The comprehensive, omnibus Mountain Bike Thread

SpaceCritter

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#1, you don't have to do remediation. Trails don't need to be dumbed down so everyone can ride them. They don't need to be smooth, flowy with no area that can't be ridden. Not every tree needs to be remove. Let trails wear in, let them evolve, if they get harder to ride then so be it. I have ridden the same trail system for 30 years, it get no trail work. The trails have worn in and stopped eroding, not every part is easy to ride, but it doesn't need to be.

#2 Everyone needs to stop expecting/ demanding smooth trails. To bad if some 40 year old soccer mom can't walk it while drinking her starbucks and yapping on her phone, its a trail in the woods, not a paved path. Plus It really doesn't benefit riders...here's an example. Mtn bikers did extensive trail maintenance to a local trail, they bench cut a 4 to 6 foot wide trail through the wood, removed any down tree and hardened any erosion area. Now the trail was smooth and flowy. But now also brutally fast for a flat curvy trail with no line of sight. They dumbed down the trail to the point the only way it was fun was at warp speed, they remove anything that would help control your speed. Mtn bikers got kicked out of there because the speed difference was too great. Plus the hikers complained the trail weren't like hiking in nature anymore. If they just left the trails alone, then they would have still been riding there.

This is the trail. they could have paved it and we would just all run slicks
View attachment 270872
Jesus, where do I begin...

#1. On yes we do. They need to be sustainable. If not, they'll turn to shit. My first (and nearest-and-dearest) riding area: the West Block of the Naugatuck State Forest. Also known as Gnaratuck. Old-old school, as in old farm roads and dirt paths, built on fall-line cuz nobody knew any better, and which, when the bad rains came in, turned into stream beds. No maintenance, so, for the most part unrideable now. Hell, several of the old fire roads are now a challenge even for the fire department's gators. In fact, after the May 15 storm, a lot of them are now in the process of being reclaimed by Mother Nature... as she will do. Part of proper trail design and construction is to build in a manner that, with a minimum of resources (especially labor), trails will stay together and usable, and thus open.

#2. There's a place for gnar, but in crowded parts of New England, we have to contend with land managers (e.g. CT DEEP) who have to serve their constituents, who by and large ain't us. Therefore, we have to design for shared use. Getting and maintaining access is a CONSTANT BATTLE. As for 4-6' trail beds: that's doubletrack, not singletrack. Not sure what the designer was thinking. User management and conflict mitigation are part of proper trail design, and that includes speed management, sight lines, ... No wonder we lost access! An ideal design is a stacked-loop system, with the granny-walker and baby-carriage trails close to the parking lot, and our stuff farther out. You WILL note that is was the mountain bikers and NOT the grannies that were kicked out of the place you mentioned. Onus is on us, and always has been.

Compare and contrast your photo versus, say:
20181201_115518.jpg

Or:


Or:
20170217_071402.jpg

Good trails don't just fall out of the sky like manna from heaven. Someone has to build them, and someone has to maintain them (and the better job the first guy does, the less work the second has to do). And before any of that can be, the guy who owns the place, or his agent - the land manager - has to agree to allow it to happen, and then has to agree to allow it to continue to happen.
 

Supermoto

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I appreciate the time and effort that people put into trails, but to often trail maintenance just dumbing down trails. removing anything technical, down trees and logs. I rode a place on Long island that was great, had a few nice drops, good mix of smooth and roots. Came back a year later, all the drops had ramps on the backside and a lot of the roots were covered with dirt, paving stone all over the place. It went from a place that was fun on a full suspension to a place that was good for a gravel bike. They could have at least put in a B line for people that don't want to ride anything technical. God forbid someone has to actually get off their bike to get over a log or on to a bridge.
 

mtnbiker26

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Trail sanitation is a thing because the bike industry wants to sell expensive bikes to poseurs rather than maintain the notion that mountain biking is supposed to be difficult and takes a few years to become proficient at. The athletic dudes in their teens and 20's have been priced out of the sport and they've been replaced with crusty 50 year olds buying trophy bikes that require zero rider skill. Idiots actually think that 150mm of travel, 67 degree headtube angles and drooper posts are necessary for XC riding. Mountain biking is the new golf and DH bikes are the new XC bikes.
 

Supermoto

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they've been replaced with crusty 50 year olds buying trophy bikes that require zero rider skill. Idiots actually think that 150mm of travel, 67 degree headtube angles and drooper posts are necessary for XC riding. Mountain biking is the new golf and DH bikes are the new XC bikes.
XC is super easy on a 150mm bike when it has a motor on it. Cheap at 12K too

 

Fritz the Cat

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We have some great trails here out west (Berkshire). I still ride my 1st bikes, an 80's era Fuji and a Cannondale SM200 made in 88. All hard, stiff riding. Can't bring myself to spend the coin on a new ride. And the cheaper bikes are, well, cheap.
Fun thread, I've been enjoying it
 

new guy

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I wonder how much work goes into my local trails (MA state park). I know there’s a team that does some basic maintenance - picking up downed trees, replacing bridges, etc. - and every once in a while a trail will be opened, or redirected, but much of the single track feels pretty wild.
 

