Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Video Clips from Quehl Holler at Blankets Creek, Georgia

Initially, I was planning on editing all of these clips together into a nice, single-video package. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get the third person shots to convert into a format that I can use in my editor, so at least with those shots, I'm out of luck.

I decided to just upload all of the best clips, provide a few descriptions, and let you decide for yourself which ones you'd like to watch!

This first clip might be my smoothest run down the course:

Following Wyatt:

Me on the last table top and the wall ride (video by Jeremy):

Wyatt on the last table top and the wall ride (video by Jeremy):

One last run through the course:


Monday, May 30, 2011

How To Make Great MTB Trail Videos: Camera Mounting Options

Photo Credit: GoPro.com
With the advent of the many affordable HD helmet camera options on the market (especially the GoPro), the number of point of view (POV) mountain bike videos on the internet has exploded! To be brutally honest, the vast majority of the POV videos uploaded every day aren’t worth the time that it takes to watch them.

PS You only have 3 more chances, including today, to vote up Greg Rides Trails in the Crank World Cycling Blog Honors. Head on over and cast your daily vote now!


Friday, May 27, 2011

3 Simple Steps to Transform Your Zeppelin Elite into a Gnar Gobbling Machine!

In its stock form, the Airborne Zeppelin Elite is a very capable trail bike. However, if you want to go from "capable on the trail" to "gnar gobbling machine," there are 3 quick changes that you can make to get there:

1. Wide Tires

The size of your contact patch plays a massive role in how your bike performs in certain conditions. While a narrower, lighter tire may be good for fast, smooth trails and climbs, if you want to rail the descents and feel confident in chunky conditions, I personally recommend at least a 2.3" wide tire with big knobs for maximum control!

2. Wide Bars

Wide bars help you place your front wheel precisely where you want it. The extra width helps you to fine tune your steering, and while at a slow speed you might not notice much of a difference, when the speeds pick up the precision truly shines! Just make sure you don't go too wide, though: there is a happy medium that you need to find. I'm considering cutting mine (pictured above) down a couple of centimeters.

Also, a wider bar, especially a thick DH bar like the one pictured above, will significantly reduce feedback from the trail and help smooth the ride out just that much more.

3. Drop the Saddle

Yes, I know there are no pedals in this photo ;)
By dropping your saddle on really steep, nasty descents you are able to shift your weight further back over the rear wheel to allow the front end to float over all of the obstacles in the trail. Moving your weight back also allows you to pop the bike off of drops easily and to turn rollers into launch pads without a second thought! Finally, having your saddle lowered allows you to have a great range of motion over the bike as you are negotiating whatever challenge the trail throws at you. 

So when the going gets rough, the tough drop their saddles!

Your Turn: 

Do you know of any other easy modifications to improve the gnar-gobbling capabilities of your mountain bike?

PSYou only have 6 more chances, including today, to vote up Greg Rides Trails in the Crank World Cycling Blog Honors. Head on over and cast your daily vote now!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

OK, I've Had Enough of Summer

Summer has arrived with a stifling blast of hot, sticky air. With air temps breaking into the 90's and high humidity to compound that heat, the only time to ride that is even remotely bearable is at the break of dawn before the persistent rays from that fiery ball have had the chance to infiltrate every corner of the landscape. The season of early mornings filled with caffeine and singletrack is here!

Yeah, I've already had enough of summer. Spring was beautiful, but summer... I'm just not a big fan. Sure, the long hours of sunlight are a plus, but the heat... I'll pass on the heat.

The only problem is, the worst is of it hasn't even hit us yet...

In fact, I've gotta say that I'm really just ready for fall to be here. Bring on the changing leaves and the cool temperatures!

Or maybe, just maybe, I need to make a pilgrimage back to the northwoods of Wisconsin or the high mountains of Colorado... bur for the moment, I can only dream!

PS Please be sure to head on over to Cranklisted.com and vote for Greg Rides Trails in the mountain bike category... and while you're at it, Bike Shop Girl in the women's category is a great blog, too!


Monday, May 23, 2011

How to Clean Your Mountain Bike in 10 Easy Steps

Here are 10 fast steps to help you take your mountain bike from nasty to beautiful in 15 minutes! Click here to read all about it in my latest post on Singletracks.com!

PS Please be sure to head on over to Cranklisted.com and vote for Greg Rides Trails in the mountain bike category! You can vote once per day... so bookmark this page!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Spot Belt-Drive Single Speed Test

Sea Otter 2011 held a wealth of new experiences for me, including my first-ever single speed ride! But I didn't just ride any single speed--I rode a steel frame Spot 29er equipped with a Gates Carbon Drive system.

The simplicity of this bike is incredible: no gears to worry about, no drivetrain to destroy... there isn't even a chain to lube!

At first I was having difficulty as I flicked my thumbs around in thin air searching for my shifter, but eventually I acclimated to it. Before my ride, I thought the most difficult part of riding a single speed would be the climbs. Yeah, some of the climbs were pretty tough, but the part I disliked the most were the downhills.

I'm serious.

