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Mountain Biking

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Liftopia Now Offering Tickets for Lift-Served Mountain Biking

For the first time, Liftopia, the largest online marketplace for reduced-price lift tickets, has begun to offer lift tickets for mountain biking at resorts across North America. It makes perfect sense, since the sport has been growing in popularity in recent years thanks to expanding terrain, green and blue cruisers for riders of all ages and levels. Many of the top lift-served bike resorts are working with Liftopia for this new initiative, including Mountain Creek (NJ), Mammoth Mountain (CA), Schweitzer Mountain (ID), Grand Targhee (WY), Plattekill Mountain (NY), Sunday River (ME), and Waterville Valley (NH). To coincide with the launch, Liftopia is partnering with Teton Gravity Research, TheFeed.com, and Specialized Bicycle Components to offer sweepstakes and giveaways throughout the season, including a Specialized Enduro trail bike (retails at $3,400) and $500 in gift credit from Liftopia. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/31/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

5 Adventures on a Shoestring, Mountain Biking Across the Malay Peninsula

It took more than two years to design and build a 205-mile mountain biking trek that crosses Thailand’s Malay Peninsula. But now that it’s complete, fat wheelers are calling it some of the best riding in Southeast Asia. Starting in Surat Thani, you bike through jungle, rubber and palm plantations, and small villages from the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand. Leaving the masses behind, you’ll get a chance to see the real Thailand on a weeklong trek offered by Thai Cycle. There’s also a shorter 5-day ride that gets you halfway across, zipping up and down numerous singletracks along the way. Cost for the 7-day trip starts at $817 per person, including food, guides, lodging, camping, and bikes. Don’t forget your Camelbak. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/09/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Top 5 Travel Days of 2015, Mountain Biking with Maine Huts & Trails

I was fortunate in 2015 to spend 5 days in Acadia National Park and 5 days visiting all the huts on the Maine Huts & Trails route. Seven years after the Poplar Springs Hut was first built, the nonprofit group is making good on its lofty goal to build 12 eco-lodges in the Maine wilderness. There are already four huts in the system across a 45-mile span. I loved the entire route, especially the chance to not only hike, but also mountain bike and paddle through the dense woods. 

 
One of the highlights of the trip was a chance to ride with local Jon Boehmer who knows a thing or two about mountain biking, having lived in that legendary mountain biking town of Crested Butte, Colorado, for 6 years. Boehmer led my wife and I on some of his favorite singletrack runs, many that branch off from the Narrow Gauge Pathway, a rail trail that hugs the Carrabassett River. Meade is a gem of a trail that lines the banks of the river, bopping up and down around tall pines and over roots and rock bridges. Sargent and Crocker Town are more technical runs, with short uphill and downhill turns thrown into the mix. Boehmer also took us to the nearby Sugarloaf Outdoor Center, where you can rent bikes and venture onto their vast network of trails that loop around lonely ponds, with that mountain view always looming in the background. 
 
We rested our legs on a downhill run on the Narrow Gauge while watching families swim in the boulder-strewn river. Then we headed uphill on a tough climb to the Poplar Hut, our lodging for the night. Lisa and I said goodbye to Jon and thanked him for a memorable day of riding. To top it off, we walked down to a nearby waterfalls and watched the water careen down the craggy old rock into a cool pool of water. There was no one else enjoying this serene scene. Well, at least not yet, but word will spread. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/07/16 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, September 04, 2015

Mountain Bike Bluff Point State Park, Groton, Connecticut

Mountain biking at the beach might sound like a contradiction, but at Bluff Point State Park in Groton, Connecticut, there’s a dirt road along the Poquonnock River that leads straight to the Long Island Sound. There, you'll find picturesque Bluff Point Beach, which juts out to rugged Bushy Point. Numerous tracks spread out from the main trail like spokes on a wheel; choose one and ramble along the shores or go inland to see remnants of the John Winthrop house dating from the early 1700s. Even better, head up to the bluffs and look south across the waters to Fishers Island in New York, east to Watch Hill in Rhode Island, or west to New London in Connecticut.
 
