While Stokesville may sound like a fantasy land, it is, in fact, a real place. And you don’t know it yet, but by the end of your Ninja weekend, you are going to be STOKED on STOKESVILLE.
As you make your way to the Village of Stokesville, you will find yourself driving through the rural Virginia countryside characterized by old barns, grazing cattle and rolling hills. In the distance, you will see the vast greenery and mountain tops of Jefferson National Forest. You’ll be thinking, “Let’s ride THERE!”.
As you drive up to the Stokesville campground, home-base for the weekend, you will see the freshly built singletrack that circles the property jetting in and out of the dense trees. The campground offers 50+ camp spots ranging from full RV hook-ups to private tucked away tent spots and simple cozy cabins – you can find the perfect spot for your weekend getaway setup. Or perhaps you rent out the Stokesville Lodge for the weekend with 10 of your best riding buddies? Either way, you’ll be comfy. You’ll spend Friday evening getting settled at camp, building up a big ol’ campfire and fueling up for a weekend of bikes.
If you are like me, you will find yourself up early on Saturday morning to sip down a few cups of coffee, eager to get out on your bike. After breakfast you’ll meet up with your Ninja instructors and spend the morning dialing in your body position on the bike, perfecting your braking technique and mastering wheel lifts. The singletrack in and around the campground gives you endless opportunities to apply your skills.
After a shaded lunch break, you’ll meet back up with your class to cover new material. It’s time to get some air! That’s right, it’s time to jump your mountain bike. Your instructor will walk you through a series of progressions to help you understand the mechanics of jumping your bike (and safely bringing it back down to earth). You’ll spend some time reviewing the anatomy of a jump – What is a lip? A transition? A step-up? – you’ll start to understand why different types of jumps require different techniques. Before long it will be time to hit the jumps, starting with a table top and progressing to clearing a 4-5 ft gap jump. When class finishes up late afternoon you might head down for a quick dip in the North River swimming hole which will leave you refreshed and ready for Day 2.
Sunday is spent dialing in the more advanced skills you need for tackling both the rocky and the fast-n-flowy nearby terrain. Namely, ratcheting, steep transitions, high-speed corners, track stands and drops are on the agenda. By the end of the day, you will have finally snapped your first high-speed corner – no more braking through the corners! Berms are your new best friends. You will have mastered pumping through rollers. You’ll be floating float over rock sections that you previously would have walked or uncomfortably bounced through. You’ll boost off rocks to clear slick root sections. Suddenly those off camber roots don’t look as intimidating. A high speed drop? No problem. Switchbacks? You got this.
The climbs in George Washington National Forest are no walk in the park. A few short, punchy efforts get your heart pumping giving you plenty of opportunities to practice your newly perfected climbing skills. You’ll find yourself adjusting your weight forward and back, up and down, to better dig your tires into the rocks and dirt.
As your weekend comes to a close, your legs may be worked, but you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face. Hopefully you’ll have the energy to dip your feet in the creek before pedaling over to the Stokseville Market for a refreshing treat. You’ll probably want to consider taking a sick day on Monday so you can sneak in one more day of riding on the endless miles of trails surrounding Stokesville.
By the end of the weekend, you’ll be high fiving your new riding friends and lamenting going back to reality – or better yet – planning your next Ninja riding adventure. Join us in Stokesville! You can find our updated clinic schedule HERE.
Author: Captain of Global Development + Ninja Instructor, Hannah Levine