Next year's schedule coming January 2011
In this section, Penny Deck, Dirt Series Program Coordinator, provides answers to your frequently asked questions. Click on any question or "plus" button to show the answer and any "minus" button to hide the answer. If you find your question answered here, great. If not, please just send it in to us, and we'll answer it for you personally.
- What's the best way to make sure I get a spot in a particular camp?
- Registration opens on March 1. We recommend that you register for the camp you’d like to take as soon as you can. Some camps fill up as early as the first week of March.
If the camp you want to attend is full, we recommend that you either choose another camp and / or sign up for the wait list for the camp you initially wanted to take.
You can access the wait list from the camp schedule or the registration page. Just click on the link that says full / wait list.
If you register for a "second choice" camp and end up getting off the wait list for your "first choice" camp, we'll simply get in touch with you and transfer your registration at no cost.
- How does the wait list work? What happens once I sign up for it?
- Once you register for the wait list, you will receive an email and a waitlist confirmation number.
If a space opens up, we will email you an invitation to register, and give you 24-48 hours to complete the registration.
If the camp is over three weeks away, you will get your own unique invitation. If the camp is less than three weeks away, you will get an invitation that will also be sent to several other people; the first person to accept the invitation and complete the registration will get the spot.
Once your registration goes through, you will get another email, this time confirming your spot in the camp.
You will only get an invitation to register from the wait list if a spot becomes available. If you'd like to know where you are positioned on the wait list, please email us here.
The wait list stays open until the day before the camp. While the ideal is to register early, if you're okay with being contacted at the last minute, or in other words if you can hold your weekend open just in case, your chances of getting in off the wait list are actually quite good.
If you receive an invitation to register and you are no longer interested in attending the camp, just email us back and we’ll remove you from the list.
- Do you offer discounts for returning participants?
- We don't. Over 50% of our camp participants are either returning participants or referred by those who have participated before. Discounting these registrations would be very similar to just changing our camp pricing.
That said, we love seeing returning participants, and finding out both how much they have progressed and how much we can help them progress still.
We do offer group discounts for groups of six or more, and a fixed number of scholarships for those who couldn’t otherwise afford the camps at all. Please contact us for more information.
- Can I attend camp if I’m under 18 years old?
- We have a minimum age limit for a number of reasons.
First of all, each camp day is really long, with skill sessions, rides, and other activities from 8AM to 5PM. We do spend lots of time progressing and practicing, but we also incorporate more analytical learning and not quite as much play as you might find in a youth oriented camp.
Most of the participants who attend the camp are between 30 and 40 years old. Some teens are intimidated being in a group with older riders, and visa versa too. Also, we find that as people get older they often become a bit more aware of their limits, and able to make continually smarter decisions on whether to take a particular risk. It’s nice when the group is at a similar place in this regard too.
All that said, we have made exceptions in the past for 15-17 year olds who think that they’d enjoy the type of program we offer, and who are willing to attend with an adult who can look out for them at camp. If you think you’d like us to make this exception for you, please email us here.
If you come, we really do need you to have an adult with you, and usually riding within the same group as you, even if that means that one of you has to ride at a lower level than you would otherwise. Thanks.
- What time does the camp start and where do I meet the group?
- Most camps start at 8:30AM. Our bike park camps generally start at 8AM. All camps start at the host shop. If you need directions, please feel free to click on their link on your particular camp location page.
- What time does the camp end?
- On Saturday the riding ends around 5PM and there is then an in store session which goes from approximately 6-8PM.
On Sunday the riding finishes at about 5PM. If you need to get home and don't think that the finish time will allow you to do that, please talk to us in advance so that we can try to make arrangements to accommodate you.
- How do we get between the host shop, skill site, and riding areas?
- In some locations, like Whistler, everything is close together and we simply ride our bikes from spot to spot. However, in most locations, at least some driving is required.
We'll send you a pre-camp email a week prior to camp, and it'll include details such as parking and / or driving information for your particular camp location.
