Monday, January 31, 2011

New Singletrack for Bull Mountain

New Singletrack
Big News: The Bull Mountain Trail System is getting a face lift!

During my recent singletrack rides, courtesy of this beautiful dry, warm weather, I have noticed that a number of sections of trail have undergone significant maintenance, and during my most recent ride I noticed a newly opened reroute on the bottom of the Bull Mountain Trail.

I did a quick Google search and found an announcement on the US Forest Service website about the trail work:
A major trail relocation and maintenance project is starting in the Jake and Bull Mountain Trail System the week of December 6, 2010. During the next few months, some of the trail sections will be moved to new locations, while others will receive needed maintenance. This work will be done by a Forest Service contractor using mechanized equipment. While this project is underway, trail users are asked to obey any closure notifications posted on sections of trail, and avoid all work locations. These temporary restrictions are for the safety of users as well as workers. Not all trail sections will be affected by this project. Please use the accompanying map to locate the sections of trails in the project area. Further information can be obtained by calling the Blue Ridge Ranger District at (706) 745-6928.
This is really a big deal! If you check the map out (which, by the way, is one of the best online maps I've seen for the Bull Mountain Trail System), you'll notice that almost the entire system appears to be under construction! What really has me excited is that several sections which previously consisted of boring doubletrack or gated fire roads are highlighted as needing attention. I sincerely hope that the Forest Service will decide to bypass those old road grades all together with brand-new, genuine singletrack!

I've noticed many changes already, and I will keep you all informed as I notice more. For now, I'd like to focus on the lengthy and much-needed reroute of the lower section of the Bull Mountain trail.

Bull Mountain Reroute
Yesterday I headed out to the Bull Mountain trail to bomb down through the gnarly, washed out section on my Airborne Taka (my DH rig) and shoot some video.  When I arrived at the base of the trail and got ready to start pushing, I was shocked to see that the old entrance had been closed off, and that a new trail began just to the left.

Closed Trail
Old end of the trail.
Trail Entrance
New trailhead
The trail number was the same, so I quickly decided that it must be a new reroute. Of course I had to go check it out!

At first, I was a little disappointed because I had come out here specifically to shred this really gnarly washed-out section and get some interesting GoPro shots.

Eventually my rational side kicked in, as I've long complained about how horrible some of the trails at Bull Mountain are. After hiking the up the entire reroute, it is evident that the Forest Service is now employing much more modern trail building techniques including quality bench cutting and grade reversals. The main issue with the old section of trail was that it was almost the textbook definition of a fall line trail... it ran like a river whenever it rained. The new reroute definitely fixes that problem by winding back and forth up the hill as it gains elevation.

The new Bull Mountain trail
Freshly benchcut singletrack trail
Fresh Benchcutting
There's even a culvert built into the trail at one spot.
It crosses the old trail at several points, and the old line has definitely been stopped up with trees, underbrush, and numerous water bars. In a few years, the forest will have completely taken that real estate back over and will continue to heal itself.

The Old Trail
The old trail
The new tread is still pretty rough since it is brand spanking new, but I'm sure that it will get packed down quickly come spring time as all of the horses and riders flock to check out the new trails here in North Georgia!

Until you get the chance to come up here and ride it for yourself, check out the video below covering the entirety of the new reroute:

Bull Mountain Trail Reroute from Greg Heil on Vimeo.


Friday, January 28, 2011

A Ghetto Guide to Fitting Yourself on a Mountain Bike

Adjusting my bike's fit
I originally wrote most of this article as a part of my series on buying your first mountain bike almost a year ago in March. Somehow, this post just languished in my drafts section all of that time, until finally I got a tweet the other day asking for advice on just this topic. I've added a section in order to complete the article, so here it is, about 10 months late!

Please note this is intended for use by a Cross Country/Trail/All Mountain user.

