Marty Basch, Concord Monitor
September 26, 2010

Sam von Trapp's been a model, ski instructor in Aspen and Chile, and one of the nation's most eligible bachelors.

Now he's a mountain biker.

A member of one of the world's most famous family's, the St. Paul's School and Dartmouth ('95) grad is at home on the new single track and wide double track trails atop picturesque Luce Hill outside the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt.

"I was an avid biker as a kid because I grew up far enough outside town so that biking was the only reasonable way for me to get there," said Von Trapp, freshly showered after a mud-sprayed ride in a downpour. "Then I stepped away from it for a long time because I didn't have summers. I was a full year-round winter guy with 200 days of skiing. Basically, I've gotten back to mountain biking as of three years ago and I'm just loving it."

He and sister Christina returned home a few years ago to work in the family resort business with father Johannes and ultimately persuaded him to embrace mountain biking on the 2,400-acre property that includes the noted Nordic ski network - hosts of the NCAA Championships next March - underutilized in non-snow months.

The fee-based trail pass system ($10) debuted in spring and will remain open until Nov. 1. It includes about 20 miles of existing carriage-like roads on the ski network and approximately 10 miles of recently cut single track featuring challenging banked turns, patches of gravel, jumps, bridges, rock and rolling berms.

"The idea is to set up a progression," says von Trapp, 38, grandson of Maria von Trapp, portrayed by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. "Many people are intimidated by mountain biking."

The network includes a small skills park in a roped-off section of a parking area adjacent to the mountain bike center that includes rentals, repair and instruction with its Worcester Range and Nebraska Valley vistas.

The network takes riders through fields, by colorful gardens, under stands of glorious birch, by glacial deposited rock and along the sugarbush tapped in winter.

Open to lodge guests and the public, the system has benign runs like the Greenway Loop, the rising zig-zagging switchbacks of Tap Line and the in-between turns on Stepping Stones.

Instructor and bike tech Kyle Lofstedt is the staff's skillful rock-hopping, wheelie-popping downhill mountain biker and racer who helps riders improve. He saw a 16-year-old guest who had never ridden a bicycle be comfortable on single track four days later and sees locals hammer away.

"The people we see here are quite varied," he says. "There are people who like to ride Sugar Road out to Picnic Knoll and others who like Tap Line. The Luce Hill Loop is really fun once you get to know it with its jumps and hard fast turns."

Another rider is former University of Vermont cross-country ski racer Ryan Kerrigan who is director of the post-college Vermont XC racing team and helped build the trails.

"I love building bike trails because progress is easily measured," he opined. "The biggest challenge of trail building is managing water. Thanks to the great trail design by Mike Poisson and Hardy Avery, the trails of Trapp's stay dry even in wet weather."

According to Kerrigan, water collects in low areas and runs straight down hills so they dig into side hills and add grade reversals in the trail to give the water opportunity to sheet off. They seek the high and dry routes and when there is no said place, they use dirt and stones to elevate the trail.

The Trapp network is in the middle of a growing system of some 75 miles of trails under the auspices of the Stowe Mountain Bike Club designed to eventually connect to nearby Waterbury on lands with various owners.

Within three years, von Trapp envisions building about five more miles of single track in addition to about 11 miles being constructed by the Bike Club.

"Ever since we built the trails I've yet to ride all of them in one day," von Trapp says.

He's also quick to link mountain biking with the family's new microbrewery that went online this year with three lagers.

"Many bikers end their rides there," says von Trapp. "It's a natural."

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