Friday, April 30, 2010

The Trick to Getting Over Obstacles on a Mountain Bike

One of the first technical challenges that a beginning mountain biker will invariably face is, "How do I ride over something that my front wheel won't roll over?" Perhaps they won't even think to try to ride over something if their front wheel won't easily clear it.  Mastering one simply technique will allow you to conquer all new territory.

It is called: the power wheelie.

Using this technique, you will be able to conquer:

  • Curbs
  • Downed trees
  • Large roots
  • Big rocks
  • Ledges
  • Any other small, abrupt elevation rise
 Doing a power wheelie is conceptually really simple, if you follow these steps:
  1. Approach the object straight on, with your bike perpendicular to the obstacle. Hitting an obstacle at an angle is much harder and can cause your tires to slide along it, especially if it's wet.
  2. As you are about to reach the object, give one or two hard thrusts with the pedals (thus the power).
  3. Simultaneously, with your body acting as a fulcrum, lever the front tire up onto or over the object (the wheelie). Instead of thinking about lifting up the front of the bike, think about driving the back into the ground and levering the front up.
Number 4
If the object is small, keep pedaling and let the back tire pop over the obstacle.

If the object is larger but your chainring still clears, pedal 1/2-1 stroke right as your tire hits the object, and then surge forward, shifting your weight from your rear tire to your front tire, allowing it to follow up onto the ledge.    Roughly the same applies for a small-medium sized log.

Medium Sized Log
Let's say  you are trying to cross a log that you can pop your front tire over pretty easily, but your chainring won't clear without hitting. If the log is small enough and you have enough momentum, a little snag on the large chainring won't mess things up too much, but be wary so it doesn't knock you off your bike..

If the log is a good bit larger than that but you can still pop the front wheel over, when the chain ring hits the log, keep pedaling a bit and you should be able to wiggle your way over it.

In this video, I rode over a medium-sized log:

Sorry it was a little further away than I had anticipated.  But if you look closely, you can see me turn to get perpendicular to the log, pop my wheel over, jimmy my pedals a bit when the chain ring hit, pop my back tire up, and then ride it out.  It was actually in a pretty sticky situation, as I had to basically run off the trail to ride it, with a log about 3 feet on the other side of the first one.  But I made it!

And here is one from a different perspective:

In the example above, my chainring also stuck a little bit, but usually not enough that I can't just ride through it with enough momentum and a little jiggle.

Hopefully with both of those different video perspectives and the step-by-step directions, you'll be able to master power wheelies in no time!  Once you have it down, it is a skill that will become very ingrained, and be almost an automatic response to certain types of obstacles.  Soon, small trees and ledges won't be a problem at all!

The Rest of the Series
Be sure to round out your arsenal of Mountain Bike Skills by reading the rest of the series here.

If this was helpful, I'd love to hear about it below!  And if you are a more advanced rider, please feel free to share additional advice in the comments section.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jeff over on the blog just put up a post about this website called
As he said,

Think of it as the 2010 cycling census - stand up and be counted!
And the tweet that I sent afterwards really sums it up well:
I joined in uniting a million voices to improve the future of biking. Won't you?
We as a sport need to get off the couch and get more involved in bike and trail advocacy.  Signing up on this website is the least you can do to help protect our sport!

More Thoughts
I should have written more when I originally posted this.  Sorry, it's a crazy day, lots of papers to write, finals to study for, etc. etc.

But I've been thinking about this topic of bike advocacy more and more.  The issue that I keep seeing again and again is that there are a few people out there really pushing the envelope and advocating for the sport.  The problem is, the majority of bikers are willing to sit back and not get involved.  To them they can't be bothered to fit for their right to trails and bike lanes. 

Bike riders everywhere, we need to stand up and be counted!  If every bicyclist banded together, we could easily reach the 1 million goal that is shooting for.  What could we do if law makers saw that there were a million, 2 million? or more people willing to stand up and say "Hey, I'm a citizen of this country, and as such my 2 million friends and I have the right to quality areas to ride our bikes!"

Let's make this happen people.  Get involved in advocacy today!

