There is a common thread between gravity riders that grew up or have spent a lot of time riding in California's’ Sierra Nevada mountains. Located between North Lake Tahoe and Truckee, Northstar has established itself as Nevada and Northern California's’ premiere lift access bike park. It is generally a tough place to ride earning itself a reputation for abused trails and sketchy terrain. Ask your average tourist what they think of Northstar and chances are you will not hear positive remarks, but to the regional gravity scene, it’s someplace special. Riders who have accepted it for what it is have been able to start looking past its imperfections and now see the mountain in a new light, letting the condition of the trail inform them as to how it could be ridden.
Over the past summer, we have been having a lot of fun letting film and photo adapt the way we perceive what we have always ridden. Sitting on sections and analyzing what we could capture and how we wanted to capture it was huge for exploring shoulders of the trail or pockets we would otherwise ride right by. We began understanding that riding a trail fast was mono-dimensional, there is a fast line and everyone takes it. When we began to slow things down and ride sections at different speeds, we realized there was so much more depth offered by the same trail we had ridden a hundred times before. I believe there is a competitive drive in every cyclist to want to go fast or better another rider. To disassociate from that inner rider in an effort to chase different trail feelings around the mountain by exploring alternative lines at different speeds has been really refreshing and a cornerstone to the riding we have been about lately. That being said I think it’s a way to freshen up any park that any rider has a relationship with. Don’t think so? Try it.
Comparing a small local bike park to a household name like Whistler, which spoon feeds you the best trails in the world, you really have to work harder to have an equal amount of fun here. Through an alternative mindset towards Northstar and its riding experience, myself and the rest of the Surf Club were able to have the most memorable seasons of riding despite Northstar's undesirable traits. Weekend after weekend this group of friends slowly dissected the mountain finding new lines and creative interpretations of features we had ridden thousands of times before.
The filming process provided the opportunity to analyze each section in great detail and allow each rider to meet the trail with their own style. Every rider brought something unique to the table and it was a treat to see how many different ways a single section could be ridden. By the end of the season, we were flowing down every trail and finding the fun in sections that were previously uninspiring. It is easy to complain about the trails at Northstar, but this season gave me a real appreciation for the challenges it gave us and the blank canvas it provided this group of two-wheeled artists.