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  1. #1
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    Coping with west-coast-style trails

    I have been biking for several years (a lot of road/triathlon, a reasonable amount of xc) and having moved to the west coast (north shore area) I am having a lot of trouble adapting to the trails available here.

    I am not afraid of steeps per se, but tend to be afraid of jumps and, most important, I am used to "reasonably" smooth single track (meaning, the occasional rock and/or small obstacle): since moving here, however, I've found that the vast majority of trails are not only steep, but also very very rooty and rocky and requiring a lot of skills (jumping, log riding, negotiating really rough terrain...) that I really really don't have at this point unfortunately.

    I do want to learn, but I am having a lot of trouble figuring out a) how to go about it and b) where to do it. I can find a lot of "easy" trails, and a lot of "I have to walk my bike down" ones, but I can't seem to find anything in-between where I could slowly get used to the hairier stuff. I also have really no clue about how people I see on the trail do what they do, I swear it feels that the gnarly roots/rocks don't exist for them at all, it looks like they are riding on asphalt I swear.

    I don't have a freeride bike (I have a 2001 sugar) however in this case I really think the problem is with the rider (me) vs the ride.

    Does anybody have any suggestions? Things I should be trying to get comfortable first with? Places to go? I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by having to deal with everything (rocks, roots, steeps, narrow, ...) all at once and wiping out so much

  2. #2
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    a) ride...a lot. Biggest way I learned was to take the technical stuff in sections. Split the trail into 5 or 6 parts and conquer them one at a time and analyze those small steps as progression. As you conquer all add in the "flow" shore riders live for. Combine the sections until they act as one long that you flow.

    b) Squamish and Whistler will offer "easier" Alternatives. Also check out www.gutsploder.com for more variety of trails. UBC also offer good beginner to intermediate trails to play on.Also whistler has this handy thing called a lift. 20 runs per day over a week on garbonzo and some of the lower more techy trails would equal 6 months for an average trail rider. Its worth the 2 hour drive to really get those skills up to a decent level quickly. You will be able to bring those skills and most importantly the speeds to the north shore...

    You get use to it. I was riding a trail yesterday with some newer riders and they were shocked at how log rides and roots didn't affect me. They were baffled at how I could pedal through certain sections without banging my pedals and loosing momentum. All of this came with time and riding with better riders. I could give you an endless supply of tips, but the best thing I ever did was ride with people better than me, and let go. Move through the trail like the bike is part of you and not a tool, sounds a little hippy, but thats the best way to tackle technical stuff

    You are likely right about bike vs biker...but keep in mind a slacker angled bike would help a tonne, little more travel, thicker tires for sure. But in the end a good riders can ride anything on the shore, just depends on how fast and smooth you wanna go ...you must be smoking people UP fromme

    As I said before...whistler and squamish both offer better alternatives. Kill me thrill me, chris markel trails, river runs through it, comfortably numb, parts of mels dilema and cut yer bars would all offer you variations on what you are riding on the shore. The biggest thing about the shore is the consequences. You ride down a steep section that wet with roots and ends with a skinny jump...most people would be scared, but this section then jumps into a steep rocks face and then into a wet steep shoot...unlike anything I have ridden (and yes thats an actual trail, your brain never rests). The potential danger doesn't end till you hit that fireroad again ...

    Oh...get armour...you are gonna crash a lot ...good luck, there is a reason why north shore riders are, on average, amongst the most skilled in the world when it comes to pure technical prowess.

  3. #3
    Banned. Jason222's Avatar
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    The bike can really help. Big bikes with large tires and lots of suspension just roll over stuff. If you practice on curbs and stuff, you learn how to get up them without just riding over them. Learn how to Bunnyhop, this is a VERY helpful thing to know how to do. Learn how to use the front brake to wip the rear and learn proper braking techniques. Moving your levers in and down is helpful as well.

  4. #4
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    thanks for the tips, I have checked out gutsploder but it doesn't seem to have green/blue/black color coded trails, so it's not really clear which ones are the not-so-crazy ones... I'll be definitely checking whistler out, I was planning to go there at some point but from your comments it does seem it's better to do it sooner rather than later.

    I have been riding around UBC a lot, also I have been spending some time at the delta park which seems a bit more intermediate (sometimes =too= intermediate) and yeah, I agree about the "consequences" aspect, that's what's causing me a lot of issues at the moment: if, say, there was a short section of trail where wiping wouldn't be a biggie and it has some obstacles, sure, I can try it several times, but on a lot of trails I've seen wiping seems to invite a trip to the hospital for sure...

    I have armor, no worries, it has already saved my knees and elbows quite a few times: I am currently debating if I should go full-face helmet as well

    Going with more experienced riders would be nice, but most of the riders I know around here are of the road variety, or are so much better than me that I'd spend all the time walking the bike down the trails they ride. My gf is also trying to learn with me but since she's even more of a beginner than I am (and shy, she also rides a hardtail), taking her on tough trails would be very unsatisfactory for her at the moment...

  5. #5
    don't misunderestimate me BoSoxYacht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    a) ride...a lot. Biggest way I learned was to take the technical stuff in sections. Split the trail into 5 or 6 parts and conquer them one at a time and analyze those small steps as progression. Combine the sections until they act as one long that you flow.


    Oh...get armour...you are gonna crash a lot ...good luck.
    +1 , the part about body armor is far to true . Often I find myself in a pile of sharp rocks , leaking all over the place . My co-workers are always asking me to show them my new wounds/injuries .

  6. #6
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    I would recommend checking out nsmb.com and asking around for rides. Or even trying to go on the john henry group rides. All shops have group rides as well. I find it kind of ironic you say you know more road riders in Vancouver ...definately check out the shops and get some good group rides hooked up.