What are your experiences with trail and/or bicycle advocacy? How have you been involved or not been involved?  Feel free to post a comment below!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Suspension is a beautiful thing!

 I was digging around through my photos from the last morning I spent at Sea Otter, and found a bunch of gorgeous photos of suspension of all different types.  I don't know what it is, but in the eyes of a mountain biker high-end suspension can be spelled b-e-a-u-t-y. Enjoy the shots below!

Fox Forks

Fox Shocks

Lefty Forks

Rock Shox

Rock Shox Vivid Air

Click here to check out some push-button suspension lockout photos.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What does it take to become a better mountain biker?

A beginner progressing in the skills park.
Rider: AJ H. Photo: Shannon C.?
There is a good, constructive discussion going on over here at the forum about what it takes to become a better rider, or as the OP put it, "How do people get so much better than me?"

There were a lot of excellent replies, including:
  • Riding with other people who are better than you and watching and learning from them.
  • Just getting out to ride, and having fun while you do it.
  • Focusing on different aspects of your riding and training.
  • Traveling to different places to become a better rider.
After a lot of good advice was already given, which I didn't want to repeat, I said:
trailrider247 wrote:
but if you want to get better at riding, you just need to keep riding and try harder things that you havent tried before, also since you ride with Goo i would just keep riding with him and ask him to show you some pointers on how to get thru some of the tough sections and how to carry speed, ive seen a couple of his vids and he looks like a good rider, i also noticed that hes capable of flying down the trail at high speeds and brakes just enough to carry a good amount of speed thru some of the corners, so i would say any advice from him would be good, but like the others posted just ride with people that are better skilled riders and remember that alot of it is just mind over matter.
Haha, I think I'm going to blush or something right now!
I'm always more than happy to share a tip or two as we go along.

I know I'm a bit late to this thread, but I've read all of the responses above...

And FBtrek, I'm thinking two things:

1) Just keep riding on a regular basis.This will help build your strength.
1a) Be sure to do some cross-training excercises, especially your core.
2) To get better at riding hard, steep trails one of the best things you can do is ride hard, steep trails a lot. For instance, I'd focus less on riding GSC and more at riding Chicopee, especially some of the harder trails there.

In the grand scope of things, Chicopee really isn't that hard either. But if you want to ride some STEEP, technical trails with rocks and roots, some (small) drops, and several air opportunities, they're only 30-45 min away in dahlonega. And ellijay and blue ridge aren't too far beyond that, and hold great trails as well! I live up this way, so I'm more than happy to ride! :D
IMO, one of the keys to becoming a great trail rider is travel. So it may be counterintuitive, but having a car to travel to places will help you be a better mountain biker. It's a weird thought, but one I had in high school with skiing. I wanted to ski, needed a car to get there so i could ski more often, therefore i bought a car.
Hope this helps! (As well as the other info that people gave for freeriding and etc., that was good stuff too.)
It's been a really good discussion so far, and definitely worth checking out!  I know personally I want to spend more time riding with better riders than myself than I currently do. The usual stuff tends to come up though: schedules won't jive, weather gets in the way, a bike is broken...  But that's life, that's the sport of mountain biking, and in the end it is all about having fun, riding bikes!

What other advice would you give about becoming a better mountain biker, or do you have any more questions about progressing your riding skills? Please leave a comment below!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Airborne Zeppelin Elite: First Impressions from Sea Otter

Climbing, and Marauder Comparison
One thing is certain: this bike can climb! Despite the fact that it's a little on the hefty side and has 5" of travel, I rocked this up some seriously steep, anaerobic climbs and it definitely came out on top!

The Zeppelin Elite mountain bike is about 4-5 pounds lighter than the Marauder, and also has a geometry that is a little bit more on the cross country racer side of things.  The bars still have some rise to them and the head angle is still pretty slack allowing for a comfortable trail/all-mountain feel, but the cockpit definitely isn't as all-mountain/freeride designated as the Maruader's. Also, I personally like the stock suspension setup best on the Zep Elite as compared to all of the other Airborne bicycles I've ridden.  And you'll have that, considering it's the most expensive (of the ones I've tested) as well, but still a deal at $949.95 intro, $1,499.00 MSRP. All of things add up to provide a bike that's a pretty rocking climber. Check out this video to see me clean a steep, nasty climb at Sea Otter (of course it's steeper and nastier than the video makes it look):

Component Breakdown

When I test rode this bike, I threw my own seat, seatpost, and SPD pedals on it. There are certain things that a person likes and is used to, so I decided to keep those the same for all of my test rides.