Fritz the Cat

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I wonder how much work goes into my local trails (MA state park). I know there’s a team that does some basic maintenance - picking up downed trees, replacing bridges, etc. - and every once in a while a trail will be opened, or redirected, but much of the single track feels pretty wild.
The trail at Bear Town Mountain is single track and is built and maintained by volunteers. It was built maybe 15 years ago. Someone from the state, park commissioner maybe, came and reviewed the plan and then gave permission for the construction. All we really did, and still do, is trim back the undergrowth and low branches. It's not on any map and just a bit shorter than the bridle trail. All hand saws or pruning shears.
There is also the bridle trail and multi use trails. Multi use can get pretty beaten up but are good to use as connectors. The trails on the map are maintained by the State. Lots of dirt roads, too.
 

SpaceCritter

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I appreciate the time and effort that people put into trails, but to often trail maintenance just dumbing down trails. removing anything technical, down trees and logs. I rode a place on Long island that was great, had a few nice drops, good mix of smooth and roots. Came back a year later, all the drops had ramps on the backside and a lot of the roots were covered with dirt, paving stone all over the place. It went from a place that was fun on a full suspension to a place that was good for a gravel bike. They could have at least put in a B line for people that don't want to ride anything technical. God forbid someone has to actually get off their bike to get over a log or on to a bridge.
A well-designed trail and trail system will provide exactly that. (Example: Rockland) A lot of the stuff I've worked on have had optional lines for technical features, or B lines around technical stretches.

The last major case we've had of someone sterilizing trails wasn't a rider at all: it was an older woman who was a trail runner and "was tired of tripping over those damned roots and rocks!" [thinking]
 

JRT

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Trail sanitation is a thing because the bike industry wants to sell expensive bikes to poseurs rather than maintain the notion that mountain biking is supposed to be difficult and takes a few years to become proficient at. The athletic dudes in their teens and 20's have been priced out of the sport and they've been replaced with crusty 50 year olds buying trophy bikes that require zero rider skill. Idiots actually think that 150mm of travel, 67 degree headtube angles and drooper posts are necessary for XC riding. Mountain biking is the new golf and DH bikes are the new XC bikes.
Where is this connection made between the bike industry and trail builders? I work on the trail network here in Philadelphia and we have some amazing trails in the city, over 75 miles of some of the best single track you will find. The work is done by a handful of dedicated people on a shoestring budget from the city. I want some of this bike industry money.
 

SpaceCritter

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Someone from the state, park commissioner maybe, came and reviewed the plan and then gave permission for the construction.
The thing a lot of people don't understand is what's involved in getting stuff built. We're constantly after people not to build rogue trails - they piss land managers off, and can get us booted. That said, I've had more cause to close shortcuts made by hikers than our people.

To get something new built - or even to do beyond basic maintenance - can require a lot of patience. With CT DEEP, for example, there's an entire process in place in terms of getting approvals, and given both their present budget situation, and still dealing with damage from the May 15 storm, they're not in any rush to approve anything. They're the "devil you know" - the devils we don't are the locals: town parks commissions, land trusts, etc. Sometimes they're great - the land manager here in town is a NEMBA board member! - sometimes not so much.
 

SpaceCritter

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Where is this connection made between the bike industry and trail builders? I work on the trail network here in Philadelphia and we have some amazing trails in the city, over 75 miles of some of the best single track you will find. The work is done by a handful of dedicated people on a shoestring budget from the city. I want some of this bike industry money.
We've gotten money from the industry, either in terms of grants for trail projects, or general support in the form of event sponsorships. Kona sponsors a fundraiser ride series (i.e. they pay the insurance bill). I know everyone here is gonna cringe, but REI gives a ton of money for trail construction projects.

Rockland Bike Park | Madison, CT (REI's share was fifteen grand IIRC)

Edit: Oh, and local shops, too, even though a lot of them aren't exactly raking in millions.
 
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Fritz the Cat

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We're constantly after people not to build rogue trails - they piss land managers off, and can get us booted
Having some respect for other people's property is vitally important in all aspects of outdoor activities. Some of the local swimming holes have been fenced off because of littering. A local Mtn bike trail was fenced off due to people ripping it up with KTMs.
It's sad how little regard some people have for private property.
 

