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A Newbs take on single track

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
Trip Report Singletracks of South Park, PA

So about a month ago I finally got my 12 year old mountain bike up to running shape. I started doing some rail to trail rides at first, but this was kinda of boring......so I found some little double track of the main trail down in boston. This was fun but still lacking, it was kinda of easy, I wanted something that I could hurt myself on if I screwed up. So quick trip to www.pittsburghmountainbiking.com I find that Pittsburgh isnt only a good city for mountain biking, but possiably one of the best in the nation. Tons of single tracks of varying skill level and lenght all around the city. I find out that south Park, Pa has about 20 miles by itself with some easier stuff(read stuff that i could do). I drive out there about 7pm, and go exploring till I cant see anymore. It was blast and although for me, I doubt it ever replaces skiing, its going to make times and place with no snow fun for me again. I really wish I knew about all this stuff earlier in life. The feeling of swooping up and down hills coming around banks turns, crossing stream, jumping ramps, and just how fast 20mph though woods really feels reminds me off skiing. Like skiing there is physical extertion but the fun factor here more than out weighs it.

and plus outside sure beat a copmuter screen...here are some pictures I will try to get better ones tonight.
Attachment 777
http://community.webshots.com/myphotos?action=viewAllPhotos&albumID=552962745&se curity=qmJkeX
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post #2 of 53
BW,

You pretty much nailed it. It won't ever replace skiing, but it's a lot of fun and a great way to enjoy the warm months. There definitely are a lot of the same sensations riding some good single track as you get skiing. And yeah, Pittsburgh is a good place for MTBing. I've never ridden around there, but I've been through/around P'burgh, and the local terrain looks really appealing. I've really only been at it more seriously for about 5 years, but it seems like a good summer adrenaline rush for people who are maybe not the youngest, but don't want to get their exercise in a stinky gym going nowhere.
post #3 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH
BW,

You pretty much nailed it. It won't ever replace skiing, but it's a lot of fun and a great way to enjoy the warm months. .
I know what you mean, but in the opposite way.

I guess it depends of what came first. I love to ski and more so as I get better, but if I had to choose between Mtn biking and skiing*, it would be mtn biking. I've been biking since 1992. Been skiing (seriously)since the 03-04 season. Yea, for me skiing won't ever replace mtn biking, but it is a lot of fun and a great way to enjoy the colder months.

Plus I can bike year-round!

*Fortunately, I don't have to choose between the two sports. I intend to ski and bike for as long as I am able. It warms my heart to see folks in their 80s skiing and biking.
post #4 of 53
just a suggestion, for trail riding, people to ride with, etc. check out mtbr.com. In the forums section, there is a regional section, as well as a trails index.
post #5 of 53
Thread Starter 
Was out again last night riding on the numerous and many miles of singletracks avaliable out at South Park,PA . I actually felt as if I knew what I was doing last night. It felt as if I started to flow instead of fighting the trail. Something I am picking up is shifting right before you need lower gear works best for climbing, staying light on you feet in rough terrain(trails around here are very rooty), and just looking ahead(like auto racing).

I am having a blast and actually enjoy it so much I was out till sunset last night.

I will check out MTBR.com soon enough, but any pittsburgh area bears want to meet at South Park or anywhere else?

also webshot album has been updated, and will continue to be each day I go out.
post #6 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA
It felt as if I started to flow instead of fighting the trail.
The Flow! That's it. When you feel like you are flowing then you have got it. Welcome to the sport of mtn biking!
post #7 of 53
Tight, twisty east coast singletrack is the warm weather version of a powder day.
post #8 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesdeluxe View Post
Tight, twisty east coast singletrack is the warm weather version of a powder day.
Totally agreed not to mention the weather has been really pleasant in Pittsburgh lately. I have been out everynight this week. Just the one local trail system alone that I have been hitting has like 30 miles of singletrack with loops and such.

A little back ground about myself, back when I was around 8 my family would frequent rails to trails nearly every night, by the time I was 11 I had 3 nice bikes, a Haro BMX racer that I rode in the inter group at the local track with some success and also dirt jumped everyday, my family didnt go biking, a loner redline BMX race rig and my Schwinn Moab Mountain Bike I rode on the road, rail to trails and very limited off road.Whatever I would ride everyday hard, long and fast: I was decent. Big for my age(5'10) at 11 I could muscle up with adults riding road bikes and beat them....life was good my best friend was my dad, we rode everyday he would even take out the other BMX bike and come jumping with me. Labor Day 1994, worse thing that could happen to a 11 yearold kid, my dad, my hero, the person that pushed me all my life, flips over the handle bars and breaks his neck.....C7 quad no movement below the chest,cant even grip anything to this day. the emotional pain was enough that I stopped riding bikes and when I did a few years later it wasnt for the same reasons. Luckly for me despite me losing my passion of biking at the time, I held on to the Haro, and the Schwinn and since at 11 I was fully grown I never out grew those bikes(the redline the bike my dad crashed on is long gone though)

Flash forward 11 years to a month ago a buddy of mine that helps out adaptive sports with me, is talking about riding single track and how much its like skiing and says he will help me get my bike back ot tip top shape. We fix the bent crank, cassette in the rear, adjust everything, put new tires on, and its good to go.