  • The drive train on the Zeppelin Elite is a great SRAM setup with X-7 shifters and an X-9 rear derailleur, almost exactly what I have on my Jamis Dakar back home. 
  • The hydraulic brakes bit really well, but to see how they last over the long haul will have to wait until I've had my bike for a while. 
  • The suspension ran pretty well, but I felt like the fork was lacking. It was decent, but not great. 
  • I liked the slight rise in the bars, but I may swap out for an even bigger rise when I get my own rig.
  • One surprising plus to all of these bikes were the bomber grips they came spec.ed with.  I love 'em!  Definitely looking forward to those.
  • The biggest downside to the stock components, while pretty easily rectified, makes a big difference in how a bike rides: the tires.  I'll dive into that more below.
The Zeppelin climbed great, and descended pretty well too.  My biggest complaint about the bike are the 2.1" tires that come stock on it.  I'm definitely a wider tire sort of guy, and this bike will definitely benefit from having some 2.35's thrown on it.  This would help in several areas:
  • Cornering: the Zep seemed a little squirrely in some of the corners. 
  • Air: the Zeppelin takes flight with ease, and feels more like a fighter jet in the air than a zeppelin! However, landings, again, were a bit washy due to the narrow tires, and the sandy trails where all of the testing took place
  • Shock absorption: a little fatter tire would help smooth out and eat up some of the small stuff, allowing the rider to focus more on navigating the larger obstacles
While I've listed all of these areas to be improved by a better pair of tires, the Zep. Elite still ripped downhills with phenomenal speed and grace!  It's not all about the tires, and without a good bike/frame design, the point is moot.

Finally, as I mentioned above, the fork felt a little under-gunned at times, but that may have been simply due to the fact that I was used to the larger fork on the Marauder. After a half hour or so, I was in tune with the bike and rocking that thing out!

Check out this video of the Zep. dominating some downhill singletrack:

The Zeppelin Elite exemplifies what I have come to view as the "trail" category of mountain bikes. Over the last few years, as downhill and freeride have gotten progressively gnarlier, so have the all-mountain type riders who pedal their bikes to the top, but huck some serious drops and pin it through some nasty crap on the way back down. As a rider, I personally fall somewhere in the trail/all-mountain category.  

What I see the trail category providing is a full suspension mountain bike (about 5" or so of travel) that will climb well, descend well, but has a geometry somewhere between that of a cross country bike and a full-blown all-mountain rig. A trail bike will rock and roll down some gnarly trails, and will be up for pinning through a rock garden, but it may take some finessing to make it float through and over the rough.  A trail bike probably won't be up to the task of serious drops, and may feel a bit undergunned in some really, really rough areas.  However, as with most bikes, if the rider has enough balls and skills, he'll make it go where he wants it to go. If the same rider had an all-mountain bike, however, he would be able to bash through the same terrain with much more reckless abandon and a lot less finesse.

I view the Zeppelin Elite as sitting about smack-dab in the middle of the trail category.

Full Disclosure
I got to choose a bicycle from any of the bike's in Airborne's line up for free, and as such I liked the Zeppelin Elite so much more than the others that I picked it to be my main bicycle for the foreseeable future! Bottom line: you're going to get the low-down on how this bike runs over the long haul. Stay tuned to hear how to stands up to (or fails) under the use and abuse I'll provide!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Short Interview from Sea Otter

Here's a short interview from the Sea Otter Classic where I answer a few short questions about my experiences so far on the Airborne Flight Crew. Sorry, I didn't have the right software to edit the footage as it was off of Tony's super nice camera (that shot in mp4). I figured this would be a good Sunday post though:


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pinhoti Trail -- Bear Creek, Ellijay, Georgia

The Pinhoti Trail
Getting There

Head west out of Ellijay on Hwy. 52.  Right after mile marker 8, hang a right on Gates Chapel Rd.  Drive for about 5-6 miles, and you'll see a sign for the Bear Creek trailhead pointing up a gravel forest road to the right.  Park on the road.

