The Accidental Pioneers
It was in the year of our Lord, 1984’. The year Tri-Cross© tires hit the mountains of Hawaii. I straddled my new shiny Specialized 1984 Stumpjumper©, overlooking the “Projection” located in the Ko’oloa mountain range on Oahu, Hawaii. In the original Hawaiian language this roughly translates into “The Godhead”. According to Hawaiian legend, Ko’oloa helped create the heavens and the earth. He created man, fashioning man in his image, and breathing life into his creation. I felt as if Ko’oloa had breathed new life into me as my Stumpjumper© and I were ready to traverse the volcano which reached elevations of up to 3,150 feet.
My brand new 1984 Stumpjumper© was constructed of a soldered OS chrome molly frame. It had no suspension. It was equipped with Tommaselli© brake levers made in Italy for motorcycles, Suntour© thumb shifters which utilized the same skills I had honed while learning to shift race bikes in the 70’s, Suntour Mountech© derailers, Sugino TAT© cranks, Saturae Anno© rims and a ”flickstand” which I modifies to fit my Tri-cross© knobby’s. Above all my bike had Gears! Not the Mercx© or LeMond© combo (like 53×11), but gears so low I could ride up a mountain or in this case a volcano. And riding up a volcano is exactly what I planned on doing.
I reveled at my new found purchase, and picked my way up a ridge on an old wild pig trail until I submitted the “punchbowl”. This was where life was breathed into man, the first time a mountain bike had dug its knobby spoor into the Ko’oloa clay. I was wearing my complete bike kit consisting of US Army issue jungle boots, Levis©, a brown US Army issue t-shirt and my US Army issue leather gloves. My head gear consisted o a “drive-on-rag” which was a combat medical arm sling tied around my head. With the Pacific Ocean off in the distance and a jungle paradise below my perch, and dressed for an extreme venture.
“It’s time for the bike to test Ko’oloa’s breath” I said to myself as I released my breaks and submitted myself to the jungle’s gravity on the world’s first commercially manufactured mountain bike. I should have said bike’s, plural. The “Dean” of mountain biking, the God of bike crashes and mythical wipe-outs, was shooting ahead of me in a shiny, new Stumpjumper© as well. His perma-grin and terminal dirt rash, the only indicators that he was not normal. Dean, US Army Scout and adrenaline junkie, flew past me, missing the turn into the trail, and was launched, jungle boots over drive-on-rag into… Well, some trees I guess.
I focused on Ko’oloa’s spinal column and gave the Tomasellis© a complete break-in experiencing the first high speed heat-fade on my rims. At first I assumed it was due to the proximity of the volcano. I began to feel more confident riding through the root labyrinth surrounded my elephant grass and ferns. I realized that I was probably the fastest thing in the jungle at that time. Yes, mongoose may be faster, but not while I was descending down a volcano trail on 27” wheels! I wondered “what a herd of wild pigs looked like making and maintaining this trail”, when I suddenly encountered three cliffs; one in front of me and two on either side! Crushing the break levers to the bar and sitting nearly on the rear tire, I shuddered to a very short halt. “Tires with Traction”!! Red clay dust rose and drifted around me, a plume of the trail’s dust settling softly up the ridge, looking like a string of Cheetos© large enough to hide the trail and its roots.
This had been the most incredible ride I’d ever had since the year 1979 on my home made mountain bike which I had built in my hometown of Salmon, Idaho. I looked at the mass of foliage carpeting the walls below me. I thought about “Rambo, First Blood” falling through the tree branches. I could have set a distance record with the Guinness World Book on a bicycle without ground, but figured the archeologists would never find me. The only thing that could top that ride today might have been…. Yep! Dean!! Here came the other shiny Stumpjumper©. If I had come down at his same speed, I’d probably be a goner. Maybe I did, maybe I am. “Cliff!” I yelled, pointing in a 360° around me. I couldn’t think of any established military hand signal for, “STOP CLIFF(s) AHEAD!!!”. Turns out the “Dean” of wipe outs had invented a unique dismount system on a bicycle. I say this because it became a regular event, especially while descending at high speed or through briars and bramble where a rabbit wouldn’t go. This unique method became a popular topic for campfire tales and eventually, legend (in my family anyway). Dean’s patented dismount appeared to be as follows: After achieving terminal velocity, pick the softest, largest protrusion of fauna, and steer directly into it. Apparently yelling a short vowel-laden interjection after impact helps. It matters not where you land as long as it is not into the bike or the bike into you. While Dean sat choking on his Cheeto© dust, I commented that maybe if we located his bike, we could then check for bodily injury. “Nah, I’m fine. That was BAD!” was his toothy, grinning reply.