When shopping for a mountain bike, one of the single most important aspects to consider is fit. Fit is crucial if you are buying a $5,000 race horse, or you are looking at one of the $300 hardtails I mentioned (close to a year ago). If your bike doesn't fit correctly, it won't ride well and will make your experience with mountain biking unenjoyable. It could be exceedingly futile due to lack of horsepower from a bike too small, or exquisitely painfull due to a bike too large (and kissing the top tube with your man (or woman) parts). Yes, bike fit is important!

Again, here is another very big reason why shopping at a local bike shop is far superior to shopping at Wally World. Not only are there more bike sizes to choose from to find a better fit (like I mentioned previously), but the people employed at an authentic bike shop know what they are doing. They will help you find the bike that fits you best, and (if it's a good shop) cater to your every need.

I do realize that many people like to go the Craigslist route, and try to find a bike for cheap from a private party. (I'll talk more about that later.) If so,  

Here is Greg's step-by-step ghetto bike sizing guide:

Frame Size:
  1. While standing on flat ground, throw your leg over the bicycle.  You are now standing over the top tube.
  2. Slide as far back along the top tube as possible, until your butt is touching the seat post.
  3. Then, grabbing the bike in front of you and behind you, lift it up as far as you can until it presses into your junk.
  4. Judge how high you lifted your bike/the amount of room between the top tube and your parts. This is important to know, as odds are there will be a time when you have to hop off on a tough trail.  You don't want to make your voice squeak every time you dismount (or any time that you dismount for that matter).
  5. When standing over your bike in the position mentioned in number 2, you want there to be MINIMUM one inch of space before the top tube touches your pants.  It would be ideal to have several inches of room there. 
  6. If there is not enough room, try a size smaller. (Or if shopping used, don't buy that bike.) If there is roughly 4+ inches of room, try a size larger and see how that feels.
The second major thing to consider with fit is saddle height.
  1. When seated and clipped in (or the ball of your foot is on the pedal), there should still be some slight bend in your knee. 
  2. When the center/arch of your foot is on the pedal, your leg should be completely straight.  Having a saddle at this height will give you maximum horsepower while riding
  3. If your hips are rocking off of your saddle when you pedal, it's too high.  Bring it down a notch.
  4. Your seatpost shouldn't be out of the bike past the line labeled "Minimum insertion."  I could give you a metaphor, but I think the words "minimum insertion are pretty clear: make sure it's sticking in that much.
  5. If the seatpost has to stick out past the minimum insertion mark to achieve optimum saddle height, either the frame is simply too small, or you just need a longer seatpost.  In order to determine if the frame is too small, please see the steps above.
Saddle Fore/Aft Position: 

If you are riding a road bike or a cross-country race machine, you want to have your saddle positioned so that when you have the cranks set horizontal your knee is directly above the ball of your foot, which as you'll see below should be directly above the axle of your pedal.

However, if you're just an average Joe trail rider or are riding aggressive all-mountain, you might want to consider sliding the saddle back. Some people think that this provides a better angle for better leverage when climbing a very steep slope and puts your weight further back for more aggressive descending.

Personally, I like my saddle back a little from the roadie position, but I'm generally not too hung up on saddle position. As a trail/AM rider, I spend a lot of time out of the saddle putting some body English on the bike in order to negotiate a technical sections of trail, or to simply descending aggressively. Once you get of the saddle, the point is moot.

So while this is a point to consider as you set your mountain bike up, don't get too worried about this detail. Frame size is much more crucial
    Minor Concerns
    In my mind, those are the major concerns as relate to bike fit.  Very quickly, here are a few other minor ones:
    • Cleat position: Should be right under the ball of your foot.
    • Angle of the saddle: For mountain biking (Cross Country/Trail/All Mountain) the saddle should be either perfectly flat, or have the front angled down.  I prefer mine angled down just a hair.
    • Handlebars, stems, and etc: From my experience, most of the choices you make in this category depend on your riding style
    • Saddle Fore/Aft Position: I don't know a whole lot about this, but I'm currently riding with mine as far back as possible.
    Achieving a good bike fit is crucial to enjoying your riding experience.  Again, if you shop at a reputable bike shop, they can help you out with all of this.

