by Coach Kevin 

So you got yourself here, on a mountain bike. You’ve already done the hardest part. You’re here. You’re on that mountain bike.

Now what?

You think to yourself, “It’s just like riding a bike, right?”

Sort of.

You still feel that pit in your stomach. You know this is different than riding your old bike around the ‘hood, on the smooth sidewalks. There are rocks. There are trees. There are snakes. And this bike has such big tires. This bike, this bike is sorta scary. But the hardest part, the scariest part is done. You are here. You are on that bike.

Let’s move on to the easier part now: let’s Ride.

1. Stand up.

Yes, stand up when you ride. This isn’t the lazy sidewalk ride on that ‘ole bike of yours to go get some choice beverages. You can sit on that ride, just like you can sometimes sit on this mountain bike ride when the trail feels easy, boring. You will find those easy moments. They exist. You will enjoy them.

The rest of the time, stand.

Stand like you’re going to run. When you run, your weight is on the balls of your feet, your vision is forward, your focus is forward, and your effort is forward one step (or pedal stroke) at a time.

You don’t need to be an Olympian to go for a run. You can run. Just like you can ride this mountain bike, one pedal stroke at a time. It won’t always be easy, but you can keep moving forward at your pace, one foot forward at a time.

2. Guide your bike with your eyes.

Just like driving a car, look ahead. Wayyyyyy ahead. Especially at high speeds. Ever stare at the hood of your car while driving down the freeway? Those little white lines on the road seem to zip by, don’t they? And that car braking ahead of you, totally came out of nowhere, right?

Mountain biking is like that. If you get tunnel vision just ahead of the front wheel, the trail whizzes by and obstacles appear out of nowhere. But look 10 car lengths ahead of you, 20 car lengths ahead of you, and driving well above the speed limit (you’d never speed, would you, law abiding reader you) seemingly feels….boring.

Similarly, look ahead of you on the trail, and it’s a lot less overwhelming. Its comprehensible. You can choose your lane, you can choose your line, you can predict and avoid that traffic jam, you can avoid that obstacle rock ahead. You can look through corners on winding mountain roads, you can look through corners on the winding mountain trail. You can drive. You can ride.

3. Pace yourself.

Ever start a longer run, full sprint, only to realize moments later you can’t sustain that pace? Mountain biking is just like that. Start slow, steady. One pedal at a time. One pedal forward, then another. Standing when it gets ‘tough’, sitting when it feels ‘easy’. One pedal stroke at a time.

You’re probably already thinking, “Can you ever take a moment of rest from the seemingly constant pedaling?” You betcha! When you have enough rolling speed, or the trail is particularly rough and pedaling seems impossible, you can stand with level feet, one foot in front of the other, and let it roll, baby.

4. Slow your roll.

So you’re rolling, and you’re rolling. And now, you’re gaining speed. And you’re having fun. But then, suddenly, you’re rolling too fast. TOO fast. It’s time to slow your roll, now. Not in a moment, NOW.

Let’s slow our roll, by using both brakes. Yes , both brakes. Slowly. Like driving a car, we don’t STOMP that brake pedal every time we brake, we ease onto and off of the brakes, slowing smoothly, before that corner, before that speed bump, before we run over that super cute squirrel. The car automatically brakes both front and rear wheels. We squeeze both front and rear brake levers, together, evenly, smoothly, always. We brake often while driving, any time we need to slow our roll, for any reason. We don’t continue driving feeling like we’re out of control. Slow your roll on the mountain bike, any time you feel the need to.

5. Rock n Roll.

Ok. So now you can pedal, not exactly like an Olympian, but you’re looking ahead, pedaling ahead, all sweaty and uncomfortably, dangit; and you’re rolling, and you’re braking, you are in control. You are doing this whole mountain bike thang.

And, it actually feels kinda nice. Fun even. You start to understand why people enjoy this sweaty, uncomfortable activity. And then you see it. That rock. That friggen’ huge rock. No way around it. No way you’re getting over it either, right? Right?!? Suddenly, you’re questioning anyone and everyone who said this would be fun all over again.

Remember to stand up any time the trail gets “tough”. Rocks are tough. Tough as rocks, ya’ll. So you’re gonna stand, on the balls of your feet, just like running. When you’re standing, with soft arms and legs, your limbs act like suspension. You can walk up stairs (steep, big, bumps, usually hard as rocks). You can use your body like suspension, like shocks, to manage this bump, this rock, this step.

On the balls of your feet, like you’re running, you can bend your arms and legs as you go over the rock, just like you’d bend your arms and legs going over the steps, or ladder, with the energy and weight in your feet, like you’re running up those steps, up that ladder, over that rock, your eyes still focused ahead, far ahead, planning your next move. You can roll over this rock. And the next, and the next. Rock n roll, ya’ll.

6. Ride off.

Sometimes the rock is just Too. Dang. Big. though.

