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Getting Extreme at the Lair: Hanging with the youth at Phil's big air zone 

The Lair is the new place to go if you want to hit the ramps and hang out with the youth of today.

Reserved for kids, ex-pro downhillers and those with comprehensive health insurance, the Lair is a great place to create space between your tires and the ground.

Full of tall dirt ramps and steep-bermed corners, it looks terrifying. Fourteen-year-olds make navigating the area's three main jump lines look easy. Although the three zones are thought be "progressive," (meaning that they progress from easier to harder options) I'm not sure an easy jump exists. No matter how small the feature, you still have to commit to leaving the ground.

That's scary, but not for the kids who have made the Lair their home. Located a couple miles south of the Phil's Trailhead and just west of Tetherow, folks have been going big at the skills park since its introduction in 2008.

How big? Just google "the Lair" and prepare for pools of sweat to gather in your palms while watching video of the area's groms launch themselves time and again from the ramped dirt terrain, sometimes barely making the landing. Horrifying.

Learning to ride even some of the lines at the Lair, however, will greatly improve not only your confidence, but also your general mountain biking skill set. Just follow the kids (not their fashion picks. You'll be much happier if you wear clothes that fit, a real helmet and maybe even some body armor).

Keep your elbows and knees bent and loose, your eyes on the exit (not fixed on the object you don't want to hit, perhaps the more natural inclination) and go for it. Then come tell me how it went. I'll be on the cross-country trails with my tires conservatively glued to the dirt.

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