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4 Days Weekend Bike Holiday in Maine, USA

Back Country Excursions, 42 Woodward Road, Parsonsfield, Maine 04047, USA

Mountain Bike Holiday USA

Back Country Excursions of Maine welcomes you to a full cycling package in Maine, USA. There are facilities and equipment to accommodate your group of adventurous cyclists. Whether it is your first time out or you are a seasoned rider, you will love what the trails have to offer you. You will cycle off the beaten path, so sit back and relax, and come to share excitement, stories, and adventure while enjoying great food and friends in a kindred dirt-riding spirit.

Key information

  • Trip type: Guided
  • Lodging: Center-based
  • Terrain: Mostly unpaved, rocky, hilly
  • Starts in: Maine
  • Ends in: Maine
  • Distance: Can be adapted to the needs of the cyclist
  • Difficulty level: From easy (cyclist does not need to have certain level of fitness, mostly flat terrain though occasionally they will ride in unpaved or hills), moderate (cyclist needs to have a good level of fitness, terrain is mostly hilly or unpaved but they will ride on flat terrain sometime), and challenging (cyclist needs to have high level of fitness, must be an active rider, the terrain includes really challenging climbs)
  • Type of bike: Mountain bike

Meet the instructors

Cliff
Read more

Highlights

  • Guided cycling adventure
  • Exceptional and recreational rides
  • Learn tips and techniques on mountain biking
  • Cycling through great, flowing single tracks and double tracks
  • Professional cycling instructor
  • 2 nights accommodation
  • 3 delicious meals

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


3 days with instruction
The maximum participants in the group is 20
Airport transfer available:
Portland International Jetport (US$75 per person)
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Accommodation

You will be provided 2 nights of accommodation. The rustic, all-wood-heated mountain lodge provides a large and inviting gathering space for everyone. The main living room is home to artsy objects, lots of overstuffed chairs and sofas, games, and lots of biking magazines.

When weather permits, you can eat out on the screened-in flagstone porch, and the wood-fired cedar hot tub on the back deck never seems to stay empty for very long. The private guest quarters in the main lodge have double beds and a shared bath. The yurt is an airy, screened, bunkhouse which houses up to 10 adults comfortably. The campsites are private and fully equipped with wash stations, showers, and toilet.

Program

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is almost akin to learning principals of horseback riding, and so it is to the basics of road riding. Another key concept is mountain biking is supposed to occur in hilly terrain. This is where the departure from road riding begins.

Granted, road rides can go over hilly areas, but however, due to the hard-paved smooth surface, and extremely narrow tires, loss of speed and momentum is kept to a minimum. With mountain biking though, the loss of momentum and the effects of gravity on a trail climb or descent, coupled with large wide tires, and all of the extra visual stimuli or obstacles: bumps, sticks, trees, and rocks will have a severe effect on your forward motion.

What often worked while road biking does not work for mountain biking and is often quite the opposite. Mountain biking is one of those sports that will require a lesson or two, and then lots of practice. It is definitely in the category of downhill skiing, and you certainly would not strap on a pair of skis for your first ever run, go to a black diamond slope, and expect to make it down with all smiles.

First, you have to get used to the equipment. That means that you have to use it. You have to shift the gears a lot and use the brakes a lot. In order to get experience in a short period of time, you need to literally ride in a circle. Find a large ring that you can ride around. It would also be helpful if the ring was just very slightly sloped, a little up and down to it, not too much.

By riding around the ring constantly shifting easier gears then to harder ones, one shift at a time, back and forth, you will be able to compress the amount of shifting you would do in an hour or two trail ride into just a few moments. Shifting mechanisms are sensitive. Get used to shifting just one gear at a time.

Skipping gears will be costly and a waist of your energy especially going uphill. Keep it simple just work with the rear gears and just leave the front on the small chain ring. Keep in mind that the circle has this slight slope and on the downhill part you should be able to coast without having to pedal.

Here is when you get a chance to see how powerful your brakes are and here is where you quickly learn that almost half the time that you are riding, you are not sitting at all but standing up using your pedals as a platform to stand on. Now, try getting used to braking while you are standing.

Remember, you have two brakes, so use them both. Hence, continue this repetition of riding the circle, keep shifting up and down the chain ring. And on the uphill parts shift to the easier gears, just before the downhill coasting part, shift to harder gears, than stand up and coast with your butt over the back of the seat but all your weight is on your pedals.

Remember to use your pedals as a platform. This keeps your weight and keeps you balanced. Do not keep one foot up and one down when you coast this is not a balanced position and it will get you into trouble on the trail. The idea is to make the experience of standing just as comfortable as sitting.

Keep coasting on the downhill part and when you begin to loose enough speed that you cannot maintain balance, then sit and pedal again. Continue this drill around the circle, getting on and off the saddle. Off on the down part and braking, then sitting and shifting on the ups then braking and standing on the down parts.

The science behind the drill is that gravity pulls you forward on the downhill, so to compensate, you have to push your rear back and you must get off the seat to do this. This standing also drives your weight down to the lowest point on the bike. So your center of gravity is down low, you are no longer top heavy.

