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Last weekend a buddy (be350ka) and I headed out to Seven Springs Resort in Champion, PA. We usually frequent Diablo in NJ but we've been hearing good things about 7 Springs (and it's over an hour closer) and wanted to check it out. They're fairly new to the DH MTB game but have really stepped this year bringing in the expert design firm Alpine Bike Parks, LLC which is headed up by Eric Carter, Randy Spangler and Judd De Vall. These guys (and the rest of the trail crew) have done a great job so far putting together fun, accessible trails and I really look forward to what else they have planned.

A quick rundown of the trails and riding that we did:
  • The resort's signature trail is 007, a smooth, jump and berm infested flow-fest that weaves its way back and forth across the front face of the mountain. There aren't really any techy features but the couple dozen whoops, tabletops, step-ups, step-downs, hip jumps and (optional) rock-drops keep the novice and intermediate riders on their (my) toes while letting the experts rip it up and air it out. Not the mention the countless well-formed, bermed switchbacks which are great for practicing your cornering technique. I really enjoyed my runs on this trail as I'm trying to work on my jumping technique and this trail has a great variety of jumps that allow progressive practice all in the same run. Very cool.
  • Half-way through the day I took a run down the beginner trail just to see what it was like...and it was awesome. I was expecting a token flat, boring singletrack green circle run, but it's obvious the designers put some thought into this trail. It is flat, especially at the top, but runs consistently downhill (allowing minimal pedaling :thumbsup: ) and incorporates pumpable terrain like little rollers and berms that you can use to zip your way down the mountain. They've also done some great benchwork that carves the trail up and down the sides of the slope of the mountain and installed bermed switchbacks that allow a beginner rider to get a feel for higher-speed cornering. And there's one descending section that's pure single-track bliss as you ride the bench across the slope up and down, each successive swoop downward a little deeper and steeper and each new crest giving you a heightened feeling of weightlessness. I got to thinking during that section, "if this trail never ends, that would be alright with me." It takes some serious expertise and foresight to design a trail that flows like this one does, many props to the design crew.
  • There are a few expert-level trails, EC1 and EC2 (presumably named after Eric Carter), but I didn't ride every section and they were not all open anyway due to continued construction and muddy conditions. They consisted of some faster, tigher steeper switchbacks and some more step-ups, doubles and hip-jumps. A few steep chutes and rock gardens round out the expert trails. Apparently there are some technical features built up, including some ladder bridges and rock drops, but we didn't get a look at them on our trip.

The 6-person, high speed chairlift is pretty sweet and you can carry your bike right on (on your lap if you want) or they'll load it up into the chair behind you. The mountain isn't tremendous so your runs go quick, which is actually good for those of us who aren't conditioned for long days of downhilling. And the short lift ride provides the perfect amount of recovery time for your next run. Fast riders can likely get many runs in an hour.

We did get a couple of short videos with my buddy's camera, of course they're now compressed to heck after being uploaded. Here they are anyway:

Me on the small tabletops at the beginning of 007. For some reason I can't post video of myself without being self-deprecating, but this time even though my air is small, I know I cleared both jumps. :D
https://i177.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=https://vid177.photobucket.com/albums/w219/be350ka/Patrick7S.flv

Be350ka through a berm and hip jump on 007.
https://i177.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=https://vid177.photobucket.com/albums/w219/be350ka/Nate7S.flv

Be350ka on some of the big tables right before the lift.
https://i177.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=https://vid177.photobucket.com/albums/w219/be350ka/natedoubles7S.flv

One last thing. If you live in the area you may want to check out the free ride weekend at 7 Springs on July 12 and 13. That's ride, lift tickets will be FREE and there will be 100 demo bikes available for test rides from Santa Cruz, Kona and Trek (including the new Remedy's and Session's). These demos are FREE as well. I'll be there for sure on Sunday, a good turnout will demonstrate to the resort that this is a viable venture for them to continue to invest in. Come on down and show your support...and ride for FREE!
 

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Awesome clips man. I really like the air you caught over the table tops. Those jumps look so smoothe. Do you think my Windsor could do those jumps?
 
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