Exploring Utah With Diamondback
BY Mike Kazimer
Summers tend to fly by, ending before we finish visiting all the destinations on our 'must ride' list, so when the opportunity arose to join Diamondback Bicycles' Jon Kennedy and Eric Porter for a quick taste of what the Park City, Utah, area had to offer, we accepted it without a second thought. Diamondback typically does a larger scale product launch each year, but because we'd already spent time on their 2014 Mason FS
, there weren't that many changes to report on (although the long-awaited DH bike is currently in tooling, and there are some other interesting projects in the works that will be announced as soon as they're finalized
). So, rather than concentrating on technical bike facts and figures, the focus of this brief trip was on the best part about mountain biking – actually riding. After landing in Salt Lake City, it was only a short drive to Park City, a former mining town turned year-round tourist destination with miles of world class singletrack. There's a reason IMBA designated this area as a gold level Ride Center - there aren't too many places where the trail access is this easy, and this close to a major airport.
| The wildflowers were out in full force, coloring the spaces between the aspen trees.|
The ride began at a trailhead located in the hills a few miles from Eric Porter's house, and ended up at the Sundance Resort, a twenty five mile point-to-point excursion that served up a heaping platter of swoopy singletrack, with spectacular vistas of the surrounding mountains, including Mt. Timpanogos, the second highest peak in the Wasatch range. The trails had the perfect mix of buff smoothness punctuated with chunky rock gardens that kept things interesting. Early summer rains had grown the wildflowers to epic proportions, and the constant 'thwap thwap thwap' of the trailside foliage on our hands had us seriously considering whether moto-style brush guards would have been a good idea.
| Eric Porter swizzles through the aspens aboard his Mason FS.|
Diamondback's Mason FS was the bike of choice for our ride, and the 140mm travel 29er ate up everything we threw its way, smoothing out jagged jumbles of rock, and launching off natural jumps. As we experienced during our test of the Mason, the bike does best at speed, which made it an excellent fit for the fast and flowy trails we took it on. Outfitted with SRAM's XX1 setup, the bike's drivetrain was rattle-free on the downhills, urging us to go faster and faster.
| These little guys were hell bent on hitching a ride, coating gloves and socks at every opportunity.|
| With over 400 miles of trails surrounding Park City, it isn't hard to get away from civilization.|
After arriving at Sundance Resort's base area, a stop at a small general store allowed us to replenish our diminished protein reserves with freshly made BLT sandwiches, the thick slabs of salty bacon working like magic to provide the energy needed for the next part of our adventure – rafting down the Provo River. We procured a fleet of tubes, a cooler of beverages and a bulk size tub of cheesy poofs, then headed down to the river.
| Summertime, and the living is easy. Diamondback's Eric Porter and Jon Kennedy know how to relax.|
At this time of year the Provo is fairly shallow, the opposite of the fast moving torrent it becomes in the spring when melting snow running down from the mountains fills it to the brim. Still, the water was the perfect apres-ride cool down, and we stayed entertained by crashing into the shrubs at the river's edge and getting hung up on rocks and other mid-stream obstacles. The fly fishermen standing hip deep in the river looked slightly perturbed, likely second-guessing their decision to fish in the middle of the day on a river filled with rambunctious rafters.
| Lucky kid. Porter's backyard playground has a pumptrack, dirt jumps and a waterslide.|
Everyone survived the rafting excursion, so we headed back to Eric Porter's house for a pre-dinner pumptrack session. Porter has a backyard that would make any mountain biker envious - a pumptrack, dirt jumps, and his latest addition, sections of a waterslide that used to reside in pro BMX rider Matt Berringer's yard strategically placed to create a snake run throughout the property.
| Food, drink, and a chemistry lesson.|
As the sun began to drop behind the horizon, we headed to downtown Park City to get the night started with food and drink. Despite Utah's teetotaling reputation and stringent liquor laws, the High West Distillery and Saloon is thriving, aided in part by its ultra-convenient location. In the winter it becomes the world's only ski-in distillery, and the summertime access is just as easy. Even if you abstain from alcohol, it's a fascinating process to see how whiskey is made - chemistry was never this interesting in high school. The excellent food doesn't hurt the saloon's reputation either - any place with bacon caramel popcorn as an appetizer is deserving of praise.
| That's right. The one and only Slash, complete with signature top hat and sunglasses.|
And then it was time for the grand finale to an already spectacular summer day – a night at Park City Live watching Slash (of Guns N' Rose's fame, a fact that shouldn't even need mentioning
) rock out in his inimitable way. Top hat and all, Slash came out swinging, laying down blistering solo after blistering solo in between classic GNR tunes. Finishing off a long summer day watching Slash play the opening notes of 'Sweet Child o' Mine' was a surreal experience, one that will be difficult to top. Summer can be fleeting, but it's days like this that will remain memorable months later, filling daydreams and helping to pass the time when the trails are covered with snow and ice. www.diamondback.com