Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inside Out: A Mountain Bike Video by Marty Tank

Marty Tank is at it again! Check out this most recent video that Marty has produced:

Winter in Wisconsin can be a cruel thing for a mountain biker. Wish as you might, the cold reality is that the trails will remain snow covered and frozen for months on end. Spinning on the trainer does things to you. You start imagining yourself conquering that gnarly climb or bombing your favorite downhill section of trail. Inside your mind you remember how good it feels to lean into a turn and ride off of a ledge. But in the end, you are still inside wishing you were outside.

Want to see more videos by Marty? Be sure to visit his Youtube Channel!

Your Turn:
What did you think of the video?


Monday, March 28, 2011

20 Trails from My 2011 Trail Wishlist

Photo by GoldenGoose via
I have a personal goal of riding at least 1,000 different trails in my lifetime. In addition, I aim to ride in all 50 states, at least 1 Canadian province, and somewhere overseas (among other things). Of course, when I reach 1,000 trails I'm going to just shoot for 2,000... but here area few trails on my wishlist for the 2011 season as I slowly roll towards the 1,000 trail mark:

  1. Bent Creek, Asheville, NC: This one has been near the top of my to-do list for a long time now. I've had many friends tell me how killer this system is and how great the camping is as well. My wife and I are planning on taking a weekend trip up here sometime this spring.
  2. Big Mountain: Runaway Train, Whitefish, Montana: I have ridden several of the older trails at Big Mountain including the Summit Trail, but just before I left Montana the resort completed construction of a new, downhill-only trail: "Runaway Train." With jumps and drops galore, I've just gotta hit it!
  3. Black Mountain, Brevard, NC: Since I made this list, I have actually ridden this trail. The gnarliness of the descent lived up to all of the things that I've heard about it!
  4. Blankets Creek, Woodstock, GA: This trail is incredibly popular with everyone in Atlanta, and since it is only just over an hour a way, I really should have ridden it by now, just to see what all of the hype is about. Of course, I've heard that it really isn't all that good in the grand scheme of things... but I want to ride it anyway, just to say that I have.
  5. Blue Sky, Fort Collins, CO: I rode some of the other trails connecting to Blue Sky when I was last in Colorado, but I have yet to ride this specific trail. Next time I'm out there (which will hopefully be this summer), this one is going down!
  6. Centennial Trail, Sturgis, SD: Ever since reading a feature article in BikeMag about how epic and undiscovered the mountain biking in the Black Hills is, I have wanted to journey out there to see for myself. Hopefully I'll get the chance this year!
  7. Colorado Trail: Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass, CO: I have ridden the lesser-renowned counterpart to this trail which lies just across the highway, but I have yet to ride this route. Since this is section is much more famous, that seems kind of backwards. I really want to remedy this.
  8. Copper Harbor Trails, Copper Harbor, MI: These trails look truly epic! I have visited Copper Harbor many times in the winter, so I know that the area is truly beautiful. All that is left is for me to visit it in the summer!
  9. Dupont State Forest, Brevard, NC: Since I initially compiled this list, I have been able to make my way up and ride Dupont. In brief: yes, the slickrock is as much fun as everyone says it is!
  10. Fort Ord Public Lands, Monterey, CA: I rode Fort Ord during last year's Sea Otter Classic, but there were so many trails out there that I simply didn't have the time to explore. This year, I want to further investigate this massive trail system.
  11. Georgia International Horse Park, Conyers, GA: This is the one of the few trails in Georgia that I have heard rave reviews of that I still have yet to ride. While it definitely doesn't have as much slickrock as Dupont, I have heard that it does have a couple of cool sections of it.
  12. Hanging Dog, Murphy, NC: I really don't know if these trails are worth riding or not, which is why I want to find out. I drive through Murphy quite often on my way to Tsali or Fontana. I really need to stop here one of these times.
  13. Kitsuma, Black Mountain, NC:Really, I want to ride every trail in Pisgah National Forest! And according to the guidebooks, this is one of the best.
  14. Lowes Creek, Eau Claire, WI: This trail is really close to my hometown of Neillsville, WI, and every since BikeMag named it as the quintessential Wisconsin mountain bike trail, I have wanted to ride it to see if it was really all that.
  15. Oak Mountain State Park, Birmingham, AL: Alabama is only a couple of hours away, and I still haven't ridden there. By all accounts, Oak mountain is the best trail in the state. Therefore, I want to ride it.
  16. Pinhoti: Snake Creek, Dalton, GA: Again, this is one of the few epic trails in the state of Georgia that I have yet to ride. I have heard reports of insane rock gardens and how this is one of the most technical trails ever... Honestly, it might be technical, but that doesn't mean it's unrideable. I want to show up and dominate this trail.
  17. Racoon Mountain, Chatanooga, TN: I have seen numerous, gorgeous photos (see above) from this trail system, and since I haven't ridden in Tennessee yet, I need to get up here ASAP!
  18. Santos, Ocala, FL: Santos is renowned as one of the best trail systems in Florida, and it contains several wicked jump sections and big cliff drops. I want to session this place on my Taka so bad!
  19. Snowshoe Bike Park, Snowshoe Mountain, WV: Simply put, Snowshoe is one of the best downhill mountain biking resorts east of the Rocky Mountains.
  20. Tanasi, Ocoee, TN: I've heard some decent reviews of this trail system, and it really isn't all that far away from Dahlonega. Again, I still have not ridden in Tennessee... this needs to be remedied!
    So those are just a few of the trails that I would like to ride. I may ride more, I may ride less. I may ride a totally different set of trails than these (and it is already looking like I will). There is really no way to know where God will direct my life and my mountain biking this year. But of course, that's half the fun!

