|Roots, rocks, mud, lung-busting climbs and will-testing descents; be prepared for challenges when riding in the Northeast. The technical terrain is hard on body and bike, so don't forget the essentials: big, knobby tires, oil-based chain lube and photochromatic lenses for seeing well in the deep, dark woods. Summer and fall are best, but beware as these seasons also bring out man-eating insects and poison ivy. Wear insect repellent and avoid leaves of three. Summer means warm and humid, so bring a thin, breathable jersey and carry plenty of fluid. Autumn offers crisp, dry weather, making it vest, arm- and knee-warmer time. Despite the challenges of riding here, there's nothing quite like finishing a ride bruised, tired, muddy and super satisfied that you're a better mountain biker thanks to the obstacles you just overcame.
Riding around the Appalachian region is like stepping back in history and there are few things more fun than tearing through deep, old-growth woods on tacky, loamy dirt, hopping over logs and blasting through water crossings. Of course, with this come some special requirements. A good, wet lube is essential, as is regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent rust and corrosion. Tire choice is crucial for good traction and top handling. Locals like wide, square-sided tires with fairly aggressive knobs that bite into the hardpack below the leaf litter and mud. Sunglasses with yellow or photochromatic lenses help enhance the contrast though dappled light. The weather can be variable so bring a rain jacket.
The Midwest encompasses a pretty big chunk of the country and entails everything from the lake rides of Minnesota to the forests of southern Illinois and Missouri. In general, hardtails and XC full-suspension bikes rule the land. Skinny tires roll fast and allow extra clearance for the often muddy conditions. That doesn't mean big bikes aren't welcome, there are plenty of drops, rocks and technicality to be found. Without huge mountain passes, Midwest riders creatively pack a labyrinth-like maze of trails into smaller parks and in and out of glacier-cut ravines, making the most out of the available space and allowing for all-day epics. A map of the local system is a must, with trails that crisscross each other, it’s not hard to get lost, which can be a good thing. It can be humid here, so it's a good idea to have more sets of clothes and extra gloves.
The South may sound like an unlikely destination, but don’t let the locals have all the fun. The trails are often muddy and can be rooty, rocky or sandy, too, so the riding is challenging and enjoyable. Without looking too hard, you can find lots of rocky, technical action with drops and stunts, too. The climbs here aren’t often long but can be steep and intense. Wide, aggressive tires with soft rubber that sticks to roots and rolls over mud rule down here. Bring bug spray, sunblock and a waterproof lube. And dress for varying conditions.
The Southwest is a land of contrasts. It has red rocks against a blue sky, it looks barren, but is actually teeming with life. With predictably good weather, the desert is a safe choice for your adventures. The riding is technical with plenty of ledges, drop-offs and slickrock to keep you busy for years. For gear, there's one word: cactus. Tubes with sealant, or thorn-resistant tubes are a must. Wet lubes attract dust and sand, so go dry or wax-based. You’ll also get more use out of your bash guard than your big ring. Tire choice is easier in the desert than other places. Any width tire that's good for long stretches of slickrock, loose-over-hardpack and occasional sand will excel out here. Oh, and don’t forget your dark sunglasses and sunblock.
The Rocky Mountains region is incredibly diverse and tests your entire cycling skill set. Everything from treeless tundra 12,000 feet above sea level to high-desert singletrack to deep aspen and pine forests are found here. Staying true to its name, the riding is often very rocky and technical with big climbs and bigger descents. Due to its mountainous and often remote nature, luck favors the prepared. Bring a good map, extra sunblock and more food and water than you think you need. The lack of humidity makes it feel like you're not sweating at all. The mountains make their own weather so it’s not uncommon to begin your ride on a 70-degree day and end up getting snowed on. Haul a wide range of clothes and that second set of lungs.
The Pacific Northwest is known for a lot of things: great bike culture, coffee and mud. More areas than you can ride in a lifetime and your choice of long, high-mountain epics make it a superb place to visit on your bike. Intense, short climbs, log rides and stunts encompass the area. Serious riders out here can go through brake pads in a few weeks and whole drivetrains in a season! Bring your most aggressive tires, a good, wet lube and your rain jacket. In the humid west, things don’t dry as quick, so bring another pair of gloves and change of clothes. You’ll need them. Or, find a good map and compass and head east to escape to drier weather. With two mountain ranges and varied climates you can take your pick of riding in lush, old-growth forest to sub-alpine meadows to riding around an active volcano. Expect company, too. The secret is out and this area is well known as a superb mountain-biking playground.
California is so big and so diverse it's impossible to summarize briefly, but we'll try. It's also the birthplace of mountain biking. From sandy ocean-side rides, to Return-of-the-Jedi-like runs through giant redwoods or old-growth pine, to some of the sickest downhilling out there, The Golden State has it in spades. Most of California enjoys sunny days almost year-round so pack your sunscreen and shades, though you'll want clear lenses for those rides beneath the giant trees that block the sun. It's wise to bring a wide range of clothing, too, because temperatures can vary depending on whether you're visiting Southern or Northern California. Trails vary by region, so there's everything from seriously technical trails ideal for all-mountain suspension rigs to smooth, hardpacked roller-coasters where hardtails reign. The typically dry trails mean a good all-around tire will work and may mean more chain lubing than you're used to and few flat tires. Be sure to apply sunblock and watch for poison oak (leaves of three) in NorCal and carry extra fluid in SoCal.
Bermuda Bikes Plus carries a wide selection of bicycles and accessories for all your travels! Happy trails!