While standing, your legs now act as the shock absorbing system and not your spine which would be the case if you were still seated. Anytime you do not have enough speed or momentum to maintain balance, you will need to sit back down and pedal.

Novice skills

Back Country Excursions of Maine worked with probably well over a thousand novices in the last 15 years and there are definitely some important tips that will greatly help beginner riders. Most importantly, if you have not ridden a bike in a few years, it is not a good idea to start again with mountain biking unless you happen to be the athletic type.

Just start riding a regular or hybrid bike, stay on roads. Build up your confidence, balance, and bike fitness first. Bike fitness is somewhat different than other types of fitness. Do not let the long times of sitting get to you. Try standing while riding in order to get a chance to stretch. Standing is an important novice skill that will be useful and make mountain biking safer for you.

When standing while riding, imagine yourself standing over the middle bar of your bike with both feet on the ground. Keep in mind that the bottom of your feet while on the ground are parallel to the ground and are relatively level to each other. Now, while riding stand on the pedals making sure that feet are parallel to ground but that the pedals are on the same level plane and not one pedal down and one up.

The key is that you are trying to create a stable platform so your weight is equally balanced over the bike. If you try standing with one foot down and one up most of your weight will be on the down foot, this is not a safe way of standing. In mountain biking, brakes are important but are overrated. Their main function is to control your speed and rarely used to have to stop suddenly.

So ride in a small area and get used to your brakes and how much pressure is required to slow you down but not bring you to an abrupt stop. In mountain biking, your brakes make it possible to slow down enough to make turns but you do not want to completely stop. You can use your brakes often but just lightly.

Get used to you gears, some bike shifters are very sensitive and it does not take much of a push or click to make a shift. Experiment and try to shift just one gear at a time and do not skip any gears, unless you are going downhill, then it is possible to skip some. Efficient use of gears does take a while to learn. Lots of patience and practice is the key.

There are often three front gears in mountain bikes, sometimes two and even one. So as a novice be sure that your front smallest diameter (size) gear is the one that you use mostly. The real challenge is to become really familiar with and use most or all those gears in the rear of the bike.

As the trail terrain changes from flat to rolling or hilly terrain maintaining your forward momentum (speed) is completely dependent on how quickly you can anticipate and shift gears to adjust for the changes of elevation while climbing or descending. So the key is to shift your gears much sooner then you think and much more often then you ever have in the past.

Your legs may begin to give a subtle hint that they are straining and usually by then you may have lost much of your forward momentum, try to shift just before that straining feeling sets in. The other reason to get used to that righthand shifter (right side) is so you will not get confused.

It is important that if you are climbing that you shift those rear gears in the correct direction one gear at a time. While climbing your chain is also climbing from smaller to bigger diameter gears. Steeper and faster the climbs the faster you need to shift gears one at a time.

Sometimes, you may need to slow down to make a turn, especially if you have picked up speed on a downhill section, try to remember to shift your gear to a larger diameter chain ring in the rear and do this just before you resume pedaling again and you will be able to keep moving at a slower speed.

As the bike slows down in order to maintain balance, you need to keep those feet moving (spinning) this happens only when you shift to a gear that will keep your feet spinning and the bike will then move slow enough to maintain balance through tighter places. Gearing to maintain proper momentum while the terrain is changing is a challenge.

Experienced Rider Skills

Often as one moves along with mountain biking and gets more and more comfortable on trails and negotiating the variety of changes, it is good to revisit some aspects of your ride that maybe you might have had issue with from time to time. When starting a climb, you should not wait to too long to shift gears.

Hence, the sooner you learn to let the bike do a lot of the work, the easier it will be and the longer that you will be riding before you might get beat. You need to anticipate and look up and ahead on the trail and have that trigger (shifter) finger ready for action and of course at the correct moment.

Response time especially when it comes to shifting gears often is the difference between making a climb and making it with lots of unnecessary work and energy wasted. In a span of maybe 10 to 15 feet, it is possible to shift through five or six speeds (gears on the rear cassette) one gear at a time, never missing a beat with barely any extra effort.

The hard part is to slow down or (coordinate) your cadence (pedal stroke) to an appropriate speed while you are shifting in order to always maintain smooth gear-drive-chain engagement.

This ability to make smooth shifts rapidly and on the fly with the added ability to have your cadence completely in sink with each gear speed requirement is a highly desire-able skill to foster. It comes in very handy under all conditions and especially where rapid deceleration of your speed often occurs.

Trails

All trails are on one large private preserve. Here, Back Country Excursions of Maine run their business and share a recreational easement with the state of Maine and other local users. Through years of hard work, they have maintained much of the trail system and serve as a loyal steward of the property. Utilizing strict sustainable practices, the trails represent an excellent model of sustainability.

For riders that have a sincere interest in responsible trail use, Back Country Excursions of Maine will be happy to guide you for a fee. And for responsible users, they also offer seasons riding pass. They can guarantee virtually mud-free trails and lots of great, flowing single track, or your money back.

