Mountain Biking as the Ultimate Meditation

Stolen from internet. Brandon Semenuk from unReal

Biking as the ultimate meditation.  I always thought that meditation came as sitting in a quiet room and concentrating on your breathing.  But it was explained to me that the purpose of that concentration wasn’t just a breathing exercise, it was more of a…  Bringing yourself to that moment.

Most of our day is spent worrying about past or future events.  Meditation is supposed to focus you on the here and now. It occurred to me that riding my bike, has that same effect.  But a bit less boring.

Just like focusing on your breathing, focusing on the path in front of you brings you to that moment.  In fact, I’d almost suggest that it’s better than the slow-acting breathing exercise, in that it’s a forced focus.  An absolute focus, with consequences.  Bringing all your attention to a single moment, of the here and now.  I’d even suggest that; the more technical or dangerous the trail, the more focused you’ll be. Hence the deeper in meditation you will become.

I’ve never had much use for meditation.  While I’m perfectly happy to clear my mind, I’ve always found it difficult to remain there of my own free will. So really, I’m not one to sit and focus.  But ride and focus…  Oh, now that I can do.  I’m probably a master of it by now, and didn’t even know it.  Could probably start calling myself Yogi Oni Ra Ra.  Or not…  whatever.

In the end, I know after a good ride, I feel more relaxed and at peace with the world.  I suppose that’s how people feel after they meditate the traditional way?  But I bet they don’t have the same cool scars.  Or fun.

 

Whistler Bike Park

Last month the wife and headed out to Whistler.  For those of you that aren’t familiar, Whistler is the Mecca of mountain biking.  It’s home to one of the largest bike parks in the world with over 90 trails split between 4 sections (5 if you include skills area), across three mountain faces.  It’s both impressive and completely intimidating, upon first glance.

The mountain supports an impressively wide range of skill levels, with trails for all ages.  Okay… not ALL ages, you still need to be able to ride a bike.  But make no mistake, we saw plenty of 5 and 6-year-old kids shreddin’ down the mountain.  But if you can ride a bike and want to get on the mountain, they have something you can ride.

The Experience

Neither of us had ever ridden in a bike park.  I’ve had experience with skate parks, BMX tracks, state parks with mountain bike trails in them…  but NONE of those is a Bike Park.  So, the first impression was a bit draw-dropping.  I’ve been riding a long time and, in all honesty, I was a bit intimidated.  I can only imagine how my wife was feeling.  She had never even ridden in the mountains yet. So this had to be a scary scene, although she never let it show.

The first thing we had to do is go get our rental bikes.  Thankfully I had gone the day before to scope out the area and figure out where we were supposed to go.  The web site for Whistler is not that helpful, and if you’ve rented from the Whistler Blackcomb site, you’re kinda on your own to figure out where you’re supposed to go.  However once you get down to where the lifts are, you’ll eventually find it.

Once we had our rental bikes, couple of GT Fury’s, we met our guide out front.  Yeah.  Look, if you’ve never been there.  You’re going to want a guide.  Just for a couple of hours at the very least.  They’ll show you how to approach and mount the bikes on the lift, which in itself is a daunting task.  In fact, I’d say that dealing with the lifts was the most stressing part of the day. (secret note: The outside hook, is actually WAY EASIER.)  The guides are great, and will show you trail connections you’d probably miss on your own.  They’ll give you riding tips if you need them and general information which you’ll be appreciative of later. But most of all they’ll figure out what level you’re at and choose trails accordingly.  Keep in mind, they will challenge you, to keep your progression moving.  After about 2 hours, they’ll release you into the park on your own.

We rode a lot of different trails, and we didn’t even make it to the upper half of the mountain!  After a couple of rides down EZ Does It, we moved on to B-Line, to get used to the bikes handling.  With giant smiles on our faces, we kept looking for more. Golden Triangle, Ho Chi Min, and Ninja Cougar!  The wife had a scare on Ninja Cougar.  But she recovered, thankfully with no injuries and finished out the day.

I HIGHLY recommend getting an all-day lift pass and bike rental.  Because once you’ve gone down the mountain at speed, with arms burning, you’re not going to want to leave.  So get your lessons and guide out of the way early.  Your soul will thank you.

As you read this, the wife and I are currently planning a return trip.  And will probably make this an annual event.  We were thinking of planning the trip to coincide with Crankworx next year, but I’m not sure I want to do that?  We went this year on Canada Day which was about two weeks before Crankworx, and the lines were short.  I liked it being a little slower, we could get a lot of rides in.

At any rate.  If you ride mountain bikes, do yourself a HUGE favor.  Go visit Whistler.

Glove Review

In mountain biking, everyone has a preference and an opinion.  You’ll find opinions for just about EVERYTHING you could possibly put on a bike or put on yourself.  Sometimes you’ll get good advice and sometime you just get an opinion.

Gloves are just one of the items you’ll find where people have a plethora of opinions.  I’m hoping to curb my opinion with a little bit of experience.

This test came from a bad experience so it isn’t really a full test as much as a few observations on the these brands.  Of course we realize there are a LOT more brands out there, so this is a very small sample. And one of my preferences for gloves is knuckle guards. So each has some form of knuckle guard.

In the pool are Fox, Fly Racing, 100%, and Dakine.

FOX:

First up was Fox head (black & whit) version.  This was the first set I bought, and the reason for the review.