JRT

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We've gotten money from the industry, either in terms of grants for trail projects, or general support in the form of event sponsorships. Kona sponsors a fundraiser ride series (i.e. they pay the insurance bill). I know everyone here is gonna cringe, but REI gives a ton of money for trail construction projects.

Rockland Bike Park | Madison, CT (REI's share was fifteen grand IIRC)

Edit: Oh, and local shops, too, even though a lot of them aren't exactly raking in millions.
We receive the very same grants and donations. I guess the influence happens above my volunteer pay grade. Other than getting approval from the city, which is a true challenge, we build the trails that make sense. Sometimes stupidly tight and twisty and sometimes fast and flowy.
 

SpaceCritter

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Having some respect for other people's property is vitally important in all aspects of outdoor activities. Some of the local swimming holes have been fenced off because of littering. A local Mtn bike trail was fenced off due to people ripping it up with KTMs.
It's sad how little regard some people have for private property.
...or even public property. We almost lost access to a park where we developed a seven-mile beginner-intermediate network, not due to anything we (MTB) did, but due to picnickers. They were literally turning the place into a shithole. "Literally" as in not only were they leaving a ton of litter everywhere, they were actually shitting all over the picnic area and our trails. You'd come down the main trail towards the picnic area, and see all of these little white TP mounds.

Then again, I can't tell you the number of times I've stepped out of the truck in the parking lot of a park or forest and looked down to see used condoms. (Needless to say, I never put anything down in the parking lot - shoes and tires only.)
 

mtnbiker26

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Where is this connection made between the bike industry and trail builders? I work on the trail network here in Philadelphia and we have some amazing trails in the city, over 75 miles of some of the best single track you will find. The work is done by a handful of dedicated people on a shoestring budget from the city. I want some of this bike industry money.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I'm saying that unauthorized trail sanitization is becoming more prevalent because the skill of the average rider is decreasing due to the bike industry marketing high end bikes to poseurs who are on the wrong side of the risk/reward ratio. The skateboarder/BMX'er mentality is gone and it's no longer about the challenge and satisfaction of learning new skills and conquering gnarly sections of trail on a simple bike...It's all about buying fancier shit to make the trail easier to ride yet all these tards still manage to suck so they just modify the stuff that's too hard for them. A decent bike is about $6k now so the target demographic has changed and the bike industry is focusing on "accessibility" which is really just a polite way of saying that we need to make the sport less challenging and more fun so that more people with more money will participate and we can sell more bikes. I miss the old days when the inherent difficulty of the sport just excluded all the wimps.

A bit off topic but tourism has become a big factor as well. It used to be just Moab and Sedona but the explosion of Bend OR, Kingdom Trails, Asheville NC in the last decade has made folks realize that there's still a pile of money to be made in adventure tourism. Killington invested huge money a few years ago and Ascutney is trying to make a comeback and literally save the town with a new outdoors center and new trail network. Just look at what's happening with the Smarts Brook trails near Waterville with the state and IMBA trying to take over the "secret" trails and make them more beginner friendly.
 

Viper22

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Going to have to head back in time and read the previous 28 pages of this thread. I've recently got back into mountain biking this year - after MANY years off. Realized how outdated my bike is after riding with a co-worker at Leadmine in Sturbridge. He's got a '19 Pivot Trail429...what a nice ride. Soooooo after a recent trip to my local bike shop, I'll be taking delivery of a Giant Trance 29 2 next Wednesday. Should be a blast to ride compared to my old & outdated hardtail.
 

Viper22

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I'm still riding that 2004 Stinky. [laugh]
At least that's a full suspension. Current ride until I get the Trance is a Specialized Hardrock. 100mm up front/hardtail. 3x8 drivetrain with worn-out crap Shimano components, and wheels which will never be true again & v-brakes.

I can't wait for full suspension 130mm F/115mm R, disc brakes, and 1x drivetrain.
 
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SpaceCritter

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At least that's a full suspension. Current ride until I get the Trance is a Specialized Hardrock. 100mm up front/hardtail. 3x8 drivetrain with worn-out crap Shimano components, and wheels which will never be true again & v-brakes.

I can't wait for full suspension, disc brakes, and 1x drivetrain.
Honestly the worn-out components and out of true is a much bigger deal than the no-squish, depending, of course, on what you're doing. I do spend a substantial amount of time on:
20181211_073117.jpg
which is fully rigid save the big squishy tires.
 

Viper22

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I hear ya. Where I'm at with the Specialized is, it isn't worth updating the wheels, fork, brakes, drivetrain.....at that point I'll have a good chunk of change sunk into a bike that is riding on a wheel size with quickly dwindling support. Given the hub size, I also have limitations on upgrading from the 3x8 drivetrain to a 2x or 1x.
 