    Your Turn: What do you think about bike fit? Do YOU know more about any of this sizing stuff than I do? Then please comment!


    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Stay off the Trainer and on the Singletrack: 7 Essential Pieces of Cycling Apparel for Winter Mountain Biking

    It is a weird time of year to be a mountain biker. Depending on where you live, you could either be trying to get up the determination to brave the chill and ride, or putting away your bike and waxing up the downhill skis.

    Here in the southeast, most of us tend to mountain bike year round since the cold weather isn’t that severe and we don’t get enough snow to ski on. I say “most of us” because the cold inevitably scares a number of riders off of their bikes and into the gym or onto the trainer. However, after growing up in central Wisconsin and living in Montana, I have learned that you can enjoy exercising outdoors in just about any conditions.

    The trick is to dress for the weather.
    This is the blog post that I wrote as a part of my application for the Singletracks Blog Team. It covers 7 essential pieces of gear that you need in order to shred singletrack this winter. They are:

    1. Long-Sleeve Jersey
    2. Riding Tights
    3. Full-Finger Gloves
    4. Wool Socks
    5. Shoe Covers
    6. Large Hydration Pack
    7. Cycling Beanie
    Want the scoop, complete with some sweet photos? 


    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    I'm Now a Member of the Blog Team!

    I know that many of you regularly read the mountain bike blog, and if you do you'll have noticed that I've recently been selected as an official member of the Singletracks Blog Team! It is a real position that I will receive compensation for (either cash or free stuff).

    I am very excited to be writing regularly for one of the largest mountain biking websites on the internet! And, in my opinion, Singletracks is easily the most useful and best-designed mountain biking website that has ever been. This is an awesome opportunity and privilege, and I am very grateful for it!

    At the moment, I will be posting about once a week over on Singletracks.

    Don't worry, Greg Rides Trails will not disappear! I will still be writing unique content on a regular basis for this website. In addition, whenever one of my blog posts goes live on Singletracks, I will be sure to put up a short post here letting you know (like I've done in the past for guest posts).

    I think that has an awesome future ahead of it... and so does Greg Rides Trails! I'm happy to have you along for the ride as I write useful mountain bike content for both websites!

    Your Turn: Do you already read the blog? Why or why not?


    Monday, January 24, 2011

    "Ratcheting the Pedals" Mountain Bike Skill: Exclusive Diagram

    Photo Credit: Greg Rides Trails
    Ratcheting the pedals is a useful mountain bike skill that every serious rider should have in their arsenal. If you don't already know how to do this, you're in luck because I'm going to share the secret with you, right here, right now!

    When Would You Need to Ratchet?

    First, when would you need to use this skill? It can be useful when you are going through a rock garden with rocks high enough that a full pedal stroke would strike the rocks and send you off your balance and off your bike, if you are fording a stream and are trying not to get your feet wet, or if there is some other obstacle that you are trying to avoid.

    How to "Ratchet"

    1. As you approach the obstacle in question, choose your line and the amount of speed you want to take in (if you have a choice).
    2. Note any rocks you might particularly want to avoid, or note the depth of the water.
    3. Get the cranks to 10 and 4. (Locations on the clock.)
    4. When you reach the gnarly section (or water), make about a quarter of a pedal stroke without pushing all the way around. The cranks should end at about 9 and 3 or 8 and 2.
    5. As you make each stroke, quickly back pedal to your previous position, and make the partial-stroke again.
    6. Repeat as needed.
    Here is the technique, graphically presented for you:

    Photo Credit: Greg Rides Trails
    Using these partial pedal strokes will keep your cranks from descending all the way and will allow you to maximize your ground clearance for particularly high obstacles near your pedals. This technique is especially effective when you have a short section of high rocks on both sides of your bike and you don't have enough momentum to coast through them.