If you're at a "driving required" location, please drive to the host shop and leave your bike in / on your car, so that it is easy for you to then drive on to the skill site once we've finished our morning host shop session.
If you don't have access to a vehicle for the weekend, please just get yourself to the host shop in the morning, and we'll set you up to carpool with other participants from then on.
- Will the camp still go ahead if it’s raining?
- Yes, it will. Barring a natural disaster, we will be out there, ready to have a fantastic time. Take it from past participants, once the skill sessions start, you practically forget it’s even raining. That said, be sure to bring appropriate clothing so that you’re as dry, warm, and comfortable as possible.
- Are the co-ed camps still taught by women?
- Yes, they are, with some male coaches added in for good measure. Check out their bios in the coaches section.
- Do you have any recommendations for lodging on-site?
- Yes. We include a list of suggestions in the details for each camp. Just click on the name of a specific camp on the camp schedule. If the information’s not there yet for the particular camp you’re interested in, please trust that it will be soon. We’re working on it as you read.
- What's the tipping protocol at camp?
- We will always do the very best job we can for you because we want you to have the very best weekend possible. That’s our biggest motivation, but that's not to say that getting tips at the end of the weekend isn't also really nice.
If you'd like to leave us a tip, please give it to the Camp Manager or Lead Hand, or just leave it with one of your coaches if that's easiest for you. We work as a team, with some of us more focused in the background in order to enable the successes in the foreground, so we share the tips we receive.
Skill Levels and Disciplines
- How do you determine my skill level and decide which group I ride with during the weekend?
- When you first register for camp, we ask you to fill out a fairly extensive skill and interest questionnaire. This gives us a good idea of where you're at with your riding, and what you're most excited to learn.
If your skills and interests change significantly between the time you register for camp and the actual camp date, you can submit an entirely new participant questionnaire. If you don’t remember what you previously submitted, or if you’d like to refer to your old questionnaire as you complete your new one, please let us know and we’ll forward you your previous answers.
We then use all the information you’ve given us to place you in a group, and ideally, this is the group you'll feel happiest in throughout the camp weekend. If, however, you find that you'd prefer to be riding and learning with a different group, we'll switch things for you.
- If a camp offers cross-country and lift-assisted downhill options, do I get to choose between those?
- Yes. In these situations you can choose to spend both days riding the cross-country trails accessed from the valley, both days riding the downhill trails in the bike park, or one day in each area. The skills questionnaire asks you for your preference, so just let us know what you'd like to do when you fill that out.
There are more and more options in our program all the time, so if there’s a particular style, level, or skill set you want to focus on, now is your chance.
- Are lift tickets included for camps with lift-accessed riding?
- If you're interested in riding in the bike park on one of the camp days, we'll provide you with a lift ticket at no cost.
If you're interested in riding in the bike park on both of the camp days, we'll provide you with a second ticket at a significantly subsidized cost (usually about half of the regular price). Please pay for this in cash if at all possible.
If you have a season’s pass for the bike park we’ll be riding, please bring it with you.
- Could it be possible that I am too much of a beginner for this camp?
- Very unlikely. In order to enjoy the camp, all you need to be able to do is ride a bike comfortably on bumpy gravel terrain, shift your gears, and use your brakes. Our step-by-step approach and ultra-encouraging coaches will take it from there, and probably teach you a year’s worth of skills in one weekend.
There is always a great group of beginner riders at every camp, and since we organize all the participants according to ability level and interest, you’ll be in good company. The list of skills you can look forward to learning is long. Here are some to start you off:
(1) A dynamic on-bike body position: neutral position, ready position, fore-aft movement and lateral movement.
(2) Front wheel lifts: getting up a curb and over a log with ease.
(3) Technical braking and descending: getting the most out of your brakes, choosing your lines, and making descents of all kinds more than manageable.
(4) Climbing: key techniques to minimize your exertion and maximize your success.
(5) Tight cornering: making your way through switchbacks and twisty spaces.
