Over the summer I participated in a short
film contest called Dirt Diaries, which takes place in Whistler Canada. My entry involved taking my friend Scott mountain
biking for the first time in his life. Having not seen him in well over a decade,
I looked Scott up on Instagram only to find that he was still riding his BMX, just like
we did together in highschool. To make a long story short, I reconnected
with Scott, and he was all too willing to participate in my film. So that Summer we flew to Canada together
to ride downhill in Whistler. Scott was absolutely blown away, first by
the scenery, and then by his new equipment. He even embraced the part where you climb
to earn your descent. But coming from BMX, riding lift served downhill
was the deal sealer. Most of you already know how the story goes. By day three, Scott learned to ride his mountain
bike rather well. In fact Scott was boosting all the jumps on
Aline so hard that, well, he didn’t even need to go fast. My friend mike normally clears these jumps
but couldn’t when following Scott. Scott was hooked on downhill, and at the end
of the week he was gutted to be leaving Whistler. The video we made ended up getting third place
at Dirt Dairies, and Scott and I had a boatload of amazing memories to show for it. But we both knew that it would be a long time
before Scott would get to ride lift served downhill again, as he makes his home Austin
Texas. While Austin has great food, amenities, and
BMX spots, it’s notably devoid of mountains. Even in the hills west of the city, nobody
would ever be dumb enough to build a ski lift. This is the Texas Eagle, the first chair lift
to ever operate in the Lone Star State. It runs from the valley floor to the summit
of spider mountain, a 350 foot hill. Understandably, haters were writing Spider
Mountain’s obituary long before it opened. Where would all the riders come from and who
would travel to Texas Hill Country for a 4 minute descent? Well, opening weekend happened and people
traveled from as far as San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma, and even Louisiana to ride there. I traveled from North Carolina because I had
to see this place. Scott somehow ended up one hour from a downhill
park which is closer than Whistler is to Vancouver. I had to come out here and celebrate. The funny part is that it snowed on opening
weekend. The whole selling point of Spider Mountain
is lift served downhill in the winter. While other parks switch to skiing by the
end of fall, Spider’s midday temperatures normally hover around the 60s in February. Austin is also the full package in terms of
destination cities. There’s a big airport, lots of great food,
and even a marshmallow dealership. But a lot of people still have reservations
about Spider’s 350 foot descent. Let me attempt to give you a frame of reference
for how high that is. This is Berm Creek, my backyard, which has
25’ of vertical. It’s over in just a couple of seconds, but
it’s plenty fun. Here’s highland bike park in new Hampshire
at 700 feet. This will give you a nice 10 minute run if
you take your time and stop between trails, and it’s more than enough for the likes
of Skills with Phil. This is Mountain Creek bike park in New Jersey,
with 1000 feet of vertical. That’s almost like putting spider mountain
on top of highland. Stepping way up in vertical is Whistler Mountain
in British Columbia, which from the peak, boasts 4900 feet of vertical descent. But most people don’t go up that high in
fact, you may spend a week in Whistler having never traveled higher than the Fitzsimmons
zone, which has 1200 feet of vertical. That’s where Aline, Crank it up, and all
the jump trails are. So if 1200 feet is more than enough for the
most popular section of a world class downhill park, then 350 feet is enough to have a lot
of fun on. Especially if you live in central Texas. For lift served downhill, residents of Austin,
San Antonio, and Dallas used to to drive 12 hours to Anglefire, which is only open in
the summer. Some also travel to Arkansas, but to those
in the know, there’s always been plenty to ride right here in Texas Hill Country. Reveille Peak ranch is only 10 minutes from
Spider Mountain, and has existed for quite some time. With great dirt, rugged terrain, and not too
shabby scenery, Reveille Peak is as good an option as Spider if you don’t mind pedaling
for it. Locals have scratched everything from singletrack
to jump lines into the hillside here, and the land owners just ask for a waiver and
10 bucks to access all of it. So it was no surprise to me that Hill Country
already had a group of locals who could absolutely shred. Nobody is more excited than Jeremiah, who
has spent years organizing races and trail building initiatives in the area. For him, Spider Mountain is a testament to
how far Austin’s mountain bike scene has come, since the first XC lines were cut in
hill country. And Spider mountain brings to the area a lot
more than just an easy trip to the top of a big hill. On park day you don’t need to eat a light
breakfast, bring a water bottle, or wear a shammy. You don’t need to check your speed in consideration
of other trail users. You don’t need to conserve energy. You just do lap after lap until your bike
breaks or your hands fall off. Bike parks exist to satisfy our need for unadulterated
exhilaration. But there’s also the social aspect of bike
parks. A chair lift is a great place for conversation,
and when you get to the top everyone seems to congregate before dropping in. If you want to bond with your fellow downhill
enthusiasts, the best way to do it is to run a train together—on a trail. This involves riding in recklessly close proximity
while going as fast as you can. It’s a blast, but requires a high degree
of confidence in the riders in front of you. Although the trail options at Spider are currently
limited I never got sick of this hand cut intermediate route to the bottom. In fact, as I learned the lines it only got
better. The advanced trails are mostly tech right
now, with steep off camber sections following the path of least resistance down the hill. And if you’re not careful, some of them
will getcha. Most of these runs were built for enduro races
before the lift was in operation. My friend Eric, from the YouTube channel no
front brakes, has climbed this hill countless times during such events, and has now completed
more runs in one day than he has in his entire life. Scott and I regaled Eric with tales of our
Whistler trip, like Scott’s epic X up to nosedive on the moonbooter. While Spider doesn’t yet have a moonbooter
of its own, it does have some pretty sweet jumps at the bottom, followed by a wide swooping
flow trail which seems to have been cut to build additional jumps on. So at least for now, the Naysayers don’t
have a leg to stand on. Spider had a very successful opening weekend,
and as they build more trail, things can only get better. If this all works out I could see other warm
cities building parks like in their hills. I’m looking at you Atlanta. As for Scott, things seem to be working out
for him rather well. Imagine you ride downhill for the first time
in your life, and only months later they build a bike park near your house. Just from riding the trails around Austin,
Scott had already met a lot of people at the park that weekend, and it seems like now more
than ever, he’ll be getting a lot of use out of his new bike. Being that I’d travel to Austin just for
the food, it’s safe to say I’ll be back next winter to see how things have progressed. To all the builders and riders in hill country,
I’m really really happy for all of you. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.

