Lake Placid's Mountain Bike Clinic at Mount Van Hovenberg - Page 2

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Theory into practice: Kim Scholle takes on the logs.  (Nathan Borchelt)
24 Hours of the Adirondacks Mountain Bike Race
The extreme side of mountain biking does exist, of course, and can be found in Lake Placid with relative ease, whether you want to tread into the regional backcountry on the Jackrabbit Trail and its neighboring singletrack routes, or taunt gravity by descending Little Whiteface Mountain. And each September Van Ho carves its own corner in the world of extreme mountain biking with 24 Hours of the Adirondacks , a daylong race where teams of four cyclists race in a relay from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. The less inspired (or those with less time on their hands) can also enroll in the 12-hour race, held at the same time each year. CLICK HERE for more information.
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Kim and Dotti worked the loop a few times, managing the obstacles with surprising efficiency, and then Joe moved them to a short slalom course, where he instructed them on proper leg position and how and when to prep for turns.

After perfecting the flat-terrain slalom, we biked into the surrounding woods. Most of the routes throughout Van Ho traverse grassy single- and doubletrack alongside dense forests, through open fields, and up (and down) hills with modest grades. Narrow singletrack routes—like their signature run, the Kinta—hide in the shadows of the trees between these cross-country paths. These are tight and technical routes with a soft pine-mulch bed and lots of roots and rocks, but Kim and Dotti wouldn't face the Kinta until the end of the day; for now, the next series of obstacles proved challenging enough.

After a quick pedal over some grassy doubletrack, Joe took his willing students to the top of a short downhill slalom run, which they traversed until both felt comfortable. Then we cycled to a grassy bowl section near the biathlon shooting range to practice banked turns. At the end of this section, Joe told us to ride down the hill with our eyes closed, so we could feel how the bike and our bodies naturally adjust to the slight dip at the base.

Cycling downhill with your eyes closed is an odd, overwhelming experience—a mad leap of faith that betrays the basic instinct of self-preservation. But it proved to be solid advice for both Dotti and Kim. As Joe explained, if you keep your arms limber and let the bike carry you over, abrupt shifts in the terrain can be handled effortlessly.

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