Is It Ever “Too Cold” For A Mountain Biking Vacation?

Whether you’re an avid mountain biker or a total beginner, there’s no better time to start than fall or winter (before the snow begins to pile up, anyway). That’s because it’s more difficult to become dehydrated during cooler months as long as you remember to keep drinking. But it’s also because the fall and winter months are crisper, cooler, and sometimes even much more beautiful from very high up.

Then again, many of us worry about the stinging chill of the wind.

The wind, no matter how strong, no matter how cold, shouldn’t stop you! All it should do is spur you to become more prepared for the elements than you were before. The cold weather months are greatest for mountain biking for one reason above all others: those months are when most learning occurs.

What’s the first thing to remember about biking in cold weather? First, prepare like you would for any other trip. If bikepacking, be sure to have all the food and water you’ll need — and a little extra just in case you run into problems. Bring the right maintenance tools in case your tire pops. Make sure you have an escape plan. If you’re a novice, you don’t want to stray too far from help. In other words, make sure you cell phone works wherever you’re headed.

After that, much of the preparation is about gear. You need to break the wind, and that means warmer clothes to start. In fall or winter, you can’t just head out with a tee-shirt. You need to be thinking about a base layer, mid-layer, and an outer layer (or your shell). That means thermal underwear, maybe a merino wool hoodie, a puffy coat filled with synthetic down to keep your body heat from escaping, and a raincoat and pants when necessary. A light pair of gloves is definitely a requirement, as is a buff or hat to keep your ears covered.

When it gets even colder, you might consider adding a ski jacket to really keep you warm. You’ll want a pair of heavier gloves to go over the lighter pair. You’ll also want a pair of ear muffs, heavy winter cap, and probably a ski mask or balaclava. The goal should be keep every inch of your skin covered. If even a little bit is exposed, then you might come down with frostbite before you even realize something is wrong.

Beyond that, you’ll want to make sure that you have a cold-weather tent. Make sure you’ve picked up a sleeping bag and sleeping pad rated for the temperatures which you’ll likely experience. After all your preparations have been made, go have fun!

Bikepacking 101: What Is It And What Are Bikepacking Best Practices?

If you’re an avid mountain biker, you’ve probably at one point in time wondered what it would be like to head off one day — and then not come back. We all want to run away once in a while, and bikepacking is basically the counterpart to backpacking, an activity that tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts have always loved and cherished. These activities are a way to make life if little simple if only for a little while.

First, you’ll want to find a route good for your level of experience outdoors. You might be an expert mountain biker, but have you ever spent a few nights out in the woods? That’s the real question. Find a long route that caters to your level of experience mountain biking. If you’ve never backpacked or bikepacked before, then make sure that route isn’t too far away from civilization. 

Other hikers, backpackers, or bikepackers should populate this trail. If your bike breaks down, you should be able to easily walk or hike to town, or at least to a road where you can pick up an easy hitch.

What kind of supplies do you need?

High-calorie but low-weight food is important. Peanut butter, instant potatoes, pop-tarts, and candy are all hiking staples. Do some research and decide what’s best for you. A couple pounds a day is the basic rule of thumb. Bring more water than you believe you could need on the trail, and make sure you know where to get more. Don’t forget extra water containers and a water filter. The Sawyer brand of filtration is popular.

Overnight excursions mean you’ll also need to bring along a sleeping bag and tent. Make sure these items are as lightweight as possible, but also ensure they’re rated for the weather you might encounter. Clothing options are equally as important. You’ll want lightweight clothes — nothing cotton — that will keep you cool during the day and then something warm for the night. Bring along a rain jacket to keep you dry when it’s wet.

One important aspect of bikepacking that you have to worry about is maintenance. You don’t get that when you backpack. When bikepacking you’ll need items like extra chains or bolts, multitools, bike pump, bike lock, helmet, etc. On top of tools, you’ll want at least a couple extra tubes and tires. These are heavy but they can be a lifesaver — and at least they’re attached to your bike and not your back.

There are a lot of other considerations to be made. Start here:

 

What’s The Best Way To Learn Spanish Before A Trip To Spain?

English is the most commonly learned second language all over the world, which is great news if you’re an American — it means we don’t have to work as hard when traveling. But some people still think there are a number of restrictions in place when trying to navigate another culture, and that learning a little bit of the native tongue would lift a few of them. So what’s the best way to learn a little Spanish before taking a mountain biking trip to Spain?

Our favorite is Duolingo, by far.

The language-learning app’s best feature is that it’s completely free. Nowadays there is a paid version for those who would like to avoid pop-up ads at the end of each lesson, but the ads really are not all that bothersome.

