Singletracks’ Best Mountain Bike Reads: April 2021

Photo: Matt Miller

The Singletracks staff and our contributors spend a lot of time every day, week, and month drafting up gear and bike reviews, and informing readers with breaking news and press releases. All of us try to devote an equal amount of time diving into the culture of mountain biking, digging into news and trends on a deeper level, and connecting with the mountain bike organizations and advocates who make our rides possible.

In April, the team tackled long-form news on controversial laws and a puzzling situation between a bike park in North Carolina and the county government. We dug into why wildfires have become more problematic in recent years – as we’re possibly near the start of the next fire season. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Trees, dogs, and new mind-blowing bike parks lifted our spirits through the rainy month. Here’s to May flowers, hero dirt, and perfect riding temperatures before Summer starts.

Wind and Willows: A Mountain Biker’s Guide to Nature

Get to know trailside treasures, and one of the most common trees around, the willow. Singletracks tech editor Gerow writes about the willow, how to identify one, and how the tree can be fruitful as a pain reliever, or a quiet place to stop and read a book on a ride.

Tools Are Forever: An Interview With Abbey Bike Tools Owner Jason Quade

There is usually an argument to be made for spending more on an item. In the case of tools, it can come down to the material, construction, and the micro-refinement of every line. Simply put; a well-built tool will last a lifetime. Read up on the backstory of one the most premium bicycle tool brands in the industry.

Closures, Floods, Erosion: The Wildfire Effect on Trails and Why it Probably Won’t get Better Soon

Wildfires are a new normal for much of the West’s population. In 2020, California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and other states saw some of their worst fires ever. We dug into why the Western US is experiencing terrible wildfires in recent years and how they impact mountain bikers and trail organizations. Our smokey situation has a lot to do with climate change, the history of fire management in the US, and population growth.

Fires on the Mind

Singletracks features editor Matt writes about how wildfires put another damper on an already bleak summer and talks about how the above story on wildfires unfolded.

New Anti-Transgender Sports Legislation in Arkansas May Negatively Affect NICA Athletes

This controversial law went into Arkansas law in late March. Gerow spoke with USA Cycling, race organizations in Arkansas, and transgender athletes for a piece that started a major conversation in the cycling industry.

Mountain Bike Brake Pad Breakdown With the Experts from Galfer

Know the difference between metallic and organic? How pad thickness and shape affects braking power? This is a good place to start.

From Pup to Trail Dog: How we Prepared our Singletrack Sender

Getting a dog can be a major commitment and if it’s a puppy, that training time might call for some time off the bike. With patience though, that puppy can eventually become one of the best riding partners you’ll ever have. In this visual essay, Matt talks about how he prepared his and his partners’ rescue dog Maple for the trail.

Trail Tourism Around the Globe Has Adapted with Masks and Lean Budgets to Weather the Pandemic

Every corner of the bike industry has had to adapt to the pandemic, some more successfully than others. Gerow spoke with bike guides, coaches, and others to find out how they have fared the brunt of shutdowns, one year later.

Why Some Mountain Bike Organizations are Rebranding: An Interview with Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship

Does having the words “mountain bike” in the name of your advocacy organization help accomplish the mission? Some would argue the opposite. Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz rebranded in April, and we spoke with them to find out why they think it’ll help all trail users, especially mountain bikers.

A North Carolina County Will Micro-Manage a Bike Park and Modify Trails Because There Have Been too Many Crashes

As Donn Otte put it, the Gravity Bike Park in Sanford, North Carolina is the park the city didn’t know it owned. A small group of volunteers have been creating the mountain bike trails they want, within another park, and with the county’s awareness. But after one too many serious crashes, the county has closed the park for everyone and anyone — including the builders — and is investigating how to manage the park and if they need to modify the jumps so that less experienced riders can handle them.

Mongo up, Cannonball Down: Shepherd Mountain Bike Park is a Midwest Treasure

Shepherd Mountain Bike Park opened in Ironton, Missouri this month. Judging by the photos and information in Singletracks contributor Bob Robinson’s latest feature, the Midwest isn’t playing around anymore when it comes to gravity trails.

Pandemic Positives: The Shutdown Allowed Unicorn Factory Bike Studio to Open Up

When one door closes, another opens. Tyrone Dines, who has nearly 20 years of experience working for the two biggest suspension brands in the industry is pursuing the next dream: his own bike shop in the mountains of Italy, where he can continue to practice his suspension service skills.