    Your Turn: 
    What trails are on your wishlist this year? Please share in the comments section below!


      Thursday, March 24, 2011

      Mountain Biking Photos

      Sometimes simple is better. Here are simply some mountain biking photos:

      Rider: Dustin Gaddis. Photo: Greg Heil

      Rider: Matt Stephenson. Photo: Greg Heil
      Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Dustin Gaddis.
      Rider: Jeff Barber. Photo: Greg Heil
      Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Matt Stephenson.
      Rider: Dustin Gaddis. Photo: Greg Heil.
      Rider: Ben Stephenson. Photo: Greg Heil.
      Rider: Jeremy Green. Photo: Greg Heil.
      Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Dustin Gaddis.
      Your Turn: Have a sweet mountain biking photo that you want to share with the rest of us? Leave a link to it below, or post it to the Greg Rides Trails Facebook Page!


      Tuesday, March 22, 2011

      East Coast Slickrock Trail Review, Dupont State Forest, Brevard, North Carolina

      East Coast Slickrock
      Simply put, this may be my new favorite trail of all time! The loop listed below has a little bit of everything thrown in: smooth, flowy singletrack; steep, gnarly hike-a-bike; easy stream-side pedaling; steep slickrock climbing; and gnarly as crap descending!

      While you may find a little bit of everything on this ride, the most prominent feature is definitely the slickrock riding! If you want to ride slickrock on the East Coast, Dupont is definitely the place to go! Slickrock is famous for providing bomber traction on abnormally steep ascents, and the Cedar Rock trail is no exception.

      While riding this trail, I climbed for 15-20 minutes up a grossly steep slab of rock following cairns as trail markers. That experience was just so unique, so unlike anything else here in the Southeast, that it is permanently etched into my memory!

      Since the top of the mountain is a massive slab of rock with few trees growing on it, the views off of the top are simply stunning! Be sure to bring your camera and snap some pictures.

      Of course, once you reach the top, all of what transpired on the way up disappears as you focus on railing on the way back down! Descending on the slickrock was so insanely fun! But it definitely was not smooth--the rock undulates down the side of the mountain, providing plenty of drop offs with air opportunities. Keep your head up, as figuring out where exactly the trail is headed can be difficult.

      Only about half of this descent is on slickrock. After that, it dives into the woods and transforms into very rocky/rooty singletrack. The rock drops continue, though, just with long stretches of dirt in between. Also keep your eyes open for a couple of small table tops (optional). The landings are perfectly smooth even at high speed!

      Bottom Line

      "Simply put, this may be my new favorite trail of all time!" What's not to like? Interesting climbing, great views, incredible descending, plenty of airtime...

      If you live in the Southeast or are ever in the region, come to Dupont and ride this trail!

      Words really can't do this trail justice. You need to check out the video:

      The Route

      Begin across the road from the trailhead on trail #19 Corn Mill Shoals. Head right. Hang a right on #11 Burnt Mountain. Add in #57 the Nook Trail while you’re at it. After the end of Burnt Mountain, hang a left on #19 again and then a right up #51: Little River trail. Take the first left on #16 Cedar Rock and great ready to get anaerobic on some steep slickrock climbs! At the top, hang a left on #3 Big Rock and bomb the crap out of the gnar on the way back down! Hang a right at the bottom to complete the loop.

