Mountain Bike Vacations
By Jay Bartlett
The spring and summer months are approaching, and thoughts turn towards going on vacation with my significant other: my mountain bike. If you’re like me, any vacation is a good vacation, but a vacation that includes riding bikes is something special. The anticipation builds as the time grows near. Soon there will be the adventure of riding a trail I’ve never seen before, or the reuniting with a trail or area not seen in a year or more.
Don’t get me wrong, the area surrounding St. George has some of my all-time favorite rides, as well as a large number of trails to choose from, but there’s something to be said for having some new dirt under your tires. Whether it’s a trip to another state, or hitting something new in Utah — like maybe Park City, or my go to, Moab — new trails rejuvenate your love of biking and adventure. Being “out there” on a bike is always good, but when it’s an unusual place, your sense of wonder and awe go into high gear!
Here are a few tips I hope will make for a better experience for you:
- Plan your rides but leave yourself options. It’s fun to browse maps and dream of rides, planning out each day’s adventure, but leave some wiggle room in your plan in case of the unforeseen. Or, if you’re just not feeling a big ride on a certain day, you can switch things around.
- Speaking of “not feeling it,” try to get in shape before you go. I know, “ugh,” but if you’re planning your trip a ways out, the trip will be the motivation to get out and ride and/or do a few workouts, just the same as if you had signed up for a race or event. Remember, you will most likely be riding on consecutive days — something only the lucky get to do very often — which can really wipe you out physically if you’re not ready.
- Is your bike ready? If it needs work or a tune up, get into your local shop a good two weeks before your trip in case the mechanic finds some larger problem and parts need to be ordered. You should also ride your bike after the work is complete to check everything for function. Most shops warranty their work for a period of time, so if you do find a problem, you’ll have time to get it back into the shop. Don’t figure, “I’ll just get it fixed when I get on vacation” because shops can be busy, which will just waste precious vacation time. Also, it’s a good idea to make a list of gear you’ll need. It’s no fun to show up in a new town only to find you forgot a major piece of the fun-making puzzle. I personally have sold everything from shoes to axles to wheels to people who left them home.
- You should, however, always visit the local bike shop(s) even if you do bring everything you need (which, let’s face it, no one ever does!) Sure there’s a lot of information on the internet, but nothing is better than getting trail info from the people who ride the local networks. Again, it’s good to have “wiggle” room in your plan in case a trail is in bad shape or another suggestion sounds better.
By doing a little prep work, a mountain biking vacation can be nothing but sweet trails, good food (it’s always tastier after a ride), and toasts with your friends to a good tim