Mountain biking has something for the tech-heads, fitness gurus, adrenaline junkies, and lovers of the outdoors. It’s a sport best enjoyed with friends and family, but also great for a lone wolf escaping the buzz of a busy life. It’s accessible and about as easy as, well, riding a bike. For those that need persuading or reminding, we have some reasons (and advice on some local spots).
If you’ve ever mountain biked before, then chances are you’re familiar with what I like to call a moment of “zen.” On a ride, everyday stress has a tendency of leaving itself at the trailhead. When you’re zipping through the woods, or flying down a trail, it’s hard to remember whatever it was that pissed you off that morning, and that’s kind of a zen thing. For some, zen is the goofy grin that appears before you even know it’s there, as you climb to the top of a hill you once thought too big. You’re not even sure why you’re smiling, and the sweat stings your eyes, but then you start laughing. The best part: your riding buddies don’t even think you’re nuts. Zen can be as simple as enjoying the sounds of leaves beneath your wheels and the welcome shade of a pine forest.
It’s no secret that exercise is good for you. However, mountain biking is great for you. Get ready to use muscles you didn’t know existed, and experience a whole new level of accomplishment. Mountain biking engages your entire body, building cardiovascular fitness, strengthening muscles and joints, burning calories, and relieving stress. Bikers are known for their monster quads and calves, though it’s worth noting the gluts get quite a sculpting, as well. After a good mountain bike ride, many experience “the hunger,” which may or may not be satiated through a nice big steak (or three). Don’t be surprised at your increased mood for the rest of the day.
Mountain biking is a close-knit, but open sport of friends. You’d be hard pressed to find an unfriendly face out on the trails, simply because everyone is enjoying themselves (refer to tip 1, Zen). It’s a great way to meet people and get to know them. There’s nothing quite like getting to truly know a person through miles of mud and laughter. Runner’s high? Try biker’s high. There are clubs all over and shops full of connections to help you get started. Let’s not forget family, or the feeling you get from watching your kid learn how to ride a bike, take it to the trails, and spend all day riding through the dirt. It’s a continual growing and learning process that never fails to bring people closer.
4. Get Out There (New Jersey)
Time for some of our favorite local spots, starting with the more docile. Mercer County Park has some nice tame trails and fun wood bridges that wind around the lake. Take a family picnic in the park next to the marina afterwards (more playgrounds than you know what to do with)! The Lawrence Hopewell bicycle trail offers 20+ miles of nice pathways and trails to enjoy. The Delaware & Raritan canal path is a great place for a short or long family ride along the water with some great scenery (whoever spots the most turtles wins).
Looking for more of a challenge? 6 Mile Run is a generally well-maintained set of flowy trails. Some jumps and obstacles here and there, but mostly a fast paced ride with not a ton of elevation gain – good for setting those Strava PRs. On the more challenging side, we have Baldpate Mountain, which has everything from long, smooth sections to rocky descents and climbs to pick up some real speed. Clayton Park has some great technical terrain, too, and is often described as a “rollercoaster,” so take that as you will. Though it’s in Pennsylvania, the Lake Nockamixon trails are not too far away, presenting some fun and fast singletrack.