Rain and Beer in Mount Snow
13 Aug 2014
After a morning swim in Knowles Pond we reluctantly dragged ourselves away from Highland and headed back in to Vermont and the Green Mountain National Forest in the southern part of the state. Any reluctance was quickly forgotten though as we started planning for Mount Snow Bike Park. We made a quick stop in the small town of Keene for lunch with Phil Kmetz - former Evil sponsored rider and twice winner of Highland’s Battle Of Hellion race. Being a local (sort of), Phil was pretty familiar with Mount Snow - so got us stoked on the location’s history, and we lined up some riding with him in the following couple of days.
The route from Highland to Mount Snow via Keene for lunch with Phil.
For only the second time on tour the weather was not playing ball, and some major rains storms set in for the evening, with the forecast predicting heavy downpours all night and well in to the next day. It was spot on too – as we woke to misery and news that the trails would be closed. There was so much standing water, so it was a no brainer for the trail crew not to open up, and totally understandable. The trail damage could have been significant and with the weekend still ahead, and higher rider numbers over those days, it was all about minimizing the environmental impact and maintaining a sustainable trail network. But at least it gave us the chance to take care of a few practicalities, like washing our stinking riding gear!
The storm clouds gather.
We also set about meeting the team and started with the Mount Snow Sports shop at the base. Mountain Bike Director and all-round dude J-Knox filled us in on everything we needed to know. It turns out J is a bit of a media legend around these parts – well known in the industry and with a presenter slot on VTTV Adrenaline Series. And we only found this out as we happened to turn on the TV back in the room half an hour after meeting, and there he was again – still talking to us!
J Knox doing his thing on VTTV.
J doubles as the retail operations manager and buyer at Mount Snow, so we talked shop along with the rest of the crew – Nick, Josh, and Karl. The rental fleet consists of Scott FRs, Jamis BAM 2’s and Old School Iron Horse Yakuza – bomb-proof that seem to go on forever, no matter what the abuse. These run at $70 for a full day, or $40 for the afternoon. Then there are the higher spec demo bikes for $100 for a full day and $60 for half day, and include Canfield Formula One Jedi’s, Scott Gamblers, and Devinci Wilsons. And there’s also some 24-inch Kona Stinky Junior’s for the kids. All-in, there are about 50 to 60 bikes for rent in total. The top-end demo bikes are sold off at the end of each season meaning brand new mint condition bikes each year. And the rentals are replaced one third each season so a three year rotation of fresh stuff.
Nick and Josh hard at work in Mount Snow Sports.
Mount Snow Sports is very well stocked, with stacks of One Industries and Fox soft goods, plenty of Dakine and Smith Optics kit, and helmets from Kali – the partner supplier for all the rental helmets. They do sell some bikes, but mainly Scott XC and kids bikes. They also run a Leatt Brace try before you buy program, which is pretty cool, if you haven’t yet been convinced to wear one and want to give it a go before committing to the cost. And naturally it’s a full-service bike shop, so they can do everything you need. There's also a stack of outdoor clothing available, with some awesome 50% off deals from last years winter kit.
Still hard at work - there was a lot to do!!
The cost of a day pass depends on the day you’re there, as there is some specific opening hours that you need to keep in mind. The bike park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, is open midday to 5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and then opens 10 until 5 on Fridays and on the weekends. A ‘full’ day pass costs $38 (Fri, Sat and Sun), and an afternoon pass costs $28. This only gets you 2-5 on those days, so is much better value on the weekdays as it counts for the ‘full’ day from 12 until 5. A season pass is $225 and comes with a very cool perk – it gets you 20% off rentals, demos, lessons, and retail – basically everything you can spend money on in Mount Snow Sports. It’s all part of the effort to make the sport more financially accessible and get more people out on their bikes.
There are 2 lesson packages available – the First Lift and the First Drop programs. First Lift is for those totally new to the concept of bike parks and mountain biking in general, and gets you 2 hours of instruction and riding with the guide, with pass, bike and equipment all included. And the First Drop program is for those ready to progress beyond that initial beginner stage. It includes all the same stuff but for a bit longer – two and a half hours – and costs $129.
Birds-eye view of the pump track.
The weather cleared up in the afternoon and the sun came out, so we at least got the chance to play on the pump track – brand new for the 2014 season. Modelled on the the dimensions of the pump track at Ray's Indoor Bike Park, it was built right outside the doors to Mount Snow Sports, and is great for helping the young kids progress, with small rollers to get used to the bike before going up the mountain on the trails. Still great for big kids too though, and Nick and Trey had a blast around for an hour to work off the frustration from the weather hold.
Nick over the Red Bull box at the center of the pump track.
Hitting the beers at D-Bags with some of the Mount Snow locals.
In the evening we drove 2 minutes down the road to the ‘town’ of Dover for beers in the (in)famous D-Bags Bar - voted the No.4 ‘dive bar’ in the whole of the US by Skiing magazine a few years back. A low-ceiling, sticky-floor hangout with pool table, air hockey, sports on the TV and a lot of beer. What more do you need?! One wall was covered with Mount Snow employee nametags – the rule being that if you’re a mountain employee and forget to take off your badge before entering the bar, then the badge goes on the wall and you buy a round of drinks for the whole bar as punishment! There must be 6-700 badges up there, dating all the way back to the 1970’s so you know there have been more than a few good nights there.
The fussball table. Time to step up, this shit is serious..!
The wall of Mount Snow name tags - if you're on it then it cost you a round at the bar!
Round and round they went - Nick chasing Trey on the addictive pump track.