Fall is a great time of the year to mountain bike in Corner Brook. Is there a better way to combat the shorter days and cooler temps?!
Learning to mountain bike has been quite the adventure! Mountain biking isn't a new sport in western Newfoundland but you had to be pretty hardcore to ride here before there were dedicated trails. Like all places, someone has to lead the way. Now, thanks to years of hard work from local volunteers, Corner Brook has Western Newfoundland's best network of mountain biking trails.
I would say these trails are an aggressive place to learn but your learn fast! This fall, I needed a new sport to help get fit for winter and inspire me to outside more. So I did it - I committed to learning to mountain bike!
STEP 1: GET A BIKE
I have to make an honest admission here: I have had a bike for about 2 years and only used it on gravel roads, once attempting Ginger Route and getting this #biggestbuttbruise of my life!
But when I was shopping for bike, 2 years ago, I went to the local bike shop. Cycle Solutions is a specialty store, they know bikes.
Here are my top 3 tips you need to know before you go shopping:
- Your budget and let's be realistic, you're looking at a minimum start up of $800 for a bike and a good helmet. Will and I both bought new bikes, one from Cycle Solutions and one from SportCheck. Spent the same: $800. My recommendation: support local.
- What kind of riding you want to do. Single track, cross country or downhill. Each type of riding utilizes different bike features (good article), so know where and how you plan to ride. This will help you (and the good folks fitting your bike) choose the right one.
- Ride the bike before you buy - yes, you can do this! Once you have narrowed down to 2-3 bike options, ask if you can ride them. This page has detailed tips for test riding a bike.
STEP 2: LEARN THE BASICS
There are so many ways to learn these days!
Basic Mountain Bike Skills
- Google it! Yeah, this is my go to resource for learning pretty much everything now. I found this great article by Sacred Rides: Mountain Biking 101
- Find friend or a group to go with. It's always best to take a buddy, in case of accident or injury. And to laugh with you along the way. Cycle Solutions offers weekly rides, contact them for details. Start a facebook group? Reach out to others and see what happens.
- Travel and learn! Join a adventure trip and learn to mountain bike. Sacred Rides is a Canadian company that can teach you the skills and you get to explore the world.
Basic Bike Maintenance Skills
- Change a flat tire. Watch here.
- Then check out Top 10 Money Saving Mountain Bike Maintenance Tips
STEP 3: GET ON THE GO
Now you have a bike, some skills and some rider friends. Time to start exploring around home - this is the fun part!! There are trails all within Corner Brook City limits plus you can ride logging roads, quad trails and some hiking trails.
Outdoors & on the Go Favourite Trails
- Stuckless Pond - Gros Morne National Park
- Eastern Arm Pond Cabin Access Road - Rocky Harbour (contact Katie for .gpx or .klm file)
- Massey Drive Trails
- and even Ginger Route is beginning to grow on me...
- Take the right stuff - Basic checklist here + add basic bike repair tools
- Multitool - Crankbrothers 10755 Multi Bicycle Tool 17-Function, Gold
- Mini pump - Topeak Mini Morph Bike Pump
- Spare tire tubes - Continental Bike Tubes
- Tire levers - Kool Stop Bicycle Tire Levers
The most important part of learning any new sport - have fun! Don't be hard on yourself while you're learning, it's hard. Focused time and practice are what is needed for progress.
Mountain biking in Corner Brook has given me a new perspective on my local trails, inspired me to keep active and increase my fitness, as well as built up serious new skills (yeah, I can now ride one of Ginger Routes switch backs!). I am now looking forward to more spring/summer/fall adventure on two wheels!
Have you biked on Newfoundland's west coast? Where and what do you think?
Share your story in the comments below.