Monday, February 28, 2011

Random Objects Found on the Trail

There has been a discussion taking place on the forums about various random objects that we have found while out mountain biking. During one of my rides this past weekend, I came across one of the most random and intriguing pieces of trail decoration that I've ever seen:

I posted it to the forums as I thought it was very interesting, and I was eager to hear if anyone knew the story behind it.

GoldenGoose offered this possible explanation:
There was a guy who is a regular over on the SORBA forums that slammed into a tree up there on one of the pinhoti sections and had to be taken out by medics because of a bad neck injury. He put it there in commemoration of being back on the bike. I believe I remember reading that the actual tree that did the damage has since been cut down.
If that's where this neck brace came from, that's a dang good story... and a fitting memorial!

Your Turn: What random objects have you seen out on the trail?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Forest Fire at Bull Mountain

Over this past weekend a forest fire was started and burned in the Bull Mountain trail system. I was riding with a few friends on Monday afternoon, and we crossed paths with a number of Forest Service workers keeping an eye on the smoldering destruction. Naturally, we pumped them for as much information as possible.

Apparently, the fire burned an area of 440 acres. We asked what caused it, and the fire fighter said that they were pretty sure someone had set it. 

Someone had set it? Who would do such a horrendous thing! Burning up our beautiful forests on purpose?! I was (am) pissed beyond all belief. Thankfully, the affected area doesn't appear to be too great.

Affected Trails
The entire Jones Creek Ridge area was engulfed in the fire. It will be closed until the forest service deems it safe. Burned snags above the trails will need to be cleared, fallen trees will probably need to be cut out as well, but apparently they shouldn't be closed for a really long period of time.

On Monday we rode everything to the east of Jones Creek Ridge, and that was entirely unaffected. Afterwards, I drove up to the Bull Mountain parking lot to see if I could spot indications of the fire, but I wasn't able to find any. However, I can't be sure that the main Bull Mountain loop is completely unaffected. If and when I find out, I'll be sure to post an update

If you are heading out to ride, please be sure to plan accordingly, and stay safe!

And remember, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires!"


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Official: I'm on the 2011 Airborne Flight Crew!

It's official: I will be returning to the Airborne Flight Crew for 2011!

Sea Otter Classic
Being a member of the Flight Crew during 2010 was an incredible experience! It all began with a week full of mountain bikes and new friends at the Sea Otter Classic. That week was probably the most fun single experience thus far in my mountain bike career. We all got to live and breathe bikes for 5 days straight without having to worry about school or work.... it was epic!

And this year, I'll be going back! I intend to step up my blogging effort this time around with dozens of short posts about my experiences out there and products that I've seen and tested. As long as I don't get sick again, I should even have an extra day of 2-wheel goodness!

Last year, Airborne hooked me up with 2 free mountain bikes: the Zeppelin Elite and the Taka. I have absolutely loved riding both of these rigs! Getting the chance to test them out and put them through their paces has been a ton of fun, and a real blessing. I would not be able to afford multiple bikes without this support from Airborne.

This year, I'm not sure how many bikes I will be receiving. What I do know is that I should have a brand new Goblin 2-9er on my doorstep well before Sea Otter gets here! I am crazy excited about this new ride (if you can't tell by my previous blog posts about it.) I have never owned a 29er before, and I don't currently own a hardtail, so this bike will be a welcome addition to my fleet!

Also, Airborne has totally changed their course with these new models. All of the new rigs have been designed from the ground up, and every detail has been carefully analyzed to give you, the consumer, the best bang-for-your-buck.

But, you may notice that the prices are a little higher on these models than on some of the previous ones. Instead of producing bargain-basement mountain bikes, Airborne has decided to create mountain bikes that are still a screaming deal, but provide real quality and performance at that price. In short: these bikes will provide the best quality-per-dollar anywhere!

At least that's what I sincerely expect. When I get one (or more) to test out, I will let you know how they stand up to a real beating!

One of the coolest things about being on the Flight Crew has been getting to know my fellow Crew members. We've had great times riding together at Sea Otter (and at different times throughout the year), and we've gotten to know each other pretty well via the internet. If ya'll are reading this, I can honestly say that the lasting highlight of this time on Flight Crew has been the relationships we've made!

Going Forward
Yep, I expect 2011 to be an amazing year as well! There are new people to meet, new bikes to ride, and many blog posts and videos to be crafted! Be sure to join with me here on Greg Rides Trails and be a part of this unfolding adventure!

