The morning gathering at Jans
After the raffle, group stretching and morning announcements at the shop, we went back to the Canyons base area for our morning skills sessions. Based on what I had selected the night before, I was doing switchbacks and front wheel lifts. There were several women in these groups whom I'd done skills with on Saturday and Amy J., with whom I'd done both skills and the afternoon ride; we would end up on the Sunday ride together too, meaning we spent the entire camp together. My coach for both skills sessions was this adorable teeny French Canadian woman, Audrey, who is a ski instructor in Alberta during the winter season. Her control on a MTB was nothing short of amazing.
Volunteers setting up stunts
For switchbacks, we had a couple of ropes laid out on the asphalt, outlining a curvy track slightly wider than your average Park City singletrack. The trick to navigating switchbacks successfully is where you look: going into the corner you look at its apex, then just as your bike gets to the apex you turn your head (and thus your torso and hips and thus your bike) and look at the exit. This is trickier than it sounds and, incredibly, it was slightly scary trying to keep my bike within the confines of the "trail." The whole line-of-sight thing totally works though, and once we had started to master it, Audrey put a half-log in our track so we'd have to go over it in addition to navigating the switchbacks; later, she'd add small rocks to make things more complicated. By the end of it, I felt pretty good about what I was doing.
The front wheel lifts were more challenging. The advanced campers who signed up for front wheel lifts were learning to do wheelies. We, on the other hand, were just trying to get up and over half-logs using a "quarter-punch," a short, sharp pedal stroke. My timing was appalling and I kept getting stuck, over and over again, on the damn log. Audrey was extremely patient - with all of us - offering specific, constructive criticism as we struggled through the drills.
At lunch, Amy J. and I were told that instead of doing the Group 2 cross-country ride, we'd been bumped up to the Group 3 cross-country ride. That made us feel (a) good because we hadn't found the Saturday trail ride terribly challenging and (b) nervous because who wants to go from being the best ones in the group to being the worst ones in the group? We needn't have worried. There were five of us campers total, plus Audrey again, plus our volunteer sweeper, and we started at Park City Mountain Resort. We started up on Jenni's Trail, which H and I had hiked last fall and which climbed steadily, on smooth packed dirt, for about 45 minutes. At the trail junction, we switched to a more up-and-down trail that was a little rockier, then segued to more ups and more rocks before turning around, backtracking a bit and then descending. I did really well on the climbing, then struggled some on the rocky bits.
We sessioned several spots, including a quick downhill switchback series with tree roots and a fairly technical rocky section. Audrey was great, specific and encouraging, and yet never pushy even when several of us (me included) decided something was too far out of our comfort zone. We did have to cut a switchback once when a moose refused to get off the trail; that was the one time I fell off my bike, since I ended up riding into a small ditch that I couldn't quite ride out of. I got some bruises and minor scrapes out of it but nothing too bloody.
Back at our cars, we filled out comment cards, thanked Audrey and loaded our MTBs back into our various vehicles. On the drive back to SLC through Parleys Canyon, I felt pretty good about my weekend. I'd been nervous at the start, but everything was very safe and very supportive. I learned a ton and could only hope that I retained more than half of it. The Trek Dirt Series is a great women's MTB camp and I'm super glad I did it. Apparently at least half of the campers repeat for at least another year - I might just have to sign up for this again.
P.S. As I mentioned, I hope to add some better photos at some point once the camp shares them.