Duolingo teaches many languages, including romance languages like French, Spanish, or Italian; Germanic languages like Norwegian or German; Asian languages like Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, or Japanese; and even Middle Eastern languages like hebrew or arabic. Believe it or not, you can even learn High Valyrian from Game of Thrones, or Klingon from Star Trek. The app is even rolling out a latin course soon.

You don’t need a smartphone to start, either. You can learn on your computer by heading to www.duolingo.com

Duolingo offers dozens of lessons per language, and helps you learn them by making the process addictive: you earn points for each lesson completed, and there’s even a little owl mascot cheering you on. You earn even more points for opening the app on consecutive days.

Lessons can be intimidating at first, but they grow on you quickly. In each lesson you’ll learn a bit of vocabulary and grammar. Once you “pass” a lesson, you’ll have the option to start learning the next unlocked lesson or complete harder exercises in the previous one.

There are other apps like “babel” that offer a more classroom-like setting with, what critics say, are more useful lessons with Spanish vocabulary you’ll actually use, but unfortunately the classroom approach is outdated and most people don’t stick with it — because it doesn’t work. Duolingo is more likely to keep you coming back for more, because it really does make you feel like you’re making quick progress day by day. That’s why it works better.

That progress adds layer upon layer, and soon you’ll be able to understand rudimentary Spanish. If you’re trying to plan a trip to Spain, then why not give it a try? If you want to learn even more, try to complement it with online conversations with actual native Spanish speakers!

Why Is Spain Such A Wonder For Mountain Biking Enthusiasts?

The trails in Spain are some of the most sought-after in the world, especially for those who love to travel via mountain bike. And who wouldn’t? The surge of adrenaline is like nothing else, especially when you couple the thrill-seeker’s sensation with the invigorating rush of wind you feel during each wild ride. It takes a lot of skill, control, and lightning-fast reflexes to make mountain biking a viable long-term hobby, but those who do will certainly learn to enjoy the most challenging trails that Spain offers.

But why Spain?

First of all, our country has something that the rest of Europe doesn’t: the highest average altitude in the entire region. For example the Sierra de los Filabres mountain range soars above 2,000 meters, which grants would-be riders some fantastic views. Depending on when you go, you might even run into snow! One thing is for certain, though: you’ll love the varied terrain to find on your way.

Spain also presents riders with some of the best trail conditions anywhere in the world, with maintainers working to keep them safe and clear of debris year-round. The routes vary in their difficulty; some stretch dozens, hundreds, even thousands of kilometers.

Because mountain biking is such a popular sport in Spain, riders will find many vacation packages geared toward making those trips all the more fun by designing them to reduce the amount of thinking you have to do. Those who offer these organized trips handle some of the food, lodging, and provide many options for routes worthy of your time. Whatever you need is exactly what you get. Personalized requests matter in Spain.

Another popular location is the Malaga mountain range out near the Mediterranean Sea. The trail offers easy access to River Guadalmedina, which makes longer outings a lot easier if you’re willing to bring some extra gear along. While out for a ride, you might see hikers as well. Those who explore this region are in for some of the best views that Spain has to offer — including the Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Loja, Alhama de Granada, and even a few of the ocean.

Many of these biking routes are still unmarked, but guess what: we have no intention of changing that. It’s exactly what some riders are looking for, especially since these locations tend to ward off ever-increasing populations of people as the sport’s popularity grows. Some of us like a quiet ride, and there are many available in the mountains of Spain. Then again, other trails are very well marked for those who don’t mind the extra company. Some of us who are just beginning might even need it.

What Should You Pack To Eat When Mountain Biking The North Atlantic Basque Coast In Spain?

Mountain Biking packages along the Basque Coast adjoining Spain and France are some of the most sought after, especially since the care given to these trails is top-notch. Bikers can expect to find trips that include accommodations, breakfasts, guides, transfers, photos, etc. What’s better, most of these packages are for small groups of six or seven people, which means a lot of personal support when you need it the most.

But what should you bring to eat on your next mountain biking trip to the Basque Coast? Usually, the answer is as much as possible! What you pack depends on your own personal tastes, of course, but you’ll want to be practical about how much you carry. More weight equals less control over the bike, and that can lead to disaster for those of us who are less experienced. That means it pays to be smart in planning ahead.

For those of you who are avid backpackers, you’ll be familiar with most of these lightweight foods:

  • You won’t have any problem drinking water, but you might want to add some flavor, vitamins or electrolytes to each refill. Propel or Mio are great options.
  • Believe it or not, saltines have a great calorie to weight ratio — but only pack them if you can spare the room, because they definitely do take up space. Bread or bagels are other good options.
  • Pop Tarts or Clif Bars are great for a morning calorie boost.
  • Peanut butter M&Ms. Any variety of this candy is great, but you’ll want the extra sugar, fat, and protein. 
  • Tuna pouches will give you some additional lightweight nutrients, but beware: you’ll get tired of them fast.
  • Bananas or berries if you have the option to resupply daily. 
  • PB&J sandwiches if you have the option to resupply daily — or any sandwich, really. You’ll want variety after a while.
  • Beef jerky, salami, pepperoni, and other meats that won’t go bad in your pack.
  • Babybel cheeses will keep well in your pack.
  • Fritos will give you lots of calories and will help replenish the salt you lose in sweat.

