Tag Archives: mountain bike

A pair of cycling gloves are one of the few pieces of apparel that make direct contact with both your body and the bicycle.

How to choose the right cycling gloves for miles of pain free riding!

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

A pair of cycling gloves are one of the few pieces of apparel that make direct contact with both your body and the bicycle. They help you maintain proper grip on the bars when things get hot and sweaty, they protect your skin in the case of an accidental dismount, and they can help alleviate soreness and numbness in your hands.

However, like any other type of cycling gear, you can’t just grab any pair of gloves off the shelf. The gloves have to be the perfect fit for you. Below is some information to help you find the right pair.

The importance of cycling gloves to the ulnar nerve

Through the palm of your hand runs a nerve called the ulnar nerve. It’s the nerve responsible for the shock you feel when you hit your funny bone. It’s also responsible for the sensation in your pinkie, ring finger, hands, and any subsequent discomfort when riding. By holding the handlebar, pressure is placed on the ulnar nerve, sometimes creating numbness or pain.

cycling glove ulnar nerve

The ulnar nerve and the critical pressure point

At the location where your hand, the ulnar nerve, and the handlebar make contact is where cycling gloves offer relief. Many gloves include padding on the palm to disperse the force being applied to the Ulnar nerve. The pad acts as a little bridge over the nerve, eliminating hand discomfort, and allowing you endless miles of comfortable riding.

Cycling Gloves Ulnar nerve correction

Ulnar nerve being protected by pad

Finding the Perfect Pair of Cycling Gloves

When trying on cycling gloves, focus on the webbing between your pointer finger and thumb. The webbing will give you a great indication of fit when holding a handlebar. If the glove is snug enough to avoid scrunching up and chaffing, then it’s a good fit. However, if the glove is too tight through the webbing, then holding the bar will only intensify that pressure.

If this is your first time using gloves, realize that holding a bar with gloves will feel different. If it feels like the padding puts your hand in an unnatural position, try on different pairs until you find one that feels more normal.

Cycling gloves come in two major categories; full finger and half finger. Both types offer the same sizing and padding options. For road and path riding half finger gloves work great. They allow for good feel on the controls and manage sweat well. If you are riding off road, a full finger glove offers better protection in case of an accidental dismount.

Cycling Glove types

Half finger and full finger cycling gloves

When you follow the tips above, you should easily be able to find gloves that help you enjoy mile after mile of comfortable riding.

For keeping your gloves clean and stretching there longevity this article.

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The best way to verify you are buying the best bike for you is to test ride a lot.

Buying a new bike? Test ride tips to make the most of your time

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The best way to find the right bike for you is to do some research on models you like. Then verify their size to your body and test riding your choices a lot. With so many choose, how do you make the best use of your time while test riding these bikes? Read on for a complete list of how to test ride efficiently.

Test ride bike plan research

Any good test ride begin with research. First, review what type of bicycle you would like, then check out the websites of some popular brands. Pay close attention to the prices of each bike and what it buys you. A few things to look for are, the amount of gears, what type of suspension it has, tire size, frame material, and brake type. Once you have gotten a general sense for what is available, you can plan a trip to the bike shop.

Pick a shop

Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.

Before looking further call a shop closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.

Once you have researched a few bikes you like, give some local dealers a call. Most brand’s websites have a dealer locator to help you find the closest shop. Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to ride. Because shops can’t stock every possible model in every possible size, call to ensure they at least have the right model in a size that is close to what you are looking for.

Make a date to test ride

Check the weather and your schedule, then pick a good time to head into the shop. Keep in mind that shops and roads are less busy during the work week. Therefore, Monday thru Friday is the ideal time to test ride bikes. If you need to go in on the weekend, call the shop and see when they are least busy and make an appointment if possible.

Dress appropriately

It makes no sense to test ride bicycles if you are not dressed for the occasion. Wear your Jersey, Shorts, bring your helmet, and bring shoes and pedals if you ride clipless. Another helpful thing is to bring your existing bicycle with you. The way your current bike is setup can be replicated somewhat for test rides.

Bring your ID

When test riding bikes, you are potentially borrowing thousands of dollars from the shop. Therefore, it’s expected for shops to ask for some form of collateral. At the minimum, bring your ID and a major credit card.

