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Uh, whatís mountain biking?

Old 03-29-22, 12:58 PM
  #1  
rosefarts
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Uh, whatís mountain biking?

This is not a retro grouch rant, though it might at times sound like one.

I started mountain biking at about 13 years old. I was fortunate enough to have nearby trails and motivated adults in my life to keep me riding. Bikes didn’t come with suspension but could be purchased separately, I used my paper route for a Scott Unishock and converted to what was likely the first threadless headset in town. I was truly A-head.

Incremental improvements came out. Magura rim brakes, V brakes, the Manitou 4 and so many other tiny pieces of the puzzle. Full suspension was available and always arguably not an advantage.

The superstars won cross country races. Some won that and this goofy thing called downhill. There was one specialist, Hans Rey, but that’s a different subject entirely.

The trails were trails. Mostly singletrack rolling romps through the forest that occasionally got fast but sure were hard work. Sweat and exhaustion was requisite.

Fast forward to 1999. Life dictated that I race road bikes and climb rocks. So I did. Almost exactly 2 years ago, on a whim I bought a used MTB and tried again, it’s since been replaced with even better. It is a hoot. Pretty basic but a clear upgrade over the gravel bike on that terrain. Still trails with the occasional jump I usually ride around. My favorite seem to be the IMBA Epics, nice and tiring, feels like I covered some distance, and strangely almost always in total isolation.

So we’re finally getting to my question.

I’m exploring more areas and currently don’t even have access to my drop bar bikes. It’s exciting and fun but I’m often at a loss on the trails. Hump up a steep dirt road, then bomb down berms, jumps, and drops. Man made obstacles designed for the whee factor. Online discussions about how 20’ jumps aren’t even that far. Lift access. Jokes about the weirdos who like technical uphill. It’s not speed, at all. I’m bold enough with my tires on the ground to keep up with most high flyers and long travelers. But it’s clear their goal is about maximum exploit of the way down while mine seems to be a tasty goulash of the entire ride.

My head is spinning. I feel like Rip Van Winkle.

So is that what it is now? Easy way up and fly (literal air time) down? Cross Country is an esoteric little sub genre?

I’m having fun and getting braver. My 3” of air feels bigger than that.

Still baffled by this shift.

I sure like my bike better than the stuff from the 90’s.

Last edited by rosefarts; 03-29-22 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Spelling, clarity
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Old 03-29-22, 03:25 PM
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I feel like Rip Van Winkle.
You ->

Don't get left behind again, buy an e-bike!

Hans Rey
Came to the plant once. Bunny-hopped from the parking lot onto the loading bay.

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Old 03-29-22, 03:37 PM
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The trails you remember are still there, and many good folks are putting some of their spare time into building more. I started riding MTB about the year you were born but we share a love of the same type of riding. In the affluent area where I live the e-bikes seem to be taking the place of the shuttle run for some: Ride with minimal effort up the hill them bomb down it. Not my idea of a fun ride but it doesn't bother me that the big air folks have different ideas than me. While they are motoring up the fire roads and bombing down the steep and deep I'm enjoying the solitude on the trails I love.

My prescription - Spend more time on the trails, less time on mtbr.

Brent
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Old 03-29-22, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
My prescription - Spend more time on the trails, less time on mtbr.

That is the best post of the year. I have been ridding mountain bikes continually since 1985. Todays bikes are miles ahead of what we used to ride even 10 years ago. 29ers and geometry tweaks have created incredibly capable machines .

Not sure where you live, but good old fashioned trail riding still exist out east. Ride up the mountain and take the sweet single track down. E-bikes are coming but there are still lots of place were they are not allowed.

Places like Pisgah and Dupont are jewels and the NE is still filled with rocks, roots and technical riding. It is the norm.
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Old 03-29-22, 09:55 PM
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Yeah, most of the attention in the magazines, industry ad copy, and you tube focus on modern flow trails, jump lines, and Van-Life Enduro Bros on 160mm+ bikes. Braaaaaap!! I find that those kind of trails a lot of fun the first couple times I do them (I don't do large jumps), but then they get old. But I think it has more wide appeal to new folks.