Next week, I’m excited to be blogging live from Acadia National Park as I preview their 100th anniversary celebration next year. I’ll be hiking, biking, sea kayaking, and sailing, while discussing some of my favorite off-the-beaten-track locales. So please stay tuned and also follow me on Twitter @ActiveTravels
 
Have a fun Labor Day Weekend and, as always, keep active!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/04/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day Three, Mountain Biking to the Flagstaff Hut

Charlie Woodworth didn’t take the helm of Maine Huts & Trails to sit behind a desk. He knows these trails in western Maine like the back of his hand, as he showed Lisa and me on Day Three while riding the 11 miles over to the Flagstaff Hut. We would soon learn that he also happens to be a helluva biker, taking the roots, rocks, and turns easily and offering pedaling pointers for us along the way. Much of the land we would be traversing today is part of the Penobscot Indian Reservation, including our first leg, the Sticky Trail, a technical singletrack through a forest of hemlocks.

As we rode, Charlie gave me an update on the progress of this non-profit organization. They currently have 1450 members and their dues go straight to trail maintenance. 4 of the eco-lodges have been built and they plan to continue with construction southwest of the first hut we visited, Stratton Brook Hut, towards Rangeley. Their ultimate goal is to have 12 backcountry huts over 180 miles of trails all the way north to Baxter State Park. Judging from Charlie’s passion and perseverance, along with all the enthusiastic MH&T staffers I met along the way, I have no doubt they’ll achieve that goal. 

We said goodbye to Charlie at the Flagstaff Hut, snagged one of Megan Costello’s heavenly chocolate chip cookies, and exchanged mountain bikes for an Old Town canoe. We were surprised to find that we’d be paddling with a frog that was camping out in the canoe. Canoeing along the shores of Flagstaff Lake, the 4th largest lake in Maine, the mighty ridge of the 4,000-foot Bigelow Mountains soon came into view. Adding to the allure was a bald eagle that flew overhead. The waters were even more magical that evening when we watched a perfect orb of a reddish-orange sun set in the notch between Blanchard Mountain and Pickled Chicken Hill. Living the dream. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/22/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day Two, Mountain Biking to Poplar Stream Falls Hut

In September 1996, a relatively new magazine called Men’s Journal gave me an assignment to write a story on mountain biking in Vermont. I biked with extreme skier John Egan in the Mad River Valley before heading north and meeting Jeff Hale, a route designer on a network of singletracks he was calling the Kingdom Trails. On a spongy mat of trails dusted with pine needles, we cruised past century-old barns and small, dilapidated sugar shacks lost in the countryside and I immediately saw the potential for an off-road biking route in this sylvan slice of the state. Well, the Kingdom Trails has exploded, with more than 60,000 visits just this past year. 


I see the same potential for Carrabassett Valley, Maine, especially when fat wheelers realize that NEMBA has teamed up with Maine Huts & Trails to create a mountain biking hut-to-hut network. We left Stratton Brook Hut this morning on a sweet trail cut last year into the deep forest, Oak Knoll. The dirt was smooth with high banks around each turn on zigzagging switchbacks. At the Stratton Brook trailhead, we met up with Jon Boehmer who knows a thing or two about mountain biking, having lived in that legendary mountain biking town of Crested Butte, Colorado, for 6 years. 

Boehmer is excited to show us some of his favorite singletrack runs, many that branch off from the Narrow Gauge Pathway, a rail trail that hugs the Carrabassett River. Grassy Loops is a nice warm-up on soft dirt through a meadow of high grass. Meade is a gem of a trail that lines the banks of the river, bopping up and down around tall pines and over roots and rock bridges. Sargent and Crocker Town are more technical runs, with short uphill and downhill turns thrown into the mix. Boehmer also took us to the nearby Sugarloaf Outdoor Center, where you can rent bikes and venture onto their vast network of trails that loop around lonely ponds, with that mountain view always looming in the background. 

