In Austin, TX there are several great pump track and mountain bike trails throughout the city.  We were lucky enough to live close to the Walnut Creek Park.  Walnut Creek is a city park.  Though, the trails are built and maintained by local riders.

Building Pump Tracks

There were regular, organized days where average everyday people who wanted to have a cool new trail to ride on would help make it happen.  What started out as hiking trails, were built in to mountain bike trails by the people who wanted to have mountain bike trails.  When there was a desire for more jumps, a pump track was built.  There was no fundraising effort, no large piles of bureaucratic paper work to be filed.  There was a bit of coordinating to be done to ensure that everything was on the up and up, but no pleading or finagling of any sort.

Walnut Creek Pump Track

I think it’s amazing when a community can come together like this.  I spent many many hours out at Walnut Creek while living in Austin. We rode the trails and helped to maintain them.

Maintain a bike park

It’s this type of experience that makes me leery of stories like that of the Marin County Bike Park.  First off let me say that I believe that everyone involved believes that they are doing the right thing.  It’s wonderful that the parks department and government are even considering allowing a bike park to be built.  On that note, lets look at the situation.

According to a story in the Marin Independent Journal, a grand sum of $850,000 is needed to build this park.  A park design and planning company, Hilride, has been hired to design the park.  Also, a fundraising consultant by the name of Tjiska Van Wykt is on board.  The MIJ article implies that the $850,000 is needed on top of the already funded $142,000 for design development and construction drawing work by Hilride.

While having a professionally built and groomed bike park is something worthwhile, I seriously questions wether a government organization should be placing their money in the coffers of the “park designers” and “fundraising consultants”.  If a community can’t come together to build their own trails with their own hands on their own time, the need isn’t strong enough.

Pump Track Community

If the county wants to do the right thing, and encourage the building of a bike park, they should save the professional trail designers for the private parks, and lower the bar of red tape that must be crossed before a group of riders can dig their own trails.  Without a sense of ownership from a community, a county bike park’s future is just a budget cut away from being shut down.

Pump Track Community

It is, and always should be, about the ride and about the community.

 

 

 

 

I often ride my mountain bike down a local mountain trail.  This trail is multi-use, in that it is open to all: hikers, dog walkers, sometimes even horseback riders.

Mountain Bike Trail Etiquette

I see a lot of bad trail etiquette, and a lot of people who seem oblivious that there even is such a thing as trail etiquette.

The number one thing to remember is just common sense: those moving fastest yield to those moving slower.  Just as its true on the street: cars yield to bikes, bikes yield to pedestrians, runners yield to walkers, and so on.

When in doubt, communicate with your fellow trail user.  Say “Hi!”, let them know you’re approaching and when you are passing.

If you are hiking, and being passed by a mountain biker you may hear the term “one back” or “two back” from a biker which indicates that there are more riders in the group coming up behind the first rider.

Trail Etiquette

If you’re the one being passed, maintain your line and allow the other trail user to move along.

Good trail etiquette allows everyone to share the trail together with minimal drama and hassle.

Trail Etiquette

 

Joseph is a small mountain town in northeast Oregon. Situated six hours east of Portland at 4,150ft above sea level, and surrounded by the towering Wallowa and Seven Devils mountains, Joseph is a rather picturesque small mountain town.

Mountain Town: Joseph, OR

Basics

With a population hovering around 1,000 Joseph maintains a thriving main street (yes, they literally have a Main Street) equipped with local breweries, bank, library, cafes, and art galleries.

Mountain Town: Joseph, OR

The physical town of Joseph is less than one square mile.  Though, the community is often referred to as Wallowa County, as the surrounding unincroporated areas add to the recreation and other opportunities.  The county borders Idaho to the west and Washington to the north.

Joseph, OR Mountain Town

Enterprise, the closest larger town, is just five miles away with larger town comforts such as a Safeway grocery store and a BJs warehouse club.

Recreation

For such a small town Joseph has plenty of events and celebrations packing the calendar.  From a classic car show, to traditional Fourth of July celebration, triathlons, Native American celebrations, sled dog races and more.  For the locals, a summer-long farmers market with accompanying concert series offers access to local fresh produce.

Joseph Or Bronze Bike Rally

While there isn’t exactly a dedicated bicycle shop in town, the local hardware store has kept up with local demand by expanding their bike offering to an entire room.  Several of their employees were even sent to the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, OR to be schooled on the basics of bikes.