But the reality on the ground is that a lot of the riding I see is still on old school trails. They are out there if you want them. Its just not what is getting built new much these days. Personally, all my favorite stuff is the old school trails, and most of my favorite rides to date are ones that existed when I started riding in the 90s, and were built before MTB was a thing. I'm going on an MTB trip to the Roanoke VA area in a few weeks and then Pisgah in June. It all mostly old-school stuff. Some really brutal and technical climbs.

I'm not sure where you get that climbing is frowned upon. That is how most MTBers still get to the top. I mean if you hang out on the Downhill forums sure, they are not pedaling those things up hills.
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Old 03-30-22, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts View Post
Hump up a steep dirt road, then bomb down berms, jumps, and drops. Man made obstacles designed for the whee factor. Online discussions about how 20’ jumps aren’t even that far. Lift access. Jokes about the weirdos who like technical uphill. It’s not speed, at all. I’m bold enough with my tires on the ground to keep up with most high flyers and long travelers. But it’s clear their goal is about maximum exploit of the way down while mine seems to be a tasty goulash of the entire ride.

So is that what it is now? Easy way up and fly (literal air time) down? Cross Country is an esoteric little sub genre?
.
I'm lucky enough to have 3 trails nearby within a 20-60 minute drive that are old school. Those are the ones I ride the most. We also have 2 systems that were machine built. One is a downhill that with lines of jumps and drops frrom beginner to expert and it literally takes about 2 minutes to get down after a 10 minute climb back up...Boring. The other is a machine built trail of about 7 miles where all of the "features" repeat themselves every 100 ft. Also boring. Been to each place a few times just to check it out, but no longer go to them. Lift serve...also boring. The wheeled equivalent of downhill skiing.

Problem is...nobody wants to build trails the old school way anymore which was rake and ride. So now we get "bro" trails built with machines.

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Old 03-30-22, 08:18 AM
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Just find some place average-level to ride your mountain bike Then you can duke it out with pedestrians and pedestrians with giant pet herbivores, just like the old days.

My normal lap is around a lake.
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Old 03-30-22, 08:37 AM
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I love groomed "bro trails" , -- bad shoulders and knees means i wind up scrubbing the jumps more often than getting air now, --- but the reality is, i live in Oklahoma - there are practically no gravity trails here (unless you count creekbed and riverbottom crossings,) - its all XC singletrack, and many of you guys know the feeling - even in a flat state, the courses still weave in enough stuff like that to get some elevation gain. v

NW Arkansas is touted to be a mountain bike mecca for the "X Games types" among us, --- but most of the Bentonville trails require significant climbing legs too. There are no chairlifts or public shuttle runs without driving a bit from there

Most of the online stuff - forums, online magazine articles, etc. - touts big travel 32 pound machines , sprinkled in with shorter travel"downcountry" machines that are as capable as an enduro bike was a decade ago --- but meanwhile i spend the majority of my time tooling around on the same trails i rode 30 years ago on a rigid machine --- and judging from the number of people i see out still riding their ancient 26'ers , those bikes are still doing fine

The first Mammoth Kamikaze downhills were won on fully rigid bikes at insane speeds , then or now -- and Tomac /Herbold etc basically used their cross country bikes for downhill too - granted Mammoth is not a technical DH by todays standards at all

Ive come to the conclusion that a bike is just a bike as long as it is in good mechanical shape and reliable. Have some good sense and dont take a rigid bike on downhill runs in Winter Park/ Whistler/ Angel Fire etc, and vice versa maybe dont ride a downhill bike in a place like Oklahoma, but beyond that ----

The sheer joy of riding and getting out to do something on almost anything will outweigh a guy who has all the latest and best equipment in the world but for whatever reason, cant even find the motivation to carve out a few hours a week to enjoy him/herself

