As much as I enjoy Singletrack trail rides, I do not think that they are the end-all or pinnacle of my experience and ultimate enjoyment when it comes to mountain biking. I like to mix things up and to go to as many different places as I can to keep things interesting. Like they say “Variety is the spice of life”.
Many years ago I remember when I had just gotten my first mountain bike. At the time I lived in a suburban area just outside of Hartford, CT. I think it was around 1997, and mountain bikes were fairly new at that time. Someone asked me “Where are you going to ride that bike?” My reply was simply, “Dude, it is a mountain bike! I can ride this thing anywhere! Street, park, forest, quarry, dirt lot, parking lot, gravel road, or almost anywhere else except maybe on the sand at the beach”.
It was funny that I had actually said that because around 5 years after that, some of the most outstanding fire access road trails were built at 2 of the best beach parks in that area. Around 3 years after that a couple of excellent singletrack trails were also then built at those same 2 beach parks. They had some of the most awesome beach and shore views of all the parks that I have ever been to.
Singletrack rides are fun, but many times I would rather do long distance and fast paced fire access road rides cross country style. That usually satisfies my need for speed.
Other times I like to just ride to the trail head right from my garage. That involves a bit or riding on the side of suburban back roads for around 3 or 4 miles, and then riding into the park (paved), and up a few hills for around 1 more mile to the trailhead. Sometimes I do that, skip the singletrack, and ride around the campgrounds and near the golf course, and then just ride back home. It is a perfect ride on a day with really nice weather.
There are some beautifully maintained parks here in eastern Iowa with 3 to 8 mile long walking/bike trails with plenty of joggers and families enjoying the outdoors. There are also some outstanding rails-to-trails here that are mostly packed limestone. The nearest r-t-t in this area is actually more than 50 miles long, features several long and dark tunnels, and also follows along very scenic river views. When I go to some of these here, I sometimes like to just “people-watch” and sometimes just chit chat with folks on the trail while I am going slow and taking a breather.
Other times when I am very short on time to ride, I will do full speed sprint rides up and down my neighborhood streets. It usually takes me less than 15 minutes to do these. This kind of riding is great for quickly building up muscles on my legs and I get an excellent anaerobic workout in a very short amount of time.
I just recently bought a NiteRider Lumina 650 Cordless USB LED Headlight. Many of the trails and singletracks here allow night riding. I have not done a night ride yet but I am very eager to give that a try too. I am sure that it will be another completely different experience for me.
Either way; “Variety is the spice of life!” Your mountain bike truly is the Jack-of-all-trades”. So ride more often, ride anywhere, ride everywhere, and just have fun riding… Stay tuned to the next installment of The Frugal Mountain Biker.