Exit Question:
What types of posts would you most likely to read about my role as a member of the Airborne Flight Crew? Product reviews, ride reports, new products at Sea Otter, opinion posts, or something else?


Monday, February 21, 2011

Fontana Village GPS Map / File

Fontana Village contains a veritable maze of singletrack trails that surround the complex on all sides. Navigating it can be a little intimidating, especially without a map.

Without further ado I present to you the Fontana Village GPS file

While this file is a great start, it is by no means a comprehensive map. I was recently up at Fontana right after the running of the Icycle mountain bike race, which is held every February. The race organizers had cleared and touched up about 6 miles of singletrack for the cross country race, as well as the downhill course.

This map follows the entire length of the XC course, drops out onto the pavement, climbs back up to the top of the DH course, bombs down that, out the bottom, and back to the beginning.

If you are curious as to which individual trails this covers, they are:

  • Lower Lewellyn Cove
  • Upper Lewellyn Cove
  • Elmer Hollow
  • Turkey Chute

There are many more trails in the area and they can be strung together in a better sequence, but this file will at least point you in the right direction!


Friday, February 18, 2011

How to Switch to Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals

This is the second part in the short 2-part series on clipless mountain bike pedals.

The second installment covers:
  • What gear you'll need to switch over.
  • 2 crucial skills that you need to know in order to use your new pedals well.
Click over to to read the full post!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MTB VS Moto: Which Is Greener?

Dirt biking
Dirt Biking
Photo Credit.
When compared to its close cousin road biking, mountain biking is not really a "green" sport. We mountain bikers drive our gas-burning cars to the trailhead whenever we ride, and we often travel great distances just to  pedal down new trails.

However, in comparison to its other close cousin, dirt biking, mountain biking appears to be a much, much greener sport! Mountain bikes cause astronomically less damage to the trails, don't burn any gasoline when they're driven, and only require a small vehicle to transport them to the trails.

Fat_Billy put this issue in sharp perspective for us over on the Singletracks forum:
Green? Mountain Biking is very green. My previous hobby was motocross after a previous stint at mountain bike addiction. Motorcross= large vehicle with crummy miledge numbers, motorcycle using leaded race fuel, gas powered pressure washer to clean said motorcycle, most motocross tracks consist of over 100 mile round trip in previous mentioned crummy economy vehicle. Mountain Biking= 4 cylinder economy vehicle to haul bike and self to riding area, nearest riding area is 5 miles round trip. Not much of a comparison on which is greener. Sorta tired of hearing about the oil shortage when we have enough but we aren't allowed to get it. During WWII the Germans didn't have any oil in the later parts of the war but they made Synthetic fuel and oil. Did they know more in 1945 than we do now? Think not. Mountain biking is as green as any sport than requires any transport. Gonna go lube my chain now! :mrgreen:Later,
Thanks for putting that in perspective for us man!

Dirt Bike Trail
A wet dirt bike trail in
the process of being
torn up.
Photo Credit.
Trail Damage
He has really exposed the heart of the issue surrounding transportation and the consummation of fossil fuels, but relative damage to the trails is a very important issue as well. To do this, let's examine the output in horsepower of each machine.

According to an article on Horsepower on Wikipedia, "A healthy human can produce about 1.2 hp briefly (and sustain about 0.1 hp indefinitely; trained athletes can manage up to about 2.5 hp briefly and 0.3 hp for a period of several hours." According to this detailed text on the physics of human power output and the mechanical advantage of gears on a bicycle, "Most recreational cyclists generate about 0.35 hp for a sustained (2 hour) ride. "

These sources agree: the average mountain biker probably puts out about 1/3 of a horsepower on average.

But what about a dirt bike?

The actual horsepower depends on the engine in the individual bike, its age, displacement, and several other factors. In response to a question asked on the topic, most respondents replied that more information was needed, but several gave ranges that could be expected, depend on the bike. One user answered: "Depending on the brand, model, year and modifications you could expect anywhere from 15 to 40. A Chinese bike would be low on power, but a Yamaha factory bike could have closer to 50hp."

Evidence for a broad range of horsepower outputs is corroborated by many, many online sources. This article from 2004, for instance, cites bikes that put out 27-33 horsepower.

Let's compare: a human can put out about 1 horsepower during a vigorous effort, and a dirt bike in roughly the middle of the range can produce about 30 horsepower. That is 30 times the amount of power that human can generate!

