ED NOTE: WHEN MOUNTAIN BIKING BECOMES LARGER THAN LIFE
THE JOY OF MOUNTAIN BIKING, GRAVITY RIDING AND BIKE TRIPS
Think about this – would mountain biking be as interesting as it is today if it was just riding loops around in a trail and nothing else? Even if you are to add in a race or two, with some rock gardens and root sections, would it be as fun?
What made mountain biking so interesting is largely due to two factors: evolution and aspiration.
Evolution – The mountain bike is such an interesting machine because it has never stopped evolving. From the early klunkers, to hard tail cross-country bikes to all-mountain trail shredders, these bikes got lighter, stronger and more efficient with every product update and iteration. The constantly widening range of choices for suspension designs to match every rider's style is an added boost to its growing attractiveness. The ever-progressing realm of bike technology constantly spawns curiosity and involvement, resulting in exponential growth.
Aspiration – As with all things cool and sought-after, the sport of mountain biking itself has a lot going for everyone to aspire towards.From big hucks, freerides, World Cup races to bike parks and professional endorsements … the community is sizzling with reasons why we should be mountain biking. Apart of course, from that high-end buzz of adrenaline we all seek.
This combination of constant product evolution (product development and technological advancement) and aspiration (rad factor and bragging rights …) makes mountain biking ( like all other high profile sports) adopt a Larger Than Life persona.
We see a poster couple here! An extremely rad hero that would not bat an eyelid in the face of the biggest huck we can imagine, with style, humor and a good appetite for beer & BBQ on a shining bike that's armed to the last bolts with the latest bike world technology. Super hero fantasy? Unabashedly yes. Translate that to real life and you get our posterboys/girls.
And that is the Larger than Life part of Mountain Biking. Gravity Mountain Biking. All real. All possible (to varying degree). All (still) Rad.
GETTING A PIECE OF RADNESS
The attractiveness of gravity mountain biking is not unachievable. The moment you jump off a series of stairs, you are already embarking on your first step into it. Of course, that is not all there is to mountain biking when it comes to us foolish mortal mountain bikers. We want time to enjoy everything that mountain biking has to offer. (Why waste the land and the technology?!) Without losing sight of what we aspire, we also want to spend more time with our shiny toys – our bikes. And here's what mountain bikers usually do when we are not working, having exams, fulfilling son/daughter/parenting/spouse/girlfriends/boyfriends duties, visiting bike shops or surfing bike sites online …
THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO ENJOY MOUNTAIN BIKING
How many ways can you enjoy mountain biking then? Let us count them for you.
TRAIL riding is usually the first step into mountain biking. It is largely considered a tame, healthy recreation and usually occurs at waymarked trails; unpaved tracks or forest paths.
CROSS-COUNTRY (XC) generally means riding point-to-point or in a loop including climbs and descents on a variety of terrain. Speed is the main focus for XC riding.
ALL MOUNTAIN / ENDURO is simply riding a stronger mountain bike at a wide range of terrains, from climbs to fast descents dotted with bigger obstacles or untamed conditions. This exciting riding across more types of terrain is very popular and gave rise to different types of Enduro races around the world.
DOWNHILL is, simply, riding mountain bikes downhill, fast. This is one of the more well-known, high-adrenaline disciplines of mountain biking. The main focus is to clock the fastest lap timing on a stipulated track. To negotiate these obstacles at race speeds, riders must possess a unique combination of total body strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, mental control, as well as the acceptance of a relatively high risk of incurring serious injury.
FREERIDE / HUCKING as the name suggests, is a 'do anything' discipline that encompasses everything from downhill racing without the clock to jumping, riding 'North Shore' style (elevated trails made of interconnecting bridges and logs), and generally riding trails and/or stunts that require more skill and aggressive techniques than XC.
SLOPESTYLE riding is a genre that combines big-air, stunt-ridden freeride with BMX style tricks. Slopestyle courses are usually constructed at already established mountain bike parks and include jumps, large drops, quarter-pipes, and other wooden obstacles. Slopestyle riding, like Freeriding, is not about speed but about style and execution.
DIRT JUMPING is the discipline of riding where riders go over shaped mounds of dirt or soil and getting airborne with styles and tricks. Dirt jump differs from slopestyle in that it is usually ridden at dirt jump parks. Again, this discipline focuses on style and execution.
URBAN / STREET are similar to Freestyle BMX (Street and Park), in which riders perform tricks by riding on/over man made objects. As with dirt jumping, style and execution are emphasized.
FOUR-CROSS (4X) / DUAL SLALOM is a sport in which riders compete either on separate tracks, as in Dual Slalom, or on a short slalom track, as in 4X. The tracks have dirt jumps, berms, and gaps. This discipline focus on speed and technical skills. One other race format worth mentioning is the Dual Speed & Style where speed and tricks (style) are emphasized during a race.