The test ride

Test rides don’t need to take hours, but a three minute spin is rarely enough time to make a real impression. Expect to take at least 15 minutes on each bike, with more time spent on the first few bikes you ride. When riding, try to focus on how the bike accelerates, how easily it changes direction, and how stable it feels. A great way to do this is to pick a set route that has some flat area, some climbs, and at least one good descent. Riding the same course with different bikes makes comparing them easier.

Narrow it down to bikes

Once you get the feel for a few bikes, you can start narrowing down your choices. I find it best to pick two and then ride them back to back, concentrating on fit and comfort rather than speed and stability. Have the shop begin dialing in your fit on these two bicycles to see which one really is the best for you. Once you have a bike that rides well and fits well, you are ready to buy.

Buy everything you will need

A bike that rides great is the key ingredient in a great bike ride but it’s not everything. Remember that your new bike needs things like a water bottle cage, kickstand, lights, and maybe clipless pedals or a better fitting saddle. Consider all the situations you may run into on your new bike and buy the products you need to be prepared.

Hopefully your next bike purchase will be fun and informative

Common cycling mistakes are something we as humans can't escape, but nobody is perfect. That said, consider taking a look below at some of the most common and damaging cycling mistakes

Common cycling mistakes and the ways you can solve them today

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Mistakes are something we as humans can’t escape, but nobody is perfect. That said,  what we can do is try to eliminate some of the simple errors we may might make without ever realizing we are proceeding down the wrong path. Consider taking a look below at some of the most common and damaging cycling mistakes made by both occasional and seasoned cyclists.

Cycling Mistakes #1 – Only wear a helmet when you think it’s needed

Many riders make the mistake of thinking “I don’t need to wear a helmet, I’m only going around the block with the kids”. This mentality is often responsible for catastrophe. The truth is you never know when an accident can happen, so you should always be prepared. As an example, the worst crash I have ever had was when riding from a campsite, down a straight gravel path to the wash room. Before I knew it, I was smack dab on the ground faster than I could get my hands up to catch myself. Moral of the story Is to wear your helmet any time you ride your bike.

mistakes

Helmets are always in style

#2 – Believing you have plenty of air in the tires without checking

Frequently, I see riders headed down the trail with tires so low you can hear the rim bouncing off the ground with each pedal stroke. Low tire pressure can lead to pinch flats, and more importantly, loss of control. The innertube that holds the air in your tire is naturally porous and loose air naturally over time. In fact, a tube can lose between 3-5 PSI a day. At its extreme, your tire could go from full pressure to less than half pressure in the span of one week. Be sure to protect your ride by checking tire pressure before each ride.

#3 – Lube the Chain After Every Ride

Believe it or not, an over lubed chain is more damaging than an under lubed chain. While I am not recommending that you ride around with a dry chain, knowing when to lube is important. Having a ton of lube on your chain will not protect it any better. In fact, too much lube will attract dirt and debris, creating a harsh slurry that covers and wears your drivetrain. The best way to lubricate your chain is to apply lube to the chain, allowing it to soak in for a minute and then use a rag to wipe off as much excess as possible. When done, the chain should feel almost dry to the touch.

The right amount of lube is a great thing

#4 – Use the water hose to clean your bike

After a dusty or wet ride, many riders reach for the hose to spray dirt off the bike. Sadly, while the bike may look clean, the bike will be in worse shape than if it hadn’t been cleaned at all. Pressured water that comes from a hose, can displace grease and leave nothing behind. Now, with no grease, the bike wears out at an accelerated rate. Instead of using a hose, try instead a warm bucket of soapy water and a big sponge.

#5 – Bring water along only on some rides

Many times, riders will assume that because the weather is cool, or a ride is short, they don’t need to bring water with them on a ride. Truth be told, the biggest drain to your energy while riding can be related to dehydration. Stay hydrated by bringing water or a sports drink along on all rides.

mistakes

Yay Water!

#6 – Assume cycling shoes are only good for clipless pedals

If you don’t want to ride clipless pedals, I get that. There are tons of reasons clipless pedals are great, but at least as many reasons why they aren’t right for everybody. What you can do is use a cycling specific shoe with your flat pedals. A cycling shoe has a stiff sole and additional arch support to disperse pedaling forces over the entire length of your foot. Therefore, you have more efficiency and less discomfort.

Mistakes in general

Overall, it is a good idea to think about what you are doing before you ride your bike. Make sure your bike is ready for the ride, be equipped to take care of yourself during the ride and be sure you are prepared to reach out for help if needed. Once you go through that mental exercise you will see the common cycling mistakes melt away. Have Fun!