Have fun, enjoy the ride, --- Fresh , new equipment is fun. Old , slowpoke vintage equipment is fun too --- none of it replaces human enthusiasm
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Old 03-30-22, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
I love groomed "bro trails" , -- bad shoulders and knees means i wind up scrubbing the jumps more often than getting air now, --- but the reality is, i live in Oklahoma - there are practically no gravity trails here (unless you count creekbed and riverbottom crossings,) - its all XC singletrack, and many of you guys know the feeling - even in a flat state, the courses still weave in enough stuff like that to get some elevation gain. v

NW Arkansas is touted to be a mountain bike mecca for the "X Games types" among us, --- but most of the Bentonville trails require significant climbing legs too. There are no chairlifts or public shuttle runs without driving a bit from there

Most of the online stuff - forums, online magazine articles, etc. - touts big travel 32 pound machines , sprinkled in with shorter travel"downcountry" machines that are as capable as an enduro bike was a decade ago --- but meanwhile i spend the majority of my time tooling around on the same trails i rode 30 years ago on a rigid machine --- and judging from the number of people i see out still riding their ancient 26'ers , those bikes are still doing fine

The first Mammoth Kamikaze downhills were won on fully rigid bikes at insane speeds , then or now -- and Tomac /Herbold etc basically used their cross country bikes for downhill too - granted Mammoth is not a technical DH by todays standards at all

Ive come to the conclusion that a bike is just a bike as long as it is in good mechanical shape and reliable. Have some good sense and dont take a rigid bike on downhill runs in Winter Park/ Whistler/ Angel Fire etc, and vice versa maybe dont ride a downhill bike in a place like Oklahoma, but beyond that ----

The sheer joy of riding and getting out to do something on almost anything will outweigh a guy who has all the latest and best equipment in the world but for whatever reason, cant even find the motivation to carve out a few hours a week to enjoy him/herself

Have fun, enjoy the ride, --- Fresh , new equipment is fun. Old , slowpoke vintage equipment is fun too --- none of it replaces human enthusiasm
If you have no other choices I don't blame you for feeling that way about machine built trails and riding. You take what you have and make the best of it.

I just know that I'm not a fan of them...Every machine built trail I have been on repeats itself every few hundred feet or so...Lacks variety and boredom with the ride sets in.

I have a ~30 mile trail system close to home (20 minutes away)...old school rake and ride...never ride the same thing or same features over and over.

I feel I'm in the same camp as rosefart...Not a fan in this shift of how trails are now being built.

Last edited by prj71; 03-30-22 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 03-30-22, 09:32 AM
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Said more eloquently above, but my wife and I are still riding the same trails as forty or so years ago and many similar ones that have appeared; most of our friends are still at it with very few adopting "the easy route".
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Old 03-30-22, 09:37 AM
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A friend of mine that lives 2 hours away rides a bunch of machine built trails in his area. I invited him a couple years ago to come and ride my rake and ride trails...Needless to say he bailed out early and only made it about 10 miles of our planned 16 mile loop and complained that the trees were too close to the trail. He hasn't been back since.
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Old 03-30-22, 09:55 AM
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We get to define our own experiences here. I would guess if you are off road and on a mountain? Growing up in the bay area I always considered our hills mountains and our mountains downhills.
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Old 03-30-22, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts View Post
...Still baffled by this shift...

Yep! What a Blessing...

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Old 03-30-22, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
...my rake and ride trails...
Ya have to appreciate the fact he realized his limitations. After all the last thing ya want is an injury.

One of my boy's went out with me on one of my regular Geezer 5 mile rides on our Quasi Gravel bikes. It tore him up and the ride is mostly paved with sections of torn up asphalt single track through the woods.

I ask him now if he wants to go for a ride and his answer is always NO. Man... I really messed that one up!
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Old 03-30-22, 10:11 AM
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Just chiming in to say I too enjoy the slow work aspect of mountain biking. Iím not super interested in flow. My favorite ride is probably the Epic Goodwater Loop which is essentially 20+ miles of rock garden. Not saying this to brag, itís just what I enjoy- going slow and hard through nature. All that said, when I went from a rigid 27.5 to 29er with front suspension, things did get a little easier, but still fun in a different way.
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Old 03-30-22, 12:45 PM
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What like about most older trails is that they were not laid out with bikes in mind. You ride them on there own terms, rather than the trail being built on your terms.

