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  1. #1
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    Trail for a first ride?

    Hi All,

    I'm a noob getting ready for my first ride, I live in Milton and was planning to go for my first XC/All Mountain type of ride this weekend. I was thinking of going to either Kelso or Hilton Falls, and was looking for any other recommendations you may have, and/or any thing I should be aware of in terms of trail etiquette etc.

    Thanks
    James

  2. #2
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    Kelso would be great for a beginner. The terrain is mostly very simple, with a couple of challenging sections that you should feel free to walk. Gives you room to grow and improve on the same trail system.

    Yield to the uphill rider, try not to skid and/or damage the trails, ride through puddles (not around, this widens the trail), yield to pedestrians, make sure you crash at least once... and have fun!

  3. #3
    Lemmy Rules!
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    Hey James, welcome to mountainbiking! +1 for Kelso. Hilton Falls (once you get deep into the woods) is very rocky and technical in spots and its pretty easy to get turned around in there and get a little lost. Save it for your second or third ride.

    Kelso has a bunch of smaller loops at the top of the escarpment, and covers a smaller area, so it is tough to get too lost in there. Also, the different loops have beginner/intermediate/advanced markers, just like a ski hill, so you can start on the beginner trails and progress as your comfort level improves. I assume you have a helmet, right? They won't let you ride there without one...

    One other tip- if you go in the main entrance off Tremaine you will have to climb the fire road up the ski hill to get to the bulk of the trails. That may not be your bag if it is the first time (although that does mean you get to end your ride by bombing down some of the downhill runs - Snakes and Ladders is a particularly fun one). There is a summit entrance off Steeles west of Tremaine and you can park there and start off into the trails. I suggest you take the x-treem trail bypass to get to the bulk of the trails. Follow that up with Deer Run, Wizards Way, Lora's Run and Rock Garden, then maybe think about trying Bruce Trail Connector which is a little more challenging but lots of fun.

    One other rule re etiquette - if a faster rider comes up behind you and asks to get by, by all means move overto let them past, but only if you feel you can do so safely. No-one expects you to put yourself at risk allowing faster riders to pass. Also, whatever you take into the trails (i.e. gel wrappers, power bars, spare tubes etc) you should bring back out. And bear in mind that the Kelso trails are kind of family-oriented. Dropping f-bombs if you crash or don't make it over an obstacle is not cool (although we've all done it on occasion).

    Have fun! Please post here and let us know what you thought of the trails.
    Strava made me do it....

  4. #4
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    Offhand, I say Puslinch would be a better ride for a beginner. The trails through the pines are just so much fun and as difficult as you want to make them.

  5. #5
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    Palgrave as puslinch is the easiest place to get lost in, if you can find the pines your first time to Puslinch your golden, if not, your in for an interesting ride.

    Palgrave just north of Palgrave Cafe on Hwy 50.
    Coming up hwy50 pass bolton, once you pass palgrave you will see an 80 sign from 50km, the entrance is marked on your left.

    No fee, enter there, ride up gravel path, keep going straight past the next gravel path (on right), next right is the 9 marker, i think, go right , trail is on left.

    super smooth, has some good ups and downs that you can walk (if no ones around)
    the total course is about 11kms but at the half way point if you have to head back to the car it pretty easy to figure out.
    If I wanted to objectify a women I'd do it on my terms not theirs.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info all, yes definitely have a helmet, camelbak, and packed up most of the recommended stuff from my research here.

    Unglued - thanks for the tips about Kelso I was wondering which entrance to use.

    Slash - I may take a drive out to Puslinch as well I have a feeling I'll be pretty stoked up to ride as much as I can and find out what I like the most!

    Also this is probably a silly question - is it possible to be going the wrong way on a trail (I'm assuming all trails are one way) are there any directional signs or will this be pretty obvious?

    Cheers,
    James

  7. #7
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    While you're scratching at the poison ivy you brushed past repeatedly, you'll have lots of time to google other places to ride!

  8. #8
    Lemmy Rules!
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    No "wrong way" at Kelso, Puslinch or Palgrave. I can't think of any blind corners in any of those places, but if you are concerned about running into someone coming around a corner, just yell "rider" and cover your brakes just in case....
    Strava made me do it....

