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  1. #1
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    Why are MTBers so Obsessed with Trail Width ??

    The statement I hear so many times goes something like this.

    " Yes the areas in Northern Arizona have breathtaking red rock scenery, but the region is all jeep roads. Dang, guess I can't ride that area "

    Here in Arizona we have a lot of public land to ride on dirt. I mean a tremendous amount. Yes it's true we have a good amount of single track but we also have a lot more dirt jeep roads.... I would say almost all of the riders I know are allergic to riding on them...

    I can fully understand avoiding areas that are frequented by a lot of vehicle/atv traffic... But that is mostly not the case, In fact you'll have more issues on our single track with dogs and hikers more so that you would with vehicles on jeep roads...

    I should point out that I have been an avid mountain biker since 1992 and I have never cared about trail width... I have has some of my best riding experiences on jeep roads... And it opens up my riding possibilities almost 10 fold...

    Somone explain to me the obsession with needing to have a narrow trail...

  2. #2
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    Its better than sharing 6 foot wide sidewalks with stupid equestrians and their even dumber 1,200 pound pets. Next.

  3. #3
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    Why are MTBers so Obsessed with Trail Width ??

    Tight twisty narrow single track is fun to ride. More fun than trails that are not so. This seems obvious to me.

    SPP
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  4. #4
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    Narrow trails are more fun to ride, it feels like you're going faster.

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    I love jeep trails.

  6. #6
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    I like roads to get me places quickly. But for the riding experience, riding(or hiking) a nice singletrack is just better IMHO.

    "Got everything you need?"

  7. #7
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    Though your "jeep" roads may be more entertaining by comparison, our forest service roads are totally boring compared to single track. If I had a CX bike, then maybe.

  8. #8
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    Dirt roads are generally flat and straight and anyone who can ride a bike can ride them. Not much challenge there. Tight twisty singletrack with banked turns and small berms are a hoot. Technical trails with rock or log features are a fun challenge.

    Next time you go out, ride as fast as you can on a dirt road. Then find some twisty ST and ride as fast as you can. Your speed on the road will likely be limited by your fitness level(BORING). You speed on the trail will be limited by your technique and fitness(A lot more fun).

    Another factor for me is exposure. I would much rather be under the canopy on ST then in the open on a road. Some roads do have cover but not like woodsey ST.

    No problem if you do not get it. I will always seek out ST but I will also ride dirt roads over paved roads any day if ST is not available.

    BTW, if you prefer the dirt road, you may be a closet roadie

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by likeaboss View Post
    BTW, if you prefer the dirt road, you may be a closet roadie
    I do road bike... I am more into the fitness and outdoors aspect of riding bikes than the adrenaline...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    I do road bike... I am more into the fitness and outdoors aspect of riding bikes than the adrenaline...
    I used to road bike back in college. My roommate was an aspiring pro and I would go on training rides with him(I always drafted off him). When I got into mountain biking he also bought a bike. All he wanted to do was ride the dirt roads and go fast. I liked the technical aspect better. This was back in the 80s when there was no such thing as a mountain bike trail.

    He would kick my butt on the dirt roads and I would kick his butt on the trails.

  11. #11
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    Answer to most questions on MTBR:

    Different people like riding different bikes, with different styles, in different area, on different trails, for different reasons.

    /thread
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  12. #12
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    I do get why persons prefer singletrack... What I don't get is why there is such a high percentage of bikers that really hate riding wide trails..

    It kinda sucks when nobody wants to ride with you because there is no single track mixed in.... Believe me, there is plenty of challenge on these rides... They are typically 30+ miles with lots of climbing...

    You know it really doesnt matter... whatever makes folks happy is what they should be doing...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ricko View Post
    Narrow trails are more fun to ride, it feels like you're going faster.
    I like them too because when you crash, you always hit a tree, rock, or go into a ditch
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    I do get why persons prefer singletrack... What I don't get is why there is such a high percentage of bikers that really hate riding wide trails..

    It kinda sucks when nobody wants to ride with you because there is no single track mixed in.... Believe me, there is plenty of challenge on these rides... They are typically 30+ miles with lots of climbing...