Enjoy your next bike adventure with these helpful tips before leaving your front door. Your adventure could be a charity ride, a triathlon, a bike tour or even a trip for the whole family to the library. Whatever the bike adventure.

Tips for planning a great bike adventure for lasting memories

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Congratulations are in order, if you have decided to take the leap and plan a great bike adventure. Your adventure could be a charity ride, a triathlon, a bike tour, or even a trip for the whole family to the library. Whatever the bike adventure, there are a few things you should know before leaving your front door.

Don’t pack heavy for that next bike adventure

Bike Adventure

No need to pack everything, but it’s good to be prepared.

I’m not encouraging you to bring everything you own, but consider packing for all kinds of situations. Be sure to bring extra tubes, chain lube, hex keys, a rag and an air pump. If you are traveling with the family, be sure to bring things for the kids to do during down time. A magnifying glass, a bug book and bags to carry home newly found “treasures” can be just the thing to encourage kids to explore while off the bike.

Don’t pack the rider to heavy

Bike Adventure

Again, packing the kitchen sink is too much, but being prepared is important for having a great bike adventure. At the very least, pack a clean change of clothes for everyone. Leave them in the car if multi-modal commuting. Being able to change into clean clothes makes the drive home more comfortable and might be necessary if your kids explored a little too hard. Plus, a jacket, arm warmers, knee warmers and rain gear for changing weather conditions keep all parties comfortable – and don’t forget food (for pre, during, and post ride), and water. Beyond those things, pack a towel (even if you don’t plan to get wet). A towel make a great changing mat and can be rolled to act as a pillow or offer some privacy when changing in public.

Know your route

Most events will share a map of the route in advance. Print a paper version of it just in case your digital solution fails. If you are making your own route, create and print a cue sheet and map. On a cue sheet, each turn of the ride is listed by street and distance for quick reference. Also look the Minnesota Bike/Hike guide for great routes around the upper Midwest,

Plan “surprise” rewards

Bike Adventure

When riding with the family, it’s a great idea to plan rest stops in advance. Stopping at a convenience store for a treat or a Ice cream parlor for a cone are all the reward your kids could want after a warm summer trip. Same concept applies for adults. Stopping for a good meal or great micro brew can do a lot to keep morale high.

Random goods you should consider carrying

Even if you plan and pack well, unexpected things happen. Be sure to ride with a zip lock bag (preferably big enough to house you phone to keep it dry), a small bit of Duct tape, travel tissues, 4 quarters, and a ten-dollar bill. With those items, you can protect things from the elements, repair the un-repairable, buy ice cream, and do a host of other things.

Take care of your baby

A mechanical problem on a bike adventure is the worst. Avoid any issues by first cleaning your bike thoroughly, then taking it in for service. Having your bike running in tip top shape makes the ride that much more enjoyable. If you are traveling as a group, periodically inspect the bikes position on the car rack. Poorly positioned bikes banging together have ruined lots of adventures before they began.  Car exhaust will easily melt bicycle tires, inspect that your bike is not positioned in line with the car’s tail pipe.

Think of it as a bike adventure

Of all the “things” you can bring with you, be sure to leave your stress at home. No ride has ever gone according to plan. In fact, some of my most enjoyable rides were the ones where everything went wrong! Lasting memories can be built at any time, so enjoy the journey, stay positive and smell the roses along the way on your next bike adventure.

Kid’s bikes are the gateway to lifetime of fun. What’s best for your rider?

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

When it is time to get your child on the bike for the first time, or upgrade to a bigger size, knowing the differences between kid’s bikes will make the job easier. Read below for more details.

BMX

In the early 1970’s kids began racing their bicycles on the dirt tracks of southern California. This racing led to the national explosion of the BMX bike. Over the last few years the “Bikelife” movement has given BMX a renewed interest around the world and ushered many different frame and wheel sizes into the category of BMX. These bikes all share the similarities of one rear brake, single speed, high bars, and low saddle even though the wheel sizes are different.

MTB

The Mountain Bike boom of the 90’s spread across the globe and included options for every size of rider. Today, kid’s mountain bikes live in two categories; “Off road” and On road”. The “Off road” mountain bikes have lower gearing to traverse loose trails, suspension designed for control, and lightweight components. “On road” mountain bikes are built to be ridden around the neighborhood rather than off road. They have higher gearing for smooth paths, suspension designed for ascetics rather than function and they typically weight a lot more than the “Off road” versions. Both come in 20”, 24” and 26” wheel sizes.