  • Comfort: They were comfortable on my hands. They didn’t bind or pinch anywhere and the seams weren’t intrusive.  I did notice that when I would wipe sweat off my brow that the added soft plastic bits would dig into my face.  So that wasn’t pleasant.
  • Durability: Horrible.  While they weren’t terrible as far as the wear on the palm-side of the glove, the suede wasn’t as durable as some of the others.  But that wasn’t the big issue. The first time I washed the gloves, they DISINTEGRATED. Anything that was glued on… which apparently is everything immediately started to peel off the glove.  (I do not machine dry them.  I wash and then hang dry.)
    This also destroyed the ability to close the gloves using the Velcro strap. The felt peeled right off.  Nice.  One wash.
  • Not only did it peel the plastic parts off the gloves, there was some sort of weird metal mesh that they used on the gloves for aesthetic purposes that I was digging out of my bike shorts for weeks. (shown below)

FOX:

Next we tried the very popular Fox Racing Dirt Paws.

  • Comfort:  Just like the last set of Fox gloves, these were very comfortable. They fit well, didn’t bind or pinch, and the seams (inside) were invisible.
  • Durability: Complete FAIL.  My wife tested these.  She gets ready for the ride, puts her gloves on and…  Riiip.  Yeah, the very first time she puts on the gloves, the gloves rip right on the seam (pictured below).  Are you kidding me with this crap?  Fox, what is going on with your quality?  Seriously.  Two sets of gloves, and couldn’t last more than a month?  No, we didn’t get to actually wash them…  so, who knows what’s going to happen then.
  • Needless to say…  We were done with Fox.

FLY Racing:

Next we have a set of Fly Racing’s F-16.

  • Comfort:  I wear a size large, but I found the F-16’s to be a bit small on me.  Some people like a tight glove, and if that’s the case you’ll like these.  They certainly didn’t bind, and the suede was in all the right places. The palms seemed thick enough and they did breath well, even for having the least amount of mesh from the others.  The knuckle guards did seem a little off, but perhaps I needed the extra-large size for this brand.  Also I prefer a little more wrist coverage.  But again, I may need the next size up.
  • Durability: The stitching is solid, the suede is doubled in those heavy-wear locations. We routinely loan them out when taking new riders on the trails with us.  No issues, even with multiple crashes and washes. Still going strong.
  • I’d get these again. Keeping in mind, I’d search for the next size up from what I normally wear.

100%:

Next up; 100%’s Airmatic

  • Comfort:  This was the only set I had an issue with as far as true comfort.  The stitching on these is pretty heavy, and there is this nasty little spot right between my forefinger and thumb where 3 seams meet.  This is also right where the handlebar sits when riding sections where it’s important to have a good grip. On longer rides this starts to irritate my hand. So much so, that I’d like to cut the section out.  Now, this only happens on my right hand, while the left seems fine.  So it could be that I received a bad glove.  But, I’m reporting them as I test them, so this is what it is.  Not comfortable.
  • Durability:  These are built well.  Everything is stitched, including the velcro.  The seams have been tugged on, stretched and crash tested.  The suede is thick yet doesn’t bind or pinch.  They’ve been through the wash and come through with flying colors.
  • Couple of other things I noted.  The velcro strap is difficult to grab.  The hook section is cut the same shape as the fuzz section, and both are stitched (which is normal).  When they are connected the two form an indiscernible unit that, even with your gloves off, is difficult to separate.  The second thing is; If you’re going to bother to make knuckle guards, make knuckle guards.  I’m not sure the little pieces that are glued on would actually help?  All that being said.  I still like these gloves.

Dakine:

Finally we have the Dakine Cross X.

  • Comfort:  The wife is testing these out.  And as soon as I can get her in here to write up her review, I will.  From what I can gather, she likes them?
  • Durability:  So far they seem to be holding up.  They’ve been put through a few rides and crashes and the wash.  No issues, yet.  One thing that does worry me, is the velcro straps are just glued on, much like the FOX gloves.  And while these have gone through the wash with no issues, I feel like it might just be a matter of time?

This concludes our mtb gloves review.  We understand there are many more brands.  This is meant as a quick review of the experiences we’ve encountered when working with these brands and styles of gloves.

 

The Intrigue

So the wife was the first one to get a new bike.  We had been riding for while and it was becoming clear to us that her old 2008 Trance 4 was a bit cumbersome for her to wield around. We weren’t too serious about shopping but as it happened we found ourselves in the perfect situation to browse.

Santos, our favorite riding spot was having it’s annual Fat Tire Festival.  And of course, one of the main features of the event is Demo bikes.  A lot of manufacturers show up to pimp their goods.  One of those was Liv.

She hadn’t ridden a women’s specific bike before and was even a little skeptical if there was anything to it.  With a little bit of nudging, she took one out for a test ride.

She tested out the Pique and it was instant love.  Not too long after that, we had one in the garage.  We bought her the Pique Advanced 2.  And to be honest, I was a little jealous.  I had been riding a 2004 Litespeed Niota, which wasn’t a bad bike…  but it’s 2017, and I was getting tired of getting comments like, “Oldschool, cool man” and “Nice Retro…”  So yeah, when I hopped on her new bike, I had some bike-envy.

It was about 2 months later that I purchase my Trance Advanced 2. And yeah, I love it.  We’ve been on these bikes a little over a year, and we have been serious about riding.  So serious in-fact, that she’s been researching everything to do with mountain biking.  So it came as no surprise when she said, “I want more travel. Your bike has more travel than mine, and now that we’re riding harder trails, I need something a little more beefy.”

What could I say?  I couldn’t argue the fact.  She had a 120mm of travel and that was fine for almost all riding conditions, but she was starting to notice things.  And she was curious if the slacker head tube and extra travel would be more suited to our riding style.

But Liv didn’t have anything between the Pique and Hail (their Enduro bike) and she had test rode one of those and wasn’t too sure she liked it.  She had almost talked herself into the Hail when along came the Liv Intrigue.  New for 2019 line. Perfect! This may be the answer she’s looking for.  It’s more without being too much.

We’ll see.