    Full face wouldn't be bad either ...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    I would recommend checking out nsmb.com and asking around for rides. Or even trying to go on the john henry group rides.
    thanks for the tip, I thought their rides were a bit too advanced (I think "open all mtn" would suit me better than "downhill revenge") but I'll ask

    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    All shops have group rides as well.
    really? I'll call around

    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    I find it kind of ironic you say you know more road riders in Vancouver ...definately check out the shops and get some good group rides hooked up.
    yeah, I have done the tri thing for some years and never really hooked up with the mtb crowd (save for some rides with friends)

  8. #8
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Good luck. There are lots of varieties of riders. The two mountains (main mountains) are distinctly different in feel and difficulty. Definately check Dizzy cycles, I think they might host the more xc oriented rides. I thought john henry did as well

    http://www.johnhenrybikes.com/pedals.asp

    Anyways if you ever get up to whistler pm me, I will gladly give you a tour of the mountain.

  9. #9
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    thanks! will do

  10. #10
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    Your suggestion mael is come to whistler and you'll find something there.

    Ok, come pick me up buddy.

  11. #11
    Team Katana 古強者死神's Avatar
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    Dont want to bash the thread but seems like a good place to post, and what advice I get you may be able to use for your wife.

    Me as a busy person will probably always have to ride alone, its too hard to have social connections with the kids, wife, and work. My bike is going to be the Piranha so for the sake of things we will call it a entry level hardtail.

    What can I expect to do as far as trails (like difficulty rating wise can the bike handle even the most advanced or will i need full sus for that), and what would you recomend to sombody who almost does not have the option at all to ride with sombody. Me getting to the trails is a matter of when the kids are asleep and my Fiance is off work to make a quick trip out and hope for the best.

    I am in decent shape, great balance and a very quick learner. You guys post so many things about bike breaks and injuries I hope I can afford this sport.

  12. #12
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 古強者死神
    Dont want to bash the thread but seems like a good place to post, and what advice I get you may be able to use for your wife.

    Me as a busy person will probably always have to ride alone, its too hard to have social connections with the kids, wife, and work. My bike is going to be the Piranha so for the sake of things we will call it a entry level hardtail.

    What can I expect to do as far as trails (like difficulty rating wise can the bike handle even the most advanced or will i need full sus for that), and what would you recomend to sombody who almost does not have the option at all to ride with sombody. Me getting to the trails is a matter of when the kids are asleep and my Fiance is off work to make a quick trip out and hope for the best.

    I am in decent shape, great balance and a very quick learner. You guys post so many things about bike breaks and injuries I hope I can afford this sport.
    I ride almost exclusively alone. Progression I find is slower in this case but it can happen. Get books and various movies and just watch. Even the hardcore freeride vids can offer a "normal" rider variations in how people ride. I think it is tough to progress when you can't ride a lot...maybe start making weekend trips to local riding spots. Get the family involved so there can be longer trips. Obviously I can't tell you how to deal with kids and a wife (I don't have either) but find a week night where you can arrange to ride with one of the groups. Its *your* night. Group rides will usually have a large spectrum of riders who can help push and motivate you

    A lot of the people breaking their bikes are doing dumb things, myself included. Once you find that balance between weight, price and durability parts will stop breaking for the average xc guy. Its those dumb guys throwing themselves off of cliffs that break things

  13. #13
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoF3ar
    Your suggestion mael is come to whistler and you'll find something there.

    Ok, come pick me up buddy.
    I don't drive......if you ever make itup here I will gladly show you around...although you will smoke me uphills for sure haha

  14. #14
    Eat. Lift. Ride. Drink. Sinfield's Avatar
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    Start doing a bit of urban stuff too. When I first got into freeriding, I found that the combination of technical trails (rocky, rooty, tight, etc.) AND freeride stunts was a bit daunting...fun, but tough. So for a bit while I was learning to mtn. bike, I focused on riding the technical singletrack and then going out for an urban session where I hucked myself off legdes/ stairs, and rode skinny curbs and whatnot. Splitting the two facets up really helped me concentrate on the skillset needed for each type of riding without having to worry about being too overwhelmed (ex: hucking off stairs gets you comfortable in the air w/ out having to worry if you're going to wipe out on the rocky landing). I've noticed that I've become a worlds better rider when I hit the trails.

    Keep working at it, it's a pretty magical thing when all the sudden it "clicks" and you realize that the stunts on the trail aren't individual obstacles, but something that you just flow over on your way down. I'm just hitting that point...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    I don't drive......if you ever make itup here I will gladly show you around...although you will smoke me uphills for sure haha
    Well, you'll be scraping me off the rocks as soon as anything is pointing downhill

  16. #16
    im not lazy, im efficient
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    hey nof3er, in which part of the bay area do you reside?
    2005 KHS Alite 500

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by clifford_bgrddg
    hey nof3er, in which part of the bay area do you reside?
    South san francisco

  18. #18
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    3 cheers for armor.

    Pretty minor compared to rocks, but nothing quite sucks like falling into a briar bush, and having thousands of tiny fraking thorns stuck in your body for the remainder of the ride
    -------- __@
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    Ring Ring, Ring Ring, the bell went Ring Ring Ring.

  19. #19
    Taking "s" outta "Fast" AfterThisNap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason222
    The bike can really help. Big bikes with large tires and lots of suspension just roll over stuff.
    Boo. Relying on your bike's suspension to get over and through stuff is a surefire way to halt your progression as a rider.
    I suggest getting comfortable getting very fast on easier trails. Speed is your friend in hairer sections with whoops and jumps. Once you get good at flying at speed, taking jumps becomes a normal part of your ride. Just think of longer airs as very very smooth sections of trail.
    Carries suspicious allegiance to Brooklyn Machine Works.

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