TRIAL has always been a "niche within a niche" kind of discipline. It is not really a cycling discipline but more of a sport where maneuvers are done on a trial bike over a man-made obstacle course or street features. Another variation to this niche known as Street Trial is when similar tricks are done on street bikes instead of trial bikes.
Note: the above are riding disciplines and not races (except for Dual Speed & Style). As such, race formats are not discussed in details above. Some of the above disciplines uses similar type of bikes with minimal adjustments to components used and frame design. The above only serve as a summary for beginners.
TRAILS IN SINGAPORE
There are a handful of well-maintained trails in Singapore. While we may not have the big hitters here, we provide a good challenge to folks coming in for some tropical rain forest runs.
BUKIT TIMAH MTB TRAIL: Probably the most well-known MTB trail in Singapore with above average level in trail difficulty. It's stands out as the trail that challenges the rider to a roller coaster rides of climbs and descends at quick successions. Not the most popular trail for beginners.
CHESTNUT NORTH AND SOUTH MTB TRAIL: Currently the newest and most well-facilitated MTB and nature park in Singapore with beginner-friendly lines dotted with some challenges. There is also a pump track and Gangsa Challenge Park within this area. Gangsa MTB Challenge Park offers a variety of technical and high speed lines which also seconds as a 4X race track.
KETAM MTB TRAIL: Situated at Pulau Ubin off Changi Point, this scenic trail provides a well balanced mix of good flowy sections and challenges for both beginners and experienced riders.
KENT RIDGE MTB TRAIL: Featuring a downhill and a XC line, this is one good alternative riding spot for those who wish to have some MTB fun but do not want to go too far away from the city. The downhill line is a popular hang out for local gravity riders.
For more information on these trail, click here for one of our articles on the trails of Singapore.
LEVEL UP, GROW SOME, HAVE FUN
The good thing about sports (cycling) is that there is always something that you could improve on. From endurance, to speed, to technical skills, to courage (also known as gut size or commitment). All collaborating to contribute to the fun factor.
How do you add more fun into something that is already so damn fun?
Share this joy with friends and multiply the fun. And to get things even more crazy, travel with these friends to places! Mountain biking + Friends + New place to explore + Chances of bigger hits and longer descents! (Hey … Are you still there?)
Let's face it, no amount of trail advocacy in your local riding area is ever gonna satisfy you in the long run. You just have to go see the rest of the world on 2 wheels!
Bike trips are humbling experiences. It allows you to see just how vast the world is. And that there are always new challenges. Just when you think you are your own backyard's champion, you realized that you could be smoked by a local riding a market bike on slippers (for those who know "the Ubin Boy").
There are many good destinations around the Asia Pacific region to satisfy our big riding dreams. Every country you care to name, we could name at least one swell riding gateway or bike park. We are not intending to do a full listing. What we are trying to do here is introduce some destinations in South East Asia that are frequently visited by fellow mountain bikers.
Here's a list of cool operators/destinations that could start you off on the right budget and rides. All these places have great trails and lot of opportunities for some gravity fun! We are in constant contact with these folks and some of them are our best brothers/sisters. (You know who you are!)
Yak Ru is a collection of mountain biking races and tours that will give riders a challenge of their lives amidst beautiful, steep, and rugged trails between 3200-4300m (10600-14200ft) elevation in the Manang region of the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal. The Annapurna Range boasting huge glaciers, sheer rock faces, and majestic snow-capped peaks towers over the entire course, providing a stunning backdrop for the ultimate multi-day enduro adventure. Yak Ru offers Enduro and XC races as well as bike tours. Currently, the heat is on for the Yak Ru Enduro is a 3-day mountain bike enduro race. Are you game enough for the world’s highest MTB enduro race?
For more information on the Yak Ru Enduro, check out their website (http://yakru.com) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Yakrhu). Or contact Mr. Sunil Sharma (Yak Ru Race Marketing Director) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at +65 96271457
X-BIKING CHIANG MAI THAILAND
Before they were X-Biking, these boys were just DH-hungry locals inspired by reading magazines and watching videos from the rest of the world. They had bikes, and there was a big mountain at their backyard, and they started digging. Over 15 years, they haven't quite stopped digging and over time, they have shaped and sculpted trails from 1800 meters worth of gnarly mountain. With editorial features in magazines ( eg Dirt Magazine) and in the videos (eg This is Peaty), there’s a lot to say about the trails, lines and race tracks of Chiang Mai Thailand. X-Biking Chiang Mai provides all the services for a complete bike tour. Guide(s), shuttle services, airport pick-up/drop-off, hotel pick-up/drop-off, lunch, drinks, national park fee and more. Should you need to rent a downhill bike, they would be able to provide that too. Choose from a range of natural downhill tracks, epic enduro lines, and cross country trails.