Balance

Balance bikes are sweeping the world as the best way to teach children to ride bikes. What is a balance bike and how does it work? These bikes look a lot like a normal bike with two wheels, frame, seat and handlebars. What you won’t see on a balance bike is a crank, chain and pedals. Balance bikes are designed to teach kids the most difficult portion of riding, balance, before incorporating pedals.

Road

This category is a bit newer to kid’s bikes, but has existed in cycling for over 100 years. More recently, parents who enjoy riding their road bikes wanted to share that experience with their young kids. Thanks to a few perceptive companies, kid’s road bikes came to the market with great acceptance. To find the size that fits your child best, try different brands to find something that fits your child well.

Sizes

Most kid’s bikes are sized by wheels size. As an example, a child from 32”-42” tall would ride a 16” wheeled kids bike. That does not mean that all 16” wheeled kids bikes are the same size. Where they differ is the overall height of the frame, and the distance from the seat to the handlebars. When getting a new bike, try a few brands to see which frame fits best.

Brakes

Smaller kid’s bikes (>16” wheels) usually use a pedal brake. Therefore, to have the child stop, they pedal backward. Once you grow into kid’s bikes with 20” wheels most manufactures use a hand brake and a pedal brake so that kids can get comfortable with hand brakes. At 24” wheels and above, bikes are almost exclusively built with hand brakes only.

Materials

Thanks to the increase in aluminum production and costs for the material coming down, many kids bikes are now made out of aluminum. This is great news for kids of the world because aluminum frames are lighter than steel. Steel frames are not always a detriment to kids bike though. In the case of BMX bikes, Steel’s durability and strength end up being a huge benefit for riders doing more aggressive moves.

Attributes

-weight

Kids bikes typically weigh a lot in relation to the child. But that is not to say these bikes are heavy. As an example, a 25-pound bike is proportionally heavier to a child who weighs 40 pounds than to a 150-pound adult. Getting your child the lightest bicycle available, will go a long way to make it easier for them to ride.

-durability

Durability is a difficult metric to qualify when buying a bike for a child. Something that will be durable enough for path riding, might not hold up to the rigors of off road use. Durable things to look for are metals rather than plastics in the braking and shifting components, and aluminum rims rather than steel. Beyond everything else, take into consideration the child who will be riding the bike when determining how durable it needs to be. Some kids are gentle on their equipment while others are far more kinetic.

-gears

Gears are great for neighborhoods that have hills or for riding off road. Multiple gears give kids a mechanical advantage to ride steep grades or high speeds with relative ease. On the other hand, if your typical riding locations are completely flat and paved, gears will probably just add undue complexity to your child’s bike.

How to buy

Now that you know all about what makes a kid’s bike, let’s talk about how to buy one. I cannot recommend your local bike shop highly enough. A child’s enjoyment of riding a bike is hugely effected by the quality of the bike, fit of the bike, and function of the bike. For those reasons, no entity does a better job of getting your kid on the right bike than the local bike shop. It is not a secret that there are less expensive places to buy a bike than a bike shop. Even though others may sell bikes for less money they are not the same product in fit, function, or service.

Additional materials

When going to get your child a new bike, remember to look for a few other products as well. First and foremost is a Helmet. Helmets have limited lifespans and should be replaced frequently. Also consider the things that will go on your kid’s new bike like a bell or bottle. Round out the purchase with gloves or a jersey and your kid will be looking forward to mile after mile of great riding.

How do you figure out what is the right bike for you? Like everything else in the world today, there are no shortages of choices when it comes to bikes. With that said, please read on for several helpful tips!

Recreational or competitive what is the right bike for your riding pleasure?

By John Brown HaveFunBiking.com

How do you figure out what is the right bike for you? Like everything else in the world today, there are no shortages of choices when it comes to bikes. With that said, please read on for several helpful tips!

Step one to the right bike, determine where you want to ride.

Typical choices for the right bike are:

Road Bikes designed exclusively for pavement riding.

Path/Trail Encompassing everything from paved roads to dirt trails.

Off Road These bikes are designed for Mountain Biking offroad.

Step two, how frequently do you plan on riding?