    You know it really doesnt matter... whatever makes folks happy is what they should be doing...
    It's not always about the challenge, it's the fun. Many of us will ride 30+ miles to get to 5 miles of killer single track
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  15. #15
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    Why are MTBers so Obsessed with Trail Width ??

    Quote Originally Posted by likeaboss View Post
    This was back in the 80s when there was no such thing as a mountain bike trail.
    ??? Where are you from? I'm still riding many of the trails I rode in the 80's.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    I do get why persons prefer singletrack... What I don't get is why there is such a high percentage of bikers that really hate riding wide trails..

    It kinda sucks when nobody wants to ride with you because there is no single track mixed in.... Believe me, there is plenty of challenge on these rides... They are typically 30+ miles with lots of climbing...

    You know it really doesnt matter... whatever makes folks happy is what they should be doing...
    look at that - answered your own question
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    Lets see....



    vs



    Hrmmmmm.... gona have to go with the first one. To each his/her own.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwt View Post
    ??? Where are you from? I'm still riding many of the trails I rode in the 80's.
    My point is that there were no trails designated as mountain bike trails. We had to fight to use multi-purpose trails. No one was building trails designed only for mountain bikes.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by moefosho View Post
    Answer to most questions on MTBR:

    Different people like riding different bikes, with different styles, in different area, on different trails, for different reasons.

    /thread
    Wait, so since you've just answered every single thread that was ever started here, what are we supposed to do now? Did we finish MTBR?
    Sometimes, I question the value of my content.

  20. #20
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    As has been said many times over in this thread, wide trails generally accommodate vehicles, which means they are generally flatter, have less turns, less obstacles, less fun features. This is nearly always the case, but of course there are exceptions. You also get a lot more mileage and bang for the buck out of singletrack, whereas a wide road doesn't curve and bend around every large rock outcropping or tree, it simply levels them and goes on straight. There are also those of us that go mountain biking to "get away" from it all, which again means singletrack, due to vehicles and the limits of roadmaking on wider trails and roads.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  21. #21
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    It depends a lot on the quality of the fire roads in your area

    This is a popular fire road ride around here... about 30 miles and over 3,000 feet elevation gain. I have no issue riding this a number of times over a season. It's a great fitness training ride with incredible views.

    Why are MTBers so Obsessed with Trail Width ??-elbow-loop.jpg
    Screw the shuttle, I'm riding to the top. You're all worthless and weak!!!

  22. #22
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    Single track is like cuddling with mother nature.

    Wide tracks tend to have horse and dog poo.

  23. #23
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    This discussion persuades me that I prefer wider trails. I suppose I'll ride ST when I must. I'll do the technical stuff in order to ride my ride, but I won't actively seek it out, except for practice.

  24. #24
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    I think about what to do less and just do it with narrower trail. Some time it's not about being fast on the trail, it's about being on the trail. On the bad day I'd freaked out half the time, oh well This my nemesis, I just love it.


  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziscwg View Post
    I like them too because when you crash, you always hit a tree, rock, or go into a ditch
    Yes....and that's another good point. Skinny trails are more challenging because there's less margin for error....this makes 'em funner to ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by likeaboss View Post
    Dirt roads are generally flat and straight and anyone who can ride a bike can ride them. Not much challenge there. Tight twisty singletrack with banked turns and small berms are a hoot. Technical trails with rock or log features are a fun challenge.

    Next time you go out, ride as fast as you can on a dirt road. Then find some twisty ST and ride as fast as you can. Your speed on the road will likely be limited by your fitness level(BORING). You speed on the trail will be limited by your technique and fitness(A lot more fun).

    Another factor for me is exposure. I would much rather be under the canopy on ST then in the open on a road. Some roads do have cover but not like woodsey ST.

    No problem if you do not get it. I will always seek out ST but I will also ride dirt roads over paved roads any day if ST is not available.