(6) Straight line riding: all the secrets for narrow trails, bridges, and even teeter-totters if you’re so inclined.
Beginner riders have a fantastic time at our camps. If you’re thinking of attending, you should.
- Will this camp be challenging enough if I'm an advanced rider looking to focus on and downhill skills such as steeper descents, rougher more technical terrain, and progressing my skills in the air (drops and jumps)?
- If you want to focus exclusively on advanced freeride and downhill skills then you would be best coming to one of the camp locations that excel in that style of riding.
The first location that comes to mind is Whistler, since there’s a whole downhill park to work in, and coaches involved who have won races and earned freeride titles on its very trails. Mammoth Lakes also offers lift access opportunities, while locations such as Calgary, Hood River, Park City, and Fernie offer fantastic technical descents and a large number of advanced trail options as well, though be prepared for some pedaling too.
Here are a couple of the advanced sessions offered:
(1) Line selection, maintaining traction, creating fluidity and managing steep rock faces and successive technical drops.
(2) Gap jumps, wall rides, tricks, and incorporating air into more technical trail environments.
That said, we bring enough stunts and related teaching aids to all locations to be able to put together a labyrinth of planks, a-frames, and teeter-totters, create high speed cornering challenges, and set up wheelie drop and manual drop ramps at varying heights too. We’ve actually worked on refining these stunts recently, and are excited for the extra levels we’re now able to teach.
So, if you’re at the peak of the pyramid and wanting the most challenging conditions around, click on the name of a specific camp in the schedule and pick a location that matches your preference. Still have questions: email us and we’ll be happy to help.
- I'm an avid cross-country rider, but would like to get faster and more comfortable in technical terrain - going down drops, managing steep descents, clearing obstacles. Is this camp for me?
- Yes. There are heaps of options in between the beginner and advanced scenarios above, and often those with lots of miles under their tires are super quick to pick up new techniques.
We’ve had expert and pro level cross-country racers come to our camps and find that developing their technical skills allows them to shave all kinds of time off their rides. Plus, it’s fun for anyone to learn new skills, and incredibly useful too.
- What kind of bike do I need to bring?
- You need to bring a mountain bike that fits you and is in good working condition, which is to say with gears and brakes working, bolts tightened, and recently checked over by a certified bike mechanic.
Ideally you'll want to be on a dual suspension bike, but having just front suspension will work just fine too. Having a quick release on your seat post is also really useful, as it makes raising and lowering your saddle during the skill sessions and rides that much easier. If you don't have one already, you might want to consider getting one before camp, or buying one on the first morning. Of course having an adjustable seat post like the Fox DOSS is the most wonderful option of all.
If you have two bikes at home and are trying to decide between them, bring the one that is best suited to the skills you most want to work on.
That said, if you're planning to bring a downhill bike that would be very heavy to ride uphill, you might want to attend one of the camps that that has lift accessed mountain biking as one of the options.
For more information on the different characteristics of the different camps, click through the location pages.
- Do I need a full-face helmet?
- We require full-face downhill specific helmets for all bike park / lift access skill sessions and rides (for example Whistler Bike Park, Fernie Alpine Resort, and Mammoth Bike Park). We also strongly recommend them for advanced downhill and freeride focused riding of all kinds.
If you have a full-face helmet, please bring it with you. If you’d like to rent one on-site, please check with the host shop at your camp location. We'll also have a limited number of Bell DH helmets to demo. If you'd like to use one, please submit a demo request form.
If you bring a full-face with you, it’s helpful to bring a cross-country or half-shell helmet as well. Sometimes you might choose to be in skill sessions that are lower risk (and higher heat), and you’ll be happy to have that lighter helmet around.
Please note that the Bell Super R2 is a fantastic choice for rides that require you to pedal up before a fast, steep, or challenging descent. However, it does not meet the ASTM standards for downhill certification and is not permitted for instructional sessions in bike park / lift access settings.