To get the right bike plan to spend as little as $300 and up in the neighborhood of several thousand. The most basic models use less durable materials like plastics rather than metals in the shifting components and mild steel rather than stronger alloys for the drive train and cockpit. As the price increases stronger materials replace less durable materials lending to a bicycle that will hold up better to frequent use. At a certain price (different for every category of bicycle), the durability doesn’t increase, instead the weight begins to decrease. A lighter bicycle is easier to control and accelerate (making for a more enjoyable ride). Determining how frequently you intend to ride  against the bikes you are looking at will help you pick the right bike for your needs.

Step three, why are you riding?

Fun and fitness; speed and adrenaline; or competition all put different strains on a bicycle. Be sure to match your riding style with the bike you’re zeroing in on.. For fun and fitness, comfort is usually the foremost concern. By contrast, if you want to compete, comfort is often traded for efficiency.

Step Four, What to ride.

Once you figure out the “Where”, “How frequently”, and “Why” questions, only the “What” remains. What is the right bike? First figure out the main category (each one has its own subcategories). As a rule, start with the three main categories Road, Path/Trail, MTB.

Road Bicycles

Road Bikes are best suited on roads due to their narrow tires and designed with speed and efficiency in mind. Generally speaking, don’t let the narrow tire deter you. In essence, road bikes use narrow tires because pavement offers ample traction, so a wider tire only slows the bike down. Additionally, road bicycles are the lightest of the three categories. Some are equipped with flat handlebars, but most come with a drop bar. Overall, many riders love the speed and lightweight of these bicycles. Click for more info on Road bikes.

Path/Trail

Path/Trail bikes are the largest volume of bicycles sold and appeal to the largest riding audience. Ordinarily, these bicycles use an upright handlebar and a more comfortable seating position. The tires range from something narrow (a little wider than a Road Bike) to as wide as a Mountain Bike. Frequently, many are fitted with suspension designed to make the bike feel smother over rough paths. While not as quick as a Road Bike, these bikes offer great efficiency on longer bike tours. Click for more info on Path/Trail bikes.

 

Mountain Bikes

Mountain Bikes are designed for off road use and sport the largest tires of any category. Additionally, Mountain Bikes are equipped with suspension designed to keep the rider in control on rough trails. Mountain Bikes have low gearing so riders can pedal up steep grades or loose and rocky terrain. A lot of riders enjoy the stability and position of a Mountain Bike for Path/Trail riding as well as true off road riding. Click for more info on Mountain Bikes.

Test rides

To learn about the subcategories of Mountain, Path/Trail and Road bikes it’s best to visit your local bike shop and start taking test rides. As you test ride bicycles, the differences and your own preferences, become clearer as you ride more bikes.

For your first test ride, try a bike that fits you properly, is in your price range, and is in the category you think you want. Pay attention to how much effort it takes to get up to speed, how quickly it turns, how stable it feels, and how comfortable you feel on it. When you try a second, third, etc. (typically I recommend you try the same type bike in a slightly lower or higher price point) compare them. Even with as few as three test rides you can begin to feel the differences between the bicycles. You will find that making a final decision on the right bike is easy after an day of test riding.

In the case of Mountain bikes, many shops have Demo bicycles that you can take to your local trails for a ride. Riding a demo bike is a great way to get the feel for a bike on trail, but is best done once you have test ridden a few models around the shop and are closer to a decision.

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Mountain bike hacks: fat bike tips and tricks for winter fun!

by  John Brown. HaveFunBiking.com

For many of us, riding offroad through the winter is impossible without a fat bike. Our trails get covered with snow in December and don’t see the light of day again until April. While riding a fat bike is a great substitution for riding a mountain bike, it does behave differently than a standard mountain bike. Here are a few quick and easy hacks to riding fat bikes that will get you enjoying the snow in no time.

Why a fat bike

What makes a fat bike special is its ability to ride though deep snow with ease. The reason it is at home in snow is that these tires are between 4” to 5” wide. That width offers traction and flotation on the softest of terrains like snow and sandy ground cover.

Tire pressure

With wider tires comes a larger overall air volume, meaning that fat bikes have more space for air in their tires than a standard mountain bike. Due to that increased volume, fat bikes use a very different air pressure than your standard mountain bike tire. As an example, in very deep snow it’s not unheard of to run the tires as low as 8 psi. By contrast, a standard mountain bike tire at 8 psi would be completely un-rideable. Proper air pressure for a fat bike tire can be difficult to achieve if you don’t know what you are looking for. Basically, you want the tire to be able to deform easily over terrain, but not be so low that the tire “squirms” or collapses under hard turning efforts. I find it easy to get here by filling the tires until they are slightly less than firm, then lowering the air pressure incrementally over the first few minutes of a ride until the tires really perform well. You will know you let too much air out if the bike bobs up and down with each pedal stroke.

