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Travel: Riding in the Mountains of Wyoming

Views and skills get better with Next Level Riding Clinics
Next Level Riding Clinics Alpine Wyoming
You’ll discover plenty about Alpine, Wyo., and about yourself at Next Level Riding Clinics. No matter what your ability, you’ll leave a more confident rider prepared to tackle more terrain than you ever thought possible. You’ll also have a firm understanding of avalanche safety and rescue.
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It had come to the point where I had finally seen one too many incredible Facebook posts from my buddies riding in the mountains out west. The fact was, it looked freakin’ awesome, and I wanted to get out there and ride! But there was one problem: I hadn’t the faintest idea what the heck I was doing in the powder.

Sure, I’d been out to western locations for photo shoots, media presentations and whatnot. I could technically say I had ridden in the mountains without lying, but the reality was my experience consisted of digging sleds out of tree wells and being the man behind the camera. Needless to say, everyone else’s experience looked much more exciting than mine.
Next Level Riding Clinics Alpine Wyoming
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In the interest of full Minnesotan disclosure, you must understand that I’m a trail rider from the Midwest to the core. The one and only rule we had growing up was “whatever you do, don’t go off the trail!” I learned to ride with two skis on the snow. Obviously, all that goes out the window when you’re riding in the mountains.

Taking off the training wheels

I had met Dan Adams, owner of Next Level Riding Clinics, at Hay Days a season ago, and he convinced me that I needed to learn to ride in the mountains. If you’re not familiar with Dan, his credentials include more than 20 years as a professional freeride snowmobiler, along with many years of coaching snowboarding. His coaching experience translates well to helping new riders in the mountains. You’ve probably watched him in more than a handful of Slednecks movies. He also graces the pages of AmSnow as a Polaris test rider once in a while! I’ll continue to familiarize you with his snowmobile clinics as we go.

Dan invited me to one of his two-day clinics in Alpine, Wyo. I couldn’t wait to go! Had it not been August, I would have gotten on the next plane to Wyoming!

Fast forward six months to when I found myself standing in a garage in the middle of Wyoming with a bunch of dudes from Arkansas. It wasn’t exactly how I pictured a snowmobile clinic starting out, but I was ready to roll with it.
Next Level Riding Clinics Alpine Wyoming
You can’t ask for a better seat in class than behind the bars of one of Next Level Riding Clinics’ Polaris Pro-RMKs.
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If there’s one thing to know about Dan Adams and the rest of his staff at Next Level Riding Clinics, it’s that they have their clients’ safety and enjoyment at the forefront, and in that order. The first order of business at one of Dan’s clinics is an avalanche safety and rescue course. If you’re riding mountain terrain, avalanche danger is real. It’s not something that should deter you from the sport, but like any other activity, there are certain implied risks involved. Avalanches are simply one of those implied risks, and proper training and practice provided by Next Level Riding Clinics will help you evaluate terrain and deal with avalanches in a safe manner. I don’t want to go overboard on the avalanche stuff because we cover it in depth each year, but it is of utmost importance, and that is made clear in the classroom session.

The next step is to get out on the snow. If you’ve got your own sled set up for the mountains, you can bring it. Check with Dan on this, because there are some sled specs he requires if you’re bringing your own sled. If you don’t have your own sled, no worries. Next Level has you covered with current year model Polaris RMKs that have been set up to Dan’s personal specifications.

The rental sleds offered by Next Level deserve some emphasizing. They’re not your run-of-the-mill rentals. These sleds are set up for success on the hills, including suspensions and shocks specified by Dan. You’re essentially riding one of his personal sleds, and it is set up the same way a world-class mountain rider would set it up for themselves. Obviously, settings can be adjusted to fit your specific needs, but you get the idea. Each sled is custom-wrapped and outfitted with storage space, bumpers and more to make sure each client’s experience is top-notch.
Next Level Riding Clinics Alpine Wyoming
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No sugarcoating here
Dan and his staff tell it like it is. You’ll get that from the minute the class begins, which is why it needs to be said that if you’re not serious about learning how to ride in the mountains, or are solely interested in trail riding, you probably should not attend his classes. You’re going to get better and you’re going to have fun, but you’re going to have to work hard to do it. There’s one simple way to stay on the good side of Dan and his staff, and that’s simply by trying. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. If you are, you’ll find your comfort zone greatly expanded by the end of the course.

The structure of the course is very simple, and one in which a vast majority of people will be able to find success. Once you’re on the snow, Dan explains a certain skill, demonstrates that skill and then turns the class loose to practice said skill. Throughout the practice session, Dan and his staff observe and pull each rider aside individually to correct the slightest of details in your technique. For example, when our group from Arkansas (with a Midwestern “eh”) was practicing sidehilling, I was corrected on my foot positioning on the running board. It was only a matter of six inches, but it was the difference between success and less than success. That attention to detail from instructors is second to none.

Depending on your group and the snow conditions, you may find yourself on a gated course set up by Next Level staff, or you may use the obstacles and terrain provided by Mother Nature. Either way, the goal (and more often than not, the outcome) remains the same: everyone in a Next Level Riding Clinic continually learns proper technique and builds confidence in their abilities as the day goes on.
Next Level Riding Clinics Alpine Wyoming
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So what will you learn at a Next Level Riding Clinic? That depends entirely on you. Dan and his staff have the ability to teach you nearly anything and everything about the mountains. Our group included a few of Dan’s repeat customers, several new clients who were experienced snowmobilers, and one person who had never been on a sled before. I will tell you that the mountains are the ultimate leveler of the playing field.

Regardless of who shows up for the course, the mission remains the same for any Next Level Riding Clinic: ensuring you learn something, enjoy yourself safely, and gain the skills and confidence to access terrain you never before thought possible. It’s an experience that everyone who has a desire to ride in the mountains should have. I can promise you’ll be challenged physically as well as mentally, but the view from the top is definitely worth it!

As long as you go into a Next Level Riding Clinic with a willingness to learn and find your “inner badass,” then you’ll leave with a newfound ability and some memorable stories to tell over a cold one when you get back to the cabin.

To learn more about Dan Adams’ Next Level Riding Clinics, log on to www.nextlevelclinics.com.
Alpine Wyoming
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WHERE TO STAY
If a river flowing around the base of the mountains sounds like a nice view to wake up to, you won’t be disappointed with the scenery at the Flying Saddle Resort. Located right on the Snake River in Alpine, Wyo., this little slice of heaven offers ample parking, comfortable rooms, a full-service restaurant and bar with great eats, and a continental breakfast. More info: www.flyingsaddleresort.com, or call (307) 654-4422 to book your stay!

GETTING THERE
From Idaho Falls: 1.5 hrs., 72 miles
From Salt Lake City: 4 hrs., 242 miles
From Billings: 6.5 hrs., 320 miles
From Denver: 8 hrs., 525 miles
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