First time out about 3 weeks ago riding the hilly not so smooth roads of the South Hills I am like "wow this is a blast" started to put some decent miles on my bike, last week did my first off road trail, this sunday my first singletrack and I must say this is the best thing that has happened to me in quite a while. I no long dread summer, or fall, in fact I look forward to sunny rain free days now. all my old memories of dirt jumping, and BMXing are coming back to me and I am picking up quickly the new skill for riding rooty, rocky singletrack. I again get to find my place in this world, and am happy because of it. As for my dad you can see he a little jealous I am taking it back up again, but at the same time happy for me.I will still miss those sunny, fall weekend when we would rack up 50+ miles on road and bike trails, but "Dont frown because its over, smile because it happen"

Josh signing off and his longest post ever.......
post #9 of 53
you got me in the mood, I am going tonight.
post #10 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese View Post
you got me in the mood, I am going tonight.
back feeling better?

edited for inadvertend multiquote
post #11 of 53
supposed back in the mid 80's tomorrow (instead of high 90's). I think the single track 2 miles from home is calling my name.
post #12 of 53
My bike sucks. might be time to invest in a new one.
post #13 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese View Post
My bike sucks. might be time to invest in a new one.
Maybe you could look at this thread for some ideas on a new bike

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=42333
post #14 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese View Post
My bike sucks. might be time to invest in a new one.
what's the over/under on that?
post #15 of 53
I'm about 1.5 hrs below Pittsburgh, and am also newb to MTB-ing. Hopped my first log recently.
From what I hear, there are scads of good riding spots both up there and down here.
post #16 of 53
You go Frau!
post #17 of 53
Thread Starter 
Sweet pic frau I intend to make it down it down at sometime to WV, what trail is that and what city.
post #18 of 53
Hey Bush, I just talked to Phil. He said to tell you he's demoing a Trek Fuel8 Right Now!

post #19 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frau View Post
I'm about 1.5 hrs below Pittsburgh, and am also newb to MTB-ing. Hopped my first log recently.
From what I hear, there are scads of good riding spots both up there and down here.
Your technique looks great, there!

We don't get many of those in Colorado.
post #20 of 53
Thread Starter 
Me and phil have to organize midalantic MTB day on are new FS bikes , whos know I might actually make it to that one.

On the log sitution here in the allegheny mountain and foothills, there are many down logs, at first I kinda of hated them but now I think they are a blast.
post #21 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
Sweet pic frau I intend to make it down it down at sometime to WV, what trail is that and what city.
Well, that one was taken in Maryland (I think) - place called Patapsco? I was being shown around by a local while I was in the DC area the other week.

Locally here, I was to Big Bear Lake the other week - where they have the "24 Hours of Big Bear" race.
I'm learning how to deal with lots of rocks and roots. Sometimes I walk. Sometimes I gasp for Oxygen
post #22 of 53
Thread Starter 
Alittle update for the past week....

Monday was a hour and half ride with my buddy over at south park, nothing new really going slower than I would by myself and taking alot more breaks than I would have normally.

I check my local MTB clubs website the next day, and see they have a group ride about 50min away. they rated the Pace at Inter and the technical at inter too. I make the drive up to Harrison Hills park, and barely make it on time. Pack up my Camelback Menace(yes I have been using a skiing pack to MTB with), unload my bike. Oh do I look the newbie part, everyone there has clipless pedals, outta of the 20 people there 3 including myself have hardtails, one of the hardtail riders was on a 29er so she doesnt count ha. I introduce myself to the group leader say I may struggle alittle(judging by the other bikers bikes and clothings) and if I cant keep up, my fault for showing up to the wrong ride, leave me behind I dont want to slow anyone else down. Well we started riding and even though I was out of my comfort zone with the pace and and technically of the trails we were on, but not so far outta of my league that I couldnt keep up. I keep plugging away watching the riders around me, for those that dont know I learn very well by watching. Things start to click again as if I am on my local trails beside one section of pretty high logs I am now not only am I keeping up I am screwing up less than the people in front of me and they start to let me pass. People start to compliment me for hte fact I am on flat pedals. We end up doing 12.4 miles that night the furtherest I have went on singletrack at one time so far.

Somethings I observed that night,

alot of the guys in the club have removed their biggest sprocket and replaced it with a rock guard, they were the only one not high-centering on the biggest logs. I may do that when I get my new bike consider they say it take about 10 min to put the big sprocket back on.