If you’re out overnight, then you’ll want to add to the list. Whether you bring a lightweight camping stove is up to you, but if you do then be sure to better your menu with foods you can cook quickly. Knorrs rice or pasta pouches can be great for a quick snack, but you’ll tire of them quickly. Instant potatoes are another great choice, and they can be prepared cold or combined with cheese and meat. Add olive oil to any meal for omega 3s!

Mountain Biking For Beginners

While there is the age-old adage that you never forget to ride a bike, riding a mountain bike on a trail out in the wilderness is a different story. Riding your bike on flat terrain or riding a stationary bike at the gym is considered a cardiovascular exercise. But mountain biking on varied terrain can be a work out for several different muscle groups.

If you feel like taking the leap into mountain biking, here are a few things that you need to know before taking the plunge.

  • Eat fresh veggies, fruit, and whole grains to build a base for endurance.
  • Start with going on a few bike rides a week that are low intensity to build up your stamina.
  • Gradually add more intense hiking and trails to your route.
  • Learn how to lean your bike through turns, similar to carving on skis. This prevents you from losing momentum.
  • There will be many obstacles along the trail including roots, rocks, and bumps. If they are small enough, you might be able to coast over them with no issue.
  • For larger objects, mastering the front wheel lift is imperative. There are several articles which break down on the best way to lift your front wheel.
  • There are also strategies that can be found online on how to best approach uphill obstacles. A method to use is lifting your front wheel and letting the backpedals do the work.
  • Don’t forget to rest.

Like any exercise routine, starting off slow and working your way to more intensity is the best way to approach mountain biking. There are several tutorials online to show you how to best handle your bike so that you can stay safe while riding out in the wilderness.

What Do Mountain Biking Outdoor Enthusiasts Think Of Trump’s Environmental Policies?

For those who don’t spend much time enjoying the great outdoors, climate change denial might not seem like that big of a deal. But for those outdoor enthusiasts who love it so much and spend more time outside than anybody else, the potential for environmental instability is a source of great unrest. One outdoor clothing and gear manufacturer, Patagonia, has decided to provide its share of recent tax cuts to environmental conservation groups.

This statement was provided on the heels of the Trump administration’s climate report, which provided nearly indisputable evidence that human activities were responsible for man-made climate change that will cause billions of dollars in damage, death, and result in millions of people displaced from their homes.

21 children who originally levied a 2015 lawsuit against the Obama administration are still fighting for their day in court. This year a U.S. District Court judge allowed the lawsuit to proceed, and almost immediately it was stalled by the Supreme Court, which will now rule on its validity. The suit alleges that the government both has the responsibility to protect our environment in order to maintain a stable climate for future generations, and has also failed in this responsibility by implementing policies which actually have an adverse impact on the climate.

22 members of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (or IMBA) travelled to Washington last month in order to promote the need for funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which expired when Congress failed to renew its resources last year. The LWCF usually acquires funding through a small tax on offshore drilling projects. It’s not surprising that a Republican-controlled Congress allowed it to expire, especially with a climate change-denier in the most powerful office in the world. The LWCF is depleted by about $2.5 million for each day it remains unfunded.

Recently a bipartisan group introduced a new bill aimed at imposing a carbon tax, spurred to action in part by the recent floods and wildfires that have wreaked havoc all over the country. For now, the bill has little hope of passing through Congress.

It’s unfortunate that the Conservatives in power would act in a way that puts not only the environment in danger, but also our future economy. Rising global temperatures will cost us a lot, and it’s worth investing to prevent those costs today.

Here Are The Newest Mountain Biking Trails

It isn’t always easy to discover new trails on which you can mountain bike. This is in part because a lot of nature lovers aren’t very fond of the loud sounds and dangers associated with bikes, and so they need to be well segregated from other paths in order to be viable. Luckily, mountain biking is becoming a more popular sport, and new trails are being made to deal with the greater traffic. Here are a few of the newest mountain biking trails as of 2018.