So while they are just as ďman madeĒ as new flow trails, I feel like I am accomplishing somethingÖ or even doing something a little stupid or subversive.

I also like the fact that nothing is guaranteed to be ďrideableĒ. You just keep trying, and are fine with pushing/carrying when it does not work out. And sometimes clearing something (up or down) takes a lot of experimenting, and thinking outside the box. There are obstacles that even after years of riding I still donít clear, or only do so part of the time.

On most modern trails, pretty much everything is doable with a pretty well defined skillset, and often just comes down to how willing you are to send it.
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Old 03-30-22, 10:49 PM
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Most fun I ever had was downhill trails in Woodside Ca
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Old 03-31-22, 01:03 PM
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Site won't let me post a link and won't let me delete.

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Old 04-03-22, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rosefarts View Post
This is not a retro grouch rant, though it might at times sound like one.

I started mountain biking at about 13 years old. I was fortunate enough to have nearby trails and motivated adults in my life to keep me riding. Bikes didnít come with suspension but could be purchased separately, I used my paper route for a Scott Unishock and converted to what was likely the first threadless headset in town. I was truly A-head.

Incremental improvements came out. Magura rim brakes, V brakes, the Manitou 4 and so many other tiny pieces of the puzzle. Full suspension was available and always arguably not an advantage.

The superstars won cross country races. Some won that and this goofy thing called downhill. There was one specialist, Hans Rey, but thatís a different subject entirely.

The trails were trails. Mostly singletrack rolling romps through the forest that occasionally got fast but sure were hard work. Sweat and exhaustion was requisite.

Fast forward to 1999. Life dictated that I race road bikes and climb rocks. So I did. Almost exactly 2 years ago, on a whim I bought a used MTB and tried again, itís since been replaced with even better. It is a hoot. Pretty basic but a clear upgrade over the gravel bike on that terrain. Still trails with the occasional jump I usually ride around. My favorite seem to be the IMBA Epics, nice and tiring, feels like I covered some distance, and strangely almost always in total isolation.

So weíre finally getting to my question.

Iím exploring more areas and currently donít even have access to my drop bar bikes. Itís exciting and fun but Iím often at a loss on the trails. Hump up a steep dirt road, then bomb down berms, jumps, and drops. Man made obstacles designed for the whee factor. Online discussions about how 20í jumps arenít even that far. Lift access. Jokes about the weirdos who like technical uphill. Itís not speed, at all. Iím bold enough with my tires on the ground to keep up with most high flyers and long travelers. But itís clear their goal is about maximum exploit of the way down while mine seems to be a tasty goulash of the entire ride.

My head is spinning. I feel like Rip Van Winkle.

So is that what it is now? Easy way up and fly (literal air time) down? Cross Country is an esoteric little sub genre?

Iím having fun and getting braver. My 3Ē of air feels bigger than that.

Still baffled by this shift.

I sure like my bike better than the stuff from the 90ís.
I first got into mountain or trail biking during COVID because all the parks closed to motor vehicle traffic and I still wanted to enjoy the trails. Since there are 6-7 parks within 4-5 miles of my house with trails that was a no brainer because it would take to long to walk there, hike and walk back home. But you can easily ride 4-5 miles, ride the trail and make it home sooner. You can also explore a lot deeper in the wilderness because my time got limited since after COVID everybody and their mother now has my cell and is harassing me at all hours with their nonsense but that's a different story.

Yes I felt like a lot of those manmade obstacles were put by people auditioning for the Darwin awards. By the looks of them I am shocked more locals don't win as I would think twice before walking over them with my mere feet never mind jumping with a bicycle at speed.

You can also try the regular hiking trails in your area as you are likely to be familiar with how technical they could be but sometimes the audubon people don't like it because it might scare the spotted owl or something like that. In that case park at a nearby school or commercial area instead, ride to the trail from elsewhere and try to do it at times that people are unlikely to be there like early in the morning, at night, during winter when it's too cold for people to want to leave the house or not during weekends.