    Just so you don't forget, this technique is referred to as "ratcheting the pedals" because it utilizes the same repeated partial-stroke motion that a ratchet strap does:

    Ratchet Strap
    Photo Credit.
    Your Turn: If you are a beginner, do you have any more questions about how to ratchet the pedals? If you are an advanced rider, how often do you use this technique?

    Want to learn more skills? Check out the rest of the skills series!


    Friday, January 21, 2011

    3 Potential Solutions to the "Green" Problem

    In-town trail. See #1 below:
    On Wednesday I asked you:  "is mountain biking really all that 'green?'"

    I also posted a link to the article in the forums to get some more feedback there. You all provided some very interesting responses on the topic, a couple of which I'd like to highlight:

    • Steve mentioned that we should be much more worried about trash and packing in what we pack out. I agree with him, we should all focus on exercising "Leave No Trace" mountain biking. That should be a must for every rider!
    • Several people also questioned whether or not global warming is real or just a hoax. Regardless of whether or not the globe is actually warming, driving definitely does release pollution and burn through our limited supply of fossil fuels.
    • Others mentioned (including me in the original article) that for most riders the issue boils down to more a question of economics and not the environment. The general consensus is that we are going to mountain bike one way or the other, and if we can afford to pay for gas, we're probably going to drive!
    Possible Solutions to the Issue
    Whether or not humanity is causing the Earth to turn into a noxious greenhouse, excessive driving does cause pollution, does use fossil fuels, and can put a strain on your budget. While this can be a tough issue to discuss, there are a number of solutions out there that could solve, or at least alleviate, the problem(s):

    1. Build Trails in Town
    In my opinion, this would be one of the coolest ways to solve the problem. Building trails in town allows easy access to singletrack, allowing you to easily ride to the trails, or to extremely reduce the length of your commute. IMBA has actually been striving to do this over the past several years by creating gateway trail systems. One of IMBA's main goals is to create trails that are easily accessible to beginning mountain bikers, but these systems also have the benefit of providing easily-accessible singletrack opportunities for the long-time fanatics.

    I'd like to point out that singletrack trails are not very wide: maybe 2 feet at the most. Singletrack can be crammed into a very small space, and you'll find by looking around your local community that there are numerous areas that could house a trail that are currently not being utilized. One of the sweetest things about being a mountain biker is versatility, and we can adapt to riding in almost any environment. I have ridden an urban trail system that hides 30 miles of trails in unused woods. We need more places like that in America! While it might not be very IMBA-friendly, a system like this is definitely eco-friendly.

    In-town trail
    2. Car Pool
    One of the most common solutions that I heard mentioned over the last two days were by people saying that they get together with a bunch of their friends and car pool to the trails, and when they go on longer trips. If you think about this mathematically, every person that you add to the car exponentially decreases your carbon footprint from driving. The graph would look approximately like this:

    Exponential Decay
    Photo Credit.

    3. Ride to the Trail 
    Do you want to become one of those freak-of-nature 24 hour racer types? Try riding to the trailhead, riding the singletrack, and riding back every day. If your trails are 15 miles away, you've just added 30 miles onto every mountain bike ride. You'll be in shape for a dirty century or a 24 hour solo in no time! 

    4. Quit Mountain Biking and Buy a Road Bike
    Just kidding!

    Your Turn: What do you think is the best solution to the problem? Add your voice in the comments below!

    PS Trek7k wrote about this on over 2 years ago, and mentioned some of the same things that I'm writing about, so props to him!


    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Is Mountain Biking Really all that Green?

    I've been wondering lately how "green" mountain biking really is.

    Biking in general is regarded as a very eco-friendly pastime and mode of transportation. You can get from one place to another relatively quickly and efficiently without burning any fossil fuels (which release CO2 into the atmosphere), and you keep yourself in shape at the same time!

