Feel the burn as the body absorbs jolt after jolt, traversing the rough terrain. Skill and endurance partner with balance and strength to conquer every twist and turn of the trail. Waterfalls, creeks, and cliffs create the playing field. The opponent? Yourself. It’s mind over matter to keep pedaling uphill. Downhill is a gut-check: how fast will you go, risking limb (maybe life)?
Self-reliance is paramount in mountain biking. Nothing’s worse than walking out of the woods after blowing a tire because you couldn’t fix it. When purchasing gear and accessories, keep safety and comfort in mind. Padding at all points of contact is recommended.
Need to Have
// Helmet Sounds like a no-brainer, but protect your noggin. Helmets should meet, or exceed, CPSC standards. The best cover the entire head and come down the back of the skull.
// Protective Eyewear A $15 pair of glasses can prevent riders from literally poking an eye out.
// Hydration System Plan on consuming one bottle of water per hour. Bottles that affix to a cage on the bike frame are the cheapest option. For 2-hour-plus rides, consider purchasing a hydration pack.
// Emergency Kit Never hit a trail without a spare tube, pump, and a small tool kit to tighten bike parts that may come loose.
Nice to Have
// Riding Shorts Mountain bike shorts are baggier than traditional cycling shorts and have padding in the seat to prevent saddle sores.
// Gloves It only takes one wipeout to prove their value. Full-fingered gloves are recommended, with palm padding that cuts down on hand fatigue.
// Shoes Flats, or shoes with clips? Riders are split fifty-fifty, depending on if they’re short-track racers or downhill stormers. Either way, make sure they’re comfortable and compatible with the bike’s pedals.
California and Colorado each make claims as the birthplace of mountain biking. Yet there is no doubt that the Carolinas offer the best quality and quantity of trails on the East Coast. Whether saddling up as a rookie or expert, be sure to check out the following rides:
Lake Conestee Nature Park (Greenville): First stop for beginners with double tracks and boardwalks on the southern end of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. 844 ft. elevation
Pleasant Ridge County Park (Slater-Marietta): Five-mile loop of hard-packed dirt on the JFA Trail. Half climb, half flow. 1,390 ft. elevation
Issaqueena Lake (Clemson): Forty miles of trails. Flat, smooth, and fast. 921 ft. elevation
Paris Mountain State Park (Greenville): Eleven miles of single-track trails. Rocky up top, smoother down below.1,469 ft. elevation
Dupont State Forest (Brevard, NC): Expansive area with 80 miles of single and double tracks offering a little bit of everything. 2,322 ft. elevation
Pisgah National Forest (Pisgah Forest, NC): Known as the Wild West of biking in our region, with a vast network of more than 100 trails. Very steep, very rocky, very technical. Various elevations
Every biker needs the right beer, er, gear. Pre- and post-ride, stop by any of the following for big tales of mud-diving and gravity checks.
Just beyond the trail at Paris Mountain, this establishment is a primary gathering spot for riders and spectators alike, with its full-service bike shop and craft beer taproom. Enjoy local and regional brews and food truck grub while watching riders attack the pump track off the deck. 20 Piney Mountain Rd, Greenville.
The eastern edition of a Colorado standard, Oskar Blues has found a home in the hills of Brevard, a 10-minute ride from Pisgah. A food truck, regional bands, and locally brewed ales make this a favorite pit stop for all. 342 Mountain Industrial Dr, Brevard, NC.
Nothing tastes better after a hot ride than cold brew. Sierra Nevada offers 23 beers on tap, many produced just a few feet away. Grab a bite from their extensive menu at the Taproom or stretch sore legs in the Beer Garden. 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River, NC
Benchmark Bicycle Supply Co.
Two-year-old shop in the middle of downtown Greer, with an emphasis on craftsmanship, companionship, and community education. 207 Randall St, Greer.
Sunshine Cycle Shop
A Greenville institution since 1976, featuring premium brands like Giant, Santa Cruz, Liv, and Felt. 1826 N Pleasantburg Dr.
Family-owned business operating on Greenville’s eastside, with a 3,500-square-foot shop filled with bikes and accessories, and a highly skilled service department. 1616 Woodruff Rd,
Stop en route to the trails at this Travelers Rest mainstay, selling top-brand bikes and quality gear. If you can’t find what you need, ask their friendly staff. 1 Center St, Travelers Rest.