We rested our legs on a downhill run on the Narrow Gauge while watching families swim in the boulder-strewn river. Then had our last taste of singletrack that connects with the Maine Huts Trail and led uphill on a tough climb to the Poplar Stream Falls Hut. Lisa and I said goodbye to Jon and thanked him for a memorable day of riding. To top it off, we walked down to the waterfalls and watched the water careen down the craggy old rock into a cool pool of water. There was no one else enjoying this serene scene. Well, at least not yet, but word will spread. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/21/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Stowe’s Topnotch Resort Unveils “Boys Will Be Boys” Package

Tennis players and mountain bikers of the male persuasion, take note. The Topnotch Resort is now offering a guy’s getaway that includes a two-night stay at the upscale property with breakfast daily, a local Vermont brew and pretzel amenity delivered to the room after check-in, a burger and beer dinner at The Roost, and a $100 resort credit per room to be used towards tennis, spa treatments or food/beverage. Consistently listed among the top 10 tennis resorts in America, Topnotch offers daily tennis instruction by seasoned pros at the property’s six outdoor courts and four indoor courts. Surrounding the property is also a good 50 miles of stellar mountain biking trails like the technical singletrack, Kimmer’s Trail. Afterwards, you’ve earned your 80-minute deep tissue sports massage at the spa. You can also play a round of golf at the highly touted Country Club of Vermont. Rates start at $279, per person for two nights, double occupancy. 

 
I’m off to Phoenix Monday to Wednesday, back with a new blog on Thursday. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and keep active!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/22/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bike the Kingdom Trails and Stay at the Burke Bike Barn

Now that Columbus Day has come and gone, along with much of the fall foliage traffic in Vermont, it’s time to hit my favorite mountain bike trails in New England. Uou know how much I cherish the Kingdom Trails. They’re even sweeter when the last maple leaves are clinging to the trees before the first snowfall. That would be right now! Spend the night at Burke Bike Barn. Located on the White School Trail, just outside the village of East Burke, this timber frame barn first went up in the 1840s. Recently renovated, it now features two units, each with full kitchen. The larger unit has three bedrooms and sleeps 6 (starts at $150 a night), while the smaller unit has 2 bedrooms and sleeps 4 (starts at $120 a night).

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/14/14 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 07, 2013

Maine Huts & Trails Presents TrailFest 2013

No plans this weekend? How about helping New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) create new singletrack trails in the Carrabassett Valley region of Maine. Volunteers will receive will free food, lodging, and entertainment at Stratton Brook Hut, Maine Huts & Trails’ newest lodging, opened in December. The new trails, when combined with the existing network at Sugarloaf, will make the western mountains of Maine into a top mountain biking destination in the East. Also, stays at Stratton Brook Hut and Poplar Huts can now be combined with mountain biking. 

 
I’m off to Oregon with my brother Jim to stand-up paddleboard in the Columbia River, whitewater raft down the Deschutes River, go snowshoeing around the rim of Crater Lake National Park, and bike through the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. We’ll also be sampling the fine dining in Portland and trying the ciders of Hood River, the craft brews in Bend, and the pinot noirs of Willamette Valley. I’ll be back on June 17, with a full slate of Oregon blogs. Have a great week and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/07/13 at 11:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Guided Tours on the Kingdom Trails

Those of you who have followed my writing over the years know that I frequently write about the Kingdom Trails, the network of stellar mountain biking trails in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. In my humble opinion, there’s no better place to ride in the Northeast. The Kingdom Trails Association has maintained and mapped some 150 miles of trails. This can be a quandary for the first-time visitor. That’s why I was delighted last week to hear that Caitlin Foley at Lyndonville’s Village Sport Shop has unveiled a customized tour of the Kingdom Trails. Depending on your experience, some of the area’s top local riders will guide you, have catered meals delivered right on the trail, set you up with a bike that can handle the terrain, even help you with child care and arrange massages to soothe those weary legs afterwards. Just make sure they take you on Webs, my favorite! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/04/13 at 12:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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