They say the first time you attempt something and don’t succeed, try, try again.
And that’s what I do–whether it be mountain biking, swimming, or xc skiing.
Months ago, a friend and I decided to head up to Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT for a mid-winter gettaway. I’ve shared my first (solo, mind you) mountain biking trip there this summer here . And, in the summer, it is amazing. Miles and miles of single or double track for mountain biking, technical trails and downhill for those adrenalen junkies, to leisurely groomed paths.
Ofcourse, I didn’t go up to go mountain biking in March. Well, that is a lie, because technically, the reason for the trip was to go to WinterBike, an event that started this year where mountain bikers from all over are invited to come and ride together on groomed cross country paths. A sweet idea. They had rides for riders of every level– fatbike rides, studded tyre rides, inntermediate, and “leisurly” paced rides. Towards the end, they even served Vermont cheese (yumm!) and a variety of local brews. After the main event, there was a race for those hardcore mountain bikers who really have no fear at all…I’m pretty sure they were stoked about the ability to race in the winter. I’m definitely going again next year.
As with the rest of the Northeast, East Burke did not get a huge amount of snow. As I recall, driving into Lyndonville looking over at my driver saying, “Umm, where is the snow?” thinking that there would be feet and feet of snow everywhere you looked. Nope. Fortunetly, at higher altitutes, there was more snow…Super for WinterBike! I did notice there was snow on Burke Mountain, so entering the town of East Burke observing visitors bundled up in ski gear gave me hope there would be enough snow to ski on. But, with the weather we’ve had, I think we managed to embrace the last of the snow of their winter snow season. **Meaning, next time I go, it’ll be for pure mountain bike pleasure!**
Kingdom Trails is amazing and has so much to offer for every season. In the winter, it has has special Nordic Trails only for cross country ski and snowshoe use. There is Darling Hill, which has about 20 km of trails which can be used for skiing, as well as Dashney Farm, with about 50km of trails–this is where the WinterBike event was held.
Some Winterbike Photos
Most courtesy of K.Young
Cross Country Skiing
Okay, it’s actually a lie that I’ve never been cross-country skiing before. I have. Years ago. Furthermore, once upon a time, we owned a “Nordic Track™” which I used religiously before we gave it away. During winters as a child my family would travel to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (in Bavaria) so my siblings and I could downhill ski, or snowboard. But that was years ago. Truth be told, with the winter we had last year in the Hudson Valley, I thought I’d be getting much more use out of my cx skis than I did this year. But, the Molly philosophy on learning how to do something is to go full speed ahead and simply, do it. Thankfully, I had an amazing person with me who actually does ski (and worked at a ski shop) and could teach me the correct way to cross-country ski.
Oh, and if you were wondering, exercising on a Nordic Track™ is nothing compared to actually cross-country skiing. For one, you don’t have hills; two, you don’t have ice, and three, with a Nordic Track™ you have something to rest your abdomen against.
We were fortunate to stay at the Wildflower Inn, a Bed and Breakfast on Darling Hill, right from which you could clip in the skis and ski (or ride in the summer). It’s an amazing place, and has activities for the whole family–if you have a family that is. Plus, they have the best pancakes with REAL maple syrup and their breakfasts are phenomenal. Not only that, they are accommodating to vegetarians and those who must eat gluten-free. Their restaurant, Juniper’s, has incredible food too. I highly recommend it. Plus, I must admit, having a weekend with no phone, computer, television (not that I ever actually watch TV) was amazing. I may be old-fashioned, but I do miss the days when society was not so dependant on technology as we are now.
Fun at Wildflower
Besides the point, after a five-hour drive to get to the Inn, it was time to learn how to ski. The person I was with had no problem whatsoever photographing my dread, terror, and fear.
With the lack of snow, most of the trails of Darling Hill were fields and tracks of ice. Not the best conditions for learning how to ski. (I’m pretty sure downhill skiing, from what I remember, is much easier than cross-country skiing). After some side-step instructions, learning how to snow plow, learning how to get in and out of the skis, we were off on the Bemis Trail. It took some time to get used to the movement, especially since I’m not used to the use of the poles and upper body, but I managed with only a few “Craaaaaaaps,” ”I can’t do this,” and, “I’m coming!!!Slowly.” Thank goodness for my skiing partner. He could not have been more patient with me.
Coming along slowly…
Best teacher ever
The Nordic Center
Before heading back south to NY, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and do some more skiing at Dashney Hill Farm. It had been nicely groomed from the WinterBike event the day before, but with the 40° weather, the snow was melting fast, and making trails turn into trails of ice. Going up was fine. Going down, however, was a different story. But, we were able to spend a couple of wonderful hours skiing, only passing a few snowshoe-ers along the way.
We tend to wear matching colored hats and same-brand sunglasses.
All in all, it was a fantastic, fun, sometimes terrifying weekend BUT with no broken bones or hospital visits. If you are into mountain biking on the east coast, Kingdom Trails is the place to go. And now we know you can cross-country ski there, as well as downhill!
Thank you, to the volunteers at the Kingdom, the organizers of WinterBike (my t-shirt is the bomb), and the friendly, welcoming staff at the Wildflower Inn.
Ohh, and one last thing. If you decide to travel to East Burke, it is vital to stop at the Country Store, located right across from the Burke Sports store and gas station. They have the most appetizing homemade maple-oat or maple-wheat bread, and delicious sandwiches.