A beautifully pristine lake nestled between snow capped 9000′  mountains, nearby Wallowa Lake offers camping, hiking and boating.  There is even a tram that can be taken up to the top of the mountain.  Bring along your mountain bike, and you’ve got the equivalent of a shuttle-ready mountain biking nirvana.

Wallowa Lake

There is also a recreational train, the Eagle Cap Train, offering relaxing scenic rides through the local mountains.

There is a local ski run, void of the tourist drawing amenities it is a locally-run area.  With one t-bar and one rope tow up the mountain and a 640′ elevation gain its the perfect little mountain for kids, beginners or just drama-free fun.

Ski Wallowa Or

Local Business

For such a small town there is a shockingly long list of local storefronts:

Joseph OR Main Street

Joseph’s Sheep Shed is a local yarn shop and fiber gallery.

Bee Crow Bee is a local shop offering a line of carefully handmade bath & body products.

Mad Mary is a shop offering “everything fun & fattening”.  It’s a fun gift shop and soda fountain all in one.

Downtown Joseph Or

Lodging

Lodging options are plentiful.  From B&Bs like Barking Mad Farm where you can stay in a turn of the century farm house with views of the mountains.  To the basic Indian Lodge Motel and the East Street Cottages.

Barking Mad Farm

Weather

Though they certainly feel all four seasons, the weather in and around Joseph is rather mild, as being in a valley surrounded by mountains shelters the area from many of the extreme weather fronts.

Economy

The local economy, while healthy, does rely on government jobs (being the largest area employer).  Average income hovers just below $30k, with the average two bedroom house priced around $100k.

Welcome to Joseph, OR

Lifestyle

The lifestyle in Joseph, OR is summed up pretty well by the county chamber:

“When you are 65 miles from a McDonald’s or a Wal-Mart, and two and a half hours from a mall, you will find a whole new definition of the phrase for quality of life – It’s a “way of living”.  Here, the focus is definitely not on consumption.  It’s on family and community.  It’s on entrepreneurship.  And perhaps above all, it’s on outdoor beauty and recreation.”

Fish Trap at Wallowa Lake

We first heard of Joseph when Russ & Laura rolled through and interviewed Dan Price.  Then Tammy at Rowdy Kittens visited while on a writing retreat.  Joseph, by all accounts, is a delightful mountain town.

 

This is the first in a series of posts profiling mountain towns.  Let us know where your favorite mountain town is to see it featured in a upcoming post.  

 

 

It’s good to have options when it comes to lighting.

When you use your bike for transportation, or year round mountain biking, lights become an important factor.  Whether to be seen by others, or to see the trail in front of you lights have become invaluable in our house.

The base of our lighting system is the Ay-Ups.

Ay-up lights

 

Ay-ups are a completely flexible lighting system.  I’ve used them on a daily basis for commuting through the city on my bike.  Each kit of Ay-Ups come with various rechargeable battery packs, lights and the attachments needed to mount the lights anywhere you can imagine.

Our complete Ayup Kit:

Ayup System

We’ve used these lights as headlamps, attached them to handlebars, to our helmets, almost anywhere you can imagine they can mount.

Ay-up Helmet

These lights are super bright.  Due to their design, I am able to focus one light on the road in front of me, and one outward to be seen by car drivers.  When I ride on a multi-use path and come up behind a pedestrian I am always given a wide berth as they see my light coming up before I am there.  I’ve even had a fellow cyclist choose to ride behind me just because my light lit things up so well on a dark street when compared to their puny lights.

Ayups mounted to a full-face helmet:

Ay-up Light Full Face Helmet

For camping we use the Ay-Ups as headlamps.  Our Ay-Up kit came with all the hardware needed to convert the lights to headlamps.  The only issue with this use is that the lights are almost too bright for this purpose.

Ayups as a headlamp:

Ay-up Headlamp

For mountain biking one set of the Ay-Ups mount to the front of the helmet and the other mounts on the handlebars.  With the combined lighting set even at night you can safely and clearly see the trail in front of you.

Ay-up bike lights

 

While the Ay-Ups are the backbone to our lighting system, we also keep a collection of other lights on hand.

Light Collection

The PlanetBike Superflash is my go-to rear light.  It comes complete with a seatpost mount.  This light is the brightest and best rear flasher I’ve seen.  Everytime I can see a fellow biker’s red light from many blocks away its always a Superflash.

I usually keep an extra light or two in my bag just in case.  There have been more than a handful of times where we’ve been caught out later than expected and having a stash of lights available allowed us to get home safely.