  9. #9
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    Kelso is unidirectional. Also a perfect place for beginners and pros alike, so much variety, and unless you're doing the down hill trails and parking up top no killer hills to climb.

    Palgrave's trails are numbered and (at least to me) seem to flow best when going in order ei 5-6, rather than 6-5. Also Palgrave is getting bushy enough that there are some corners where I wouldn't want to encounter someone coming at me.

  10. #10
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    did you go?
    If I wanted to objectify a women I'd do it on my terms not theirs.

  11. #11
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    Hey Guys thanks for all the info!

    My trail cherry is officially popped! - still waiting on the first crash though- lol

    Took the x-treem by pass and did the following: Lora's Run, Lac Trail, Quarry Trail, and The Bruce Trail Connector.

    Had a blast toughest part was maintaining my bearings once within the main body of trails, and getting in the right gear when climbing.

    All in all I had a blast and I'm hooked, I plan on getting comfortable on the blue runs and hope to try some of the expert runs later this summer!

    The trails in my noob opinion were great, a few puddles here and there but overall very dry and it was hot this morning!

    Cheers,
    James

  12. #12
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    Another great place to go is the Hydrocut at the south end of Kitchener. The trails are in great shape and they're uni-directional so it's virtually impossible to get lost.
    Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesl99 View Post
    My trail cherry is officially popped! - still waiting on the first crash though- lol
    James
    Well done!

    There were actually a couple of good reasons I think it's important for beginners to crash... sounds crazy, but first, you'll realize that most falls don't hurt (much, anyway...). This will make you a little more relaxed when riding. The more relaxed you are, the more skilled...

    The second reason is crashing is your body's way of telling you you've exceeded your limits. How, then, can you know what your limits are if you don't crash?

    And, finally, if you're going to be a mountain biker, you have to learn to crash/fall safely. That takes practice!

    have fun!

  14. #14
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    I was actually hoping for a wipe out to get it out of my system.

    After the first few runs I started to relax my grip a bit on the bike and tried to be more fluid with my legs and anticipating drop offs and rocks and I found it much easier to control the bike, it was a very similar feeling compared to when I learned to ski many many years ago.

    Any tips regarding crashing/falling safely?

    Also I think I'll be taking a few more rides at Kelso for the next couple of weeks, any thoughts on the first expert run I should ride?

    Cheers,
    James

  15. #15
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    If you can do the Bruce Trail Connector, you can pretty much handle anything there. Why not try Rough Trade or even the first section of the Extreem trail?

    But also, why not try and ride the easy/intermediate trails faster and more smoothly - sounds like that is what you are doing anyway. Try staying off your brakes a little more, shifting your position on the bike so that you are using your weight to corner rather than steering with your handlebars (outside pedal down, look around the corner and lean into it, staying off the front brake), paying more attention to which gear you are in and anticipating when you have to shift up or down. I think you'll enjoy yourself and push yourself as a rider more doing that than struggling through the gnarliest trail you can find and when it comes time to hit that expert trail, you will have more skills to master it.

    I am a bit mystified by this concept of "crashing/falling safely". In 14 years of riding I still don't know how to crash safety. It sounds like an oxymoron like "jumbo shrimp" or "Fox News", but I think it's about pushing the bike away from you, making sure you can clip out of your SPD's quickly (you ARE using SPD's, right?), and tucking and rolling. But honestly, I've always found that things happen way too quickly for me to consider "how" to crash. While I do agree that your first wipe-out will probably help you with the fear factor, I do not advocate that new riders push themselves into a place where they are riding on the edge of their abilities so they can get that first crash out of the way.

    So sooner or later you will hit a rock or log or corner too fast or the wrong way and go down. It will suck. You will dust yourself off, get on the bike and keep riding. And all will be good again. But don't go looking for it....
    Strava made me do it....

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesl99 View Post
    Any tips regarding crashing/falling safely?
    If you're riding clipless, I'd suggest making sure your cleats are set to the point where you can get out easily without unintentionally unclipping while riding. Falling over while you're still attached to your bike generally sucks and you make a great "beached whale" impression trying to get back up!