On a SS, once you get headed downhill, gravity quickly overtakes the amount of power you can put out, and then you just have to hang on and coast and conserve as much momentum as possible. I don't like that. I ride with an AFAP policy when going downhill (As Fast As Possible), so I love being able to shift up and hammer, flying through the curves and the nast as fast as humanly possible! On a single speed, you just can't do that.

Belt Drive
I really need to spend some time on a traditional chain single speed to make a true evaluation of the belt drive technology, but even from my short experience with it, I fell in love! The belt was eerily quiet out on the trail. I am so used to the spinning of guide wheels and the sound of the chain whirring through the gears, but with this belt there was absolutely nothing.

No sound from the drivetrain, or the bottom bracket or frame for that matter. Nothing.

The only sounds that marked my presents were my heavy panting from the steep hills, and the crunch of the tires on the sandy gravel.

I chatted with the guys at the Spot tent for a while about the belt and its benefits. Apparently it performs admirably in really grimy, wet conditions, such as commuting in a snowy climate. The belt doesn't need to be lubed or maintained like a chain, it just needs to be sprayed off quickly when you wash your bike.

When I asked about the longevity of the belt, he responded that it obviously depends on what conditions you use it in, but that a single belt could go for 10,000 pretty easily without needing to be replaced. I'm lucky if I can get 1,000 miles out of a chain! While the belt is definitely more expensive, the long life is an ample trade off!

Your Turn: Do you ride a single speed? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section below!

PSPlease be sure to vote for Greg Rides Trails in the Crank World Cycling Blog Honors! If you voted yesterday, don't worry: you can vote again today!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Green Guru Photos

I found a few pictures in my Sea Otter Classic photo album that I still hadn't posted up. Check these shots out from the Green Guru stand:

 What a great way to recycle busted inner tubes!

PS Please be sure to vote for Greg Rides Trails in the Crank World Cycling Blog Honors! If you voted yesterday, don't worry: you can cast 1 vote in each category every day!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cranklisted: World Cycling Blog Honors, 2011--VOTE NOW!

Hey guys,

I just wanted to let you know that the Crank World Cycling Blog Honors, 2011 edition is now open for voting! Last year, Greg Rides Trails was only a few months old when this competition came around. Still, all of you voted like crazy and pushed GRT up into one of the top 5 spots in the mountain bike category!

This blog has grown so much over the last year that I am confident that we have a shot for the #1 spot!

If you enjoy reading Greg Rides Trails, please head on over to Cranklisted and let the world know by voting for Greg Rides Trails in the mountain bike category!

You are able to cast your vote once per day in each category, beginning yesterday and running all the way until June 1st. So vote now, and vote often!

Let's do this!

PS While you're there, be sure to vote for Bike Shop Girl in the women's category!


Monday, May 16, 2011

My Top Five: The Best Mountain Bike Trails in Western North Carolina

I've got a new blog post live on Singletracks.com!

From the post:
Trying to pick the 5 “best” mountain bike trails in Western North Carolina (WNC) is kind of like trying to pick the 5 best $5,000 mountain bikes. They’re all amazing, but they’re all just a little bit different. So while I’m picking these trails because I think they’re really great and may in fact be the best, I’m also choosing these specific trails in an effort to portray the incredible diversity of the mountain biking opportunities available in WNC.
 Be sure to check out the full article to see which trails I chose for the top 5!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wounded Warriors 100K

George W. Bush takes a group of wounded veterans out for a 100k bike ride. Apparently, he was at the front of the pack charging hard, took a hard endo off of a rock, got up, and kept on trucking!



Friday, May 13, 2011

Mountain Biking in Sunny California

This past April was my second time attending the Sea Otter Classic, and while I was very excited for the expo and all it entails, I was almost just as excited to rip the beautiful hills of Fort Ord again!

The riding there in Monterey is completely different from the trails I ride every day here in Georgia. For starters, there are very few trees, so the views are wide-open and absolutely breathtaking:

Secondly, the singletrack is very smooth and flowy, with some wicked fast descents! While I love the challenge of gnarly trails, it's nice to just go fast every now and then.

Rider: Tony Caruso. Photo: Greg Heil.

I rode all of the trails that I had ridden last year, as some of them are just so stinking fun! I noticed that some of the trails had been rerouted in a much more sustainable fashion, and that there were even a couple of newly-constructed extensions onto some of the trails close by :Laguna Seca: 

Several of the trails that I first rode last year I also rode 3 days in a row this year because they were so stinking fun.... But, I did take the opportunity to venture further afield and try out some new trails. I still haven't even scratched the surface of what is available here at Fort Ord. According to the maps that I've looked at, there's over 80 miles of riding in the trail system!

Several of the new trails that I explored actually had a little bit of technical challenge. There were several sections of exposed sandstone, and a number of entertaining rocky descents to play on. 

Then, I hit the pay dirt! I took a left onto a random trail that I had probably ridden by a half dozen times before, and it turned out to be one of the steepest, gnarliest descents I have ridden in a long time! It started off with a few rock drops, and the drops got progressively larger until the trail transformed into a five-foot-deep gully heading straight down the hillside. Eventually the gully dropped out into some scenic treed singletrack, but even that trail dropped quickly down through the sticks into the valley bottom below. 

