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Roots, Rollers and Endos
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There I was, soaking in the thick drippy smells of the Northeast forest, rolling over a dense, rooty single track underneath a canopy of big, wide floppy leaves, when suddenly I launched over my handlebars like a rock from a slingshot and next thing I knew I was eating dirt.

It reminded me of the last time I went mountain biking on the East Coast: I was nine years old, hightailing it home from the Smith's house on my Huffy banana saddle at dusk. The dirt road was closed and I didn't see the four-foot-high rope that hung across it, but it flicked me like a little booger off my long, sparkled seat.

"Northeastern trails are the epitome of unpredictable riding. I let up on my concentration, the roots persisted, and I launched what was, for me, the unforgettable endo of the season...."

Mountain biking did not exist when I was a kid back east in the '70s. Helmets? Clipless pedals? Shocks? More like a sissy bar behind the seat and playing cards in the spokes. Jumping ditches and laying rubber like Fonzie — now that was cutting edge. It wasn't until I moved west in the early '90s that I was lucky enough to try off-trail rides on better bikes in awesome places like western Wyoming, northern Arizona and the birthplace of mountain biking, Marin County, California.

But I've seen a new light in the East, and it's in Vermont. Though it's no secret to the locals, Mount Snow hosts 45 miles of mountain bike terrain in the Green Mountain National Forest. If you're into downhill thrills, the Canyon Express lift provides access to singletrack, old town roads, and plenty of charging downhills and uphill grunts. The trail breakdown is 25% beginner, 25% intermediate and 50% advanced, including the brutally tough NORBA championship downhill course, with its infamously steep rock garden and intense, technical sections that tested even the best pro riders last month.

But after the championships were over, the crowds were gone, the chaos fell quiet, and the place was deserted. I kidnapped two fellow Zoners (whose names are being withheld to protect their identities), and we filled up on a grand slam breakfast at Dot's. With a little help from Josh and Spike at Crisports, we were ready for a wicked day of full-suspension riding. We started with a lift ride early in the morning and warmed up on trail #2 which winds through the northeast slopes of the mountain. We ducked into dark wooded sections, rode over classic root-sewn terrain, and emerged to grassy sections of meadow where we caught spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

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After getting a feel for the place, we worked up to more challenging singletrack. The trail weaved in and out of the woods. It had anything you could possibly want to keep you on the edge and way behind your seat: rock-filled slopes, classic East Coast roots and muddy sludge puddles from the previous weekend's rain. The trail gave us a rest with a mellow section halfway down, but don't ever be fooled into taking a break. Northeastern trails are the epitome of unpredictable riding. I let up on my concentration, the roots persisted, and I launched what was, for me, the unforgettable endo of the season.

I was instantly airborne. I looked down at my feet and noticed that they were still on the pedals, but the ground wasn't under them. Then I separated from my bike, sailed in slow motion for what seemed like an eternity, and finally hit the ground in the fetal position. I laid there for a minute (it seemed) before the bike landed on top of me. I thought, "Oh yeah, the bike."

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What happened? I wasn't sure if a root grabbed my tire or if my left hand hit the front disk brakes at the wrong time. My unnamed Zoner friend behind me watched it all. He said he was baffled that I didn't bust my head. Endos make for a great stunt as long as you live to tell about them. After he saw mine, my friend admitted to launching over his handle bars earlier in the ride. But since he was last in our pack, he scraped himself off the ground alone and feigned a feed break when he finally caught up with us.

Once we got back on track, the last rolling, tree-filled sections made me feel like a storm trooper from Return of the Jedi. It spit us out on the last section of the NORBA cross-country course, the same course where Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong crossed-over to compete in the mountain bike scene during this year's finals. Listen to Lance. The course had serious uphill and technical downhill sections — representative of the variety of trails to play on at Mount Snow, and, no doubt, other sweet spots in Vermont.

And we figured if it's good enough for Lance Armstrong, it's good enough for a bunch of Zoners on their day off.

Michelle Quigley, trying to keep up for

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