What Makes a Good Downhill Mountain Bike Trail
What makes a good downhill mountain bike trail? What about cross country mountain biking, and freeride mountain biking - how can you tell a good freeride or cross country mountain trail from a bad one? And what is the proper way to bike on a mountain bike trail?
A good, basic mountain bike trail will have enough obstacles - roots, rocks, streams, etc. - to make for an intersting and challenging technical ride. Mountain bike trails are usually found in state park forests or reserves. Some urban parks have built artificial omuntain bike trails for the amusement of inner-citty bikers who can't get out to the woods on a daily basis. Most montain bike trails, wiether the yare cross country or downhill, are called "single track trails" - trais that can fit only one bike at a time. Riding next to another bike is dangerous enough - there is no need to do it on a bumpy, rigid trail, which is exactly what mountain bike trail cutters try to prevent.
If going for a downhill mountain bike ride on a state or national forest trail, it is very important to first check with park rangers to make sure that mountain bikes are allowed on the trail you desire to ride on. Some trails are prohibited to ride on, eitehr because of safety issues or because of environmental issues. There has bene a lot of anti-downhill mountain biking publicity in recent years due to ecological damage caused by mountain biking. Moutnain bikers and forest ecology can coexist peacefully - it is just a matter of being aware of what you are doing at all times. Some downhill moutnain bikers list these precautions and procedures as necessary to safe and successful riding:
Don't run off the trail, as it causes trail erosion and damage. Get used to riding on a single track trail somewhere where the trail is wider if you continue having problems riding off trail.
Don't slide around trail worners, as it causes devastating lateral erosion of the trail that effects the rides of other moutnain bikers, as well as the delicate ecology of the forest where the trail is located.
Don't ride through the mud. Riding through the mud causes divets and ruts in teh trail. Mountain bikes are light - carry them through the mud to preserve the trail for other cyclists.
Don't ride around barriers such as roots and logs, or water bars - you have all that suspension on your downhill mountain bike, so use it! Riding around obstacles causes needless erosion of the trail. Half the fun of mountain biking is going over huge bumps and obstacles, so indulge.
Some people think that good weather makes a good trail, others think bad weather makes for the best downhill mountain biking. Any good downhill mountain biking trails will offer steep downhills, dangerous and challengeing tehcnical obstacles on the descent, and enough trail divergence to keep returning downhill mountain bikers interested.