      Also, make sure you bring a map. I had a map with me and the intersections are really well marked and I still got turned around at one point!

      Getting There

      "From I-26 South, take exit 9 (Asheville Airpot). Go to the right towards the airport and Brevard. Go approximately 15 miles until NC 280 becomes US 276. Follow this into and through Brevard (staying on four lane hwy). Go approximately 9 miles past Brevard into Cedar Mtn, NC. Go left onto Cascade Lake Road. Go about 2 miles and you will see the parking area on the left."

      Slickrock Climb


      Monday, March 21, 2011

      3 Blog Posts You Need to Read

      Rider: Dan Christianson
      1. Bike Philosophy by Uncle Dan -- Dan is an interesting guy and leads an ever-changing life. A big part of that life is mountain biking. As a result of his almost nomadic lifestyle, Dan has acquired a unique perspective on the world and the sport of mountain biking. This post summarizes some of his philosophies, and I highly recommend you read it!
      2. Bike Commuting Steps Up Your MTB Game -- There is so much more to the world of biking than just riding singletrack. I think one of the biggest roles that bicycles will play in the long run will be as a form of transportation. In this article, maddslacker covers the why and the how of bike commuting. Personally, I'm seriously considering taking the plunge and becoming a commuter!
      3. Mountain Hopping to Maine: Hot Springs! -- While this is a specific article, I also recommend this entire blog! Ben Stephenson, a friend of mine, is through-hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. He just left about a month ago, and is hoping to make it to Maine before the beginning of the fall semester. While this isn't mountain bike related, a physical undertaking of this degree is definitely impressive! He will be updating his blog whenever he gets internet access in a town, and his brother has been updating it in the mean time as well. I've been enjoying following along on his journey, but I wish he'd post some more pictures!


      Thursday, March 17, 2011

      East Coast Slickrock (Video)

      This may be my new favorite trail of all time!

      Taken at Dupont State Forest. Review to follow.


      Wednesday, March 16, 2011

      Pinhoti: P3, Ellijay, Georgia (VIDEO)

      Classic Bench-Cut Singletrack!
      Rider: Jeremy. Photo: Me.
      Several times I have lamented the absence of switchbacks on mountain bike trails in Georgia. Riding switchbacks is almost an art form due to the precise bike handling skills that it requires. I've found amazing sections of switchbacks during my rides in North Carolina, but I have never come across a truly inspiring set down here in Georgia... until now.

      P3 contains numerous picture-perfect 180 degree turns bench-cut into the steep side of the mountain. These are switchbacks in the finest sense of the word!  After riding this trail, my heart has been put at ease: yes, there are switchbacks in the state. You just have to find them!

      The Rest of the Trail

      There is so much more to this section of trail than a mere couple dozen switchbacks, though. This portion of the Pinhoti contains a long descent that features narrow, swooping singletrack lasting over 6 minutes. Of course, it might last a little less if you rode faster. Or you could drag it out and make it last longer, but what would be the fun in that?

      While the overlook is situated at a pretty high elevation and the end of the trail is in the bottom of the valley near a stream, don't be fooled into thinking that this is downhill the whole way. When we shuttled this, I brought my downhill rig along anticipating a high-speed bomb down to the truck. I quickly learned that that would not be the case, and I paid for my choice with some good-old-fashioned hike-a-bike.

      Yes, the vast majority of the time you'll be descending, but there are one or two stiff climbs thrown in there. Bring your all mountain bike and your gears. Besides, 5" of travel is plenty for this trail.

      Bottom Line:

      Some of the best switchbacks and most exposed singletrack I have ridden in Georgia, coupled with a screaming fast descent at the end! If you haven't ridden this trail yet, add it to your wishlist!


      This video is intended to show you the what the trail is like, and is not included here as an example of pure cinematic genius.

      The Route

      The P3 section of the Pinhoti runs about 4-5 miles from the Cohutta Wilderness Overlook on Highway 52 west of Ellijay down to old CCC camp road. This is a great trail to ride as a shuttle, but can be fun as an out-and-back as well.

      Getting There

      From Ellijay, drive out of town on Highway 52, heading West. Park at the Cohutta Wilderness Overlook which is just off of the highway on the right. The trail begins to the right of the Overlook's exit.


      Monday, March 14, 2011

      The Best Day of the Year

      If you are a mountain biker, yesterday was the best day of the year.

      Check out my post about it on Singletracks!


