Kids on Bikes: Going to camp

Remember summer camp? When I was a kid, I always went to camp in the summer. I never knew if it was my idea or my parents’ – camp was a welcomed break from bored, overactive kids. Whatever the reason, I liked going to camp. I liked being outdoors, swimming a lot, and learning camp songs. Each summer before camp, I cheerfully marked and packed everything I owned, except my bike. Like my faithful dog, it stayed behind, waiting for my return. Bike camps hadn’t been invented yet.

Today, there are all kinds of camps, focusing on specific sports or skills. There’s soccer, horseback riding, science, computer, music, and biathlon camps. And, there are bicycling camps. I decided to find out more about these. With a little research, I found three in the New England area – two in New Hampshire, one in Vermont. There may be more out there, but these were close.

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) offers Teen Wilderness Adventures, focusing on specific outdoor skills. There are two “Mountain Biking in the White Mountains” overnight camps – one in July (8-12) and one in August (12-16).

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AMC partnered with Great Glen Trails to give teens the chance to “hone their skills on dirt roads, single track, and double track” and to learn how “to shift like a pro, cross streams and logs, make field repairs, climb and descend with confidence, and be comfortable with varying terrain.” The five day camp includes instruction, camping, meals, and transportation, as well as group equipment and bike rentals if necessary. The cost is $1092 fro AMC Youth members and $1201 for nonmembers, with scholarships available. Two AMC staff members work in conjunction with a Great Glen Trails Guide, and group size is limited to provide lots of individual attention. These camps are for beginner to intermediate riders ages 13-16.

Last Tuesday, I met up with July’s group at Great Glen Trails. Though it was raining, the nine campers’ spirits didn’t seem dampened. While the crew cleaned up after lunch, Great Glen’s Guide, Meghan Skidmore, challenged the kids to a “slow race” where the winner was the last one across the line. The boys used “track stands” and “bunny hops” to keep their bikes upright, but barely moving forward.

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When the race concluded, we rode back to the lodge to fill Camelbaks and I had a chance to talk with the campers. They came from all over New England –Bangor and Fryeburg, Maine, Hamilton (3), Newton, and Acton, Massachusetts, Portsmouth and Tamworth, NH. Their mountain bike experience varied – some were beginners, one was a Kennett Mountain Bike Team member. One of the Hamilton riders was an experienced road biker, but wanted to try mountain biking. He figured the White Mountains was the best place to do it. A repeat camper said he came back because the camp was fun and he learned a lot about riding.

We mounted our bikes to pre-ride the Summer Mountain Bike Series short race course. Along the way, Meghan discussed strategies to handle single track challenges like roots, rocks, and slick bridges. She showed long and short course racers where their courses diverged. AMC staffers, Peter and Althea, followed behind, making sure everyone was okay. The afternoon ended with 7 of the campers racing either the short or long course, while the others cheered them on.

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The camp schedule consisted of two days at Great Glen, camping at the Caddidlehopper Station, and riding the roads and single track, practicing mountain bike and mechanical skills. Wednesday, the campers headed to Moose Brook State Park to try out their single track. That night, they camped at Covered Bridge Campground on the Kanc. Thursday, the riders rode in Conway, exploring “Sticks and Stones”, the Eastside Trails, and the Moat trail system. By Friday, those campers had sampled almost all the mountain biking the area had to offer and learned a few things about riding. And, yes, they had fun, too.

South of here, in New Boston, NH there’s another bike camp, Riverview Bicycle Camp. In its second year, this day camp (8a.m.-4p.m.) is “designed for kids with an interest in bike riding of all types. RVBC provides a balance of bicycle riding with traditional summer camp experience.” Campers age 7-16 can ride road, mountain, or BMX bikes. Riders practice their skills in an indoor arena, or on a pumptrack, rail trail, race course, or single track. In addition to riding skills, campers learn safe bike handling, bike maintenance, trail work and pumptrack design. There are two summer sessions – July 29-August 2, and August 5-9, for a cost of $300 for one week and $500 for two. There are sibling discounts, loaner bikes, and scholarships, too. Staff Members include veteran coaches, life long cyclists, and University of New Hampshire Cycling team members. Go to www.riverviewbicyclecamp.com to check it out.

West of the Valley, in Bradford, Vermont, Coyote Hill Mountain Bike Camp has adult and youth camps. They run two kids’ day camps (ages 8-12) – one in Hanover, and one at Abel Mountain. At Coyote Hill Youth overnight camps (ages 12-18), campers “learn bicycle mechanics, practice skills on the slalom course, and help build trails.” Trail riders and downhillers can find sessions that suit them. Check them out at: www.coyotehillcamp.com.