What lights do you depend on to get yourself home after dark?

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Cycling, bike riding, bmx, urban assault, commuting, mountain biking, road riding, cyclocross.

BMX

There are plenty of styles of riding a bicycle. That is one of the millions of reasons I love bikes. However, the funny thing is, all too often it seems that riders don’t, won’t or can’t cross the line from one style to another.

Dutch Bike

A person who purchases a nice dutch style commuter bike, featuring fenders, internal hub, and chain guard can’t easily transition to cyclocross without the purchase of an additional bicycle and other equipment.

Even if it isn’t lack of resources, it seems that often one style of rider is all too ready to look down upon another style of rider. The decked-out commuters make fun of the fixie riders. The fixie riders look down upon the spandex-clad road riders. The stylish commuters look down upon those in the bike lane using their old bike from highschool just trying to get from point A to point B on their bike. It’s an inbred circle of resentment that I’ve never truly understood.

Fixed Gear

And then there is my personal experience: Take a boy who grew up on bmx and dirt riding, and put him on a road bike and he’s still going to ride it like he’s out on a trail (even if the biggest jump around is the sidewalk curb).

Mountain Biking

There are a handful of documented successful style transitions out there on various blogs. Though, even then it seems that it comes with controversy.

All of this is what made me smile at watching this recent video of trial rider Ryan Leech discuss why he uses a bike to take care of his errands.

 

This past weekend’s forecast here in Northern California was nothing but doom and gloom: rain, thunderstorms and wind storms.

You can imagine my surprise when heading out with a friend for a quick trail ride we were greeted with sunny skys and calm winds.

Trail Shot

Climbing up the hills we noticed that the rain earlier in the day made for a perfect tacky dirt.

Not too dry, and not wet enough to be muddy.

tacky trail

It’s good to go play in the woods when you get the chance.

Successful Day of Riding

A perfect day of laid back riding.

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It’s shocking how much dirt, grime and grease can collect in your bike chain .  I never really understood the concept when I would only occasionally ride my bike.  Now that I commute to work on my bike the chain gets pretty darn nasty all too quickly.

If you’ve got a dirty chain to clean and want an easy DIY way to make it happen, we’ve got the hack for you.

The tools at hand: two old tooth brushes, and some strong tape:

Tools to make your own chain brush.

Roll a small amount of the tape on itself to create the center stabilizer.

Then lay the two brushes out as so, ensuring that the bristles of the two brushes are touching – almost overlapping one another:

DIY Chain brush

Wrap the tape around the brushes:

DIY Chain brush

Ta-Da!  Your very own chain brush!

DIY Chain brush

Now put it to good use!

Hold the brush over the chain, and cycle your chain through the brushes by rotating the pedals of the bike.

DIY Chain brush

 Now you’ve got an easy and fuss-free way to clean and maintain your chain.

 

This is the second in an ongoing series of Chris’ Hacks.  Don’t miss out on these posts!  Sign up to receive free email updates from Mountainize.com

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I like to be prepared.

But I also like to keep things simple.

If your going to have a problem while out on your bike, I’m the guy you want along for the ride.

Here’s what I carry on every bike ride to ensure I’m never stuck far from home:

A repurposed microphone bag stores my stash.  I believe in using what you have before buying something new.

My Bag

It all fits inside:

It all fits inside my bag.

And it’s all organized for quick access:

All organized inside.

Spread out for better viewing:

The contents of my bag:

 

The contents:

Inside the first baggie (From lower left, moving counter clockwise.):

  • 2 safety pins
  • super glue
  • 4 zip ties

Moving counterclockwise in the above photo:

Spare Tube

All this in a package that weighs only 1lb., and measures 12″x4″.

 

 

 

For a long while I’ve been looking for a bag that would meet my needs.

I wanted a bag to take mountain biking. It would need to carry my helmet while I’m hoofing it uphill.  It would need to be bladder compatible so that I wouldn’t need to carry a water bottle.  It also needed room to carry my tools.

I needed a bag for traveling: to carry my laptop, my toiletries, a spare change of clothes and some entertainment equipment.

I needed a bag for hiking: to carry an extra outer layer, some water, a snack and the essentials.

Could these all be the same bag?

I was checking out Camelbak’s military offering when I came across the Transformer: hydration compatible, big enough to fit my laptop, removable pouches allow for adaptable size.  This was it!

*|YOUTUBE:jL1zRuRmLBA|*

The Transformer has become my go-to bag for any day-long adventure.