Not only that, but dirt bikes are also much heavier machines, and the amount of power is unlimited. Since a human can only put out 0.3 HP consistently, we're talking closer to 100 times the amount of power as a human... at least. For a bike with 40 or 50 HP, that number is even higher!

Don't believe me? Check out the video below of a race between a dirt bike and a downhill mountain biker. Notice the dirt rooster tails the dirt bike sends up, and how it is constantly tearing up the trail in the turns and on the climbs. Then compare the effects of the mountain bike:

What really jerks my chain is that when the Bozeman area lost mountain bike access to many of their epic trails, the environmentalist prosecutors essentially equated mountain bikes with dirt bikes, and claimed that their effects were almost exactly the same. As any rational person can see from the evidence above, this is just not the case!

Access to those trails was lost on completely false pretenses. Mountain biking is a much greener and much, much lower impact sport than dirt biking is or ever will be!

Your Turn: Please write your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Making the Switch to Clipless MTB Pedals

Last Friday I had an article published on entitled "Making the Switch to Clipless MTB Pedals." It is the first post in a 2-part series on the topic.

The first installment answers 2 questions that a beginner might ask:

  • "What are the benefits to using clipless pedals?"
  • "When should I switch over to clipless pedals?"
If you are a beginning rider and want answers to those questions, go read the full article!

If you are an advanced rider, please feel free to still join the discussion on the topic.



Friday, February 11, 2011

7 Reasons to Subscribe to the GRT Email List

Thank you all for the incredible response to the Wear Endo tote bag giveaway! Everyone who registered will be notified of whether or not you won via email later today.

So far, 16 people have registered for the new email list. That's a great start, but this is such a useful tool that I would love to be able to connect with you all via the list!

If you haven't signed up yet, here are 7 reasons to click over and get registered for GRT updates:

  1. Free Stuff -- As you can tell, I give away free stuff here on the blog on a pretty regularly basis (every couple of months). Immediately after the next giveaway begins, I will be sure to notify all of the email list subscribers with a short message so that they are able to get entered right away!
  2. Sign Up Is Fast and Easy -- All you have to do is either visit this link or use the form on the right side of this page, enter your email, and click the confirmation link in the email we send you. Then you're officially subscribed!
  3. Convenient -- These messages will conveniently land in your inbox for your viewing pleasure. They'll contain links back to articles on the blog, in case you've missed anything from the past week.
  4. Weekly -- I won't overload your inbox with emails. There will only be one update per week, on average.
  5. Safe -- Your email is safe with me. Emails are only used for official GRT communication.
  6. Free -- Best of all, it's free! Yeah, we're all about free stuff here on GRT, and this list is no exception.
  7. Don't like it? Unsubscribe is easy. But really now, what's not to like?


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Endo Expands Their Product Line

A few weeks ago I had been wondering to myself where my drawstring backpack had gone to, as bags of this design are perfect for tossing clothes in for a quick trip to the gym. Literally the next day, an Endo-branded tote bag exactly the style of the one I was missing showed up in my mail box! I was not expecting it at all, so it was really a convenient coincidence!

Endo's rendition of the classic drawstring backpack is both stylish and functional. 

If you've ever used a bag of this nature before, Endo's functions the same way. Pull the top apart when you want to stuff some clothes in, and pull the strings simultaneously to shut it and turn the bag into a backpack. After several weeks of use, I have zero complaints with the function of this bag!

Obviously, the product itself isn't revolutionary... it is the graphical design that makes Endo's stand out. Sure, you could buy a standard Nike or Adidas bag and look like your average stick-and-ball jock. Or you could get Endo's bag and let everyone know that while you might be heading to the gym, if it wasn't nasty outside you would be in the mountains, bringing your own energy!

Plus at only $12, you can't really go wrong.

Free Stuff!
But you don't have to just take my word for it. Wear Endo is allowing me to give away 5 free tote bags to GRT readers! All you have to do to win is be one of the first 5 people to sign up for the newly created GRT Weekly Update email list.

It'll only take you a few seconds to do, and not only do you have a chance to win a free bag from Wear Endo, but you'll get conveniently weekly mountain bike updates in your inbox! Hard to beat that deal, huh?