      Sunday, March 13, 2011

      Cohutta Overlook

      Located on Highway 52 between Ellijay and Chatsworth, Georgia, the Cohutta Overlook offers a rare vista of the nearby Cohutta Wilderness and the surrounding mountains.

      Since none of the mountains in Georgia are above the tree line, most scenic overlooks have to be man-made, sas was the case with this one. The trees were cleared off of a small knob, and a trail was constructed up to a viewing area on the top of the mound.

      Not only does this overlook offer some incredible views, it can also effectively function as the trailhead for two of the nearby mountain bike rides: P3 and Tatum Lead.

      These photographs were taken in early December, 2010. You can still see the snow on the mountain tops from a recent storm.

      GPS coordinates: 34.785188,-84.626870


      Friday, March 11, 2011

      Review: Icebreaker's New Roto Half Zip Jersey

      I have a new product review online at of Icebreaker's new Roto Half Zip jersey.  Made out of merino wool with a little lycra blended in, this is easily the most comfortable mountain bike jersey I have ever worn, and may be the most comfortable article of clothing I have ever worn--period.

      Be sure to check out the entire review (complete with some action photos) here.


      Wednesday, March 9, 2011

      Pinhoti: P2. Ellijay, Georgia


      If you live in Georgia, that word conjures up images of endless bike-legal singletrack full of steep climbs and fast descents. The section commonly referred to as "P2" is no exception!

      The Route

      Out-and-Back Route
      From the junction of the gravel roads on Wilderness Road (see driving directions), climb about a half a mile up the road marked with the Pinhoti signs, and then turn right past the gate and onto the trail.

      The singletrack climbs along an old road grade for a mile or so before diving into the deep woods. It then begins to drop steeply down towards Mulberry Gap Road. When you reach the road, turn around and ride back up the way you came, if you are doing an out-and-back. Total length is roughly 4 miles each way.

      All About the Trail

      As I climbed up the old road grade, I was enjoying myself and the trail, but didn't think that it was really up to the caliber that I have come to expect from the Pinhoti Trail. Sure, the tread was narrow and tacky, but the terrain was boring. The bench that the trail lay on had definitely been a road at some point. Now, it was filled with thorny berry bushes and scrubby brush, with the singletrack lying in the center of it all. This wasn't exactly the most exciting terrain to ride.

      That all changed in an instant when the trail headed into the woods. The old road grade was abandoned, and the trail transformed into beautiful, bench-cut singletrack! The trees closed in around the trail as it began to twist and turn, creating a much more challenging riding environment.

      After a little more climbing, the trail began to tilt down, and the bottom just dropped out! Gone were the mild climbs and rolling descents: fast, furious descending on narrow one-track took it's place!

      The descent was such a rush that it was hard to take in the deep, beautiful forest that the trail passed through. All I could think about was pushing into each turn, exploding out the other side, negotiating the roots, and not careening off the end of the next corner.

      But no matter: on the steep grind back up I had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery as I agonizingly regained all the elevation I had lost.

      Bottom Line

      P2 embodies all of the characteristics that I have come to associate with the Pinhoti Trail: narrow, curvy, singletrack; beautiful scenery; and climbing and descending aplenty!

      Pinhoti Trail Sign

      Getting There

      • From Ellijay, head west out of town on Hwy. 52.
      • After about 8 miles, turn right on Gates Chapel road. 
      • Go about 5.5 miles to the Y in the road.
      • Take the right fork onto Wilderness Road.
      • Go a mile or 2 up to the top of the hill, and look for the Pinhoti signs.
      • Park at the junction where the Pinhoti goes down a gravel road to the left. 
      • Begin biking and follow the signs.


      Monday, March 7, 2011

      More Photos from the Big Creek Bike Demo

      Roswell Bicycles

      Giant Anthem FS 29er. Note the sweet reflector. 
      Specialized Enduro
      About to get a bike to test!

      The pump track was closed

      For more media from the Big Creek bike demo, check out my review of the Specialized Enduro.


      Sunday, March 6, 2011

      Airborne Update: New Website, and Bicycle Preorders

      Airborne has just launched their brand new website! You should go check it out now... it is pretty snazzy!

      Airborne Bicycles

      With the launch of this website, Airborne is now officially selling bikes directly. You no longer have to buy through Giant Nerd, you can get your Airborne bike straight from the source! 



      Pre-orders on the New Bikes

      Airborne is also taking pre-orders for their 2 new bicycles: the Goblin 29er and Wingman DJ. These two long-anticipated bikes herald a shift in Airborne's philosophy. With these new models Airborne is truly seeking to provide the best quality for your dollar. While the first flight of bikes definitely came in on the low end of the price range, these new bikes, while a little more expensive, really do offer a better value all around!