We eventually found the bike. I had come to no harm. Soldered steel frames are Ko’oloa’s kryptonite. We managed to find a solitary pig trail for all-wheel-drive pigs and slowly descended a cliff like Sherpa’s through green, leafy steel wool, until we hit a paved road. It felt like getting off and taking out the hubs of my four-wheel-drive, but that was ludicrous since time machines don’t have hubs. As became fashionable on the island with mountain bike pioneers to stop at a McDonald’s© in Wahiawa and stocked up on two-for-a-dollar burger deals with whatever change was left in our pockets. We had done something nobody had really done yet. Things were about to get interesting for the next couple of years. Pedaling back to the base, I kept imagining a labyrinth trail stretching before me for-ever. I felt Ko’oloa’s breath again. It kind of smelt like Cheeto’s©.
Written by Kurt Toynbee
Edited by Dean Waddell
Key MTB Trail Experiences for Beginner Mountain Bikers
“FIRST” Protect your cell phone.
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Knowing which MTB trails to ride on is key to having the greatest riding experience. If you are a beginner mountain biker, take some time to learn the local trails in your area. A trail with a steep grade may be too difficult for a beginner mountain biker while a trail with little to no grade may bore an experienced, well conditioned mountain biker.
If you are a novice, unconditioned rider, the very first thing you have to consider is endurance. You may want to hit that singletrack trail others are talking about, but if you haven’t ridden in awhile you may find yourself pushing your bike more than riding it. Getting on a trail and running out of umph deep in a gulch is not a good place to be. This is where the old saying “like riding a bike” does not apply. Consider going on a few Rails to Trails first. Most Rails to trails are well maintained, flat surfaces with wide gravel lanes. The flatter trails will condition you and build your endurance. Rails to trails usually has plenty of parking options also.
Regardless of your conditioning level, another point to consider is hydration. Remember that riding a bicycle is great exercise and also uses up quite a bit of electrolytes. So making a habit of drinking plenty of fluid on a regular basis is a must. If dehydration sets in while you’re riding your bike you will begin to feel dizzy and sick. Laying next to your bike dizzy and in a cold sweat is not a good place to be. Take plenty of water for the ride and drink frequently. There are products available such as the CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack which makes carrying water easy. These hydration packs ride high on your back and are lightweight, easy to load and refill, and very comfortable. This one even sports a fleece-lined media pocket for stashing your smartphone, iPod, camera or other devices. Smart features like Bicycle Helmet hooks, tail light tab, and compartments for stashing tools, keys and electronics make life easy.
Its also a good idea to have a recovery drink mix on hand after your ride. Replacing nutrients within 30 minutes of a workout is a good practice. Healthy Scoop offers a complete line of plant based drink mixes that will improve your stamina and make you feel great.
Getting ready for your MTB trail Experience!
So let’s say you’re not confident riding right now. Maybe you are having balance issues or you feel your arms or legs are too weak. Starting an exercise program in the comfort of your own home is a great idea. You don’t have go out and purchase a home gym or anything like that.
Using resistance tubing is perfect for personal training. Whether you are an experienced athlete or just beginning fitness training, resistance tubing helps strengthen core muscle groups, improve balance, and prevent injuries or help in recovery. Power Systems offers a complete line of resistance tubing to fit your size and needs.