Tiny Ski Lift in Texas is not such a bad idea | Spider Mountain Bike Park
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29 thoughts on “Tiny Ski Lift in Texas is not such a bad idea | Spider Mountain Bike Park

  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    I just went there!, it was my best friends birthday, I’m 12 he’s 13, and I will upload GoPro footage soon, Happy birthday Atlee!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    4:41 aye San Marcos i see myself 🙂 Awesome video!!!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    When I get my skills up I want to ride this

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Theres a track thats 1687 m high its in Australia its at thredbo

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    i live in san antonio and am just getting into mtb are there any good beginner trails in this area i might check out

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    I want to see [ will a cactus burst a mtb wheel ]

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Run a WHAT????🤣🤣🤣

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    No front brakes!! I'm from Dallas and can't wait to check out spider mountain.

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    6:05 lol, Eric's seat all the way down is the same height as Seth's seat all the way up!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Been watching MTB videos recently, thinking that it would awesome to do this. But I live in central Texas. All of a sudden this beautiful video showed up. Woooohooooo!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    I live an hour away from this place but I’ve never done something like this before. I’m too worried I’ll injure myself. Seems fun tho!!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Dude I traveled the farthest I came from Cali actually in Texas now

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    I live in New Hampshire

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    House Park REP at 1:36

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Dang as a Texan I need to check this place out.

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    From Houston we'll be there

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    I just moved to Dallas after living in Austin for almost 3 years and now I see this….needless to say I am wanting to leave flat ole Dallas and head back to Austin.

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    i know im late but hoooly fuck you all made the exact same face expression at 7:57

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Oh snap, I live in austin. I have to go there now!!!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    I live in Houston and this was a great review to convince my friends to go send it!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    He needs a dirt jumper

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    3:15 do you know how that guy/gal and the chairlift is?

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    If Atlanta built dh parks I would be there every week

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Yess Atlanta

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    why are they mounting the bikes with the front wheel hahaha

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    you rode with Blake gmbn and didn't film it !!!!

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    WHO is watching and wishing to get this good a bike

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    There is no excuse for Atlanta GA to not carve out some awesome bike parks. They have the money and perfect scenery. My home state of Alabama has some awesome trails up here in the Northeast part of the state. And Alabama is broke af.

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  • July 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    Does nc have any mtb parks

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