    Mountain biking has other special aspects that make it attractive to the environmentally-minded as well. It allows you to access the great outdoors in a low-impact way. One of the things that I most treasure about riding singletrack is the quiet and solitude of the deep forests!

    Then the other day I had a realization:

    As far as transportation is concerned, mountain biking is not green AT ALL.

    Unless you ride to the trails every time you decide to shred some singletrack, you're probably driving. During the warmer months I ride about 4-5 days per week on average. My average drive to the trails is between 9 and 15 miles each way. Compared to the distances that some people drive regularly, these trails are right next door!

    That means that during the summer I probably drive 100 miles a week, just to go mountain biking.

    This doesn't even factor in traveling. In my opinion, one of the greatest things about the sport of mountain biking is traveling to explore different trails and different areas of the nation. That 100 miles a week above doesn't even begin to count the trips I've taken to all the surrounding states, or the fact that I've moved all over the nation, mainly to mountain bike. Heck, I've even flown to California for the Sea Otter Classic... to talk about and ride mountain bikes!

    Do I feel guilty about this? No, not really.

    Compared to many people I don't drive that much at all. I live within 3 miles of my school and work and just about everything else I need... besides singletrack. So in reality, much of my carbon emissions come from driving to mountain bike.

    The fact of the matter is, I, and most likely you, am desperately addicted to riding singletrack. It's fun, it's healthy, and if there are trails only 9 miles away and I can afford the gas, you had better believe I'm going to go ride as much as possible!

    Your Turn: How much should we be worried about our environmental impact from traveling to mountain bike? What solutions do you propose?

    I would love to hear your thoughts on the issues, and I may feature the best comments in my follow-up post on this topic on Friday.


    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Old "About" Page

    I'm currently in the process of revamping the "About" page to more accurately reflect what this site is all about. Greg Rides Trails has changed over time, and it needs a page that better describes it's current path. I wanted to save the content of the old page for posterity's sake, so here it is in it's entirety:

    Hey, my name is Greg Heil, and I ride mountain bikes.

    I first picked up mountain biking back in the fall of 2005. I was taught the ways of the force (sorry, just watched Star Wars Ep. IV last night.  Classic!) at Levis Mounds in Central Wisconsin by an old master who has been riding bikes longer than I've been alive.  He's over 30 years older than me, and can still kick my butt if we aren't going downhill. I started out riding an archaic, completely rigid steel frame Giant Iguana.  While sometimes it stunk not having any suspension whatsoever (especially since I like going down gnarly hills FAST), it taught me some great bike handling skills really quickly.

    My love of the sport steadily grew over the years, and I moved out to Montana after high school to do some Bible school (and to ski powder, my first love).  After riding only a few weeks in Montana that fall, I quickly decided that if I was going to survive the break neck speeds that I loved to descend the mountains at, I was going to have to buy something with some suspension.  In March '08, I got a screaming deal on a 2007 Jamis Dakar XLT with 5.5" of suspension front and back.  I was all ready to go with my  new all-mountain machine.  That summer I worked in Colorado, and rode some of the most kick-butt singletrack of my life while down there.

    Moved back to Montana that fall, rode more kick-butt singletrack, and then to Georgia at the end of that year, where I currently reside with my beautiful wife.  God has blessed me with the opportunity to ride many trails all across the nation during my travels (currently 124 and counting) (click here to see the master list of all the trails I've ever ridden).
    Recently, I have enjoyed spending time on, and contributing information to, the best mountain bike site on the internet,  I contribute information under the screen name "Goo," and am currently the number one content contributer on the site.

    About The Site
    I decided to launch this new blog to continue to give myself a creative outlet, but to attempt to do so in a more professional and thought provoking way.  By professional, I mean staying relatively on topic, and putting thought into what I write and which pictures I post, and not just posting random drivel whenever I'm bored. By thought provoking, I  mean that hopefully some of what I write will have more meaning behind it than "we went here, and then we rode this trail, and I crashed on that rock."  I would like to spend more time talking about the motivations we as human beings have behind the things we do, like riding mountain bikes.  We'll see how it goes.