    BTW, if you prefer the dirt road, you may be a closet roadie
    Opinions vary
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    BTW, if you haven't tried some of the unmaintained ( LOL ) AZ back roads, you don't know what you're talking about

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    Opinions vary
    Steward Observatory 4x4 Adventures - Miners Revenge

    crown king trail arizona - Google Search

    BTW, if you haven't tried some of the unmaintained ( LOL ) AZ back roads, you don't know what you're talking about
    The OP discusses flat non-techincal dirt roads. I would love to ride some of those jeep trails but I still prefer flowy ST.

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    A crash at my age can be a big deal, but if I could find singletrack that looked like some of the photos I see, I would love it.

    Too many big obstacles make for a lot of walking for me... That said, I will ride whatever I can, but in the woods wins over open roads... Dirt or otherwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    The statement I hear so many times goes something like this.

    " Yes the areas in Northern Arizona have breathtaking red rock scenery, but the region is all jeep roads. Dang, guess I can't ride that area "

    Here in Arizona we have a lot of public land to ride on dirt. I mean a tremendous amount. Yes it's true we have a good amount of single track but we also have a lot more dirt jeep roads.... I would say almost all of the riders I know are allergic to riding on them...

    I can fully understand avoiding areas that are frequented by a lot of vehicle/atv traffic... But that is mostly not the case, In fact you'll have more issues on our single track with dogs and hikers more so that you would with vehicles on jeep roads...

    I should point out that I have been an avid mountain biker since 1992 and I have never cared about trail width... I have has some of my best riding experiences on jeep roads... And it opens up my riding possibilities almost 10 fold...

    Somone explain to me the obsession with needing to have a narrow trail...
    Quote Originally Posted by likeaboss View Post
    The OP discusses flat non-techincal dirt roads. I would love to ride some of those jeep trails but I still prefer flowy ST.
    Sorry ... Must have missed those words
    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    I do get why persons prefer singletrack... What I don't get is why there is such a high percentage of bikers that really hate riding wide trails..

    It kinda sucks when nobody wants to ride with you because there is no single track mixed in.... Believe me, there is plenty of challenge on these rides... They are typically 30+ miles with lots of climbing...

    You know it really doesnt matter... whatever makes folks happy is what they should be doing...
    And I'll add that these are his most important words.

  30. #30
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    Depends on if we're talking about dirt roads, or Jeep trails. Real Jeep trails are the road eqivalent of technical singletrack, and I can think of a few that I've ridden in my MX days that would be fun on a MTB.

    But basically, I agree with what others have said. "Singletrack" is, practically speaking, shorthand for "technical".
    Speed solves all problems, except for those things it makes worse.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    I do get why persons prefer singletrack... What I don't get is why there is such a high percentage of bikers that really hate riding wide trails..

    It kinda sucks when nobody wants to ride with you because there is no single track mixed in.... Believe me, there is plenty of challenge on these rides... They are typically 30+ miles with lots of climbing...

    You know it really doesnt matter... whatever makes folks happy is what they should be doing...
    Brian,
    I prefer single track when mtn bike and also road bike. Most of the time Jeep road is flat and smooth and to me get rather boring. I will tend to chose single track for my miles if given the choice. Road biking is entirely different because it is so smooth and is a different animal. The other issue is that not all jeep road is the same. Some can be quite hard. There is one place on Maricopa trail from Spear S ranch trail head going east to cave creek. Before the new trail cut you took graded dirt road suitable for cars and then hit a jeep trail section. I consider this more like double track than dirt road as it is ATV road or 1 jeep wide path. It was a quite rough section that was not very technical, but with all the loose rock and steepness a challenging climb and rock descent down the other side. So I agree that trail width does not always mean easy.

    Still from an enjoyment factor I like the effort it takes to ride tight narrow winding single track. Up or down, smooth or rocky. There is one bit of single track near my house in Anthem on the west side of Daisy Mtn It is not very long, but the descent is really fun. Loose rocks on a trail about 12" wide that winds around the low bushes tightly. It appears to have started as foot path around the bushes and has had just enough traffic form slightly noticeable path. When I finish that ride have lots of scratches on my lower leg from dragging the bushes.

    Now take Sonoran for example. It is somewhere between tight single track and double track. It is a little on the wide side, but fun due to the turns. The way it moves around the terrain. I would prefer it to weather in a bit more, but it is still nice. The climbs are a challenge and you need to stay on top of things for the turns.