      If you're interested in one of these new rigs, get your preorder in now, there's no telling how fast they'll sell!


      Friday, March 4, 2011

      Go to Sea Otter and Receive Free Mountain Bikes: Land a spot on the 2011 Airborne Flight Crew!

      Airborne has officially announced that they are accepting applications for the 2011 Airborne Flight Crew! 6 spots are currently open, but you have to act fast: applications are due by March 15th. You can read more about this unique opportunity in this post I wrote for


      Wednesday, March 2, 2011

      The Specialized Enduro: "One Bike to Rule them All..."

      Roswell Bikes held a free bike demo day recently at Big Creek in (you guessed it) Roswell, Georgia. I decided to show up and test ride a bike that I knew I'd never be able to afford, just for the heck of it.

      In the back of my mind, I was wishing for a Specialized Enduro to test, as I had read so many incredible reviews of that machine. Lo and behold, they had one Enduro... and it was in my size! Specialized claims that the Enduro is a true do-it-all bike that has "cross country legs and downhill balls," and I wanted to check this out for myself!


      Naturally, the first thing I did when I was handed the bike was to do the technical heft-test and determine the bike's exact weight. Result: way, way too light for a bike with 6 inches of travel! It was lighter than any bike I have ever owned... and again, it had 6 inches of suspension.  Wow.


      Obviously this bike is totally blingin': SRAM X-0, Avid Elixir brakes, sweet dropper seatpost... The list could go on and on.

      Sram X-0
      Dropper seatpost.

      Dropper Seatpost

      That day at Big Creek was the first time I've ever had the chance to test out a hydraulic dropper seatpost. After an hour and a half of playing around with it, I've gotta say, these things can seriously come in handy!

      There's one particular drop on the advanced cross country loop at Big Creek that you spot a little ways off as you climb up to the top of the hill. At the top, the trail quickly turns back down and feeds right into this high-speed 3 foot drop. The landing zone is perfect: long, steep, and straight. Times like these are when a seat dropper is so useful! I was able to stay in the saddle as I cranked up the climb, hit the button going around the turn at the top to drop the saddle, and then bomb down and off of that drop with plenty of clearance to soak up the impact!

      I was actually quite surprised with how easy this was to use. I thought that adjusting the seatpost might be awkward or time consuming, and while it does take a little practice as far as anticipating when a lowered seat may be useful before you need it, the push-button control is a no-brainer!


      The Enduro's suspension setup was smooth, plush, and firm when it needed to be. But to be honest, I don't feel like I was able to fully put it to the test. The trails at Big Creek were rocky and rolling, but there weren't any hills long enough to make me want to mess with locking either the fork or the shock out, and there weren't any downhills rugged enough or long enough to really see how the bike performed in truly gnarly conditions.

      Sure, I did pile drive through some rock gardens and send it off of a 3 foot drop at high speed (which turned into about a 4-6 foot drop if you include the landing), but the suspension handled all of it with ease! Make no mistake: while it is light and relatively nimble on the climbs, this is a serious bike that's ready to get rowdy on the descents!

      Overall Handling

      The components were spot on and the suspension was more than capable of handling the terrain. As I alluded to above, I had no desire to turn on the pro pedal or shorten the travel of the fork because I was having so much fun bombing around on it! Obviously, the trail had something to do with it: Big Creek is a rolling trail with short, steep hills. There really wasn't enough climbing time to truly test those features out. And what climbing there was was generally filled with roots and rocks, which was nice to have the suspension fully active on.

      One of the most remarkable handling differences between this bike and my trail bike is the length of the cockpit. The cockpit on the Enduro definitely provides a very upright, All-Mountain posture. Some of this probably has to do with the short stem, but the rest is definitely a result of the bike's geometry.


      If you really want "One bike to rule them all," you are going to have to pay for it. I tested out the Pro model, and according to, it should retail for about $5800.

      Let's get this straight: that's more money than I paid for my truck... and not just like $200 more, either.

      At this price, I would have to honestly say, "Buy a different bike." In my experience, the level of fun that you have on your mountain bike doesn't depend on how fancy its components are or how low its overall weight is. Having fun mountain biking depends far more on your mentality and how you approach the trail!

      Bottom Line

      XC legs and DH balls? You bet, but it definitely falls closer to the DH side than it does the XC side. And at $5,800, you'd better be loaded.




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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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