    So check back often, enjoy the ride, and be sure to "follow" my blog if you're a person, or scroll down to the bottom and subscribe to the feed with one of the many feed readers. I look forward to reading your comments!



    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Mountain Bike Shifting Techniques For Beginners

    One of the very first skills that you need to master as a beginning mountain biker is how to shift the drive train of your bicycle properly.

    This short article will explain the basics of mountain bike gearing, and several crucial shifting strategies for you to implement.

    Explaining the Gears
    The front gears on a bicycle are called "chain rings." They are numbered from the inside to the outside. Until recently, almost all bikes had 3 chain rings, but now some have two and some only have one. We'll consider just a bike with 3 chain rings in this post.

    The back gears on a bicycle are called "cogs," and are also numbered from the inside out. The number of cogs varies from bicycle to bicycle, but we'll just talk about a bike with 9 cogs.

    As you'll notice, the chain rings are smaller on the inside and larger on the outside, and the cogs are larger on the inside and smaller on the outside. Don't be confused by this, because the closer the chain ring or cog is to the inside, the easier it is to pedal. I'll refer to this as a "lower gear." 

    Shifting Strategies
    In short, you want to use lower gears for going up the hills, and larger gears for going down the hills. This helps you to maintain momentum. 

    As you are riding along, make sure that you shift early. Down shift before you start climbing a hill, because once you are on it and your chain is taught and under power, it won't want to budge from the gear that it is already in. Shifting the chain rings is almost impossible when your bike is under power, but if the hill isn't too steep you may be able to shift the back cogs. Don't count on it, though.  In order to insure that you shift preemptively, make sure that you focus on looking down the trail.

    When you are approaching a downhill, shift up to keep your pedal cadence even and to maintain your momentum. Also, when descending rough singletrack on a hardtail (or even on a full-suspension bike), to keep your chain from bouncing off of the gears consider "stretching" the chain as much as prudent by using a bigger chain ring/cog combination than you might normally.

    But whatever you do, make sure that you do not cross chain! That is, do not use the smallest chain ring with the smallest cogs in back or the largest chain ring with the largest cogs. This stretches the chain sideways too much and could cause it to "suck," and get stuck. As a general rule, use chain ring #1 only with cogs #1-5, chain ring #2 can usually be used with all of the cogs, and chain ring #3 with cogs #5-9.

    Get Out and Practice!
    With these few basic tips, you should be shifting like a champ in no time! Now all you need to do is get out on the trails and practice!

    Your Turn: If you're an experienced mountain biker, what other tips would you like to add to this list? If you're a beginner, do you have any other shifting questions that you would like answered?

    Want to learn more skills? Read the rest of the series!


    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    News on the "Wingman:" The New Dirt Jumper by Airborne

    Airborne has released official photos of the finished dirt jump bike, which has been christened the "Wingman." Retail value is rumored to be about $750, which as an absolute steal for a bike of this caliber!

    Several Flight Crew members have already been punishing this rig to see what it's made of.  Included in the post below is a video of Flight Crew member Marty Tank throwing a 360 into the foam pit on Rays while aboard the Wingman.  Click "Read More" for all the goodies!

    Marty Tank, 360 into the foam pit:

    Money Shot of the Wingman
    Chain Stay Graphics

    The All-Seeing Eye
    Airborne Decal

    Marty Tank Tearing it up at Ray's, Milwaukee:

    Rider: Marty Tank
    Riding Skinnies
    Rider: Marty Tank
    Rider: Marty Tank
    For even more information: The venerable Dirt Rag recently posted a blog post with a bunch of exclusive photography of the Goblin, Wingman, and the new Airborne cyclocross bike: the Delta. Check it out here!