PS Like Endo's gear? "Like" their Facebook Page too!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Mountain Biking... Just Mountain Biking


Friday, February 4, 2011

5 Mountain Biking Techniques that Every Beginner Needs to Master

Mountain biking is an amazing sport that provides unique opportunities to access some of the wilder areas of the world in an unobtrusive manner. As we mountain bikers access nature, along the way we also get a solid work out, push our personal limits, and generally increase our hardcore factor every time we get on the bike.

Every mountain biker has a starting point though. We were all beginners at some point, and we were all helped along by someone else who offered friendly advice. Here is my "friendly advice" to you on the top 5 techniques that every beginner mountain biker needs to learn.

1. Shifting Technique
This was covered in greater detail a few weeks ago. There is some overlap as this post was initially intended for publication on another website.

The first thing that you need to know as a beginning mountain is how to shift the drive train of your bicycle properly.

The front gears on a bicycle are called "chain rings." They are numbered from the inside to the outside. The back gears on a bicycle are called "cogs," and are also numbered from the inside out. For our purposes, we'll be looking at a bike with 3 chain rings and 9 cogs.

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: to ride faster with less effort.

As you are riding, make sure that you shift early. Don't wait until you are pushing hard on the pedals while climbing a hill to try to shift because the chain won't want to budge from the gear it is currently in. Shift before you reach the hill.

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, chain ring #1 can be used with cogs #1-5, chain ring #2 with all of the cogs, and chain ring #3 with cogs #5-9.

2. Braking Technique
As most people who've ridden a bicycle before should know: never brake just using the front brake! That can cause you to crash. As a result of this knowledge, some people avoid the front brake altogether. This is almost as bad.

The front brake has about 70-80% of the total stopping power on your mountain bike since your weight is driving down the hill and on the handle bars. Your back brake only has the remaining 20-30%.  The most effective braking strategy is to apply both brakes together: this will bring you to a stop quickly and safely.

One last note: don't lock up the breaks. This skidding actually increases your stopping distance. Brake hard, but not hard enough to skid.

3. Looking Down the Trail
The saying is that your bike will go wherever you're looking... and it is pretty true. When approaching an obstacle on your bicycle, make sure that you look past it and down the trail. If you are riding a very narrow trail with a drop off on one side, make sure that you keep your gaze focused on the singletrack tread. If instead you focus on the obstacle or the drop off, that's where you will end up instead of on the trail where you want to be.

4. "Rowing the Boat:" Climbing Technique
As you are climbing a steep hill, drop your elbows and pull back and down on the handlebars of your mountain bike. Don't think about lifting the front wheel up, but rather think about leveraging the rear wheel into the soil. This increases traction and helps you climb better. Repeat this motion as you continue up the hill. It begins to feel almost like a "rowing" motion, which is why we refer to it as "rowing the boat."

5. "Attack Position:" Descending Technique
You've "rowed the boat" to the top of the hill, now it is time to get back down all in one piece! The first crucial step is covered in number 3 above. Make sure that you are looking down the trail. Shift into a higher gear, and then get into attack position.

Stand up on your pedals and raise your butt out of the saddle slightly. Keep your elbows bent, ready to absorb the obstacles in the trail. Flip the cranks to horizontal to provide for maximum ground clearance, and then let it ride! Use your body to soak up the obstacles in the trail, and tear that downhill a new one! Just make sure that you brake often and remain in control.

Get Out and Ride!
All that's left is to get out there and practice these techniques! You can read all the articles you want, but the old saying holds true in mountain biking as well as everything else: "practice makes perfect!"


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Airborne Branches Out into Cyclocross

Meet the Airborne Delta CX.

I've given you guys the scoop on Airborne's new 29er and dirt jump bikes, but those seem like a predictable progression, despite how absolutely awesome and dirt cheap they are! This bike, however, is even further on the innovative side of things.

Airborne is branching into a whole new discipline with this bike, and as they do it they are already shattering the norms. Just last year the powers-that-be in the cyclocross world made the decision to allow disc brakes to be used. Airborne made the controversial and very progressive decision to release this bike with disc brakes and no attachments to put canti's on even if you wanted to.

In addition, the front tire is controlled by a legit totally-carbon fork! All of this comes in a package that will retail for about $1099. For a bike of this caliber, that is an absolute steal! Add the sleek graphics to the other factors and I think this bike is going to be an absolute hit in the budget CX world!

Check out the photos for some eye candy:

Check out these links for more info (and pictures) on the new Airborne bikes, including the Delta CX:

Your Turn: Do you ride Cyclocross? Why or why not?




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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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