SpaceCritter

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What the hell is that thing? And did I actually used to see bright orange newts/salamanders growing up as a kid here in New England in the 80s or am I imagining that because of your picture?
DEEP: Red-Spotted Newt

Last year, the day of the big storm (5/15) I was riding over there at Naugy on roughly the same "reservoir tour" loop I did today. Unlike today, you could cut the air with a knife. That day, I didn't see just a few here and there like I did today, I saw hundreds, marching south down the red trail.

Naugy has lots of vernal pools (in addition to the four reservoirs, and some smaller bodies of water here and there) so I really shouldn't find it surprising. I've never seen so many, though, and they were in abundance all of last season.
 

new guy

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Over the weekend I rode to Wompatuck and was ~8 miles into a ride when my back tire went completely flat while coming around a corner on flat ground. I had a big old 1" rip in the sidewall (tubeless). I had been battling roots and rocks for most of the ride so presumably it was weakened and just decided to let go in the corner. I was just under 4 miles from home so I just walked it back, despite having a backpack with a pump and a spare tube. I didn't think the tube would stay put given the size of the tear, but mostly I just hate having to fix flats on the side of a trail so I didn't even bother.

Will a tube stay put long enough to get home, despite the sidewall having such a big rip in it?

While I was walking out some dude on what I guess is a cyclocross bike came over out of nowhere and offered to help me fix the flat if I wanted. I showed him the tear and thanked him anyway. He took off, and I think he went into the woods on it. So now I had a good long walk ahead of me and plenty of time to think about the strange bike he was on, and the fact that he was riding it off road. What's the deal with cyclocross bikes? Can someone who weighs 200lbs+ really ride one of them in the woods, skinny tires and all? I wouldn't expect to be able to crawl over roots and rocks and stuff on one, but it sounds like they're just fine on most singletrack. The prospect of going faster over moderate terrain is intriguing...
 

mtnbiker26

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Pick up a tire boot and wrap your spare around it. Park makes a 3-pack so keep one with your road tube, one with your mtb tube, etc. Any thin, flexible plastic will also work. I used an empty GU packet on the road once and I think most folks have heard of the dollar bill patch.

I'd be surprised to see a CX bike on the trails in Wompatuck...especially this time of year. You can ride them on gnarly stuff but it's much less forgiving than even a fully rigid 26'er. More PSI in the tires, no suspension, death grip on the hoods and a long front end that's harder to lift. You pretty much get rattled to death.

Gravel bikes are the new thing. It's similar to a cross bike but the frame will accommodate much wider tires, usually a double chainring, and has more mounts for racks and fenders. Some are set up more like a cross bike but they can also be set up with 650B x 50 (27.5"x 2") so they're basically 29'ers. Add in hydraulic disc brakes, tubeless and some wider handlebars and they do okay on the easy/moderate mtb trails if you know how to ride smoothly. Early MTB racers used drop bars because they were all roadies switching over to dirt. Check out John Tomac and the Yeti C26 for a neato history lesson. It can be hard to find miles and miles of gravel roads down this way so "mixed terrain" rides are common. It's totally possible that dude left his house, rode to Blue Hills and covered all the fireroads, rode to Wompatuck for some more gravel and then rode home.
 

new guy

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Yeah, wompatuck is pretty bumpy but I bet I could still string a decent route together that avoids most of the rocky/rooty stuff. The problem is that it would be the same route, every time, as Wompatuck is about the only place I find myself riding lately.

I didn’t realize gravel bikes were a separate thing. That may have been what he was on.
 

mtnbiker26

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The UCI limits CX tire widths to 34mm so the frames don't have much tire clearance. It's a race bike so it needs to be light and the position is aggressive to weight that front wheel. Bottle cages, fenders, racks are useless so a lot of custom CX bikes don't have any mounts. The course is tight so the frame geometry is designed for agility. We all used them for occasional gravel events too because it was the best option.

Over the past decade there has been a lot of growth in ultra endurance dirt road events like the Dirty Kansa, D2R2 (Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee), Rasputitsa, etc so the "Gravel" category was born. Clearance for wider tires, more upright rider position, more stable geometry. Lots of folks want to get off the roads and away from distracted drivers so Gravel is growing in areas with lots of dirt roads. Bikepacking/touring is coming back but it's more off-road oriented this time so some Gravel bikes have lots of fender/pannier mounts. Around here there are lots of gravel events and the easy/moderate ones make a lot of sense for the enthusiast-non-racer. It's a 100 mile day but go at your own pace, have fun, it's not a race, no fundraising, stop and smell the flowers but it's still an organized event with support and probably a bunch of cool dirt roads you've never ridden. There are also some brutal gravel events like the 180k length of D2R2 or Rasputitsa, both in VT, that attract the masochist types.

It's also a new category of bikes for shops to sell. $$$
 
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