Everyone had cycle specific clothing on, I stick out like sore thumb.

Are clipless pedal really that superior? I was able to climb with these guys fine on a outdated bike with flats. I think I would be scared to ride this soon in clipless pedal, the old BMXer/Dirt Jumper in me likes riding on flats.

Expect some non blurry pictures as soon as I can upload them, been trying to use photobucket but its giving my computer fits....grrrr.

I will be riding everyday from today till Saturday, saturday will be my first "epic" ride. They are planning on doing a 34 mile out and back with some smaller loops throw in from Hartwood Acres to North Park for those of you who know the area.
post #23 of 53
Hey Bush...,

The bash guard thing in place of your big ring is, in my opinion, unnecessary. I had one for a while and I found that I missed having my big ring for road riding and for flying down fire roads in the woods. Also, the big ring is just as stronger and stronger than most of those bash guards are. So what's the big deal. Sure I scrape up my big ring on the occasional rock but, so far, I have never broken one.

On cycle specific clothing. I always wear cycling shorts and almost never wear a cycling jersey. I like the feel of a comfy cotton t-shirt. On hot days I will wear a cool-max type jersey because I can soak it down with water and it feels cool, not clingy.

On flat pedals vs. clipless. I use the clipless and could not ride well on flats- but I see younger guys in the woods who are way better than I ever will be - and they are all on flats these days. Matter of personal preference I guess.
post #24 of 53
Clipless is the ONLY way to go.
post #25 of 53
Thread Starter 
well the new Haro that I may be buying comes with clipless pedals, I will probably at first go down to the local rails to trails and do some road riding on them to get a feel for them.

I do have some bike shorts on order from REI right now, made by Pearl. I have been using really light weight shorts those dont really fit right for biking.

On removing the large sprocket I am not worried about the durability of the large sprocket I ahve hit it many time on my current bike with no problems, but that the thing I keep hitting it, I think I need to learn how to bunny hop well again.
post #26 of 53
Most better chainrings have removable rings. Not a bad idea to get an extra one.
post #27 of 53
Bush...,

When I went clipless I made 2 mistakes. 1, I got a brand new bike and learned to use the clipless pedals on it. I bashed and scratched that poor frame up from all the falling I did not being able to unclip in a split second like I now can. I should have put clipless pedals on my old bike to get used to them.

Mistake 2, The bike shop owners wife tought me how to use the clipless pedals in the shop and she adjusted them for me. Shwe set them way too tight, but as a newb I did'nt know that. So I struggled with getting clicked in and clicking out until a buddy said, " Man those are set way too tight." So he loosened them up for me and what a difference it mad in ease of use. Even now after riding clipless for 5 years I still keep them loose as possible.

Another piece of unasked for advice: Get the pedals that you can ride with normas shoes on, not those crank bros. egg beaters or those little round knob things. That way if you want to ride your bike down to the store or if you for got your mtb shoes, etc. you can ride in street shoes, sneakers, flip plops, whatever.

OK I'll shut up now.
post #28 of 53
When you are getting used to the clipless pedals, try them out on the lawn first. Grass hurts less than gravel.
And...start out with only one shoe clipped in. That will give you a bit of grace when you're getting used to them.
within a few rides you'll wonder why you didn't have them before.
post #29 of 53
in the matter of clips vs. clipless, I would search mtbr.com - there is quite a diversity of opinion on which way to go.

Not putting down anyone here, you'll just be getting opinions from a MUCH larger pond there.
post #30 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
Another piece of unasked for advice: Get the pedals that you can ride with normas shoes on, not those crank bros. egg beaters or those little round knob things. That way if you want to ride your bike down to the store or if you for got your mtb shoes, etc. you can ride in street shoes, sneakers, flip plops, whatever.
This is the only thing I somewhat disagree with. I have Crank Bros Candy's on both my MTB and roadie. They have a bit of a platform, so you can use a regular shoe. And the egg beater cleat fits within the tread of my MTB shoes, so I can walk on pavement and the cleat doesn't touch the pavement (you can walk normally). If you had standard Egg Beaters, then crank's comment is valid, because you really can't use street shoes with them. But then again, SPD style pedals are the most common, especially for bikes that come with clipless pedals, and a standard SPD pedal isn't very good for using with street shoes, as well as the fact that you can't walk with SPD cleats very easily. So my guess is that if you buy a bike that comes with clipless, it'll come with SPDs. That said, if you are buying from a decent shop and actually ask, you may be able to get them to swap the pedals out with some other pedals. you may have to pay the difference if the pedals you select are more expensive. But if the stock clipless pedals came packaged with the bike, they may not be willing to do this if they can't sell the pedals w/o the original box, paperwork, etc.
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