Playtime at Attitash
1 Aug 2014
There’s just the one chairlift running for bikes right now, and it does not take you to the top of Attitash mountain, but even from half way up there are still some pretty awesome views out across the White Mountains. Through a gap in the trees, you can see Mount Washington about 20km north of Attitash - the highest peak in the northeastern U.S. at 6,288 feet, and surprisingly, the site of the second highest directly measured surface wind speed ever recorded! Mount Washington once held the world record and still holds the Northern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere record, at 231 mph (372 km/h), recorded 1934. With hurricane-force winds every third day on average, there are over 100 recorded deaths among visitors. And you can drive to the top, so if you feel like taking a risk on a windy day go for it!
High winds at Mount Washignton - don't hang around on top!
Damian and Casey talked us through what’s on offer at the Dirt Trax bike shop on site. A bike park day pass will cost you $35, but for $45 you get all the other stuff thrown in too (see further down). But check this out for a deal - a season pass for the bike park is only $100, so if you plan on riding here only 3 times in a season then it’s paid for itself already. Pretty damn good as it appeals to more than just local riders. It’s not a big shop as it’s not a big resort, but it certainly has the essentials to keep you riding, plus helmets, armor and gloves available to buy. The rental fleet consists of Scott, Devinci and Canfield DH rigs and a 1-day rental will cost $95. And so long as they’re available, you can swap between these bikes as you please during the day, if you don’t get on well with one bike or if you just want to try something different.
Every Wednesday at the bike park it’s the Pin the Tail Race Event, a relaxed vibe race series where you post a time whenever you feel like it, any time between 10 and 6 when the lifts are running. The trail varies from week to week, and the course is not normally taped out. If you don’t know the course then one of the bike shop guys will go with you for a few laps until you are comfortable that you know it! When you’ve had enough practice runs, call in at the shop to get your number – not a number plate – just a number that you need to remember.
Corey at the timing station in the bike shop for the Pin the Tail series.
Then when you’re ready for your race run, head back to the start of the course where you’ll find a radio tied to a post. Call in to the shop, where Corey or someone else will be sat at the timing station. Tell them you’re ready, and you’ll get a 3-2-1 countdown and off you go. It’s an honor based system so don’t’ start pedaling until you hear the ‘go’ on the radio! There’s a light gate at the finish to capture your stop time, so just pedal on through to the finish! The guy in the shop has to be mindful of false finishes – someone else cutting the beam, or others on training runs. But the density of riders is not so great that this proves an issue. It’s $15 for single race entry or $75 for the full series of 6. They run a handicap system with tiers, so people don’t get discouraged, and it gives everyone a chance of taking home one of the awesome comedy prizes that you might actually try to avoid! All this just speaks volume of the culture here – a bunch of riders doing what they love, having fun doing it, and welcoming anyone and everyone that wants to come see what they have going on! This awesome little lego edit gives you a good idea of the banter…
There are so many other activities - it’s a kid’s dreamland so great for mountain biking families. In the interest of being thorough, that includes… Alpine Slide, Mountain Coaster, Waterslides, Climbing Wall, Eurobungy Trampoline, Airbag Jump and Slacklines, and all this gets thrown in for only $10 more on top of the bike park day pass. And new for 2014, but not quite ready at the time of out visit, is a brand new zip line which runs from the summit of Bear Peak all the way down to the base of Attitash. It’s 2 sections of rider-controlled zip line reaching heights greater than 400ft of the ground, and at 4,969ft long, the first section will be the longest zip span in the US!
Throw yourself off something other than the mountain at the Bag Jump.
There are loads of options for food at the base, with your standard ski resort restaurant, a taco bar, and Matty B’s restaurant/bar on the other side of the road that does good food and plenty of beer.
Go get a beer at Matty B's over the road.
It’s definitely worth a trip down the road to the town of North Conway. We didn’t get the time, but go check out a popular locals trail called the Red Tail Trail that comes highly recommended, just outside the town, off the Hurricane Mountain road. There’s plenty going on in town too, and an awesome pizza joint called Flatbread Pizza Co. And there’s another popular swim hole as well – Diana's Bath, although no big rock jumps in to plunge pools from what we found. But a cool place to hangout for a few hours and cool off anyway. And if you’re after the blueberries then come in August as they’ll be everywhere – there’s even a Blueberry Festival that kicks off the season this coming Saturday if you don’t have plans for the weekend yet.
Another place to cool off - the rocks of Diana's Bath.
Sunset over the White Mountains.