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 can 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 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 can 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 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 surrounding the campground gives you endless opportunities to apply your skills.
After a shaded lunch break, you meet back up with your class to cover new material. It’s time to dial in all the skills needed for the extended trail ride on Sunday. Namely, ratcheting, steep transitions, high-speed corners, track stands and drops. 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’ve mastered pumping through rollers. When class finishes up late afternoon you can head down for a quick dip in the North River swimming hole which will leave you refreshed and ready for Day 2.
Sunday morning is spent reviewing a few final skills that you will need before hitting the technical rock gardens in George Washington National Forest. Mid-morning you will have a quick snack break and a chance to toss your lunch into your pack. It’s time to head into the forest! First UP, then DOWN.
The climbs in George Washington Nationa 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. As the trail transitions from gentle double track to narrow singletrack, the steepness intensifies. You’ll find yourself adjusting your weight forward and back, up and down, to better dig your tires into the rocks and dirt. Around lunchtime, you’ve reached the top! A lunch break will re-energize you; time to tackle some rocks! Time for the descent.
The descent offers a mix of technical rock gardens and fast flow; challenge and fun all mixed together. You will 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.
As you make your way towards to the bottom of the mountain, your legs may be worked, but you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face. One last push to the bottom and success!
You’ll have a chance to dip your feet in the creek before pedaling over to the Stokesville Market for an ice-cold drink or ice-cream bar. 1 mile on the road and you’ll be back to the Stokesville Campground.
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