The Route
First off, I recommend riding this combined with the Bear Creek Trail for a 17-18 mile ride. For what is probably an excessively detailed description of that route, please see the Bear Creek review.

Just Riding the Pinhoti:
If you would just like to do about a 7-8 mile ride on this single section of the Pinhoti trail, read on for more turn-by-turn information.

Park down on Gates Chapel Road. Begin by riding up the forest road to the Bear Creek Trailhead. Begin riding up the Bear Creek mountain bike trail, but a short ways in hang a left on the Pinhoti bike trail. Ride this all the way down to the gravel road, hang a left, another left on the pavement, ride a mile or two and you’re back at the car.

Navigational Resources

All About the Trail
I was amazed by how well constructed this singletrack trail was! This section of the Pinhoti was beautiful benchcut, narrow singletrack. It winds among the mountains of North Georgia, delivering beautiful bermed out corners, decent climbs, and fast descents. The trail is built narrow and fast—so fast that I almost missed several switchbacks that really snuck up on me

All told, this trail was an amazing ride that felt incredibly rural and out of the way. The solitude and simplicity of just the trail and the trees was refreshing.

Technically, this trail was neither a bone-jarring gnar fest or a smooth roller coaster. It was somewhere in between, living across the street from a place called “perfection.” Really, it’s hard to imagine mountain biking getting much better than this. It is just good trail!

Bottom Line:
This is just an awesome trail for mountain biking! Best combined with Bear Creek.

More Posts About this Trail:


Friday, April 23, 2010

Update About the Blog, and Accepting Guest Posts

Hey guys,
I wanted to take some time and write a quick update about the blog and the direction I'm headed with it. This blog isn't going to be just another bike-story type blog, with a blow-by-blow "I did this, and I got passed by these people here, and then I crashed in this stream here..." There are a bunch of blogs like that all over the internet, and some of them are pretty dang good.  Rather, what I want this to progress into is more of a informational and instructional hub, leaning more heavily towards the instructional side. It is still a blog with a real person (and hopefully soon "people") writing it, so sure personal stories and experiences will get integrated into the information and instruction. I think that's good, that's real, and that's what mountain biking is about!

Towards the informational end of the spectrum, I have been working hard on my "trail review series." While there are several awesome mountain bike trail websites out there, what I am doing with this series here on my blog is to write long, in-depth descriptions of quality trails.  From my personal experiences on trail sites, while they are great, I often find that they either:

  1. Don't have enough information
  2. Have too much crappy information that it is hard to sift through
The trail review series here on will remedy both of those issues. I definitely won't have every trail out there, so awesome websites like will always be incredible, indispensable resources (which I use alot).

The instructional side is where I want to start moving more, and to that end I've added a new tab in the top link bar, "Tips for Beginners." After having ridden hard and long all over the nation for over 5 years and having been tutored by some incredible riders, I feel authoritative enough to write some beginner-tip type series. Stay tuned for more of this type of content

Guest Posts
In a couple weeks I will be doing some traveling all over the nation (again), but this time I don't want to have to worry about posting every day while I'm away. Instead, I want to focus on having a good time, and gathering content to publish when I get back. 

If you are interested in possibly writing a guest post for this blog, please feel free to email it to me: g.gaheil AT gmail DOT com (no spam) by the beginning of May. Guest posting is a great opportunity for both you and I to expand our reach in the mountain biking blogosphere.  I will, of course, give you full credit for whatever you write, with a link or two back to your site (if you have one). Original, unpublished content only please.  Keep in mind the two main goals above, but if you have an excellent ride report with outstanding photography, shoot that my way too.