It’s summer – time to go to camp and ride!

Reminder: Local Family racing options:

Great Glen Summer Mountain Bike Series- Tuesdays, July 9-August 27, 3:30-7

Red Jersey Summer Series-Thursdays, July 18-August 1, race at 6.

Published in the Mountain Ear by Sally McMurdo

 

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Carl Johnson Memorial Raises $4,600 for ALS

PINKHAM NOTCH, NH-The Annual Carl Johnson Memorial Ski-a-Thon to benefit ALS at Great Glen Trails took place on Mar. 16th and raised a record $4,680. A very colorfully attired group made more than 90 laps on the 5k course, skiing a total of more than 450 KM.

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Johnson was well known and liked at Great Glen Trails, whether in the timing shack for Nordic Meisters or volunteering in some other way. This event has been held in his honor since the crippling disease ALS took his life in 2006.

“The Carl Johnson Memorial Ski-a-Thon surely isn’t the biggest event we hold here during the course of the year, but it is one of the most meaningful to those of us who knew Carl,” explained Howie Wemyss, Auto Road and Great Glen Trails General Manager. “We’re all thrilled that the event continues to raise more each year and that we can donate more than $4,600 to fight ALS this time around,” he added.

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Carl’s family

Prizes were awarded on event day for the most laps completed and the highest amount pledged. As always, the participant with the loudest and wackiest tights also won a prize. An ALS Benefit raffle for two handcrafted wooden vessels made by local artisans Ed Good and Sean Doherty also raised nearly $300. In the several years since this event was first run more than $10,000 has been raised for the ALS Foundation.

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For more information or results and photos go to www.greatglentrails.com and check under events, or call (603) 466-2333.

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Ski to the Clouds now Open to Snowshoers!

MT. WASHINGTON’S ONE OF A KIND WINTER CHALLENGE, THE “SKI TO THE CLOUDS” RACE, SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 3rd NOW TO INCLUDE SNOWSHOE CATEGORY—REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

PINKHAM NOTCH, NH—The one of a kind “Ski to the Clouds” race, presented by Maxiglide, is returning to the snow covered Mt. Washington Auto Road for the 17th year on March 3, 2013 and this time it will include a snowshoe category. This challenging event, thought by many to be North America’s toughest winter 10km race, takes place on the Northeast’s highest peak and includes a climb of more than 2200 vertical feet over the final 6km of the course.

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While there will be competitors who are seeking to make or break a record, for others it is the ultimate way to personally test themselves in one of nature’s most spectacular environments. The Ski to the Clouds race is limited to a field of only 150 skiers and snowshoers and these racers will have the Mt. Washington Auto Road to themselves as remarkable views of the Presidential Range and beyond reveal themselves.

There will be a mass start of skiers at 10 am followed by a mass start of snowshoers 10 minutes later on race day. Online registration closes on February 28th at 5 pm. There will be no day of race registration. The registration price is $35 until sold out. If the race does not sell out, registration will be available Friday and Saturday (Mar. 1 & 2) directly through Great Glen Trails at (603) 466 2333.

Cash prizes for the top finishers will be:
SKIERS:
MEN:      1st place $250; 2nd place $150; 3rd place $100
WOMEN: 1st place $250; 2nd place $150; 3rd place $100
Top Male over 40:     $200
Top Female over 40: $200

SNOWSHOERS:
MEN: 1st Place $100
Women: 1st Place $100

Volunteer registration is also now open for those who would like to be a part of this uniquely exciting event without making the 10km climb! All volunteers will be given lunch on event day and day passes for Great Glen Trails.

“The diversity of events we host here during the year is really kind of amazing. The lure of Mt. Washington continues to be as compelling as ever, winter or summer. Our Ski to the Clouds race is a great example—it takes a special kind of person to seek out this kind of challenge and year after year individuals come from around the region to face that challenge, observed Howie Wemyss, General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. “Each event, whether a footrace, bike race, car race, or even on skis or snowshoes brings out those who are passionate about their sport. Mt. Washington will always be the place some are called to come to make their mark, even if it’s just for the experience of being here”.

Sponsors for this year’s event include: Salomon, Hammer Nutrition, Vitamin Water, Dasani, Polartec and SKIDA. For more information or to register as either a racer or volunteer, please call the Mt. Washington Auto Road or Great Glen Trails at 603-466-3988 or online at www.skitotheclouds.com

 

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