Mountain biking in Belmont: a crash course

Eric+Chuang%2C+a+junior%2C+does+a+table+over+a+large+jump.

Hayes Gaboury

Eric Chuang, a junior, does a table over a large jump.

As the battle against COVID-19 drags on, many people have found their everyday activities canceled or postponed indefinitely. However, for the mountain biking community, it’s only getting more active. With bikes being sold out over the internet and in-person stores alike, mountain biking is arguably more popular than ever. As many new riders try to discover local trails and get appropriately equipped, here is a guide to mountain biking in Belmont.

Gear

Before you even get on the trail, you should go over the essential gear needed for a safe and comfortable ride. This includes a bike, a helmet, running/active shoes, a water bottle or hydration pack, and comfortable exercise clothing. It’s also good to have some form of essential tools for your ride. A multi-tool, patch kit, and tire pump should be enough to fix most trailside maintenance issues.

The most important part of any mountain bike ride is the bike. Some may have to buy a new mountain bike, but that is a very complicated process.

Moreover, some people will have a bike in their garage they might think is trail-worthy. However, there are a few factors each rider should check before taking their bike to the trails, as the bike could potentially break down if not properly examined. These factors include brakes, suspension, and drivetrain.

A general overview of the necessary gear for mountain biking. (Hayes Gaboury )

First, brakes are probably the most crucial part of a mountain bike, and good brakes will save you from a lot of trouble. To check the brakes, simply get a good amount of speed on your bike and see if you can stop. You should be able to stop completely without having to pull the lever all the way. If you are unsure you have enough stopping power to adequately brake on the trails, consider bringing your bike to a local bike shop.

Second, the suspension on a mountain bike comes in the form of a rear shock for your back tire and fork for your front tire. Chances are your first bike will have only a fork, which is known as a hardtail. A fork that can compress and retract will be plenty for your first rides.

Finally, a working drivetrain will do wonders for your riding experience. Having a drivetrain, otherwise known as gears, that can shift properly without any issues is very important, especially given Belmont’s terrain. Being able to shift into lower gears for more comfortable climbing is an essential aspect of mountain biking. If you cannot shift properly, you can try using chain lube to reduce the friction or take it to a local bike shop to have it tuned properly.

Where to Ride

Belmont and the surrounding areas are lucky to have some great riding options. The most accessible and beginner-friendly area is Waterdog Lake Park and its joint trail system, Hidden Canyon Park. Together, they are some of the best riding on the peninsula and have trails for all skill levels. Local favorites include Labor of Love, Rambler Trail, Upper Creek Trail, Canyon Creek Trail, and Finch Trail (based on popularity ratings on the app Trailforks).

For riders who want complete maps of trail systems and detailed reviews for individual trails, the Trailforks app is essential. Made by the popular bike forum company Pinkbike, Trailforks is one of the most detailed trail databases in the world, making it a necessity for those who want to expand their horizons and find new and exciting places.

 

If you are looking for a challenge, you can ride to the Carlmont High School side of the Hidden Canyon area to find the infamous Carlmont Jumps. The Carlmont Jumps are a large trail system full of challenging trails, massive jumps, and welcoming riders. These jumps are on private property, so ride at your own risk. However, after 30-plus years of building and riding, there has been no move by the landowner to remove these jumps and trails. But if you are looking to push your skills, or just wanting some new trails to ride, this is a great spot.

Furthermore, at first glance, mountain biking may seem like an incredibly daunting sport. It’s expensive, dangerous, and most places do not even have mountain bike trails. However, the mountain bike community is rapidly expanding and has a place for everyone. Mountain biking offers excellent exercise, loads of fun, opportunities to travel and discover new places, and an amazing community full of people to meet.

“I just like to get out, and you know to be one with nature. It’s a great workout and I enjoy the endurance and the different terrain,” said a local rider who goes by Ajay.

With the pandemic still at large, mountain biking is a ray of hope for those wanting to stay active and connect with people.

“Find a group of friends who have been doing it for a bit and just keep at it,” said Lucas Fedronic, a sophomore.

In addition to the social aspect, many find mountain biking therapeutic and a break from everyday life.

“It’s just a good way to clear my head, it’s really meditative because you’re using all your senses,” said a local rider preparing for his next run of Hidden Canyon Park. “I don’t think about work. It’s the one place I shut off my phone.”

For many people, that feeling alone is what makes mountain biking so enjoyable.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email