A mountain biking lesson well learned at Smugglers Notch VT

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Smugglers North mountain biking
Smugglers North mountain biking

By Eileen Ogintz

SMUGGLER’S NOTCH, VT. (Day 4 of 4) — Ready to hop on your bike?

Not so fast!   Not if you are going to try mountain biking, says Rick Sokoloff, who is the mountain bike program director at Smuggler’s Notch Resort in Vermont and a co-founder of the Stowe Mountain Bike Club.

It’s a lot different to bike on a mountain trail with uneven terrain, rocks and tree stumps. All the more reason to take a lesson, which is what my husband, Andy Yemma, and our friend, Enesi Domi, 15, did one cloudy morning recently.

Sokoloff said he had helped develop 50 miles of mountain biking trails around Stowe in recent years—making it a popular destination for experienced mountain bikers. But there wasn’t much available for beginners or those with less skill. That’s why he was glad for the opportunity to develop the program and more trails at Smuggler’s Notch near Stowe.

Smuggler’s Notch is family central, with roomy condo accommodations, day care for infants, organized children’s programming in summer, fall and winter, an indoor FunZone recreation area, skate park, Disc Golf, four pool and water playground areas with everything from sand volleyball and horseshoes, tennis, teen center, and obstacle courses and zipline canopy tours, thanks to a partnership with ArborTrek   right here.

By the way, if your kids aren’t in school yet or have a fall break, Fall is a great time to visit because not only is there so much to do (let’s not forget the changing leaves!) but the rates are the lowest all year and the AutumnFest package includes half-off the Kids’ Connection program of supervised day care and activities for children aged six weeks up to age seven.

And then there’s the mountain biking. You have to be in the moment, focused on what you are doing, says Sokoloff. And that’s a good thing! “You have no room for self consciousness.”

People think they know how to ride a bike but mountain biking requires different skills and is counter intuitive to what they normally would do. For example, your natural tendency would be to stand up if you thought you were in trouble but on a mountain bike, you need to lower your center of gravity. Sit down!

Here there are trails with double tracks which makes it easier for two riders together. Sokoloff says there has been a lot of interest in the program.

Smugglers Notch Skateboarding
Smugglers Notch Skateboarding

And I can see why—here’s an activity to share with the kids where you are learning together. “I really think this brings families together,” opines Sokoloff.

It’s certainly going to wear them out as they practice in the Pump Track circular area and then head out on the “green” or easiest double track trails that wind around the resort; There are plenty of more difficult trails to choose from too

“That was more work than I thought it would be,” said Enesi.

It always is at the beginning when you are learning something new. But then it’s so much fun—especially to beat the grownups down the trail.  

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