THE BLOG

Park City, Utah: Mountain Biking, Savoring & Sipping!

07/28/2016 06:00pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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As we sauntered up Main Street under the guise of the majestic Wasatch Mountains, the early evening June sun blazed under bluebird skies. Music filled the warm, dry air as people chatted and sipped cocktails around pop-up bars. There was not a car in sight. Instead, rows of meticulously set dinner tables stretched the length of the historic thoroughfare with tablecloths fluttering in the light mountain breeze. It was the annual Savor the Summit, when Park City, Utah, restaurants go al fresco for the night. They offer exclusive multi-course menus - some with optional wine pairings. Our destination was Riverhorse on Main, a local favorite showcasing seasonal fare.

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It was our final dinner, following three action-packed days mountain biking many of Park City's 400-miles of newbie to expert trails. Since Park City was designated the world's first Gold Level Riding Destination by IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) in 2011, I have been hesitantly eager to check it out. I'm a seasoned road cyclist, but an admitted mountain bike weenie. It scares me.

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I arrived the first morning wearing my typical tight-fitting Lycra shorts and pink sleeveless jersey. Clearly, I missed the Mt. Bike fashion memo. My two riding buddies - experienced Mt. Bikers - donned baggy shorts, flannel shirts and kneepads. Thankfully, we each had our own guide from White Pine Touring, so they could shred, while I shrieked and we could meet for apre' ride drinks.

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We rolled out together to Round Valley, which has over 30 well-marked trails with a mix of undulating beginner double track to technical single track and whoop-de-doo, fun flowing banked tracks. "Keep your knees wide and feet level," instructed my guide Shaun Raskin, who also co-owns Inspired Summit Adventures, as we cruised down rocky dirt trails, past sagebrush and Gambel Oaks. "Keep your body still and move the bike under you." It was a complete contrast to road cycling. As was sitting upright and gripping wide handlebars, which felt like I was steering a tractor.

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By the end of the day, I was mentally fried from fierce focusing, but giddy from the rush and freedom of two-wheeling in the woods. I was relieved to relax and rejuvenate with glass of rose' in the hot tub on the deck of our mountain chic rental home from Park City Lodging.

That night, we sipped High West Whiskey inspired cocktails, while swapping riding stories on the airy patio of Silver Star Café, overlooking the sprawling verdant golf course. A guitar player strummed in the background, as we nibbled chili-roasted cauliflower and braised slab bacon appetizers, which were crowd pleasers. When the server arrived table side with entrees, we were quaffing a lovely Napa Valley Pinot Noir, Road 31. She was carrying generous portions of crunchy boneless buttermilk fried chicken, melt-in-your mouth Branzino with carrot-cardamom puree and pork osso bucco accompanied by a tangy tomatillo salsa. The wine's savory red plum and vanilla spice were terrific with the roasted fare.

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The next morning, we racked our bikes on the chairlift at Park City Mountain and took Crescent Lift to Mid-Mountain. The morning sun warmed my face as I sipped the energizing fresh, crisp air. Some of the stunning surrounding craggy mountains were still snowcapped.

Feeling recharged, I zigged and zagged down twisty turns past tall Apens and Firs. Sean rode behind me offering pointers. We zipped through the fragrant forest, along winding pine needle peppered trails, ultimately arriving at a shimmering lake. I felt more comfortable on my snazzy Felt Decree 1 with carbon wheels from Park City Demos. It was nimble and responsive, like a road bike, but loose gravel turns and squeezing the wide handlebars through narrow passes still freaked me out.

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After dinner, I met a friend at Old Town Cellars, which opened on lower Main Street last spring. Beyond the plush couches, we sat at the back bar tasting through wines, which are skillfully blended on-premise, from grapes sourced from California, Oregon and Washington State. I particularly enjoyed the Mountain Town Red, an Italian-inspired blend of Dolcetto and Tempranillo, sporting peppery black cherry and balanced acidity. While, the Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon pleased with stewed red fruit, blackberry and herbal undertones. Both are made from Washington State grapes and were terrific with the locally crafted 70% Dark Chocolate Fleur De Sel from Ritual Chocolate, which is served at the wine bar. While, the Townie Rose', was fresh strawberry summer fun a bottle.

In the morning, I fueled up with zingy beet hummus on freshly baked gluten free bread topped with avocado and delicate micro greens, while sipping coffee on the deck of the Deer Valley Grocery Café. As we rode the Silver Lake Express chairlift to mid-mountain and then the Sterling Express to the top of Deer Valley Mountain, 8,100 feet, my heart pounded in anticipation of the first section, which I was told was "a bit challenging." And, it was.

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While, my two riding buddies hammered down the steep scree-strewn twisty trail, I nervously dibbed and dabbed, until it gave way to cruisy single track rolling through meadows adorned with tiny pastel wildflowers. We whooshed along open, shrub-lined trails with names like Road to Ruby and Deer Camp, until it was time for a quick lunch at Royal Street Café before scrubbing off the dirt and sprucing up for Savor the Summit - known as Park City's largest outdoor dinner party.

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By 5:00 pm, Main Street was bustling. We meandered past several of the 30 participating restaurants, serving over 2,500 locals and visitors, each with their own theme and menu. The bar was three deep when we arrived at Riverhorse. But our savvy server recognized our thirst desperation and brought us a round of drinks as we sat for dinner at long table that seemed to go on forever. As the House Cured Meats & Farmhouse Cheeses first course arrived, we raised a glass and toasted our fun Mt. Biking adventure in a terrific mountain town. Cheers!