Mountain biking at Bryce Resort a downhill ride

Stan Duda, of Reston, starts down the mountain on one of Bryce Resort's mountain biking trails. Nathan Budryk/Daily
Mountain bike riders head up the slopes at Bryce Resort. Nathan Budryk/Daily
A portion of Bryce's mountain biking courses is shown. The resort offers seven trails of varying difficulties. Nathan Budryk/Daily

BASYE – For parents unsure of how to entertain their newly liberated children, or those who have grown weary of the typical summer cycle of pools or summer camp, there’s a more adventurous option – downhill mountain biking.

The abundant mountain ranges of the East Coast have made the Shenandoah Valley  something of a mecca for fans of the sport, and snowless ski resorts have started  establishing courses. One local example is Bryce Resort, which is entering its fourth summer of operation as a mountain biking destination.

“Really, our market is beginning-to-intermediate riders,” said Derek Clifton, bike park manager at the resort. “We don’t have a lot of technical stuff. What we found was that there really wasn’t a market for beginner-to-intermediate riders; they were heading to these big places that had this super technical terrain and they weren’t getting a lot out of the lesson.”

Clifton explained the reasoning behind Bryce’s less daunting facilities.

“What we find that happens in the bike park industry – like skiing – once somebody goes for the first time, they get hurt and they never come back,” he said. “We wanted to offer something that’s user-friendly… We want to get that beginner rider out there. We want the kids, the girlfriends, the wives, whoever to come out there and ride and really enjoy it instead of getting scared off.”

The crowd to which the resort caters will find itself thoroughly outfitted, as Bryce offers mountain bike and equipment rentals and private lessons. A four-hour session with lift ticket, bike, full-faced helmet and body protection costs $65 on weekdays and $90 for a weekend or holiday. A full day of riding with the same equipment costs $105 for weekdays and $130 for weekends and holidays.

The resort also offers a “find your bearings” beginner package which includes an all-day bike rental and lift ticket insurance waiver and two hours of instruction for $135. Private lessons are $90 per person for two hours of instruction. Bryce’s bike rental program is done through a contract with Trek, a mountain bike manufacturer.

The resort has seven bike trails, many of which interact with others, Clifton said. They range in difficulty designated by colors, with names like Car Bomb and Pickleback.

“We built in a bunch of cut-ins so you can mix and match the trails, so the possibilities are kind of unlimited,” he said.

The mountain biking course at Bryce also offers races, and the difficulty corresponds to the resort’s clientele and overall mission.

Stan Duda, a longtime downhill mountain biker from Reston, rides at Bryce frequently and praised the operation.

“These guys run a great place. It’s not like they just went ahead and cut some trails,” Duda said. “Everything is really well set up… The big thing to me is that anybody can safely come out here and ride… You have a broad spectrum of people and it’s really fun. One of the things we said was that if people were going to grow gravity riding, this was the kind of place you need. It’s just a really neat place.”

“I think being up here is just incredible,” he said. “There’s a Thomas Jefferson saying that ‘I’ve been around the world and found Virginia lacks for nothing.’ I think he was standing here… I find myself very fortunate to be able to come to a place like this.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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