Just like a kid playing kickball in the street – there were times when something so potentially dangerous, like a car, would come by – and you’d yell “Game off!”. “Game off” meant – OFF! Until that danger had passed. “Game off” didn’t mean you try to continue the game, knowing that car would likely bring some serious hurt.

You may encounter some obstacles so big, like the oncoming car, that your best decision is to say to yourself, “Game off!”. Thats’ OK. Seriously. Stop. Look at the obstacle. Check in with yourself. Think you can Ride this one? Try it. Think it’s just Too. Dang. Dangerous? Ride or walk around around it. Continue riding, past this dangerous spot. Come back and try it another day. No justification needed. No explanation needed. Survival of the fittest, and smartest, ya’ll.

7. Ride on.

You’re riding, you’re really, actually, riding. You’re Pedaling. You’re Braking. You’re looking ahead, down the straight aways and around the corners. You’re rolling over rocks.

You. Are. Riding.

Ride on.

For more skills development (and there’s a lot more), take a serious lesson.  This was the ‘first driving lesson’ of a read, and you successfully made it out of the driveway, around the block, and back home with hopefully only minor incident. Just like anything else, take some real lessons, many lessons, and practice, lots and lots of practice.

If you want to be a better rider, I recommend you take some real lessons. Check out the online Mountain Bike School at llbmtb.com.

Boulder County, Colorado is home to hundreds of scenic farms, some dating as far back as the Colorado gold rush of the 1860s, with over 130,000 total agricultural acres ALL with stunning views of the Rocky Mountains above to the west.

The diverse and varied topography of the Boulder area – from foothills, mesas, buttes, to wooded creeks and stretches of prairie – give each farm a unique feeling and a beautiful view unlike even its closest neighbor.

And the best way to experience the nuances of the countryside (in our humble opinion) is by bike, because most special places are too-quickly missed when traveling by car. As such, rural Boulder has developed many top cycling routes, many of which pass by farms, flocks, orchards and wildlife sanctuaries.

Yet most who bike the area have never had the pleasure of stopping in for a visit at a local farm for a refreshment and a tour.

There’s something special about riding the back roads and bike paths to reach these small farms, and the best is to be welcomed in for a farm-fresh snack or dinner! Even farm-to-table restaurants pale in comparison to enjoying a meal right on the spot where your food was grown and just harvested.

And there’s rarely anyone better than a local farmer to share the sense of place and its history, the unique flavors of its crops and how they were grown and prepared. Here on the farms, local food is not a concept or a hot new menu item, it is the very essence of life and livelihood..

Each month during the growing season you’ll experience a evolving sampling of the freshest chilies, greens, beans, beets, carrots, lettuces, sweet corn, garlic, kale, onions, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, pastured eggs and more. And, when you’re lucky, there are sometimes special varieties that most people have never tried or even heard of before.

Although the Colorado climate is best suited for dry-tolerant crops like hay and wheat and livestock grazing, numerous irrigation ditches – some originally hand-dug – bring snowmelt out from the Indian Peaks to Boulder area farms out allowing vegetables, berries and fruit trees to flourish.

During dry times of year on the high plains, our local farms are islands of green that are even sweeter to visit. Thanks to the irrigation network bringing snowmelt down from the continental divide 9,000 feet above, a farm visit can literally feel like a Colorado oasis in the summer months.

The rural areas we pass through include wildlife habitat for eagles, hawks, songbirds, prairie dogs, and many many other wild animals. It’s a rare tour that doesn’t include a memorable wildlife spotting, so bring your camera.

Plus many growers employ permaculture on their farms, a practice of creating habitat within the farm ecosystem so that nature can do the work of managing pests and improving soil fertility. It may sound hippie, yet the system can work extremely well by reducing input costs and producing extremely nutritious food. Come on a tour, get your hands dirty and experience for yourself the future of organic farming!

The area has been a hub for the local foods movement that’s swept the US these last 15 years, and many new farms have cropped up inspired by this collective desire to reconnect with real, healthy food and build local living economies. The shift has brought some exciting new farms to the area, and each years riders encounter more and more pastures filled with sheep, goats and mobile chicken houses supplying quality food to local markets, restaurants and CSA customers.

Take 63rd Street Farm which we visit on our Thursday happy hour ride, for example. Founded in 2007 by  Amanda and Brian Scott with a motto of “growing food, friends and futures,” this farm on Boulder Creek includes organically-grown veggies and pastured poultry, plus greenhouses and a handmade brick pizza oven that get fired up for on-farm feasts!

Further north in Boulder County, Sol y Sombra farm focuses on heirloom veggies variety (the original, best tasting varieties that don’t ship well coast-to-coast), as well as fruits, herbs and flowers. The farm dates back to the early 1900s, and owner Allison Edwards prides herself on continuing the tradition with a goal of “changing the way America eats.” This includes inviting bike tours out for an incredible 4-course meal, connecting with the community at nearby farmers markets and even helping educate kids about real food in local schools.

