New trails, festivals and racing await you this summer at Killington, Thunder Mountain and Windham Bike Parks.
This past summer I had the opportunity to visit all three of the Gravity Logic-built parks on the East Coast. It was my second year in a row checking out Killington, Thunder Mountain and Windham Bike Parks. All three parks made significant strides between my visits and are all poised to make 2018 their best year yet.
Let me start with some quick housekeeping to bring everyone up to speed on the US East Coast Gravity scene. Over the last few years Killington, Thunder and Windham have partnered with Gravity Logic to help build their bike parks. Gravity Logic is a world-renowned organization that specializes in trail building and resort management.
Several founders of Gravity Logic were instrumental in building the Whistler Mountain Bike Park many years ago. I visited Whistler for the first time in 2002 and became friends with one of the chief trail builders, Tom Prochazka. Like countless of other riders, I instantly fell in love with the amazing progressive trails at Whistler.
At the time the only types of trails available at East Coast bike parks were old school technical tracks. While I do enjoy that type of riding, I quickly got hooked on the machine-built jumping trails like A-Line, Freight Train and Crab Apple Hits. I was beyond excited when East Coast resorts began partnering with Gravity Logic to bring the Whistler Bike Park-trail building style closer to my home in Upstate New York.
This is not a knock on the many outstanding East Coast resorts not associated with Gravity Logic. East Coast bike parks like Highland, Mountain Creek and Burke Mountain are amazing places to ride and have been building top-notch machine-built trails for years. Having more options to ride on the East Coast only makes the gravity scene stronger here.
This summer is looking to be awesome at the East Coast Gravity Logic-built parks. There will be miles of new trails built, great bike festivals and plenty of enduro and downhill racing. Read on for more details.Killington
Killington’s bike program has progressed an amazing amount since partnering with Gravity Logic. Previously everything ran off the peak and was extremely technical terrain or fire road. Gravity Logic came in and made use of two lower lifts, Ramshead and Snowshed to access the less steep terrain in that zone.
Now there is a great range of trails at Killington for all ability levels. Everyone from first day beginners to seasoned pros can find their line in the bike park. The lower elevation drop from the Snowshed lift is great for beginners, and trails like Step it Up and Blue Magic are spicy enough for more experienced riders to have a blast on.
This past summer I was invited by Ryan Thibault of MTBVT to attend the first annual Vermont Bike and Brew Festival at Killington. MTBVT and Killington teamed up for this rad three-day event that featured a downhill critical mass, whip-off competition and some amazing local craft beer. I usually shy away from festivals because of lift lines and congestion on the trails, but Killington is a big enough resort that you don’t feel the extra riders. I hooked up with my friend Will Goody and did laps on Sideshow Bob, Steel Panther and The Beast.
It was really fun to see so many old friends and make new ones. It was great to see Aaron Chase leading the pack on the mass start downhill on the newly extended Black Magic jump trail. I caught up with Knight Ide and the IdeRide crew for a lap down Black Magic. It was awesome to see how much talent Coach Knight has on his squad.
The whip-off competition was a great opportunity to see some top-level East Coast talent styling it out for cash. The money jump was one of the last of the set on Blue Magic, so it was easy for people to make their way up from the base to check out the throw down.
So many riders threw down super hard, but 12-year-old IdeRide team rider Barrett Hibshman from East Burke easily got the most sideways on the big hip.
Nothing tastes better than fresh Vermont craft beer after a day of hard riding. The beer garden had some very tasty beverages as well as great live music. There were many vendors and demo trucks on site to check out as well. I took an opportunity to test a few sweet rides from Pivot and Ibis over the long weekend.
Killington opens this year on May 26th. If you’re looking for an awesome weekend of gravity riding, on-site camping with massive bonfires, and amazing beer selections, definitely check out the Bike and Brew Festival at Killington this year on June 15-17th.
Killington has made improvements to their beginner terrain for 2018 as well as adding the recently completed Krusty Trail on Ramshead. Killington is also extending their hours to give you more opportunity to shred!Windham
Windham Mountain Resort put itself on the map by hosting its first UCI World Cup race in 2010. Since then, Windham has held four more World Cup races and partnered with Gravity Logic to expand their bike park. The first two trails that Gravity Logic built are super fun jump trails for more experienced riders but could be a bit overwhelming for a beginner rider.
In 2017, Gravity Logic built a top-to-bottom green run at Windham called Kaaterskill Cruise. I got an opportunity to hang out and ride with the Gravity Logic crew while they were finishing up the project. The passion they had for the project was overwhelming, and showed in the craftsmanship of their trail building.
It’s very challenging to make a trail that both beginners and experienced riders can have fun on at the same time. Somehow Gravity Logic struck a perfect balance with Kaaterskill Cruise. The trail cuts a wide ribbon down the mountain and has amazing flow.
The two-mile green flow trail descends almost 1,000 feet, and has nice wide berms, pumps and rollers. These features help build technique and teach body positioning necessary for the more advanced jump trails. You can carry some speed on the new green trail and turn it into a very fast experience. It is definitely the kind of trail that I would feel confident recommending to a beginner and is a great warm-up trail for any level of rider.
