The Thrill of the Skill

Cycling and Horseback Riding

Apr 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
adventure sports camps Mountain Biking, Road Cycling, Horseback Riding

Pre-dawn attack of the singletrack    Photo: Corbis

Single Track Ranch Inc.
Seattle, Washington
You don't need to be the best mountain biker, but you need to be serious about getting better. That's the main advice eight-time Iditasport champion John Stamstad gives his campers as they kick off the Six-day Moab Singletrack camp, held on Utah's world-famous trails. Each morning, sharpen basic bike-handling skills, like strategic braking and shifting, then bump up your singletrack technique: picking a line, doing wheelie drops, cornering at high speed, and getting restarted on the steeps. Accommodations are in condos near downtown Moab.
End Game: Skirting Porcupine Rim's 300-foot drop-offs without losing your cool.
Info: $1,850 (all-inclusive), September; 888-310-1212,
Or Try: Dirt Camp's singletrack Classics, in Utah and Vermont, for fat-tire tutelage from the oldest mountain-biking school in the country; seven days, $1,500; 800-711-3478,

Carmicheal Training Systems
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Open to all but geared toward speed freaks looking to better their performance, this Five-Day Colorado Climbing Camp, run by Chris Carmichael (Lance Armstrong's coach of 14 years), starts with an equipment tune-up—then it's all uphill from there. For the next three days, you'll ride 10 to 70 miles each day (and spend one sprinting repeatedly up the same 1,200-foot hill) while CTS coaches critique and tweak your pedal stroke. Day five brings the Stinger, an 80-mile, 5,000-foot climb through the Front Range. (Altitude slowing you down? The sag wagon is always an option.) Massages and a hot tub await you nightly at the upscale Cheyenne Mountain Resort.
End Game: Hammering hills with Lance-like power.
Info: $2,400 (all-inclusive), May and June; 719-635-0645,
Or Try: Marty Jemison's Cycling, in Park City, Utah, where you'll ride with the pros as they train for the U.S. Championships; seven-day clinic, $750; 800-492-9159,

Bitterroot Ranch
Dubois, Wyoming
No nose-to-ass trail riding here. At the Bitterroot Ranch, you'll get all levels of instruction from Donna Snyder-Smith, author of the revered horsey bible The Complete Guide to Endurance Riding and Competition. In her Seven-Day Riding Clinic, you'll learn how to trot, canter, and gallop fluidly on the ranch's more than 160 Arabians and quarter horses. Each day begins with morning instruction in the ring, followed by afternoon trail rides. Nights are spent in private cabins along the East Fork of the Wind River. And thanks to Snyder-Smith's emphasis on equine psychology, your horse will respect you in the morning.
End Game: Heading out with wranglers for the annual weeklong cattle roundup in the Shoshone National Forest in September.
Info: $2,150 (all-inclusive), August; 800-545-0019,
Or Try: Hill Country Equestrian Lodge, in Bandera, Texas, for instruction on 6,000 acres of unspoiled Hill Country; five days, $1,195–$1,322; 830-796-7950,