Nonetheless over time I was delighted to find that there are a good deal many trails out there that are smooth, don't involve huge roots or rocks or bumps or jumps. Most are power line access roads and the wealth of fire trails branching off them. But none of these are really easy to find as they are not on most apps. Someone who knows them kind of has to tell you about them. The best program I found was ridewithgps, better than something like say Trailforks as the latter seems to concentrate on the high risk stuff except for maybe the pink and green trails. Best way to learn about your local collection of fire trails is talk to firefighters, followed by other town officials working as first responders. This will also help you gauge the level of enforcement (or lack thereof) for your type of activity there and how likely you are to face legal problems like trespassing, or not.
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Old 04-15-22, 11:51 PM
  #20  
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I like all sorts of biking and don't feel the need to think one's better than the other.
My daily experience with North Shore riding is good. I live on a mountain and the trails are 5 minutes ride away. Love the cardio and balance work of uphill grinding and the thrill of gravity downhill.
Driving farther afield there are great XC trails in the Merritt and Kamloops area that remind me of the old west with all the sage brush and free range cow plops.
My experience in Moab was great, enjoying the flowy trails and rock desert.
Last year I did the ski hill lift thing in Fernie and had a blast. Doing multiple runs downhill all day and relaxing on the way up was fun. If I had to ride up that hill I would have only seen maybe two runs and I was only there for one day so I got my money's worth.
Conversely I also have a SS mtb for those times I want to do more work than necessary.
Occasionally bikepack with my fatbike and like the sense of exploration that comes with off road hike-a-biking.

It's all good. And it's all mountain biking.
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Old 04-17-22, 06:40 AM
  #21  
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Mountain biking is riding your mountain bike off road..
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Old 04-17-22, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Mountain biking is riding your mountain bike off road..
But not on gravel?
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Old 04-17-22, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post
But not on gravel?
Anything that's unpaved.... there are some rough gravel trails and backroads which can be challenging and fun on a mountain bike.
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Old 04-17-22, 08:10 PM
  #24  
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Iím finding more stuff to ride lately but Iím still keeping my wheels mostly on the ground.

I did some hot laps on a short DH course today with a burner of a climb to get back up. That seemed fun.

Ive heard rumors of a local BMX track that allows old guys on mountain bikes to learn to jump. I may try to talk myself into that once they get going for the season.

Its good to hear that mountain biking is still more than what Iíve been seeing.
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Old 04-27-22, 06:51 AM
  #25  
beng1
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To me it is just using a mountain-bike as my main ride. They are great all-round bikes that can do anything. They are safer than a skinny tire bike if you get off into the loose stuff, and of course they are great off-road. They are much less likely to get flats than a skinny-tire bike, and they are not damaged as easily in a crash. I am riding a steel-framed Marin hardtail I bought new in spring 1997 and it is still my main ride for everyday use. I will ride it across town to a trail, hit the trail and then ride back home. I used to be a Norba member in the 90s so I could do their races, I ran the Marin in a 42-mile road-race and a time-trial too, and it worked fine with the tires pumped up to 80psi.
My favorite thing to do is steep grueling climbs where by the time I am at the top I could not go up another foot, and then coming back down, but not fast or jumping because I am talking about a climb so steep that you are lucky you can go down it without losing traction and just sliding down, you have to use both brakes carefully to their limit or you will not make it, and you are surrounded by trees and rocks that would kill you if you crashed into them at speed, or there is a cliff on one side with rocks at the bottom waiting to kill you. But if you take it easy you are fine.
Back in the 90s there was cross-country and downhill, and to me downhill just seemed like motorcycle moto-cross but without a motor, it took it's own kind of skill, but I never considered it mountain-biking. If someone with a mountainbike never wants to do climbs, then to me they are in the same class as the people riding E-bikes around.

In the end mountain-biking is simply whatever the individual decides to use their bike for, so there is no definition and never will be for those with open minds.
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