    It takes practice to relax when you fall which is the best advice I can give you. Try to remain calm and put a foot down if you're feeling uncomfortable. No shame in that.
    Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the info re: crashing when it happens it will happen...

    I'm using platform pedals for now, should I be starting out with SPD's? your thoughts...

    FWIW.. I based my initial thought of platforms on not going whole hog into new pedals and shoes before actually going on my first ride, now that's over with I can see myself riding fairly regularly (or for as long as the warden grants the weekend pass, I have a 2yr old to deal with at home)

    (from what I've read there lots of opinions either way so hopefully this doesn't cause a shitstorm...)

  18. #18
    Lemmy Rules!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesl99 View Post

    I'm using platform pedals for now, should I be starting out with SPD's? your thoughts...

    Dude, trust me when I say you don't want to open that can of worms :-)

    Seriously it all depends on what you ride. With SPD's, you can pedal more efficiently as you can pull up with one foot while pushing down with the other, given that your feet are attached to the pedal. Accordingly, if you think you are going to spend a lot of time riding fast, flowy trails, cornering hard, and may want to give racing a try, SPD's are preferable.

    If you are going to ride more technical trails with obstacles like logovers, bridges, stunts etc you probably don't need to worry about efficiency as much and it is easier to bail out if you are not clipped in, so platforms is the way to go.

    There is a learning curve with SPD's, as you have to get used to twisting your heel to get out of the pedal. You will forget that and flop over on your side like a beached whale (see above) as per Garage Monster's post, above, at least a couple of times. Everyone does. Also there is the added expense of a set of pedals and shoes (approx $200 is the bottom end for shoes and pedals).

    Personally, I prefer being clipped in while on the trail, but while at Joyride, I like platforms. I also have an old mtb with platforms so for family rides and cruising around town. But that's me. I have 8 1/2 bikes*. It's an illness...

    Some say that it is better to learn on platforms because it teaches you how to lift your back wheel over obstacles without being clipped in. That's not wrong either. Also, if you just want to go on a ride around the block with your kid it's nice to just jump on the bike and not to have to change into SPD shoes to do so

    SO there's really no wrong answer. Also, there are platform pedals out there with clips in the middle so you can have it all

    I guess my entirely subjective advice is maybe ride with your current pedal set up, get more comfortable on the bike, get that first crash under your belt and go from there...

    I believe there is also a newbies forum somewhere on mtbr which might give you some insight on this sort of thing from other perspectives - might be worth a look.

    *in case anyone is wondering, the "1/2" is a unicycle, and yes, that has platform pedals...
    Strava made me do it....

  19. #19
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    I would highly recommend sticking with the platforms for now. You can focus on developing some trail and bike handling skills without the added difficulty of having to deal with clipless shoes. I went from clipless to flats when it began dirt jumping and riding a little street, back to clipless on trails, then back to flats when I got into riding a bit of trials and wanted to try the stuff on the trails. Now I ride clipless on the road and mostly platforms on the trails. I believe that you will build your confidence and be willing to try more things on flats. The consequences are typically a lot less on flats.
    I would concentrate on learning how to gear up properly on climbs. Don't hesitate to do the climb over again if you fail due to gearing the first time. Trying things over a couple of times is the quickest way to get feel for stuff. Same goes about going small logs and rocks. Learn to handle your bike in twisty spots, going down rougher terrain and so on with the flats. A season or two on them will not adversely affect performance. Remember that since you are new to the sport, all terrain will be new to you. So you have a learning curve on the bike and on the trails. For many here, we can describe the rocks or features on a specific trail and know the lines in our heads. You will be having to deal with all these new every time. I think flats will allow you to relax a bit and enjoy the sport even more. My 2 cents.
    Burnt Norton

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the advice - this mostly what I read in the newb threads..

    I'm going to stick with platforms for now, the only time I put my feet down was climbing because of poor advance gear selection.

    I practiced a lot of bunny hops over curbs etc.. on the street before hitting the trails and was able to hop over logs and jump over drop offs when on the trails. -- At least on the first few became more difficult as my legs got tired, but that consistency will come in time (and better shape).

