to appreciate things differently. Like coffee, and drinking in moderation to avoid hangovers, and paying your own health insurance. I think we all do and that’s part of growing up.
Mountains in the summertime are still new for me, and something I’m learning to love more and more each time. Being raised in Virginia, I grew up thinking mountain vacations were reserved for the winter so we could enjoy skiing and snowboarding when the spots were really popping, but I’m noticing that mountains can be fun in other seasons.
I recently visited Northstar and saw firsthand how many adventures and activities were available in the middle of the summer. Aside from being the home mountain to X-Gamer and Olympian Shaun White, Northstar is also home to Northern California’s largest mountain bike park. Right alongside the 22-foot half pipe that White designed and trains in, is one of the most epic and extensive lift-served Mountain Bike Park in the Western U.S with over 100 miles of mountain bike trails open for your adrenaline seeking enjoyment.
Being the self-proclaimed adventurous sports and travel writer I am, it was suggested I take a Bike 101 private lesson with one of the Bike Academy’s best instructors, Kristen.
Let me start by saying, biking is not my thing. Actually, nothing dependent on just two wheels is. The last four times I’ve gotten on a bike, I’ve ended up with stitches. I was not particularly jazzed about hopping on an unfamiliar piece of machinery and taking off on the rocky and bumpy terrain, subsequently, the same terrain I know and love on a snowboard. But I’ve always said I’ll try anything once, so I was in.
The Bike 101 package was a slow and steady yet still adrenaline-pumping introduction to downhill mountain biking, while providing scenic life rides on the way up.
Being a good instructor is all about learning the fears and abilities of your students, and Kristen was spot-on. She sensed my fear and guided me on worst-case scenario type events and answered all my questions, no matter how dumb. Like “what do I do if I fall?” Her response, “try to ditch the bike if you can and remember you’re all padded up – just be confident.” Got it, confidence.
Learning the logistics of the bike helped ease my fears too. Before taking off, Kristen suggested I try applying the breaks while leaning the bike to one side to show me that it wouldn’t skid quite like I thought it would on the rocks.
While the pictures admittedly look cooler than they appear, I definitely had a great time and felt at ease the entire lesson, thanks to Kristen’s guidance and experience. I’m not sure it’s something I would do again, for fear of having my 24th surgery, but I can definitely see the appeal to the sport, and definitely Northstar in the summer. If you’re not into cross-country or mountain biking, there are also some amazing scenic hikes, which still utilize the lifts and gondola. Other summertime mountain activities include golfing, roller-skating, geocaching, fly-fishing, tennis, a movie theatre and much more.
After our dust-filled adventures on the trails, we headed into the Village for the 6th Annual Beerfest & Bluegrass Festival with featured over 30 breweries to sample in our commemorative pilsner glasses. Some of my favorites included Maui Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Mammoth Brewing, Boulder Beer, Widmer Brothers Brewery, and Ace Cider. The festival ended with my new favorite Bluegrass band, Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, a Nashville based quintet playing their own songs.
I find it rare when I ask life to repeat the exact perfect day over, but this was definitely one of those days/nights I would like to repeat perhaps again next summer, if not sooner.
Special thanks to Northstar and Kristen for helping me in appreciating and seeing some of my favorite things in a new light.
Jayme Lamm is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Houston focusing on travel writing and is in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side. Be sure to follow Jayme’s travel and sports adventures on Twitter @jaymelamm.