After less than 3 months, has only just begun! It's been an awesome ride so far, and will only continue to get better!  If you have any questions about the goals for this blog or the possibility of contributing via a guest post, feel free to drop me a comment below.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bear Creek, Ellijay, Georgia

Getting There

Head west out of Ellijay on Hwy. 52.  Right after mile marker 8, hang a right on Gates Chapel Rd.  Drive for about 5-6 miles, and you'll see a sign for the Bear Creek trailhead pointing up a gravel forest road to the right.  If you are just doing the 10 mile out-and-back, turn right and drive up the road to the trailhead. If you're combining this with the Pinhoti for a 17-18 mile ride (see below), park down on the road.

The Route

First off, I'd like to mention that Jim Parham's Off the Beaten Track is wrong on the route for this trail.  Parham would like to send you up the Bear Creek Loop Trail to the right and have you just descend the Bear Creek Trail.  Two problems with this:
  1. The initial climb is a steep, steep hike-a-bike that is not a whole lot of fun.  
  2. The rest of the "Bear Creek Loop Trail" looks like wide cross country ski trail/doubletrack, and isn't really any sort of decent singletrack.
No, the best bet is to ride this as an out-and-back.
But there are still two options to choose from:

Option 1:
Start from the trailhead. Ride this as a pretty straight forward out-and-back, about 5 miles each way.  To do this ride, start heading up the Bear Creek Mountain Bike Trail, and continue to climb climb climb and follow the signs.  When you pass the gate at the top, follow the signs and hang a left on the forest road, and do some more climbing.

Eventually, you'll see a singletrack switchback coming down the hill and connecting from the right. Continue straight/left to the visible gate, and hang a right on what looks to be a much nicer forest road. Stop at the overlook and take some pictures.  Continue up the road, and hang a right at the sign for the upper Bear Creek parking lot.

Hop back on the singletrack, and descend down through those switchbacks you saw earlier. Hang a left, and retrace your tracks back down the mountain.

Option 2:
For this option and about a 17-18 mile ride, park down on Gates Chapel Road. Climb up the gravel forest road to the lower parking lot that you normally would have driven up in Option #1. 

Complete all the directions for Option #1, but soon after you start climbing, note the Pinhoti trail taking off up to the left.

As you have almost finished your descent from Option 1 and you're almost back to the lower parking lot, the Pinhoti will be on your right. Hang a right and climb up, and ride this awesome section of the Pinhoti trail.  When you hit the gravel forest road, hang a left to the Y junction, and hang another left onto the pavement. Ride for a couple of miles, and you're back at your car, having ridden some of the finest singletrack in North Georgia!

Navigational Resources

Lower Trailhead

All About the Trail

What, that trail was in Georgia? You could have fooled me! The Ellijay mountains and the trail design of the Bear Creek trail are much more reminiscent of trails that I have ridden in Montana than those I have in Georgia. For instance, trails such as Bull Mountain and many of the other great North Georgia rides tend to go up-down-up-down a great deal. In the Rocky Mountains and especially Northwest Montana, most of the popular rides climb straight up the mountain, and then bomb straight back down! This is how Bear Creek rides, and this trail may seriously have been the best trail I’ve ridden since I left Montana!

The Bear Creek mountain bike trail really is good enough to be compared to Rocky Mountain riding. Classic East Coast features still abound, but the fast, blissful ride back down the mountain had me reminiscing of my times shredding the Rockies!

Smooth Section
As I mentioned in the route description, this trail is best ridden as an out-and-back, so you’ll climb the same trail that you descend. It is a manageable climb if you ride it the way I described, and is a bomber run back down! The trail turns and flows down the mountain, with only one or two momentum-killing switchbacks. There are some smooth sections of buff trail, but for the most part it feels like a pretty technical descent as you’re bombing at high speed. Really, I think that this trail is as technical as you make it. The faster you descend, the gnarlier it gets!

Also, when the skilled rider rails this downhill at speed, the opportunity for something else emerges: some serious air time! There are whoops and rollers, small drop offs and even a couple of sizeable kickers spread over the entire length of this trail. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I took that much air that many times riding a mountain bike trail! It was easily the most hangtime I’ve gotten in a 5 mile stretch of trail anywhere in the Southeast!