    For now I'll be focusing on just getting smoother on the trails, I felt that I barely used my front brakes as well and found that looking further ahead on cornering really helped a lot - thanks for your advice I'll be sticking with platforms for at least the rest of the season.

    I definitely agree that this will become a lot easier once I get familiar with the trails and remember the best lines to take.

    Thanks for all of your input definitely appreciated!
    Cheers,
    James

  21. #21
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    Hi James,

    I think you should forget about "focusing" on such and such technique for now. Just go out and ride, push your limits, walk what you can't ride and try to hook up with riders who are slightly stronger, better and faster than you.

    Don't get fussed about gear, technique, all that other stuff. That will come with experience. As you can see, you'll get all kinds of different advice, sometimes conflicting, from people with similar knowledge...

    The most important things for a beginner mountain biker to keep in mind are to stay relaxed and have fun.

    Learning to mountain bike is a special experience that a cyclist can only have once...

    I think you should simply enjoy the satisfaction and wonder at what you'll soon be able to do on a bike, getting over your fears, watching someone else clear an obstacle you thought was impossible and then doing it yourself, learning how to fly...

  22. #22
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    Hey James,

    I'm relatively new as well (riding for a few months). A lot has been covered here but I will give my newb input. I bailed once doing a pretty steep descent, had my weight on the rear tire but still panicked a bit fortunately it was one of those slow motion falls and I was fine. I think the one thing I still try and deal with is balance (especially on slow single track sections with obstacles) which would have helped me in the descent. That and keeping cool. I don't try and push my limits too much with steep, crazy descents like some guys but if I get to a point where it gets very technical, keeping your cool is the best thing you can do.

    If anything like people have said, just get off and walk it. I can conquer a lot of hilly sections now that I couldn't before.

    I bought a pair of cheap platforms from MEC. I like the thought of being able to put my foot down quickly, especially since I am still trying to maintain balance. This and I don't do the same thing all the time, I may do a very slow ascent with lots of roots/rocks that if I do get gassed I know i can just put a foot down.

    Edit: Oh and one thing that grinds my gears about trails and etiquette that I have learned is don't make the trail wider just because there's some mud! Go through it!

  23. #23
    rwmtb
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    Welcome to the club Jamesl99! I converted about 2 1/2 years ago and have been loving it from the first time my friend took me out (and showed me how out-of-shape I really was)!

    A great way to learn is to ride with others as they can show you the tricks-of-the-trade so to speak; answer equipment questions, show you the best trails, learn technique etc. To that end, a couple of suggestions:
    • There is a group "Defiant MTB" on Facebook who organize regular rides in the Halton Agreement Forest (north of Hilton Falls.) You can join them on Facebook (Defiant MTB) where members regularly organize group rides
    • Kelso hosts a Tuesday night race series. There is a Novice or Beginner level which is not too hard. The organizers have done a great job in making the series accessible to riders of all levels and ability. Couple of fun promo videos here, and here.

  24. #24
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    All good advice thanks.. I've joined the facebook group I'm just going to ride until my ass is more sore than it's been for the past few days...

    I'll keep my eyes open for any local group rides and of course if anyone wants a newb tag a long please shoot me a pm.

    Cheers,
    James

  25. #25
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    Hey James,

    Congrats on getting in to MTB... There's all sorts of places to ride around the GTA / Southern Ontario and enough challenging terrain to prepare you to ride wherever you want to go (Moab, St. George (Utah), Colorado, Virginia, California and even BC).

    The folks on Defiant are a great group, too... I just did a 4 day road trip to Vermont with some of them and had a blast!

    There are a bunch of videos and other info out on the web about techniques for different aspects of riding. One of my favourites is by a guy names Seb Kemp. Unfortunately, I don't think they followed up with more episodes, but this is gold for cornering...
    Hey Coach! Ep. 1 - NSMB.com Mountain Bike Reviews, News, Photo and Video

    Good luck
    Stephen
    Santa Cruz Tallboy - lovin' the full squish 29'r!

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