This past weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Team Sugar of White Pine Touring in Park City for a "women only" mountain bike ride on Utah's Wasatch Crest trail. What a great way to spend a Saturday! I'm so happy to have been introduced to this awesome group of ladies.
I started mountain biking last summer and have really enjoyed picking up the sport. It's challenging, fun, and gets me out into the beautiful nearby mountains for some great exercise and a regular attitude adjustment. Thus far, I've ridden mostly with men. I've pushed myself in keeping up with them which has doubtless improved my skills, but when I heard about a group of women who don't mind getting dirty on the mountain bike trails and encourage other women to learn to ride, I was excited to be a part of it!
Team Sugar is dedicated to promoting the sport of mountain biking among women and they provide a great service in helping women get out and ride and improve their riding skills. Every Tuesday night during the summer, women of a variety of skill levels meet at White Pine Touring in Park City. They are divided into groups based on those skill levels and lead by more experienced guides who seem to really enjoy helping to promote the sport among other women. From beginners to intermediate and advanced levels, there's a ride for everyone and an evening of learning and fun for all. The women support each other, wait for each other on the trails and enjoy the social aspect of the rides as well. What an awesome resource for active women in Utah!
The Crest Ride on Saturday was for level 2 riders and above and included a shuttle to Guardsman Pass, guides for the ride, and a BBQ afterwards. It was well worth my $15. We were also provided with Cliff bars and energy goo along with name tags to help us get to know each other. I found the women to be friendly and full of energy. We were ready for a great ride!
From Guardsman Pass which can be accessed from either Big Cottonwood Canyon near Brighton and Solitude ski resorts or from Park City above Deer Valley and Park City Mountain resorts we began our ascent on the Wasatch Crest trail. The trail starts out pretty mellow. It rolls through trees up and down to a crossroads where you can choose to ride into Jupiter Bowl of Park City Mountain Resort or ascend "Puke Hill" to the top of the Wasatch Ridge above Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City. "Puke Hill" is an infamous portion of the Crest trail and can be considered a great accomplishment if you can ride it cleanly, without stopping, all the way to the top. It's steep with loose rocks and the altitude is considerable about 9,900 feet at the top. I was impressed at how well every member of our group rode that climb. Especially the last and steepest part which presents itself as you turn the corner thinking you've almost made it only to find that the worst is just before you and you're almost out of breath.
As a reward for that long, horrid climb, the views at the top are spectacular! You can see down onto Brighton and Solitude as well as Park City. You are on the top of the world. In fact, riding the Crest trail feels like that the whole time you're on it. The views of the Wasatch peaks and canyons are all around you; one constantly trying to outdo the next. It makes me so happy to be living here in Salt Lake City where I have easy access to such beauty.
So we continued on the Crest trail as it rolls along the ridge. There are two more significant climbs nicknamed the "Red-headed Step Sisters." The red dirt trail is very deceiving and ends up being a much bigger climb than it looks as you approach it. After that it's on to the "Spine." The Spine is a rocky ridge if shale above Desolation Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon and The Canyons ski resort near a lift knowns as "Ninety Nine Ninety." It takes a skilled rider to ride down the Spine without walking. Several of the ladies rode the Spine. I look forward to being able to ride it in the future.
From the Spine, your options open up. You can drop down towards Desolation Lake and the Mill D trail head of Big Cottonwood Canyon, the route I took the first time I rode the Wasatch Crest. Its a blast and I highly recommend it. You can also veer right where you can either descend into Millcreek Canyon via the Big Water trail or into Park City and The Canyons ski resort where there are a variety of trails to choose from. We headed down into Park City onto trails called "Rob's" and "Collins" and out into the Sun Peak neighborhood.
The downhill was really fun with a few technical challenges and plenty of switchbacks. One section was like a roller coaster through the trees and we all had huge smiles on our faces as we finished it. I think I even caught a little air here and there! Weee! At the end of the ride we were impressed at how quickly we'd finished it. I was glad I hadn't slowed anyone down. I may still be new at the sport, but I did pretty well keeping up with all the lady rippers! We were all hungry for our BBQ and set out to ride the highway back to White Pine Touring and our cars
The BBQ was at a great little house not far from the bike shop and the spread was incredible! There were chips and veggies with salsa and hummus ready for immediate consumption along with my favorite...beer. Salads of greens, feta, and fruit set off chicken sausages and veggie burgers which we all happily ate until we were full. There was plenty of visiting between all the women. Some of us were getting to know each other and others had clearly been friends for a while. I felt fortunate to be a part of it. I can't wait to go to a Tuesday night ride and continue to acquaint myself with Team Sugar. I encourage Utah women of all ages to do the same. I hope to see you there!