Downhill – What to Expect

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Downhill – What to Expect

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    • #222376

      I live in NE Georgia and ride the normal trails around, i.e. Chicopee Woods, Blankets Creek, Ropes Mill, Allatoona, Jake Mountain, et al. Some different personalities to them all as far as what they offer as most of you who ride them know. I say all that to say this: I am headed to Vail this Friday with a group of fellow mountain bikers and it will be our first adventure on mostly pure downhill. We are renting bikes similar to what we ride out here (27.5+) bikes, FS, etc. with hopes that we will be somewhat familiar in the saddle. Another place out there has some Specialized Demo 8 DH bikes for rent as well. I personally have never been on one so I’m not sure what to expect on a bike like this and question whether that would give me a better DH experience?

      My other question is how or what to expect on most of the trails due to the high altitude, i.e. signs to look for as I ride and how to be cognizant early, quick trail side remedies, etc. And being there for 3+ days how to ride these DH  trails compared to what I am accustomed to riding here in the Southeast.

      I suppose Im just looking for some good, sound quick advice and what to expect so I can be prepared to have fun while there. It’s most likely a once in a lifetime trip for me so I don’t want to go out there and be completely blindsided!

      Thanks in advance!

    • #222382

      My 2 cents: skip the DH bikes. A DH bike rides very differently than your trail bike, and just a few days isn’t enough time to get comfortable enough to enjoy it. You will be able to ride pretty much everything on a FS trail bike–just know your limitations.

      As far as altitude, staying hydrated is the best thing you can do. You’ll dehydrate more quickly, even though you won’t be sweating as much as you do in GA. You’ll actually feel good on the first day, so if you plan to tackle any trails with climbs, this is the day to do it.

      I’m 99.9% sure you’ll have a blast in Vail!

    • #222398

      Are you riding a dedicated bike park? If so, I would really recommend going with a full-on DH bike. You’ll be safer, more confident, faster, and less likely to break something with a DH bike.

      If you decide to stick with renting a trail bike, I would highly discourage a plus bike because of the tires. There’s a ton of exposed sidewall just begging to be ripped open. You can always up the tire pressure, but then they will bounce around a lot making hard to stay on line and in control.

      This is all assuming you’re riding in a bike park though. If you’re doing any climbing at all, then you’re better off with a trail bike.

      As for the elevation: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of water this week before your trip. Don’t drink too much alcohol, hangovers at altitude are doubly painful. If you’re climbing, don’t spike your heart rate, it takes a lot longer to recover. Wear sunscreen!

      Enjoy your trip!


    • #222433

      I can easily tell so far that hydration will be my best friend out there! I had kinda thought that so I am trying to drink up as much H20 as possible this week. I personally don’t partake of any alcohol so at least I won’t have to worry about the pitfalls of that!

      We are not going to be riding any bike parks but from what I understand mainly just a variety of downhill trails that are located near a Condo called “One Willow Bridge Road” located in Vail Village? A mixture of trails from Beginner to Double Black diamond.

      I honestly didn’t even think about what riding + tires would do out there so that’s some good info to know right there. I guess I’ll be sure to rent and recommend regular 27.5 trail bikes to my buddies.

      I wish I could say that I’m able to regulate my heart beat but I’ll be darned if everytime I ride I still bounce around from 135-165 hpm regardless of the amount of intensity! But again, this is something I need to be cognizant of also.

      The weather is supposed to be like 70-75 each day so who would’ve thought bring sunscreen! I appreciate that tidbit of info Aaron!

    • #222464

      @kenwrightjr: Don’t listen to these yutzes!!! Rent the biggest, baddest DH sled you can find. Buy some mean ass Sour Diesel at a local dispensary for some left-handed cigarettes. Get armored up like a death trooper…

      take some big bell ringers on the lift up and send it!

    • #222465

      I do lots of Downhill riding and I will say that those bikes are a bit different than your everyday travel bike.  With that said if you arent actually riding at a dh park I would stick with a trail bike as any bit of up hill can be a pain on the dh bike.  Now if you are talking less than a hundred feet climbing on the trails then sure a dh bike could be a blast for the harder trails.  Just keep in mind as Jeff said, it will take a bit to get use too as they ride differently.  Be prepared to bash a few pedals until you figure out when you can pedal.

    • #222963

      HOLY CRAP! I just got back from Vail and I am blown away out how much different MTB riding and the trails are than my small world of riding here in Georgia! Better? Eh, I suppose in many ways one could say yes while others may not agree. It’s just a different kind of ride in my opinion. I know that I only hit the tip of the iceberg while out in Vail but, that DH stuff can FLAT wear your hiney out. I thought my wrists were going to practically fall off after each ride down. And I feel like I am/was in good “bike shape” for this trip! It’s intense, challenging, FAST, non-stop, breathtaking the entire time in the saddle. I THOUGHT I had experienced a black diamond trail until I hit one there and O.M.G….I almost swallowed my tongue. Honestly, I was expecting with it being DH that I’d get out there with my Group of buddies and ride all day long. One of the guys that has a condo there said he only gets in 3-5 rides per day while there AT BEST. I scoffed when I heard that of course. After 2 times I was almost ready to call it a day! Ha Ha Ha. He wasn’t playing.

      In regards to having a DH bike versus a Trail bike….well….I rode one each both days there. I can definitely tell a difference as far as safety and comfortability. The last day I rode a Yeti SB5 that was similar to my Santa Cruz and while the familiarity was there I did feel like going down trails such as this at decent rates of speed was a bit more hairy for my old rump. The geo of the DH bike allowed me to stay back more and take some of those insane and I mean INSANE switchbacks a little better without wiping out.

      I HIGHLY recommend anyone who wants an adventure to try something new and outside the comfort zone to plan a trip out somewhere like Vail and see what all this DH business is about. It will open your eyes like nothing else!

      Thanks to you all for the valuable information prior to my trip. You were ALL spot on with your suggestions and tips!


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