Facebook: X-Biking Chiang Mai
Contact: Neua – +49 157 73121161(WhatsApp) King – +66 89 951 0015 (WhatsApp or Line)
MAD MONKEY CHIANG MAI THAILAND
The Mad Monkey Team positions themselves as the most affordable and experienced Chiang Mai based downhill bike tour service. This is the team consisting of the original CNX DH boys! This team provides biking tours for beginners and experienced riders – from challenging DH & All Mountain trails to casual trail & Cross Country rides. Whatever the riding needs be, Mad Monkey promises the best value for money guided tour.
Contact details : +66 81 681 0368
Email : email@example.com
Facebook: Madmonkey cnx
SEMERU AND SOUTH MALANG ADVENTURE (MOUNT BROMO)
Situated on the Sand Sea (Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia) with the rest of the volcanoes at the vicinity of Mount Semeru, is Mount Bromo. It is an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif. Although not the tallest point in the massif, it is the most famous. There are some great downhill and all-mountain trails around this area with long descent-centric rides that span as much as 40 km! For more information on where else to ride within Turen, Jawa Timur, Indonesia, nothing beats a one-to-one talk with the local guides.
Contact: +62 856-4855-8999
JABEKA DOWNHILL TRACK (KARIMUN)
Jatan + Betina + Karimun. That's Jabeka. A 1.2 km downhill track of steepness and tight turns. Definitely one of the best tracks in this region that's good enough for a short overnight trip. With its recent touch up, the track is in better condition for more gravity action.
Contact: +62 812-7722-3443
BUKIT DANGAS DOWNHILL TRACK, BATAM, INDONESIA
Batam Indonesia has many long trails, a big bike park and a downhill track that is quite well-known amongst those in the mountain biking community of Singapore. This short but fun track is suitable for those who wish to experience the capabilities of a downhill bike and want to try a fast flowy track to level up before tackling longer and more gnarly ones. The track went through a maintenance session recently. To enjoy the track for a full day, you will need uplift service.
Location: Jl. Palapa Batam, Riau, Indonesia
DRAK BIKE PARK BATAM
Location: Duriangkang, Batam, Riau, Indonesia
Facebook contact: www.facebook.com/pg/drakbikepark
CIKOLE DOWNHILL TRACK, KOKAP BANDUNG INDONESIA
Location: Kokap, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia 40791
Facebook contact: www.facebook.com/pages/Cikole-Downhill-Track
BUKIT KIARA MTB TRAIL, KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIA
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Facebook information: www.facebook.com/pages/Bukit-Kiara-Mountain-Bike-Trail
PUTRAJAYA CHALLENGE PARK (PCP)
Location: Jalan P5, Presint 5, Putrajaya, 62200, Putrajaya, WP Putrajaya, 62200, Malaysia
Contact: +60 3-8887 7000
Besides the regional destinations, there is another company we wish to highlight. Meet Suku!
Suku’s mission is to support a global community of athletes to connect, explore, and share the world through outdoor passions. Through sukubeta.com travelers can connect with local communities to discover outdoor related knowledge, groups, events, experiences, classes, coaches, gear rentals & discounts.
So far they have already started their network in Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, California, & Colorado. Currently in their beta stage, Suku covers mountain biking, surfing, climbing, hiking, trail running, SUP, road cycling, yoga, martial arts, and more. We are sure they will cultivate communities that would propel the various sports further.
Basic prices starts from $30US for a Sprint Session (average 2 hour experience, not including gear rentals)
A percentage of transactions go to local community for future projects (events/competitions, skills clinics, trail maintenance, repair workshops, etc.)
Show them some support and sign up at sukubeta.com
Contact Details: Adam Boyle – firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FEELING YOU GET
We totally understand that feeling.
When you hop onto a mountain bike, conquered some trail with their technical features and came back out in one piece, you feel a deep sense of accomplishment and peace amidst a turbulence of adrenaline. You want to tell everyone you know. You want to do more. You want a better bike. It all comes to you. That's the dopamines at work. While we are passionately promoting mountain biking (and cycling as a whole), we also wish that all riders take their progress within their own limits. Not all would become pro riders. But that's alright. Do everything within your limits, never lose sight of the innocent simple fun of mountain biking, at the same time never losing sight of challenging yourself when you are ready for it too. Stay happy and stay humble. Make friends. Enjoy the trail. And celebrate the special place gravity riding has in mountain biking.
Red Bull Rampage photos by Red Bull
All other photos by Bikezilla and Singapore homies
Reference: Wikipedia, some local experts, our brothers/sisters bike tour operators, Bikezilla