  1. Some of us consider Moab the mountain biking capital because you can find a new trail every year. If you’re lucky, you might even find a whole new network of trails. Have you been on the Rodeo Trail? It was completed in 2017, forming a loop near Chisholm trail. Much of the nine-mile ride is rated for beginners, so this is a good place to visit if you’re just starting out.
  2. The 12-mile Wasatch Over Wasatch (WOW, not to be confused with WoW) is a great trail in Park City, Utah. The upkeep is phenomenal, which is why you won’t want to miss the WOW trail if you’re in the area. Not only that, but you’ll find yourself with great views of Mount Timpanogos, Snake Creek Canyon, and Cascade Peak. There are shuttles available to bring you there if you’re too lazy to, ya know, bike!
  3. If you’ve never been to the artsy, weird town of Sedona, Arizona, then you’re missing out. You can find world-renowned vortexes here. That’s not your thing? Then check out the 27-mile Western Gateway trail system when it’s completed. Construction just started in Fall of 2018, but there are a number of other options already available, like Skywalker Loop.
  4. Brevard, North Carolina is home to a great singletrack in Pisgah National Forest. If you’re looking for something newer or more technical, try Spencer Gap. There are also plans to connect other popular trails in the region in the coming years.
  5. What better place to go mountain biking than a ski resort during summer months? Check out Sun Valley on Bald Mountain in Idaho, where you’ll find Trail 3. You can speed downhill for more than nine miles before you have the opportunity to stop. Hopefully that kind of rush is your thing!

What To Do If You Want To Start Mountain Biking

Mountain biking can be scary, dangerous, and time-consuming. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it probably goes without saying that those who take the time to get into the sport are thrill seekers. They like to live life a little faster, they like the wind washing over their bodies, and they’re not afraid to get back on the horse again after they fall off. So you’re interested in mountain biking, but not sure it’s for you? Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re first starting out.

Be sure you really do want this. The sport is getting more popular with every year, and last year over eight million people tried at least once. With that kind of popularity comes a particular kind of word of mouth. People have the tendency to want to try what they’re friends are doing, but it doesn’t mean they should. Be careful, and think about all the pros and cons before you give it a try.

Mountain biking requires a powerful core. If that isn’t something you’re confident you’ve got, then it’s time to find out. Start with a few yoga workouts, and you’ll get the idea pretty quick.

Find someone to go with you. It’s a dangerous sport, so don’t try it alone. Find others who are at or above your skill level so you have friends you can watch out for, and who will watch out for you.

Beware of how your body rests on the bike. Take a look at pictures and videos to see how experienced riders sit on the bike, and do your best to replicate it before you try anything crazy. You’ll get used to the effort depending on your stance. Start out by taking it easy.

Don’t forget food and water while you’re training on a new path–especially if it’s your first time out. You’re not just riding around on any silly old bike. You’re expending a lot of energy on a very physical sport, and you need to remember to rest and recharge frequently. Get a hydration pack, and make sure you have food nearby or keep a small backpack.

The most important thing of all? Don’t give up. Once you’ve decided to give it a try, don’t dismiss it after you fall the first time or procure the first scrape. Relax, rest, recharge, and then do it again.

There’s A Whole New Way To Mountain “Bike”

Millions of people enjoy the great outdoors and get some exercise in the process. Many take hikes along trails in deserts, forests or in mountainous areas. Others go backpacking, while still others use various bicycles to take rides down streets, trails or off-road.

Mountain bikers are especially prevalent in national forests, state parks and other areas where there are trails and rugged terrain, and taking them deep into these areas can be a fun challenge, but also have its risks in terms of injury with a fall.

Another growing form of outdoor entertainment is the unicycle, which used to be left to circus acts. More and more people have been using unicycles as a form of transportation and in some ways recreation. But can you imagine combining any of the aforementioned outdoor activities with a unicycle? Have you taken a unicycle with you on a camping trip? Have you done some backpacking while riding a unicycle, or having one packed with you?

How about mountain biking? Yes, the same trails, with a unicycle?

Does that unicycle on a mountain trail seem a little too dangerous or extreme?

While many of us may have a hard time wrapping our heads around the idea, a geologist with an excitement streak has started using his unicycle on some mountain trails that he has used his mountain bike on, and that has led to some real challenges – such as a 13-foot drop for example.

Find this hard to imagine? This guy does hear his share of jokes about “missing a wheel” or what have you. But how many of those jokesters are willing to jump on a unicycle and take on the same trials that they take on with their mountain bikes?

Who thinks less than one in 10?

You know how it is – those who joke about something that seems as crazy as mountain unicycle are those who are less likely to actually try it themselves. But for this geologist, he has heard them all and says he has gotten used to the comments and doesn’t let them faze him.

It certainly takes outdoor exercise to a whole new level. Is it enough to generate a new buzz of extreme athletes? Does this count as extreme, or is it just weird? How do you think mountain unicycle compares with extreme skateboarding or bungee jumping in terms of danger and/or excitement? Do you own a unicycle, and would you consider taking it out on a trail with rugged terrain?