    So basically what I find is that really wide dirt roads tend to be smooth. Graded roads are wider and smoother and tend feel like doing a road ride on dirt. As the roads get narrower they tend to have tighter turns and more interesting surface conditions as well as steeper ups and downs. The adds more challenge in the mix. Even if ST is smooth being tight makes you feel more in like you are out in nature and that is nice feeling.

    As for people not wanting to ride 30 miles of dirt road. It think the issue is that 30 miles of dirt road can be tough when you could ride 30 miles of single track instead. If I all we had was dirt road then it would be different. Also many mtn bikers are into it for the challenge of the terrain not for the fitness and miles. Personally I like to mix things up and some rides like to challenge my tech skills and some rides want it to be all lungs and legs. Other days I want get in to the back county and yet others I love feeling of smooth speed you get from a road bike.
    Joe
    '12 Santa Cruz Highball 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", '06 Rocky Mtn Switch 26" XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjaguar View Post
    ..

    But basically, I agree with what others have said. "Singletrack" is, practically speaking, shorthand for "technical".
    I don't agree at all. ST can be technical or simply narrow. Jeep road can be wide and easy or quite technical. I can think of many examples where the ST is "easy" and the jeep road is quite technical. Fun is fun and it is not always technical.
    Joe
    '12 Santa Cruz Highball 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", '06 Rocky Mtn Switch 26" XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I don't agree at all. ST can be technical or simply narrow. Jeep road can be wide and easy or quite technical. I can think of many examples where the ST is "easy" and the jeep road is quite technical. Fun is fun and it is not always technical.
    YEP, and ... There are quite a few jeep roads that are downhill ONLY on a bike.
    Superman would have a tough time pedaling up them.

    Nominating your last line FTW !

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    There are quite a few jeep roads that are downhill ONLY on a bike.
    I've ridden lots in AZ that look like the ones in the pics you posted and generally I've found that a mountain bike can make any grade that a hunk of Detroit iron can and then some. The places where I have to walk the Jeeps will usually be winching.

    I do admit it's more fun going down though.

  35. #35
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    Fire roads do not require opposing STRAVA!tards to joust for right of way, they can just go by each other. Wheres the fun in that?
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  36. #36
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    The reason that I prefer singletrack is that "there is no pavement, cars, or cops." More seriously, when you are on a singletrack trail, you have to be on your toes (see what I did there :P) to watch out for trees, rocks, roots, and be aware of your surroundings. On a jeep road, while it may be bumpy, it is much wider, and therefore much easier to ride as all you have to watch out for are boulders, cars, and horses. Also, I hate to be behind a horse while riding a bike, more than I hate riding on a real road being passed by cars.
    I also hate driving and being held back by cyclists riding three abreast blocking a main road, and not moving into single file.

  37. #37
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    I like to mix it up, but there is a big difference between "jeep road" and "jeep trail". The "trail" suggests that standard vehicles will not be able to negotiate the terrain. This = FUN!

    The bad thing about wide trails, though, is that you can really get going fast - I often lose my head and approach ludicrous speed. Narrow ST, even smooth ST, has that speed limit based on corners and traction.

    In any case, trail width means little. Aren't Whistler bike park trails pretty wide? Isn't PA's ST quite narrow? How do you determine which one is better? By deciding which one you like.

    -F
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  38. #38
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    It's all perception. Narrow trails feel faster and give more of an adrenaline rush in much the same way that:

    - riding the same trail at night with lights. Which one provides more "oh ****!" moments?
    - riding the skinny. Anybody can ride a 8" skinny if that skinny has an extra 2 feet on each side (most can ride the yellow painted street line). Put an 8" skinny 2 feet above ground level and see how many people can ride it.

    It's all perception. If you can have fun on a jeep road, you don't need the single track because of one's perception.

    It's all good as far as I'm concerned!