Turning

Due to the soft nature of snow, turning can be tricky. While turning on a normal mountain bike you move your body weight forward rely on the tires traction, then aggressively force the bike through the turn. Considering snow is soft and will not support that type of maneuver turning requires a slightly more finessed approach. First, leave your weight in a neutral position centered over the bicycle. Next, shift your weight toward the inside of the turn and begin turning the bars slightly toward the turn. The front wheel is more of a tiller than anything else.  Use it to direct the angle and direction of the bike, but resist the urge to load it up with weight. As the bike angles toward the turn, focus your weight on the rear wheel. If done properly, you will feel as if the bike is turning from the rear wheel rather than the front and your front tire won’t wash out.

fatbike

Weight back and rear wheel doing most the work.

Climbing with a fat tire bike

Climbing with limited traction can be difficult as well. Rather than putting your bike in its lowest gear and muscling up the hill you need to be wary of not letting the rear tire slip. If you drop the bike into its lowest gear, chances are the rear tire will have too much torque. Too much torque will cause your tire to rip through the snow and slip. The best thing to do is move your weight backward and pedal with as even a pressure and cadence as possible. Standing and pedaling, or jabbing on the pedals will most likely cause the rear wheel to break free.

Ice and studs on a fat tire bike

On snow covered trails that get ridden often it is possible for the trails to get packed in and begin to freeze solid. Once ice is on the trail it becomes very difficult to control the bike with standard rubber tires. For this reason, I recommend adding studs to your tires if your trail riding is susceptible to ice.

studded tire

MTB studded tire from Schwalbe (left) and stud detail of 45nrth tire (right)

Overall fun

The biggest tip I can give to fat biking is to keep it fun! Riding a fat bike is a totally different experience than riding a normal Mountain bike, and requires its own skills. Try not to get frustrated because it handles differently than your other off road bikes, just focus on building some new skills. Also, with riding in colder temperatures, enjoy the time you have. While a 4 hour mountain bike ride in the summer is great, you may not be able to stay warm that long through the winter. Beyond the different skills and time, enjoy the unique rewards only Fatbiking can give you.

Towards the southern edge of the Bloomington river bottoms trail there's a bridge that takes you across the Minnesota River. Right before the Bloomington Ferry Bridge you'll see a rocky slope that travels down into the woods. This slope is the start of a great adventure.

First impressions: Bloomington River Bottoms Trail

By Andrew Ellis

Towards the southern edge of the Bloomington river bottoms trail there’s a bridge that takes you across the Minnesota River. Right before the Bloomington Ferry Bridge you’ll see a rocky slope that travels down into the woods. This slope is the start of a great adventure. It’s known as the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail. Now, you may worry that you can only ride with a mountain bike on the singletrack trail, but you are safe on a regular trail/path bike also. You just have to watch where you’re riding.

The Bloomington River Bottoms Trail

The ride itself is fun and challenging. The trail is made out of dirt. While it may be smooth riding for the most part it’s not immune to the unpredictability of Mother Nature. Pedaling along you may come across places that are soft and muddy from a recent rainfall. Not only that, but this trail is used pretty regularly so you’ll see other tire tracks that have gone through and made the puddles deeper and muddier in the aftermath. Usually you can ride through or ride around it. If you ride through, you may feel your tires slip but as long as you keep going you should be fine. Riding around the puddle will take a little more concentration. You may either be able to find a dry area around its perimeter where your tires can fit or an area that hasn’t been touched.

It’s Friday and time to ride off on another weekend of fun taking in that next bike adventure that maybe includes testing out a fat bike ride.

The Minnesota River Bottoms is not only a great place to ride Fatbikes, but the birthplace of them.

For most of the ride you’ll be along the river with a few trails leading you away. You’ll come upon many obstacles as well, such as logs set up for you to ride over if you wish and different turns that will keep you alert. Small trails will split off the main path and take you to other scenic areas, but usually connect back to the main trail eventually. While the trail is mostly flat, the sandy conditions can make it hard to pedal. Also, the trail often changes shape after the river floods which makes for unique rides!

Here is a fallen branch that acts as a bridge in the MN river bottoms.