- The "what to bring" section suggests flat pedals. I ride with clipless (SPD) pedals all the time, and feel that I won’t ride as well without them as I’m used to being "attached" to my bike. Should I really switch my pedals and shoes for the weekend?
- Funny. I had this very same question the first time someone suggested I use flat pedals to learn a new skill.
Basically, if you’re super comfortable with your clipless pedals, so much so that you never have to think about getting in or out, you don’t have to use flats for the camp.
However, flats really do make some skills much easier to learn. For example, when learning to ride on elevated planks you want a wider platform under your feet for balance and it’s also helpful to have a system that will allow you to get off your bike super fast. Flats are also really helpful when learning manual drops, as they “make” you use an active technique (or else show you that you’re not letting your feet come off the pedals).
On the flip side, flats make technical climbs slightly more difficult and long rides a bit more tiring, as there isn’t the same exact efficiency involved. We will, though, give you some tips at camp that’ll help in these situations too.
If you’re new to flats, what we suggest is that you put a pair on your bike, set yourself up with some flat soft-soled shoes, and practice with them a few times before the camp.
Depending on how comfortable you feel, and what skills you most want to learn, you can then decide to: a) use flats for the entire camp, b) use them for just the morning skill sessions and switch back to clipless for the afternoon rides, or c) not use them at all.
Note 1: if you plan to switch pedals at lunchtime, it’s a good idea to bring a pedal wrench with you as well.
Note 2: If you haven’t already read through the ‘what to bring’ section, please head over there and take a look through it now. There are some important points on shoe / pedal compatibility, so important that we’re tempted to type them out here again too. We’re going to trust you to look at them there though (and promise they’ll make a huge difference in your camp success).
- If I’m interested in using some of the Trek Dirt Series demo equipment, do I need to arrange that in advance?
- Yes, you can request to reserve demo equipment in advance. You can let us know what you would like to try by submitting a demo request form.
While we do our best to fulfill all requests, we do have a limited selection of bikes and gear available and may not be able to accommodate everyone, particularly those who submit their requests quite close to their camp date.
Additional Instructional Opportunities
- Why are your camps focused in the West?
- Our program is based in Whistler, BC. We only have one truck and trailer, one set of demo equipment, and one set of stunts. If we had two, we could potentially keep one on the west coast, and send the second out east. As it is, we’d miss too many potential coaching weekends (or too many nights of sleep) driving the same one back and forth.
For 2015 we’re planning a corporate camp for Trek staff in Waterloo, WI. This experience will show us how it is to travel without whole truck and trailer, which is one potential way we could expand our reach. The Waterloo camp is also scheduled on the same weekend as one of our west coast camps, which will enable us to learn what it’s like to run two camps in the same weekend, in very separate locations.
We think it’d be really fun to expand our geographical reach. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re always learning and growing, and it just might happen one day.
- Do you offer private lessons?
- Yes, we do indeed offer private lessons, typically in our home base of Whistler. It may also be possible to organize lessons in other camp locations if we have coaches available. For more information, please contact us here.
- Where can I view photos that were taken at camp?
Please visit our Flickr page for photos of past camps. Our Flickr gallery is the result of submissions from camp participants, coaches, and friends, and while they don't offer complete coverage of each camp location, they're definitely fun to check out.
- I took photos and camp and would like to share them. What’s the best way to do this?
We welcome your photo submissions, there are two ways you can submit photos to us:
Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. This works well if you have less than 15MB of photos, or if you have more but don’t mind splitting them into different messages.
You can transfer a large amount of pictures to us through www.wetransfer.com, it’s a free service that doesn’t require you to sign up for an account. Please use email@example.com for the “friend’s email” field. If you have any problems or need additional help using wetransfer.com, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we'll try to use all the photos we receive, we reserve the right to select from your uploads if necessary. Your photos should appear on the site within a few days of receipt.
I cannot express adequately enough in words how much I learned, loved, and appreciated the Trek Dirt Series bike camp. It was the best thing I have ever done. Ever.
San Jose camp participant