We do all kinds of tours at Bicycle Adventures—rails to trails, road tours, mountain bike tours. The fact is, we love riding our bikes. Period.
And now that we’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, here’s a little secret: Mountain biking is flat-out awesome. If you’re a committed road rider, you really owe it to yourself to try mountain biking.
If you’re hesitating, let’s start with a little humor—and six great reasons we think MTB really is incredible. Ready?
- How about the obvious? No cars. Does anything harsh your mellow faster than heavy traffic?
- You get to commune with nature, up close and personal. If you’re a city person, how often do you get to enjoy that? It’s the perfect time to meditate, listen to the sound of the birds, smell the fresh air, revel in the sight of the trees and flowers and sky. And fresh air is such a tonic.
- Like on the road, mountain bike riders enjoy competition. Roadies have their KOMs to protect and MTBers look for hole shots and bits of trail side flair, But it’s all about having a good time…the camaraderie of the bike, enjoying the ride—you know what we mean.
- So many choices! Cross-country, all-mountain, enduro, downhill. Road riders get…the road (not that we’re knocking all the amazing road choices like TT, Road Crit, Century, Commuter, so it does kind of balance out in the end, doesn’t it?)
- It’s an awesome, dynamic workout. Road rides are great for cardio endurance, but mountain biking gives you a more well-rounded experience. And if you do both, you have an amazing advantage over people who prefer just one or the other. The leg strength you get from road riding translates beautifully to the trail—as does your road-biking cardio endurance. Straight mountain bikers may even have trouble keeping up with you!
- Mountain biking increases your focus. Mountain biking takes a lot of concentration. You’re paying attention to sharper curves, tree roots, banked corners, narrower riding spaces like forest roads or trails. You need to make faster decisions. Even if you’re on a flat, cruisy forest trail, that focused attention translates into better skills that in turn translate to better road riding skills. Specifically, technical skills like cornering and braking. On the mountain bike you are always working to center your balance and maximize traction control so that you have a better understanding of how the brakes affect the traction and weight placement affects the corners.
These are not your parents’ MTBs…
All fun aside, mountain bikes have come a long way. An MTB magazine did a casual survey, asking casual riders if they could spot the differences between two bikes of the same model, one from the year 2000 and one brand-new this year.
And while the riders struggled to identify the cosmetic changes, everything changed once they climbed on the bikes. The suspension on the new bike was remarkably improved with rear air shocks, the cockpit was more ergonomic for greater stability and control, and a modern, intuitive drivetrain replaced the clunkier one of the past.
And it’s true—every detail has been reimagined. Tires and wheels for example: Larger diameter wheels roll over obstacles that would have stopped older wheels. Tubeless wheels allow for a wider footprint on the trail which translates to a considerable traction advantage—and they all but eliminate flats!
The frame and suspension designs have also come to form. Modern bikes are efficient and effective. That means you can have a bike that is quick and capable for climbing but have a plush and active suspension which opens up a much wider range of trail options. In the past you could pick one or the other, climb or descend. Now you can go anywhere. It also means less fatigue from the rough terrain.
Here’s what our own Bicycle Adventures team is saying about today’s MTBs:
“The bikes have changed dramatically making it easier and more forgiving, —- lighter, better suspension, more relaxed geometry, dropper posts, better gearing, easier shifting, better brakes.” Todd Starnes, President
I’m convinced! How do I get started with MTB?
If you’re ready to get your MTB groove on, we have a few suggestions to help you get started.
- Do a local clinic or camp. If you’re a road rider, you’re going to need new techniques—descending, cornering, even arm and foot positions are different on a mountain bike. It’ll also give you an opportunity to try new bikes to see what you like.
- The right clothes make a difference. You might consider ditching your spandex, at least in the beginning (or at least cover up that chamois with more street-style shorts). You’ll want to cover your body because you will fall at first and a layer of fabric can make all the difference to your skin.
- Don’t worry about clips right away—just wear your sneakers. It’ll increase your confidence and it makes it easier to walk through technical situations when you will be walking your bike (and there are times we all walk our mountain bikes).
- Hydration packs are an awesome invention,. Packs even come with a handy pouch to store your camera, keys, phone, and glasses—things that would otherwise bounce out of open pockets when you’re riding the trails.
- Learn to shift often and early. You need to anticipate the terrain and shift before pedaling gets difficult. Timing is everything if you want to maintain momentum and overcome obstacles without gear-shifting fuss.
- Rethink your attitude about walking—it’s a very normal part of the MTB experience when you hit steep terrain. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s just an acknowledgement that you are in challenging terrain. It’s all good.
Ready to hit the trail?
When you’re ready to rock and roll, take a peek at some of our most popular MTB tours—and even if you’re still a novice, all of our Bicycle Adventures MTB tour guides are International Mountain Biking Association certified and can teach you the basics or give you a refresher in technique. No matter where you are in your MTB journey, you’ll enjoy these tours.
The Leavenworth Green tour is perfect if you’re new to mountain biking. Starting in Seattle, you’ll bike the eastern slopes of the Cascades where the trails are smooth, the elevation profiles are forgiving, and the views are incredible.
It’s a five-day adventure with highlights that include riding the Cle Elum Ridge Trail, Cashmere and Mission Ridge (you can try your hand at hiking if you like), a chair-lift ride with your bike up Hogsback and an amazing assortment of trails to cruise down—plus awesome local craft brews and a soak in the hot tub. What’s not to love?
A little more challenge?
Try our High Cascades Mountain Bike Tour—a seven-day trip through some of the most breathtaking terrain in the country. It’s almost a religious experience…rare and colorful trees, gorgeous views, and amazing wildlife (think eagles, mountain goats, timber wolves, marmots, and even bears).
And the rides—even their names set your pulses racing: Esmeralda Peaks, Angels Staircase, Starvation Mountain Loop, Cutthroat Pass. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are more than worth it. You’ll come away challenged and satisfied deep in your soul.
If only an epic adventure will do…
How about an international adventure? Our Slovenia MTB tour has it all—from the Alps to the Adriatic sea and everything in between. The Peca Mountain Bike Park is a mecca for MTB riders with 300+ miles of trails and paths straddling Austria and Slovenia. We also hit the Petzen Flow Trail, one of the longest in Europe, descending some 7-½ miles.
And if you haven’t had your fill of adventure on the bike, there’s also whitewater rafting, spelunking in Skocjan Caves, and hiking through Vintgar Gorge to round out the trip. This is truly an epic adventure for the die-hard MTB enthusiast (and we may still have spots available for our September 7th departure—ask today!)
Let’s do it!
If you’re thinking “I’ve read enough, let’s go!” why not get in touch today and we’ll help you plan your perfect Bicycle Adventure. There’s never been a better time to hit the trails—and we have a tour to suit every taste and ability level.
And if you’re not ready to take the next step but want more information about bicycle tours, sign up for our free email course and learn everything you ever wanted to know about planning a cycling vacation.
See you soon on the trails!