Wild Wild Wild West (5 miles / 8 kilometers)

Expect tight single track, lung-burning ascents, and an elevation change of 800' which culminates in a long dramatic downhill of switchbacks rushing thru Pines on steep smooth flows of pure adrenaline. This trail suits intermediate and advanced riders.

Plantation Single track Loop Trail (6 miles / 9 kilometers)

This is one of the newest trails and an exceptionally beautiful loop. There is a nice variety of rolling terrain with easily negotiated single track and some double track, with very few dramatic changes in elevation. The trail meanders through gorgeous plantation stands of Red and White Pines and tends to be smooth and dry with very little rocky areas.

Although rated for beginners, the terrain and design make this an exciting and picturesque loop for all. This also boasts a beautiful lightning fast Half Pipe which even beginners also enjoy. This trail suits novice or intermediate riders.

Champion Pond and River Giver Trail (12 miles / 19 kilometers)

These two trails offer some of the more challenging terrain. More technical areas, but also steep flowing long downhills and of course, there are those climbs too. Around the lake portion tends to be rockier with more roots then any of our other trails and a number of water crossings with interesting bridges. The River trail has a nice long half pipe as well.

Back Country Expressway Trail (3 miles / 4 kilometers)

This is the first of several one-of-a-kind, specialty single tracks, loaded with a menagerie of awesome riding apparatus. The trail starts up a long technical double track dubbed The Wake-Up-Call. After getting just enough time to catch your breath while cruising a mellow section of pine-forested single track, get ready for the downhill time of your life.

Welcome to a mountain biker’s dream amusement park. There is a roller coaster, seesaws, chutes, and ladders, and plenty of narrow bridges. This trail is one steep, long, clenching pucker factor and happens to offer some of the most challenging terrain. This trail is suitable for advance riders.

Rock-N-Log Palace/Technical Terrain Park

Just around back at the main lodge sits this 4,000 square kilometers foot half pipe chock-full of ridable goodies. Hang onto your spandex, because there is terraced drop-offs, log chutes, stairs, and tons of stone to shake, rattle, and roll you.

In the center, you will find a boulder the size of a small house. They have actually had one rider successfully jump off it, making a perfect landing. This also hosts a ride-able roller coaster too.

Equipment basics

If you have been wondering about getting a mountain bike and thinking what it might be like to try some "real "mountain biking, the first you should consider is your body size and its relation to the bikes fit and its setup for you.

Bike fitting and setup for safe, efficient, and fun mountain biking

Please keep in mind that there will be a number of similarities in bike sizing and setup that may be applicable to just riding a regular road bike, hybrid, etc. There are, however, enough differences to seriously consider mountain biking as its own very separate sport.

There is a lot of small factors to consider for your first x-country mountain bike and ride: frame sizing, three seat adjustments, footwear/pedals, handle bars/stem angle, and brake levers.

Frame choices:

  • Small - 13" to 16" (5' to 5' 2" height)
  • Medium – 16 to 18" (5'2 to 5"8")
  • Large - 5'8" and up to 19"and up.

Straddling over center bar with feet on ground, you should have at least an 1" or more clearance under you and the top tube (frame). As for seat adjustments to match the height when sitting on seat, you should take a down pedal stroke and your leg should be almost entirely extended (only very little knee bend) when foot is on pedal on ground.

The seat angle should be completely horizontal to level ground or to a level center top tube. For the seat distance from handlebars, the arms should be almost completely extended (only very little or no elbow bend) when on seat and grasping bars. It should be noted that loosening the large allen screw behind the seat will permit the seat to slide and the angle to be changed easily on the seat rail.

For footwear or pedals, if you are a novice and are not experienced with clip-less shoes and pedals, start with a platform pedal with straps and toe clips. This is for safety. You need restraint, something to help keep your feet on the pedal when you occasionally encounter bumps and more often than you think, you will be standing on those pedals, not sitting on the seat.

The preferred and safe footwear for toe clip and strap system is any treadless sneaker or shoe, basketball, tennis etc. No trail jogging or hiking shoes. For the handlebars, the newer bikes often have riser bars. These put you in an upright position which is considerably more comfortable on the trail and offers you far better vision and bike maneuverability.

Your handlebar angle comes from the stem which is (rise) of your handlebar. This angle again is adjusted often by changing your stem and also can put you in a more or less upright position.

For brake Levers, hand size, finger length, is the important factor here to consider. If you have difficulty reaching the levers easily, there is a tiny allen screw that can be turned to bring the levers in making them much easier to reach. Remember, difficulty in fine tuning any of your bike's adjustments can be easily accomplished at any reliable shop.

The helmet is the most important safety feature. Never ride without one, and straps should be adjusted so the helmet is snug, not tight, and does not move when you shake your head front to back or sideways.

Instructors

Cliff Krolick

Location

This cycling holiday will be held in Maine, USA.

Food

Three delicious meals are included in the cost of the packages.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 2 days of guided riding and instruction
  • Bike rental
  • Trail snacks
  • 3 meals
  • 2 nights accommodation
  • Access to all facilities and amenities

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 50% of the total price.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 21 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 5 days before arrival.
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