Learning To Flow
Taking a ride down Hirafu’s new flow trail with the mountain biking school, Niseko Nine.
This summer saw a huge push in Niseko-Hirafu to expand the mountain booking options. New trails, such as the Ginto Village Flow Trail and the Hirafu Flow Trail, have opened up for enthusiasts to try this summer. So we figured we might give it a go ourselves.
First Time Flow
Never been on a mountain bike before? It can seem a bit daunting when you watch mountain biking videos because they tend to be aimed at high level riders, showing off the most extreme elements of the course. You don't normally see videos of smiling families or beginners learning to navigate the slopes.
Well the reality is, everyone has to start somewhere and Niseko is the perfect place to try this summer.
Just like skiing or snowboarding, our number one recommendation is to get a lesson! You don't want to be going downhill and hurt yourself whether there is snow or not.
Niseko Nine is Niseko-Hirafu's first official resort mountain bike school and guiding program. Located at the .Base Centre next to the Welcome Centre, they offer lessons in English to those interested in learning the ropes and expert course guides for those who are fully fledged riders.
They are also the team behind the construction of the new Hirafu Flow Trail. The winding course is currently just over 1 kilometre long, and the team plans to continually extend it until it starts all the way up to Hirafu Summer Gondola drop-off point.
But for now, you can use their electric-powered mountain bikes to get up to the top with ease!
Pedal up the Mountain
The flow trail is split up into a couple sections. Right above the .Base Centre is a short three turn learning section. This is where Niseko Nine instructor Kenji showed us the ropes of our bikes. He took us through the steps, from finding your balance, to how to apply your breaks and eventually how to navigate the banked curves on the flow trail.
The learner's area has all kinds of other course elements from simple wooden bridges to see-saw bridges to help stronger riders challenge themselves as they advance. Suffice to say, we just stuck to the regular grassy bits.
Niseko Nine maintains a fleet of electric-assist mountain bikes that make getting up the slope a breeze. In fact, it was almost easier going up than going down for some of us (not everyone is born on two wheels).