In addition to the excellent quality of the singletrack, the scenery afforded by this mountain bike ride is, again, one of the best in North Georgia. The trail climbs almost the entirety of its length directly above the tumbling, picturesque Bear Creek (hence the name). Shortly after beginning the ride, the Gennett Poplar will be off to the left side of the trail. One of the biggest trees in the Southeastern United States, it is an incredible sight to behold! I wrote more about it here.

As you reach the top of the trail, be sure to follow my directions to the overlook. The East Coast isn’t well known for containing stunning views. Places like Colorado offer up gorgeous vistas when the mountains protrude above the tree line, and places like Utah and Arizona have wide-open desert expanses begging to be photographed. Most of the potential views in the Appalachians and definitely North Georgia are obscured by the thick forests surrounding the trail. Despite the fact that it was manually cleared out, the overlook at the top of Bear Creek is definitely an abnormally gorgeous view for a North Georgia mountain bike ride. Be sure to bring your camera and take advantage of all of these photo opportunities (or just enjoy the ones that I’ve posted here).

Beautiful North Georgia Mountains

Bottom Line:

Bear Creek may be the best mountain bike trail in Georgia. Having been featured in several prestigious mountain bike magazines, I had great expectations when I came to ride the trail, and I wasn’t disappointed! It has it all: great singletrack, awesome views, climbs, fast descents, technical riding, buff trail, and plenty of air opportunities!

The Real Bottom Line:
You need to ride this trail if you ever get the chance!

More Posts About this Trail:


Rock Shox Push-Button Suspension Lockout

When I was cruising the expo shooting photos on Sunday, I stopped by the Rock Shox / SRAM tent to check out the suspension fork demos that they had set up. Man, were these forks plush!  The thing that really dropped my jaw is how dang good the push-button suspension lockout feature was. I mean really, you push the thing down with your thumb and the fork goes fully rigid like that.

It's probably that I'm just behind the times (or don't have enough money to own one), but I've never experienced anything quite like that before.  Now, to figure out a way to get my hands on one....

Yeah right, like that'll ever happen!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Gennett Poplar

The Gennett Poplar
 I recently drove over to Ellijay and rode the famed Bear Creek Trail.  Alongside this trail stands a tree of absolutely massive proportions named the "Gennett Poplar." Named for the people who sold this land to the U.S. government, its mightiness absolutely dominates the surrounding trees.  I tried to stretch my arms out to see what the diameter roughly was, and it looked to be more than my 5.5 feet!  Some more information:

Virgin forest is rare in the north Georgia mountains. The Bear Creek Trail contains what appears to be a never harvested section of land with trees so immense that they literally astound even the casual observer. Deep in this section of forest is the so-called Gennett poplar standing some 100 feet high and nearly twenty feet around. The tree is massive, and it alone is reason enough to try this hike. From
Yes indeed, this tree was truly impressive, and wowed me enough to stop my downhill run for almost five minutes to take a few pictures. For a little perspective on the size of this tree, I leaned my bike up against it:

The Massive Gennett Poplar
That is one dang big tree, and is just one more reason Bear Creek is such a dang cool trail!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fort Ord Public Lands, Monterey, California

Very narrow trail!
Getting There
I accessed the trail from the region near the Laguna Seca speedway. Due to the expansive nature of the trail system it would be easy to access this trail system from all over.

From Google Maps:
Driving directions to Laguna Seca Recreation Area
11.8 mi – about 25 mins
Via CA-68 E - remove
Monterey, CA
1.Head east on W Franklin St toward Alvarado St
0.1 mi
2.Turn right at the 3rd cross street onto Washington St
0.1 mi
3.Continue onto Abrego St
0.2 mi
4.Turn left at Fremont St
0.5 mi
5.Take the ramp onto CA-1 N/CA-68 E/Cabrillo Hwy
0.5 mi
6.Exit onto CA-68 E/Monterey Salinas Hwy/Salinas Hwy toward Salinas
Continue to follow CA-68 E/Monterey Salinas Hwy
7.1 mi
7.Turn left at B Rd/Canada De La Segunda
105 ft
8.Take the 1st right onto A Rd
1.0 mi
9.Slight right at S Perimeter Rd
0.2 mi
10.Take the 1st left to stay on S Perimeter Rd
0.5 mi
11.Continue onto Paddock
0.2 mi
12.Turn left at Pit Out
0.1 mi
13.Continue onto
0.4 mi
14.Continue onto Turn 4
0.3 mi
15.Continue onto Turn 5
0.4 mi
16.Continue onto Rahal Straight
Destination will be on the right
0.1 mi
Laguna Seca Recreation Area
Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, California 93940
These guys at Google have a sense of humor. The directions take you down the track!

