Mountain Biking Getaway Weekend in Vermont

This past weekend was pretty epic! Jordan and I went to Vermont with our good friends for some mountain biking in Vermont. We left Friday morning, arrived in the Northeast Kingdom around noon and hit the trails. We started the weekend at Victory Hill near Kingdom Trails. There is one main double track climbing trail that leads to all of the other trails in the network (there aren’t that many), but most are downhill-style trails with lots of roots and rocks. I did two runs, mostly because I was tired of climbing after the first climb and wanted to save my legs for Kingdom Trails the following day. I rode Leifs and Mac Attack, both of which I found challenging but rideable (for me!). I’m finding that I’m a lot more comfortable on descents and just despise grueling climbs.

After the ride, we went to stock up on groceries for the weekend and then headed to our rental house, which was a sweet place right near Burke Mountain. The next morning we made breakfast and hit Kingdom Trails, which we could ride to right from our door. The day started out cool and cloudy, but eventually cleared up. It was a great day of riding. We covered about 12 miles with 1,400 feet of climbing until I rode up and over the end of a berm and crashed, landing on my knee! I was not wearing my knee pads (mistake!) so I chose to end my ride and wait for our group at Mike’s Tiki Bar.  Highlight of the day: descending down Moose Alley (and managing to stay on my bike!). Runners up include Sky Dive and Nose Dive, which were fun trails too.

 

 

Jordan and the rest of the group continued riding and finished up around 5:30. After enjoying some craft beverages at the Tiki Bar, we headed back to the rental for dinner! The guys grilled up some brats and burgers, a perfect way to refuel.

The next morning it was below freezing, so we decided to go to the Lyndon Diner for quick and cheap breakfast and wait for the temps to rise a bit. Deciding against a second day at Kingdom (sadly) we drove to Barre, Vermont to ride at Millstone Trails, located in a granite quarry. This was where I rode a mountain bike for the very first time two years ago! It was fun to go back as a more experienced rider, even though the trails here are so difficult, I was rarely riding the bike.

(Below= a portion of the trail I could actually ride!) Highlight of the day: riding down roller coaster at the end of the day.

Total miles for the weekend: ~ 25 (the most for me on a mountain bike)
With every ride I gain more confidence, push myself to conquer obstacles on the bike and become a better rider. I never thought this day would come, but I’ve left running behind for a greater thrill. Mountain biking has become my sport of choice as of late and I’m looking forward to sharing many more mtb adventures!

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Hike to Allen Interior and Madera Hammock Review

 

This weekend I joined my friend Skyler on his hike to Allen Mountain, one of the 46 high peaks. I hiked Allen back in 2014 and really enjoyed it so I tagged along with Skyler. We met at 4:30am at Exit 12, arrived at the Allen trailhead on Upper Works road around 6:15 am. We were hiking by 6:30. An early start is always good with Allen, as the total mileage is about 19 miles.

 

There is a brand new suspension bridge over the Opalescent River. Three years ago we had to wade across!

Most of the first 5.5 miles are on old logging / mining roads, which makes for a pleasant hike on a nice day.

The weather was predicted to be in the upper 80s! Rare for this time of year in the Adirondacks.

We reached the interior trailhead for Allen around 9:15AM. I decided to stop here and set up my Madera Hammock in a secluded spot and wait for Skyler to hike Allen. I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago and it’s still not in the best shape, so I had no problem waiting. I was selected to be Madera Ambassador this summer so I was so excited to finally set up my Azul Hammock!

The hammock was so easy to set up. You just find two sturdy trees, wrap the strap around the tree and pull it through the loop at the end and clip the hammock in. So easy.

The hammock folds into it’s own pocket, so it’s small enough to fit into a day pack.

I relaxed in my hammock for a few hours while Skyler hiked Allen. It was so peaceful.

Want you own Madera Hammock? Use discount code JMAS40 for 40% any hammock! 

He got back around 3pm and we hiked back out. It seemed to go on forever, the the trail was gorgeous.

We got back to the car a little after 5pm. It was a long, but beautiful day in the Adirondacks.

Total Distance: ~11 mi RT to Allen Interior trail head
Time: 9 hrs, including hammock time while Skyler hiked

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How I Studied for the RD Exam

I am not a good test taker. I was always the student that had to study A LOT to do well on exams. This time was no different! In mid-July I got the email that I was able to schedule my RD exam. There weren’t any test dates open for a few months, so I originally scheduled it for Sept. 8, which would give me a good few months to study. I had actually already started prepping to study back in June, but I started a new job and then went to Norway, so I really hadn’t started seriously studying until August. Finding time to study with a full time job was hard. I was used to coming home after the internship and either going to the gym/relaxing, but now I had to buckle down and study. I actually re-scheduled my exam date for a week earlier because I just wanted to be done studying and didn’t think one week would make much of a difference. I am so glad I did!

Here is what worked for me. Keep in mind everyone studies differently, so make sure you study how you’ve always studied, and do what works best for you!