Here is a fallen branch that acts as a bridge crossing the Bloomington’s river bottoms.

You’ll find a few opportunities to cross the tributary streams that feed the river. One is a wood bridge that’s also partly on a fallen tree branch. You can certainly try riding across and risk falling in, or you can carry your bike across. There’s also a floating dock that allows room for you and your bike. You’ll use the rope to pull yourself across the river so you can continue your ride.

Enjoy an upper body stretch pulling you and your bike across river.

Why the trail is fun!

It takes a little more concentration than paved trails, but the uncertainty of what you’ll encounter is all part of the fun. On a paved trail you can have plenty of fun with the different twists, turns, climbs, and descends. You’ll even have plenty of views to stop and look at. But this track is different. While it is maintained, the trail gives you the feeling of being unprotected. It’s just you and the elements. There will be plenty of debris on the trail, and more than a few low branches that you’ll either have to dodge or be okay with them hitting you in the face.

Winter fat bike fun is back in the upper Midwest as this biker takes a break for this photo opp.

And winter biking is always fun on the Bloomington River Bottoms Trail.

Find out more about Bloomington’s biking opportunities here.

No matter your level of bicycle riding skills, bike lights are essential to make sure you have a safe ride, day or night. Bike lights aren't only needed when the sun goes down.

With more darkness then daylight the zen and the art of night biking

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Seasons change and eventually we are left with more darkness than daylight, thus night biking. day. This annual march to the darkest day of the year was the inspiration Robert Frost needed to write Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  On occasion my “Little Horse” asks if “there is some mistake”, but of course Frost was talking about the animal and I the machine. The draw of the dark and cold is the same though, snow muffles sound and darkness can be beautiful. If you haven’t tried night mountain biking, I encourage it!

mountain biking at night

Snow, dark, and silence make mountain biking at night great.

Night biking, who turned off the lights?

You will need a good light to mountain bike at night. I recommend to start with something around 1000 lumens, but more if you can get it. Be aware of the beam pattern when you buy a light because while a wide and dim beam would be great to alert passing motorists of your presence. When mountain biking, you need all the light in front of you, so for that reason try to find a light with a rather narrow beam. Another consideration when buying a light is if it can be mounted on your helmet. Many riders prefer to sync their light with their sight line, so they can look around corners and up the trail if needed, while pointing the bike where it needs to go. By contrast, bar mounted lights only point toward where you are going at that moment.

Buddy system is best for night biking

Night riding is not a time to go it alone. It’s not as if the actual riding is any more dangerous or difficult, but if there is an issue, you are far less likely to run into a helpful passerby at night. Therefore, bring your helpful passerby along with you. The only issue I have had riding with others at night is the shadows that more than one light will produce. This issues is easily remedied by spreading out a bit further than you would in the daytime.

Night Riding in groups is fun and safe.

What to expect when night biking

The greatest part of night riding is it’s ability to surprise you. As an example, I find that trails I know by heart take on new dimensions when my light is focused but limited. This change of visual often directs me to take new lines and approach areas differently. Also, you see totally different wildlife in the woods at night. Coyote, owl, and bats are some of my more favorite night time friends. Finally, mountain biking at night gives you the feeling that you are going faster. I don’t exactly know the psychological reasons, but when you can only see 20-30 feet in front of you, those feet seem to accelerate faster than if your vision was unlimited.

Quiet

Riding a mountain bike at night is also a chance to enjoy the quiet. Fewer riders and less commotion helps me eliminate one more distraction and just enjoy the trail. Add in snow to muffle any sound that is there, and you have the recipe for a Zen like mountain biking experience.

mountain biking at night

Surroundings melt away leaving only the trail ahead.

“But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”

We all have a life outside of our bike, and far too little time to live it. Riding your mountain bike at night is a way to find hours you might not normally have to ride. After the kids are asleep, the dishes are done, lunches are packed and laundry folded, consider mountain biking an alternative to turning in for the night. You might just love what you find!

 

With below normal temps snow is sticking throughout the upper half of Minnesota making it perfect for some fat bike fun as this biker chick demonstrates.

Bike Pic Nov 7, its fat bike fun in the upper half of Minnesota

With below normal temps snow is sticking throughout the upper half of Minnesota making it perfect for some fat bike fun as this biker chick demonstrates.

What better way to continue your fall fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for viewing our ‘Yeah Fat Bike Fun’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!