  39. #39
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    I don't think wide trails are boring just different. I have to wear the body armors in some wide trails as well as some narrow smooth but overgrown singletrack. Actually, I crashed a few times on the overgrown singletrack when my handlebar got caught and off to the side I went

    The trail below was on Brian Lopes' bikeskills vid "Rock Garden"

    I said to myself, pssst!, that's easy I could do it, all I have to do is get some speed and pick the line. Well, I went and gave it a tried, soiled myself more that twice before I reached the bottom. It's no where near a singletrack width, nice and wide, plenty of line choices but it's one of the scariest trail I rode at the time



  40. #40
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    to me mountain biking is about being on a trail in the woods. a jeep road just feels like road biking.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentP View Post
    This is a popular fire road ride around here... about 30 miles and over 3,000 feet elevation gain. I have no issue riding this a number of times over a season. It's a great fitness training ride with incredible views.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This person understands the point I am trying to make... sometimes you don't have a choice, you are forced to ride wider trails because that is the only option you have in a certain region/area.... I'm into riding more because it gets me outdoors in areas that affect me spirtually...

    And there are plenty of wide trails that are technical in Arizona... plenty...

    I do mostly ride single track, but, I just like to keep my options open.... Especially if I really want to explore some beautiful parts of our planet..

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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    I just like to keep my options open.... Especially if I really want to explore some beautiful parts of our planet..
    Wonderfully stated, and ... Those who don't get it, won't.

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    Mimi, that trail is bad ass. Wish I could
    do that.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kuhl View Post
    Mimi, that trail is bad ass. Wish I could
    do that.
    After a few rides*, I got used to the crashing and felt too numb to feel pain. Once that's out of the way, I said to myself I can do this. The only thing I hate about this trail is the hike back. It's an out and back trail and I'm in no shape to ride back up, though one time I saw this guy on a single chain ring rode back up, it's insane.

    *I took the intermediate bikeskills clinic with Joe Lawwill here. He's truly a master. No tire scratches almost silent when he rides down this trail.

  45. #45
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    When I find smooth singletrack or a dirt road/fire road, I take my road bike on it. It give a similar amount of fun to riding a mountain bike on technical trails.
    Sometimes, I question the value of my content.

  46. #46
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    If there's dirt, I ride. Don't care if it's 100 ft wide or 1 inch.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  47. #47
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    Back in the late 80's and early 90s there were very little single-track to be found anywhere near where I lived in VT. We did, however, have many, many miles of class-4 roads. Some of these were every bit as technical as single-track and were a ton of fun to ride. Some of this stuff was rutted and washed out, some was stream bed, some was like staircases of small ledge drops (or walls when climbing). Not all non-singletrack riding is boring dirt road material. There were sections of class-4/jeep trail that were borderline impossible to even ride on an MTB. I really like single-track but class-4 roads can be just as fun.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ant-Eater View Post
    Back in the late 80's and early 90s there were very little single-track to be found anywhere near where I lived in VT. We did, however, have many, many miles of class-4 roads. Some of these were every bit as technical as single-track and were a ton of fun to ride. Some of this stuff was rutted and washed out, some was stream bed, some was like staircases of small ledge drops (or walls when climbing). Not all non-singletrack riding is boring dirt road material. There were sections of class-4/jeep trail that were borderline impossible to even ride on an MTB. I really like single-track but class-4 roads can be just as fun.
    Down in Pomfret near where I live there are plenty of old jeep roads over passes in the mountains that I would love to try and ride some day soon. I have driven over these roads and they look so much fun to ride over on a bike.

  49. #49
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    I kinda like both, but we really only have singletrack where I am. I rode a bike trail in CA that was wide enough for a Jeep and very challenging in it's own way and it was nice to appreciate the scenery instead of worrying so much about cutting a line.

  50. #50
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    Here's a jeep road in the Tanque Verde near Tucson:

    Why are MTBers so Obsessed with Trail Width ??-img_4276.jpg

    Only the best riders in the SAMBA group that day could ride all the way up it. Not singletrack, but tons of fun even so. Personally it ain't the width that's important, but the 'surface interest' that I like, altho given the choice of ST vs DT, I'll take the ST. The thought of grinding up or even bombing down a featureless dirt road leaves me cold, and that is nothing to do with mountain biking to me, no matter the scenery.
    It's all Here. Now.

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