As Saturday, day three of our trip, dawned, the group collectively decided to dedicate the morning to experiencing the mountain bike culture of Park City instead of just ripping trails.
We rolled out from White Pine Touring on the paved bike path that runs directly by the shop, and followed it all the way out to the Round Valley Trail System.
That Saturday Park City was hosting one of Utah’s NICA races, with teams who traveled in from all across the state. In just its second year, the Utah league is already the biggest high school mountain bike league in the nation. Last year, the Park City race hosted 250 racers. This year, attendance has more than doubled, with 615 registered racers! Add in all of the parents, fans, coaches, volunteers, etc., and when we rolled up the parking area looked like a festival, with team tents aligned in neat rows, vendors selling food, and a start/finish zone with digital timing.
We spent a while shooting photos and watching the kids race. It was quite a sight to behold. For more information and thoughts on NICA, be sure to check out skibum’s article titled “Reflections on a Season of NICA Racing.”
After watching a few waves, we hopped on our rigs and pedaled back into town to check out a dirt jump jam that was taking place at the same time. I was astounded at what I saw when we rolled up. The Park City Dirt Jumps is a publicly-owned and funded dirt jump park that’s located in some green space in a random neighborhood in Park City, and it is home to the absolute largest, most vertical, most terrifying dirt jumps I have ever seen in real life. I mean, these lips were close to 10 feet tall, completely vertical, and the gaps were huge!
Suffice it to say, I contented myself with jumping on the little line. Yeah, that’s the one on the right hand side in the above picture, the ones that don’t even look like they have lips on them. Yup, that’s about my speed.
The second thing that blew me away was the close to two hundred people milling around at the park. Many of them were kids and teens, some were 20-somethings, and there were plenty of parents around… but this was taking place at the exact same time that about a thousand people were racing and spectating at a cross country mountain bike race, just down the road! This was a completely different segment of the mountain bike world, one that was totally unconcerned with going fast or wearing spandex.
All of the tight jeans, long hair, and tats made me feel like I was hanging out a skate park–but it was a dirt jump park instead. Park City is serious about mountain biking, and yeah, it shows!
We hung out at the dirt jump jam for an hour or so, shot photos, caught air on the smaller jumps (which isn’t that easy on a big 6in travel all mountain rig), and then headed on over to Park City Mountain Resort to get a few lift laps in.
Lift Laps at PCMR
While we had already spent most of the past two days riding trails in the PCMR/Old Town area and we had gotten free verts thanks to shuttles, this was our first time actually riding the chairlifts. This late in the fall, the lifts only ran on the weekends, so it was time to hit it!
To be totally honest, we only did a few runs, but we rode two different lifts and hit such a variety of trails that I couldn’t even begin to tell you exactly what their names were. But essentially, it was more of the same that we’d experienced from the day before: gorgeous XC/AM singletrack, beautiful views, black dirt, and all-around mountain bike fun!
As for actual riding conditions, Saturday was the closest to regular mountain biking that we experienced. While some trails were still wet from the previous two days, our knowledgeable guides guided us to the driest, best-riding trails that the mountain could offer up.
Even though we only had a few hours of riding time available in the afternoon, it’s amazing how much terrain you can cover when you have lifts to haul you up the mountain!
For select GoPro clips from the day, check out this video:
Even More Food
The final evening of our trip we spent at
Butcher’s Chop House & Bar, PRIME Steakhouse, which was easily the most expensive restaurant we ate at in Park City. However, while $40-60 for a steak, with $10+ sides, $15+ appetizers, and who knows how much for drinks, is much richer than my blood will ever be able to afford, this still isn’t the most expensive restaurant in Park City. For truly high-end dining, expect to pay $100-120 per plate… yes, you can get dining like that in park city.
If you have that kind of money to blow on a single plate of food, well then good for you. While I greatly enjoyed my brief taste of high-end steak, probably my favorite restaurant we ate at was Squatters Roadhouse Pub and Grill. Of all the places we visited, they had the best beer selection, some of the best burgers in town, it’s the locals favorite breakfast place, and if I was paying for my own meals, I could actually afford to eat there.
Last Chance for Gas: Day 4
While some of the guys had earlier flights and some had later ones, I had enough time on Sunday morning to squeeze in a quick XC loop with Stu. Stu took me out for a brief, but entertaining, jaunt in the Prospector Area. This was the only loop-style ride I did all week, but the climbing wasn’t bad at all on this in-town jaunt.
We circled around, up, and over a knob, with great views of town from the rocky singletrack:
The trails in the Prospector Area were actually quite different from most of the trails we had been riding all weekend, and had a much tighter, old school feel to their design. Park City truly has a little bit of everything, if only you know where to look for it!
While at first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cut it close on my departure time, I’m so glad that I met up with Stu for that one last rip around.
It was a sweet, final farewell to Park City. Despite riding for four days straight and covering over 75 miles of trail, I still have hardly scratched the surface of what Park City has to offer.
Thanks to my recent relocation to Salida, Colorado and the short 8-hour drive from here to Park City, I can say with confidence: I shall return!