Purchase Study Materials
I bought a copy of a 2014 Jean Inman Guide on eBay for $100. The full-price version is almost $300, and I just didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a bunch of paper! I still wish I hadn’t bought the one on ebay so early, because a few weeks later I got a scanned copy  for free. However, I did like having the physical copy to take notes on and refer to when studying. One of the other interns also sent us each digital files of the recordings, so I could listen along and highlight the study guide. In the end, I think the Inman guide was useful to refresh yourself on the domains, but the actual questions on the exam were not like anything I studied in Inman.  Weird, I know.

Study Software
I purchased Visual Veggies because I wanted to do as many practice questions as possible. I really like this software because it keeps track of your progress and tells you were you need to improve. You can also take full-length practice exams and I found these to be very beneficial! The only downside is that this program is expensive. However, it was worth it, in my opinion.

I also bought an app called Pocket Prep Dietitian for my iPad. I used it on my flight home from Norway (9+ hours on a plane and I knew I would get my moneys worth from it.) The app was about $20 and had hundreds of questions. These questions were harder than the Visual Veggies questions, but I found they were most like the questions on the actual RD exam!

Virtual flash cards were also very useful. I downloaded the Quizlet app on my iPad and iPhone and searched “RD exam”–someone had made up flashcards already! So it was a very quick way to study on the go. I didn’t use Quizlet as much as the first two, but they were helpful.

Notes
I also re-wrote out a lot of notes over and over again. I made flash cards too but hardly ever used them. I think just the act of writing out the flashcards helps. I find I need to write something out many times for it to stick in my brain. I had pages and pages and pages of notes that I carried around with me everywhere. I tried memorizing equations but in the end, I only had three actual questions on the RD exam that needed calculations!

Make a Schedule
For me, I had to have set days of the week so I would stick to it and study. I made sure to study for a few hours at least 4x week. Unfortunately it cut into my exercise time, but it was worth it. I also studied on my lunch break a few times a week since I get an hour break.

So, in the end, it worked! I passed the RD exam on my first try. If you are currently studying for the RD exam, just relax and take a deep breath–you can do this! You’ve worked SO HARD to get to this point, and you know a lot more than you think you know. GOOD LUCK!

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Ladies Mountain Biking Weekend at Kingdom Trails

Last weekend, my friends Aubrey and Crystal and I took our mountain bikes to Kingdom Trails, the mountain biking mecca of the North East.  Kingdom Trails is a trail system in the North East Kingdom of Vermont, where over 100 miles of groomed trails are dedicated to mountain biking.

image from Garuka Bars

On Friday, we put our bikes on the car and drove up to Kingdom! It was the first time we’d gone mountain biking without the guys.

On Friday we arrived at Burke Mountain Resort and Mountain Bike Park, where the inaugural NEMBA Women’s Mountain Biking Summit was taking place! The Women’s Summit was an organized weekend of mountain biking seminars, clinics and rides for women mtb riders, with five meals included! We checked in, scoped things out and headed out to dinner at Burke Public House in town. After dinner, we stopped at the store for snacks and wine (essentials), and then home to our Air B&B rental. The next morning we drove back to Burke Mountain for breakfast! Instead of staying for the seminar, we decided to head out on the trails. How could we not?

We had a short route planned out so we could be back at Burke for lunch. However, we took a wrong turn and started riding down Tap & Die, a black diamond. I didn’t even notice it was a black, I was having so much fun. The trail was fast and flowy.

Day 1 at Kingdom: 3.8 mi, 411′ elevation gain

After lunch, Aubrey and I were signed up for a Gravity clinic, while Crystal did a group ride at Kingdom. The gravity clinic was at Burke Mountain Bike Park. The clinic consisted of about 8 riders and 2 instructors. Eventually we broke into two groups, so Aubrey and I had our own instructor! She was incredible-she taught us how to ride berms, jumps, and how to ride with proper form on the downhill trails. By the end we rode a black from the top. It was such a great experience! When the clinic was over, we were beat. We waited the patio bar for Crystal to be done with her ride.

We went back to the house to change and shower. Our grand plan was to come back to Burke for dinner with the group. However, we decided to stay in and order a pizza. It just seemed like more fun! The next morning it was raining, so we packed up, went to breakfast at a diner (we missed the breakfast at Burke!), and it cleared up just in time to ride the trails at Kingdom.

During our ride, I conquered a fear–I rode a skinny bridge. Well, it wasn’t that skinny-but in the past I would ride around it.

We also rode a double black–Side Winder. It’s one of the most popular trails at Kingdom. For good reason.

I made it through the first half of the trail. If you don’t keep up speed, you can’t ride the trail, so I made the mistake of stopping on top of one of the big turns. It was still fun though!

We stopped for lunch at The Hub Trailside, a little bike shop and restaurant right off the trail. After our break, we rode about a mile and a half back to the car, packed up, stopped at the bike shop in town, and then headed home. It was really great to spend a weekend mountain biking with the girls. We love riding with the guys, but it was nice to not have to worry about keeping up with them. We felt free to do our own thing and ride what we wanted–less pressure! We had so much fun we decided to make it an annual event!

Day 2 – 11.7 miles, 1,134′ elevation gain

The NEMBA summit was a great idea in theory–to bring women together within the mtb community, however it was very disorganized! We also didn’t feel like sitting around in seminars, so we just did our own thing most of the time. But I think the Gravity clinic made the whole event worth it.

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