We caught up with Dabney to give us a little insight to downhill biking. Feel free to ask her questions! I got to go with her this fall, and it was a blast!!
1. What is downhill biking?
Downhill mountain biking is lift-served~ meaning you load your bike on to a chairlift at a ski mountain, or a dedicated mountain bike park. This gravity sport is designed mostly so the rider is not pedaling. (Although don’t let that fool you: It’s still a lot of physical and mental work)
2. Tell us about the gear. What do you wear? What is the bike like?
Gear: Many riders wear a variety of gear. Most wear a full face helmet with goggles or glasses, elbow and knee pads, and some where chest protectors and neck braces. Also shin guards are sometimes worn. I wear a FF helmet and goggles, knee and elbow pads and a loose jersey top and baggy shorts. Always some good fitting grippy gloves.
The bike: a true downhill mountain bike has a very slack geometry with a lot of travel in the front a rear suspension. It is heavy, and certainly not designed to be pedaled uphill. The seat is put all the way down, and since you rarely sit on the bike it needs to be out of the way of the rider. I personally ride a Scott Voltage downhill bike. It has 170/180mm of travel and 7 gears.
3. How did you get into downhill? Who helped you when you first started out?
I got into downhill riding after a friend brought me to Kingdom Trails for mountain biking and we went to Burke mountain. Since I love snowboarding, he thought I’d like the gravity of downhilling~ and he was right! I’m lucky to have ski and snowboarding friends who also ride so they took me under their wing.
4. What would you say to women just getting into downhill? What do they need to try it out?
To women who want to try it out: Go for it! I’d suggest going to a downhill park like Highland in NH that has women only clinics and lessons. Killington also has some great beginner terrain. If you don’t want to go too far: Powder Ridge in CT is shaping up to be quite the bike park! They have rentals and lessons too. You don’t really NEED anything besides a mountain bike (preferably full suspension) and a helmet. Everything else can come with time!
5. What is your favorite place to ride? What is your dream place to go ride?
My favorite place to ride is Highland in New Hampshire, but Killington is a close 2nd.
My dream place to ride is Whistler, of course!
6. Have you raced? Tell us about the races?
I’ve only done 1 race: it was at Killington and was a charity event for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. Coming from a road and triathlon background, I have done the century road ride for charity several times. In 2019 they added a downhill mountain bike option the following day, so I did both rides. I was happy to take 2nd place (Women 35-49) and be in the top 10% of fundraisers for this awesome charity.
7. What is it like to ride a chairlift with your bike?
Riding the chair lift with your bike is pretty easy; every mountain does it differently: there is always someone to help you load your bike. Some places hang them on the side of the chair while others have a tray you wheel it on to.
8. Who are some women we could follow on social media who downhill?
Here is a like for some women to follow.
9. What is your favorite memory with downhill?
My favorite memory was watching a slopestyle event at Highland and meeting some famous riders, like Nicholi Rogatkin and Reed Boggs.
10. Anything else we should know?
Anything else to know~ you don’t have to be fast to have fun, or ride super technical or steep terrain. Some of my favorite trails are Blue Square “Flow” trails.d