I had an awesome day of runs at Windham on Kaaterskill, the two racetracks and the two blue jump trails - Wilderness Roll and Batavia Skill. The following day I checked out some cross-country riding near the resort at a trail center called Elm Ridge. If you’re going to be in the area to ride the resort, definitely check out this spot just down the road.
The trail network is pure flow trail style and is an absolute blast. The climb to the top of the Levitate Trail is very mellow. Once at the top you have a handful of awesome descents to choose from. The Run Noot and Gold Mine Trails are must rides when you go to Elm Ridge.
I’m excited to get back to Windham this season to check out the new intermediate Ant Hill Trail. I rode a bit of the single track last summer that starts below the Wheelhouse, and it was awesome. The trail crew has mapped out some new terrain from the summit, and construction will be ongoing throughout the season. Windham opens their gravity program on May 26th.Thunder Mountain
Thunder Mountain at Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont, Massachusetts is fast becoming one of my favorite resorts to visit every summer. Unlike Killington and Windham, Thunder had no existing trails before Gravity Logic started construction on the bike park in 2015. The clean slate that Gravity Logic started with has been transformed into a very diverse bike park with something for every style and ability level of rider.
I visited Thunder with Joey Lakein and Anson Wellington, friends from Brooklyn. At Thunder we met up with local shredders Ben McGranaghan, Charlie Harrison, Jack Sargent and bike park manager Gabe Porter-Henry. The plan was to ride the bike park with Ben and Charlie in the morning and then link up with Gabe and Jack later in the day to ride some all mountain trails at the Warfield House. The Warfield is directly across the valley from the resort and is an awesome hotel and event center. It also functions as a hub for the Charlemont Trail System.
Ben and Charlie started us off on Sleeping Jake’s to Trillium, which is an awesome warm-up run. Next we rode my favorite trail at Thunder, Gronk. Gronk is a blue jump trail with nice tables and perfect berms. I could literally ride Gronk all day, every day.
After Gronk, we stepped up our game to the black jump trail Hawleywood. Ben, Charlie and Anson put on an absolute clinic styling out the big jumps and features. “There are so many jumps on one trail and they are so well-made and positioned,” Anson said as we finished the premier double black jump trail at Thunder.
Ben wanted to show us some of the technical single track at Thunder, so the next few runs he took us down Juggernaut, Schist and Billy Badger. All of these runs were old-school fall line style trails with rough sections of steep, rocky descents. “Juggernaut is one of my trails here,” Ben said. “You definitely have to stay on your toes on that trail.”
After checking out the resort we drove across the road to the Warfield House and met up with Jack and Gabe. They took us on an awesome tour of the network, including Red Zone, Thunder Vision and Cotton Candy. These classic New England-style, rocky and rooty trails are well worth checking out when you visit Thunder.
We rode a few hours around the Warfield and then took our final blistering descent past the hotel all the way down to the Deerfield River. “If you guys still have some energy left, we can grab some kayaks and float the river,” Gabe said as we gazed at the cool river in the August heat.
It didn’t take much to convince us into a paddle. We shuttled a sweet section of the river that had some pretty legit rapids. If you have time after riding at Thunder to do a river tour, it is well worth it.
Feeling refreshed after being unceremoniously dumped in the river by the rapids, we were keen to get in some more riding. “Do you guys want to check out the enduro racetracks on the mountain?” Gabe asked.
Again, Gabe didn’t have to twist our arms to check out the fresh, loamy trails on the backside of the resort. The lifts were already closed by this time, so we piled into Gabe’s pickup and took turns shuttling sections of the course. The tracks were newly cut, so it almost felt like glade skiing as we came down the virgin trails.
My favorite enduro race tracks were Hawks Brook, Silver Doe and Wilderness. These trails have amazing flow and it was great to ride behind Gabe as he tore it up. I haven't raced in many years, but I might give it a go this year at one of the Thunder Mountain enduro races because the trails are so much fun.
It was Anson’s first time at Thunder and he was very impressed, “I like the vibe of the staff at Thunder. They are very positive and inviting. I feel like I could take my kids here, especially with the other activities like rafting and zip lining that they offer."
Thunder Mountain opens this year on May 26th.
If you are interested in enduro or downhill racing, Eastern States Cup is partnering with all three resorts this summer. ESC Enduro and DH racing is happening September 23rd at Killington. Windham is holding an ESC DH race on August 19th. Thunder is also hosting the ESC Enduro Finals on October 21st. Killington is also hosting the US Open of Mountain Biking on August 1st-5th. This event will feature the legendary Open Class Downhill, the inaugural USO Enduro, whip comp and grom racing.
Thanks to Ryan Thibault at MTBVT for the great time at the Bike and Brew Fest. Thanks to Kristel Fillmore, Ben Colona and Will Goody at Killington. Thanks also to Gabe Porter-Henry, Ben McGranaghan, Charlie Harrison and Jack Sargent at Thunder Mountain. Thanks to Nils Oesterle, Becky Pine and Beth Stewart at Windham. Thanks to Joey, Anson, Knight and the IdeRide Crew as well as everyone else that I shot with on this project.
Thanks to the Ibis Cycles family, the Hayes Brakes, Answer Products, Fox Racing Shox, RockShox, Wolf Tooth, Thomson, OneUp Components, Cane Creek, Thule and WTB.