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  1. #1
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    Type of Terrain near DC

    I'm moving to DC within the next 8 months and was wondering what type of terrain is accessible within approx. a 1 hour radius of DC. I went to a shop in Georgetown and was told an all-mountain bike would be overkill. I'm moving from MA and ride some spots where an AM bike could definitely come in handy and was wondering if a trail/XC bike would be more appropriate?

  2. #2
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    The closer to DC you are, the more tame the trails are (in my opinion). Wakefield in VA and the most of the Montgomery Country trails are fairly smooth and flowy. If you get up to the Frederick area or Patapsco outside of B'more, there's plenty of stuff where something more AM-ish wouldn't be overkill...

    It just depends on where you go really, but ride what you want, I wouldn't swap bikes based on a single shops opinion (who would love to sell you a bike)

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob1035 View Post
    The closer to DC you are, the more tame the trails are (in my opinion). Wakefield in VA and the most of the Montgomery Country trails are fairly smooth and flowy. If you get up to the Frederick area or Patapsco outside of B'more, there's plenty of stuff where something more AM-ish wouldn't be overkill...

    It just depends on where you go really, but ride what you want, I wouldn't swap bikes based on a single shops opinion (who would love to sell you a bike)
    Thanks for the response rob. I agree, I'm not going to hold a lot of weight to this one dude's opinion, he just threw me off a bit because I was primarily focused on grabbing an AM bike for the trails I ride in MA and he made me realize I should probably cater my new bike to DC.

  4. #4
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    Here are some sites that might have some info your looking for. Plenty of local trail talk on both.

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  5. #5
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    There's every style of riding to be had around here and everyone rides everything under the sun. But as rob1035 pointed out, the stuff closer to the city is more beginner to intermediate level and caters to the XC crowd. As you go out into higher elevation, the ball game changes drastically.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chezowan View Post
    I'm moving to DC within the next 8 months and was wondering what type of terrain is accessible within approx. a 1 hour radius of DC. I went to a shop in Georgetown and was told an all-mountain bike would be overkill. I'm moving from MA and ride some spots where an AM bike could definitely come in handy and was wondering if a trail/XC bike would be more appropriate?
    I think a good compromise is a bike like the carbon Trek Remedy. My friend has one and it is light yet soaks up everything we hit within 2hrs of DC. Agreed that Wakefield is more flowy, but just right next door is Acotink which is rootier. Fountain head is not all mountain, but the chatter (small rocks, roots) across the whole course can take its toll on a hardtail or even XC oriented dually.

    Lake Fairfax is fairly smooth but has its sections of rocks/roots. Schaeffer park is smooth/fast and then you go up the road to Gambrill, and it's a completely different story.

    There are very few situations where my 3.5" rear dually does better than his Remedy.

    In general, there are more shorter /steep climbs and more flat trails than somewhere with some bigger elevation gain. In many ways, this riding takes it out of you more than a consistent long climb.
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  7. #7
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    Or you could ride a rigid SS like some of us morons...that makes even the "easy" trails a great challenge and work out, and the riding the "hard" trails gets you a ton of street cred

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chezowan View Post
    I'm moving to DC within the next 8 months and was wondering what type of terrain is accessible within approx. a 1 hour radius of DC. I went to a shop in Georgetown and was told an all-mountain bike would be overkill. I'm moving from MA and ride some spots where an AM bike could definitely come in handy and was wondering if a trail/XC bike would be more appropriate?
    Where were you riding in MA. I visit family up there evry year and hit Vietnam and Lynn. There is nothing even close to those places in the area. Even though Gambrill is techy for some but nothing compared to Nam.

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    Well, there's more to riding up there than just Gambrill. I'll just leave it at that.

    But yes, your week day riding options around here are sadly all non-technical trails with very few TTFs. A lot of pure XC, IMBA-style machine built stuff. However, the flip side is that there are a lot of trails around the immediate metro area compared to most cities and there's outstanding riding to be had as you go farther out into VA, WV, MD and PA (good day/weekend trips).

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    Western MD has gambrill,frederick watershed,and greenbrier state park deffinantly would want a all mtn for that.closer to dc it's pretty easy not much technical

  11. #11
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    I'd echo what everybody has said.

    The DC shop guy's suggestion was pretty much spot-on for DC area riding.
    For pretty much anything in/around the DC beltway, an XC bike is pretty much ideal. Perhaps even a HT 29er. Its all fast n flowy. Most of what we have around here are roots, ruts and choppy stuff. 120mm of travel or 29" wheels will gitterdone.

    If you want to take trips to the mountains in search of the big n nasty, a true AM bike would be ideal.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chezowan View Post
    ... was told an all-mountain bike would be overkill....

    have you ever stopped for a minute and contemplated how stupid a statement like that is?
    There's nothing within 50 miles of DC that SOMEONE isn't riding on a rigid single speed. And that's probably true of any trail anywhere in the world. Hell, there's nothing around here that SOMEONE couldn't ride on a road bike, but is that person you? Would you enjoy it? Does a shop employee that caters mostly to Georgetown asshats know your preferences?

    Ride what you like. Better yet, forget about the alphabet soup bike labeling nonsense.

  13. #13
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    Not to go off on a tangent, but I've always wondered exactly what "all mountain" is....

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob1035 View Post
    Not to go off on a tangent, but I've always wondered exactly what "all mountain" is....
    Marketing ploy.
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