Anyhow, that'll get you close.

Navigational Resources
Update: cp16 recently rode these trails, and was kind enough to leave a couple of great, informative comments below in the comments section.  He also shared this link to a map of Fort Ord. While confusing due to the incredible number of trails spiderwebbing throughout the area, this is the best map that I have seen of Fort Ord. (The other one I've looked at wasn't worth posting about.) Click here to check it out!

Also, if you check out the comment section below, cp16 gave a great overview about a bunch of the trails in the system.  Be sure to read it for additional info!

Gorgeous views abound
The Route
Asking for a recommended route out here is basically a trick question. This area is so massive that trying to describe how to ride it all is nigh on impossible. Before I flew out to California, I noted that listed this place as having 18 miles of trail. After doing 50+ miles in two days and feeling like I hadn’t even begun to tap that place’s potential. I went back to the listings and read some more reviews, and opinions on the total trail lengths ranged from 80mi-125+ miles. That is a lot of riding!

As you can imagine, all of the trails shooting off everywhere can be a bit overwhelming. However, due to the ecological nature of the area, you can see for miles and miles from the tops of the ridges, making it possible to pinpoint navigational markers and determine your approximate location.

Still, I am no expert at navigating these trails yet.
Two quick words of advice:
  • The “Goat Trail” is fantastic!
  • Don’t attempt to cross any fences that say “Danger, Live Ordinance!”

All About the Trail
As I mentioned above, this place is big and complicated! At first it feels like all that’s out here is long, long dirt roads and doubletrack. Eventually, you’ll come across a piece of singletrack, and it will be sweet. And then you’ll find another, and eventually you’ll come across several miles of sweet descending, and you will be hooked!

Gravel Grinding
There are gravel roads up the gazoo in this place. There are long, harsh climbs coupled with fast, scenic descents. If this is your style of riding, come out, bring the cross bike or hardtail, and grind it up!

Yes, there is singletrack to be had, and lots of it! Overall the trail is very smooth and buffed out. The only technical aspects are a few washouts and ruts here or there. Many of the terms are bermed up from a lot of traffic, and as a result these trails have acquired some serious flow! The downhills out here are amazing, ranging from fast bombs in wide open fields to swoopy descents down treed hillsides.

On my first time out on these trails, I ran into a local and asked him for some recommendations. He took us to this trail which he referred to as “The Goat Trail.” That downhill has to be ridden to be believed! To sum it up in four words:
  • Speed: The smooth trail, consistent drop, and flow (see below) make this a screaming fast ride!
  • Flow: Bermed out wide-radius turns abound.
  • Air: Several awesome rollers and lips spread throughout the length of this trail.
  • Views: This whole area is gorgeous! Take a few minutes to gaze over the hillsides.

Finally, the construction of the singletrack is of an excellent caliber. The trail is narrow, ranging from the 12-18” range down to the 4” ribbon-wide straightaways. The benchcutting in some of the steeper areas is pretty good, with one or two nice exposed sections of trail. A big bonus is that the turns are mostly large-radius, allowing you to carry speed down the length of the trail. That’s something I don’t see very often back in the Southeast. The only downer is that some sections of the trail have been widened out into two tracks most likely due to people riding when wet and then going around the mud puddles.

Bottom Line
Beautifully smooth, flowy, high-speed singletrack descents mixed with a ton of gravel roads. Get addicted to these trails, and keep returning again and again to explore the expansive Fort Ord trail system!

Here's some helmet cam footage of me railing one the best downhills out there. It was awesome!

Rides at this Trail




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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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Mountain biking, plain and simple. Trail reviews, ride reports, and philosophical musings induced by delirium from grinding up way too many vertical feet.

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