I couldn't stop to shoot any photos until I had almost finished slipping and sliding through the gully, but if you multiply this by about 3 times, you'll have an idea of what the most heinously washed out section looked like:

While a part of me wishes there was more technical challenge at Fort Ord in order to really put the different test bikes through their paces, I always enjoy my time shredding the sandy dirt of these coastal California mountains!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ride, Eat, Sleep, Repeat...

This is pretty much the only way to live life!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ridgeline Trail Video

The Airborne Zeppelin Elite on the Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Bike Box

I wonder what this is?!


Airborne Goblin 29er: Thoughts from my First Ride

It was so satisfying to see the Airborne Goblin in real life and in its completed form. The Goblin is the first bike that the Flight Crew has had a hand in designing. We all gave our input on what we thought would be good for this bike, and what we didn’t want to see. Some people were more influential than others, but we all got to be a part of the design process… it was truly a unique opportunity!

Not only did I get to take a look at it while out at Sea Otter, but I got to take it out for a nice long ride on some beautiful California singletrack. Here is my “first impressions review,” but I will post another, more detailed, review once I have spent a few months riding mine (which should arrive this week).

The first thing I noticed is that the Goblin climbs like a beast! Coming from a heavy dual suspension bike with over 5 inches of travel, I felt like a rocket flying straight up all of the climbs on this light hardtail! The lockout on the fork is definitely a great touch for those long gravel road (or paved) climbs, and I definitely made use of it.

Even on the steep, dusty singletrack climbs, I didn’t feel like I suffered from the reduced traction that I have heard some 29er riders complain about.

This is a hardtail, so the descents were all much harsher than I’m used to. But with a little acclimation, I was shredding the descents at nearly the speed I would on a FS. The trails at Fort Ord are largely smooth and fast, so there weren’t really any technical areas to worry about. In short, these trails were perfect for a hardtail 29er. A better assessment of the Goblin's descending prowess will have to wait for some gnarly East Coast singletrack, but based upon my initial assessment I am confident that it will perform with excellence when compared to other hardtails.

If I rode these gorgeous trails everyday, a hardtail would definitely be my go-to bike!
One of the other things I was curious about is how the big wheels would perform in the corners. I could definitely feel the size of the wheels as I navigated the trail, but I never felt seriously hindered in the sharp switchbacks or even in some of the big bermed turns. Again, the tight, twisty trails of my local Appalachian forest will be a much harsher test environment for these big wheels.

The component spec on the Goblin is stunning for the $1199 price point. I’ll delve into the individual components and such in much more detail after I’ve put more use on my own rig, but for now be sure to check out my review of the SRAM X7 2x10 drivetrain. The rest of the components include Avid Elixir R brakes, a Rock Shox Reba fork (with lockout), a Selle San Marco SPID saddle, WTB Trail 29 wheel set, and Kenda Small Block 8 tires. The white Airborne branded bars and seatpost are also a great touch, rounding out the Airborne image and helping to draw the white component color scheme across the whole bike.


As I mentioned above, the trails at Fort Ord are definitely 29er hardtail territory. I am very interested to see how the Goblin performs on my home terrain. There are many, many more rocks, roots, and drops, and we have an abundance of sharp terrain changes and tight trails that require precision handling. After I have been able to put a few hundred miles on this steed, I will report back with my final verdict!

But for now, it is all thumbs up!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bib Shorts: I’m a Believer

I have long been skeptical of the benefits of bib shorts. Every time I saw someone squeezing into a pair I just thought that they looked really uncomfortable and awkward. I had to try a pair out myself before I could understand the true benefits.

Bibs truly are the right tool for the job on long cross country rides. The lack of a painful seam along your waist really is wonderful, and you don’t have to worry about flashing your crack to people behind you. In addition, the shoulder straps help keep the shorts perfectly in place. The chamois stays firmly attached to the appropriate parts of your anatomy at all times. I’ll try to spare you all of the intimate details...

But like I said, they are the right tool for long cross country rides. Any other application, and I'll still pass on the bibs. A short commute to work or school? Nah. Almost any ride under 10 miles? I’ll pass. And don’t even get me started on freeriding or anything on the more aggressive side….

One of the only down sides that I’ve noticed is the additional material on my back, which feels quite a bit hotter. Right now with temps in the 70s it’s not a big deal, but once it starts pushing 90 and 95… the more cloth you can shed, the better!

The other downside is that no matter who you are, you look kinda queer walking into your local convenience store in spandex.

I guess it’s a cycling thing…

PS: I just noticed that Marty Tank also blogged briefly about his first bib shorts experience. We each wrote these blog posts independent of each other!


Monday, May 2, 2011

WTB Bronson 2.3" AM Tire Review

I have been riding this pair of tires from WTB for the past several months, and I finally feel comfortable enough to have written a review of them.  Be sure to check out the main post on Singletracks.com for my thoughts on these tires!




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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com. 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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