And it doesn’t hurt to dine looking west at Sol y Sombra’s killer view of 14,259 foot Longs Peak – a stunning mountain that provides a one-of-a-kind backdrop for a memorable farm dinner.

Other farms we’ll pass are even older still, which brings us to a little history on the area..

In the words of HistoryColorado.org, within a few decades of the 1859 gold rush, “Boulder County went from a Native American hunting ground covered with prairie grasses to bustling mountain mining camps supported by successful farms on the plains.  Settlers.. broke sod, established farms and ranches, built irrigation systems, founded farming communities, and organized communal agricultural societies and county fairs – all in less than thirty years.

From the Local Food Shift magazine – an organization deeply linked with the area’s latest agricultural renaissance – we learn that in 1869, four Boulder residents, a farmer and flour-mill operator, a stockman, an orchardist and a berry raiser, issued a “Call” for an “Agricultural Convention” “to be holden at Boulder.”

This was how the Boulder County fair was born that year, on a parcel of land purchased for $600, and has continued annually ever since. This first local fair in the Territory included an address to the crowd outlining the key value of local farmsteads in promoting “tree culture.. on the plains, to beautify and shelter our homes, as well as for their fruits and timber; an exhortation to the ladies to cultivate flowers and small fruits to make homes attractive to their male relatives, and thus win them from the ways of temptation.”

Fast-forward to today, Boulder continues to chart new territory in the US local foods movement. I an effort to conserve farmland from development in this popular area, the County of Boulder has purchased 25,000 acres of agricultural land and given it permanent-conservation status. Nearly 2,000 of those acres are certified organic and the County is working to transition over 1,200 more areas to organic by 2020.

And some initiatives to protect farmland have been controversial. The County just passed a GMO-ban that will take effect on county-owned farmland between 2019 and 2021 depending on the crop.

The move has been widely criticized by large players in the ag industry but lauded by organic growers as as key step in safeguarding genetic diversity and preventing contamination from neighboring GMO crops. Regardless, Boulder continues forward as a community willing to chart new territory and offer a rural experience that is being lost in many other places around the country.

But we wax on – these conversations are much better had while riding the back roads and bike paths of the area or sipping a beverage at a beautiful farm on a tour. There’s really nothing quite like breathing the fresh air and tasting the food revolution for yourself – give us a call and we’ll show you around!

Experience Scotland, an unparalleled mountain bike destination. Awarded Global Superstar status two years running by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA)

expedition

Engaging the best local guides we’ve devised a route for fit, adventurous mountain bike riders in one of the most scenic and unspoiled parts of Europe.

On Outside Magazine’s “Top 10 Trips of a Lifetime” this is a classic, supported point-to-point journey in every sense. 8 days/ 7 nights of world-class mountain biking and total immersion into Scotland’s landscapes and cultures.
Tour Overview
Our Scottish C2C Expedition offers an exciting opportunity to ride this unique East to West off-road route in one continuous journey. Beginning at Inverness we will ride a number of Highlands trails known to only a handful of trained local guides. Under their expert leadership we’ll ride beautiful singletrack, flowing forest trails and high mountain passes as we make our way through the magnificent Scottish countryside to the rugged west coast village of Applecross Bay.

Boulder received a beautiful Spring snow this past week. Deep, heavy, spectacular and badly needed as we’ve had precious little snow at this elevation for the Winter. True to our local weather pattern the storm quickly moved out to the Eastern Plains and sunshine with temperatures in the 50s then 60s followed.

Spring snow means we’ll likely have nice vegetation by our roads & trails into the Summer and Fall months. It also provides a great opportunity for Fat Biking on snow, especially at higher elevations. Fat Biking is really catching on in our area and it’s a blast!

We’ll be glad to give you advice on how to do it yourself or take you out on a Fat Bike tour.

OK, so sometimes during Mud Season we do duck out to the desert. Because it’s so warm, dry and insanely fun. Anyone who bikes owes it to themselves to go to Moab, Utah, Eagle, Fruita or Grand Junction, Colorado at least once in their lifetime. It’s a different world and different vibe you will enjoy. My gang seeks out the craziest/best MTB trails but there are lots of gorgeous road rides as well. Including some that are stages of the USA Pro Challenge race. Enjoy!

 

Whether your group is 2 or 20 our expert guides provide the bikes, gear and knowledge so your Tour experience is the best blend of challenge and fun. We love to ride our bikes and to show folks the landscape, culture and natural history of our Colorado home. We know how to match the local routes to your abilities so you can enjoy the ride, the scenery and leave the details to us.
Click here for guided tours well-suited to beginner/intermediate riders, families and City Tour enthusiasts. Reserve well in advance or on short notice if you’re already in town.Headquartered in beautiful Boulder Colorado, Boulder Bike Tours provides guided Mountain and Road tours for riders of all levels. We also run shorter City Tours, easy-cruising filled with historical and cultural info about the evolution of Boulder: “25 unique square miles surrounded by reality”