I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to play outside at Deer Valley, Utah twice this summer — once for Outdoor Press Camp and the second for some pre-Outdoor Retailer gear testing with brands such as Diamondback, POC Sports, and Polygiene. I brought my road bike with me the last time, so while I got to ride the legendary singletrack trails of Deer Valley, I also had a chance to knock out some of the more popular road rides in and around Park City, such as Big Cottonwood Canyon and Guardsman Pass.
With nearly 70 miles of twisty, fun mountain bike trails accessed via three chairlifts, it’s safe to say that Deer Valley is pretty great for mountain biking. Not to mention its access to the rest of the entire Park City trail system, compromising some 400 miles of trails. Park City was recently designated as the world’s first and only Gold-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and for good reason. Deer Valley continues to grow and improve their mountain biking system. For example, the popular and oh-so-fun intermediate downhill flow trail, Tidal Wave, was built just last summer and this summer, the resort added a new beginner flow trail called Holy Roller.
For anyone that loves to spend their days on two wheels, whether it be mountain, road, or even gravel, it’s really, really hard to find a better place than the Park City, Utah area. And with fall upon us, now is a fabulous time to go. Below you will find some of the gear you need for a great day exploring the singletrack trails of Deer Valley.
Diamondback Release 3 mountain bike: With its 2016 models, Diamondback completely redesigned their mountain bikes by combining the new Level Link suspension platform with some very well-sorted geometry and components. Level Link decouples the suspension system from the drivetrain so that they work independently. The result is a more responsive bike that soaks up all the bumps but keeps the rear wheel planted on climbs for great grip. You basically get the best of XC and enduro in a trail bike package.
At home, I ride an ultralight XC bike (Yeti ASR C with 120mm upfront, 102mm in back) so it was super fun to ride Deer Valley singletrack on the Release 3. With 150mm travel upfront and 130mm in the back, bombing down Tidal Wave and other technical sections was way less sketchy for me — I felt so much more confident riding downhill. You also get external rebound adjustment so you can set the speed at which the fork opens or rebounds after it has hit an obstacle — something which is pretty personal to each individual riding style.
The Release 3 comes in a 1×11 setup which makes everything less complicated. And with 30T in the crankset and a 10-42 rear cassette, you get a great gear range. I missed my 2x granny gears on some of the steeper climbs around Deer Valley, but in general, had no issues. A longish front-center on the frame is paired with a 780mm-wide handlebar and short 40mm stem. It took me awhile to get used to the wider handlebars as mine are 700mm — I may have lightly clipped a tree or two.
Throw in hydraulic disc brakes, tubeless ready wheels, and a southpaw dropper seatpost for a list price of just under $4000? Pretty amazing if you ask me. This mountain bike is just plain fun to ride.
POC Resistance Mid Shorts and Resistance Mid 3/4 Jersey: The Resistance Mid women’s mountain bike kit is super comfortable and very flattering — someone commented that the outfit makes you look like a pro rider (until they watch me ride of course). The 3/4 sleeve length jersey is made from lightweight and breathable nylon fabric and features a polyester jacquard knitted fabric at the elbows for protection and durability. The fabric is treated with Polygiene, meaning you can wear it more than once before throwing it in the wash. I wore this jersey three days in a row and it sat in my car for a few days more before I could get home to wash it. Even then it didn’t smell that bad. The shorts feature a quick drying front and water-resistant back, with a Velcro waist adjustment so you can dial in the perfect fit. I love the slim but flexible fit and length of these mountain bike shorts.
Scott Elite Boa Mountain Bike Shoes: I have been wearing these mountain bike shoes most of the summer and have been impressed with their performance. The combination Boa/Velcro closure lets you dial in the fit on the super comfy and breathable upper. The nylon fiberglass soles are stiff yet flexible enough for everyday mountain bike or bikepacking adventures where you might have to throw in a bit of hike-a-bike. The grippy outsole also helps with traction over slick rock or trees. You can add two front toe spikes for use during muddy cyclocross season.
Scott Vivo Plus Helmet: I am slowly migrating all my helmets to MIPS as that extra bit of safety can’t hurt. MIPS is a low friction layer inside the helmet which allows your head to rotate relative to the helmet in an angled impact. This substantially reduces rotational violence and the potential for damage to your brain. Scott designs their helmets with extensive lower coverage to protect your vulnerable areas and a micro-adjustment wheel makes for a secure yet comfortable fit.
Platypus B-Line 8.0 Hydration Pack: The low profile pack delivers up to 8 liters of gear capacity in order to stash tools, snacks and an extra layer with a 3-liter Big Zip LP wide-mouth reservoir to carry more than enough water for a day on the trails.
Bike Bell: I have had a few close calls on the trails around Park City where I have almost been taken out by riders bombing downhill. As many of the trails are multi-use in addition to multi-direction, it can’t hurt to use your bike bell once in a while. Especially because it is singletrack we are talking here, not open fire roads like we have in Marin. Colleen from Polygiene used her bike bell on Mid Mountain trail more than once to alert both hikers and bikers, not to mention a stray moose or two.
Suunto Spartan Ultra: I used this new GPS watch from Suunto to record all my rides. A detailed review coming soon.