    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Central Park Mountain Bike Trail, Cumming, Georgia

    Central Park is an unassuming little mountain bike trail that is designed with beginning mountain bikers firmly in mind. At only about 2.5 miles in length, it's tough for even the greenest of riders to get in over their heads here at Central Park. Not only is this trail short, but it is very non-technical and may be one of the flattest trails I've ridden to date. Sure, there's a couple of rocks here and there, one or two spots where the trail dips sharply, and a few small hills, but as far as mountain bike trails go, this is a cake walk!

    While it may be a super easy ride, the Central Park trail is definitely well-built singletrack! The trail flows well, even through the tighter sections in the trees. While a half-ways decent mountain biker will need to ride multiple laps to get any sort of work out in, this trail is fun enough to warrant at least 2 or 3 trips around.

    I met some really nice guys working on the trail the day that I was out there riding. They were putting the finishing touches on a new addition which I had the pleasure of being one of the first ones to ride. As I took a short water break while chatting with the volunteers, they shared with me the vision that they have for this area. There are plans in place to double the singletrack mileage in the park by looping up and around a massive hill on the back end that will greatly increase the amount of climbing in the loop. 

    Also, there apparently used to be a freeride area at the park that got bulldozed due to development. The volunteers that I talked to were hoping to be able to create another similar area somewhere in the park.

    Bottom Line:
     While this doesn't rank anywhere near my top 10 favorite trails, this is definitely a sweet little singletrack loop that is perfect for introducing someone to the sport of mountain biking.

    Getting There 
    When driving on Georgia 400, exit toward GA 306 W. / Keith Bridge Rd. Head West on that road for half a mile and take a left into the park. Continue straight through the park until the road dead ends at the ball fields.

    There should be a kiosk marking the trail head. Check to see what the direction of travel is for the day, and then ride! The trail is a loop with no options, so navigation is really easy.

    Your Turn: Do you have more information that needs to be included, or do you have information on new developments since I originally posted this review? If so, please leave a comment and help keep this post up-to-date and as useful as possible.


    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Official Photos Released of the Airborne Goblin

    Airborne Goblin
    Airborne recently released a slew of official photos of the finished 29er!

    Enjoy the eye candy!

    Goblin 29er HT
    Our Price: $$1,199
    Compare to: Trek/Fisher XCaliber
    Their Price: $1,539 
    You save: $340/22% more expensive)
    Available: March 2011

    Airborne Goblin


    Kenda Small Block 8 Tires

    Airborne Goblin Graphics

    Airborne 29er

    PS: Don't forget that we're giving away a prize package worth approximately $80 to whoever wants it the most!


    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Kinoko AHCC: One Expensive Supplement... Tested!

    Staying healthy and avoiding debilitating sickness means more time out on the bike. I hate being cooped up inside with a horrible cold  or the flu when there is singletrack to be ridden... especially when it's bright and sunny outside!

    Kinoko AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound) is designed to be a natural immune-system-boosting dietary supplement. I was asked if I'd like to try it out to see how it worked and I thought hey, why not?

    Here is part of an informational blurb that I received in an email about the product:
    AHCC is the world’s most researched natural immune ingredient supported by more than 25 studies published in NIH-recognized peer-reviewed journals. It’s made from the roots of hybridized medicinal mushrooms and is produced in northern Japan. During last year’s flu season, AHCC became Japan’s #1 selling immune supplement and the news about this unique compound is finally reaching our shores.
    A quick Google search turns up similar information, as well as several much more technical breakdowns on how the supplement pills are created and what exactly they contain.

    Before I dive into this quick review, I would just like to note that obviously this review isn't going to be very scientific. Obviously you would need a much larger sample group as well as  a control group receiving a placebo to conduct a truly scientific test. Presumably, that's what took place in the "25 published studies" mentioned above.

    My Experience
    After receiving this sample bottle, I began taking Kinoko AHCC in addition to my regular diet, exercise, dietary supplements, and OTC and prescription medications. I took the supplement regularly until I ran out of pills.

    During that time, I noticed no ill effects whatsoever.

    But did this supplement actually deliver on it's promises and boost my immune system?

    As I mentioned above, it is difficult to say. However, I do know that for most of the time that I was on the supplement, my wife was incidentally horribly sick with a nasty cold. It was severe enough to cause her to miss several days of work, miss church and other social functions, and spend a great deal of time in bed. Despite being in frequent close contact with her (my wife, remember) over the several weeks that she was under the weather, I failed to catch that cold myself.

    The recommended dosage on the side of the bottle is quite ambiguous, as it instructs you to take 4-12 capsules per day with meals. Since the bottle only held 60 pills I decided to take roughly 4-6 capsules every day until they ran out.

    According to, the supplement that I sampled retails for almost $60 for a 60 capsule bottle. If you were to taking this supplement simply as a preventative measure and were using it at full dosage, you could be shelling out $12 per day on just the hope that this thing works! In my mind, that price is exorbitant.

    The Good News: Free Stuff!
    The good news is that you don't have to pay that much money to try this stuff out for yourself! I'm allowed to give away a free bottle of Kinoko AHCC here on the blog! Not only will you get the supplement, but you'll also receive a box of herbal tea as well as a sweet jade bracelet for your significant other (or if you're a woman, just keep it for yourself ;-) . Hey, maybe this will help you justify all the time you spend on the internet reading about mountain bikes!

    Here's what you've got to do to win: Leave a comment below telling why you need this supplement so badly. Maybe you're riding in subzero temps during your commute everyday or maybe your kids always have runny noses and you just don't want to catch what they have. Post it up below, and I will pick the best response on Saturday and they'll receive a free bottle of these magic pills along with the other goodies!

    Oh, and please make sure that you include your email somewhere so I can get in touch with you. If you are commenting with some sort of registered account I can probably find your email. If not, please make sure to include it in you comment! It might also be beneficial to subscribe to this comments thread.

    Happy commenting!


    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Just Riding

    Me riding Tatum Lead.
    Photo Credit.
    Personally, I'm not usually a big fan of blow-by-blow ride reports. Unless you're riding somewhere truly epic or are providing some serious philosophical insights along the way, I'd probably rather read and write about something else.

    But not everyone is like me. Maybe you really enjoy reading those type of ride reports... that's totally cool!

    As a break from the normal deluge of mountain bike information found here on Greg Rides Trails, I thought I'd post a few links to reports written by others of rides that I was a part of:

    Winding Stairs
    I rode the Winding Stair loop with Stephen of Stronger Cyclist as well as a bunch of the guys from the local bike shop a few weeks ago. It was a long, chilly ride, but it was well worth it!

    Tatum Lead
    In early December I rode with Jeff Barber, the mastermind behind, as well as Jeremy who is a moderator on the forums there. Despite the low temperatures and the long grueling climbs, it was worth it in the end!

    Hmm, see a pattern here?

    This past summer I was able to meet up with Patrick of the Airborne Flight Crew for a day of riding up at Tsali. Check out his post (complete with photos) about that trip.


    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Bike Mag > Homework


    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Videos of the Flight Crew Shredding

    I feel very privileged to be a member of the Airborne Flight Crew and to be associated with such an awesome bunch of mountain bikers and an awesome mountain bike company. Several other members of the crew regularly turn out some impressive videos, and I think you all will appreciate the hard work that they put into producing them. Here a couple of the coolest vids produced in recent weeks:

    Flight Crew Jam Session Video:
    Courtesy of Tony Caruso

    2011 MTBing Video Teaser:
    Courtesy of Marty Tank

    Marty's description:
    "Here is a sneak peek at the latest idea/concept I am developing for my next video project. So far I'm happy with the results considering the whole thing has been shot using a GoProHD helmet cam."

    Rocking the Airborne Taka:
    Courtesy of Tony Caruso




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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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