Someone asked me this question yesterday:
How do you like the mtb life in Charlotte vs NJ?
I thought it was a loaded question and couldn’t be written down in a strava comment reply, so I figured I’d write it here.
The local riding in NJ is much more diverse than it is in the Charlotte area. We really only have two trails that reminded me of home, and they are not the Ringwood/Mooch trails of home. You can get to some world class mountain biking in Pisgah that is 2 hours away, but just like traveling the 1:30 for me when I was in NJ to Stewart or White Clay (which is actually close to 2 hours) it is something you rarely do. There is enough hills and techy terrain around to get your fix, but traveling out to the mountains here is just another game. I would say the one of local trails are a mix of Six Mile if it was rooty and a little elevation gain. The other has some steep climbs and feels more like a rocky Hartshorne. When we moved to this specific area I was worried about riding. I figured there wasn’t anything close enough to us, but now I realized I have the two most diverse trails. So that is awesome.
This looks like a local trail in NJ. it’s a 10 minute drive from my house.
I do think that back home, if you ride bikes, you’re a cyclist. The mix of people who ride and race EVERYTHING is very high. Sure, you only see certain people at MTB races or CX races, but the overlap is like 75% of the people you see all season.
Down here, it seems that people stick to one discipline. Or that is what I’ve noticed. You have a road scene and road shops. The local shop to me is mainly service and he’s more enduro kinda guy than anything. I brought my CX bike in for some love and said he hasn’t worked on one in ages. Kind of interesting I thought. Back in NJ, the shops are much more diverse and while some have specialities, you will find every type of bike being sold and in the stands being repaired.
It also got me thinking of looking into how the cycling life in general is here versus home. My view on this will always be skewed based on my level of fitness/”expertise” than it was when I first started riding at home.
I think the fact that I started riding and got sucked into vortex of Halters, the Allaire beginner rides and meeting people at the same level of “I’m looking to ride my bike for fun” and a shop that was out building the trails and a cool place to hang out, it was sort of being adopted by a family.
Used to meet Capers, Dustin and Walter to night ride. I think the bike that Walter is on, Capers owns now.
Meeting up with these fools and always pushing each other was a great gateway into cycling. As we grew in cycling and wanted to get faster, our friends grew with us. We all started racing cat 2. We all decided to do the Stewart 6 pack. We all started going to A rides. We all started training. Sometimes we lost parts of the crew along the way for various reasons, but found even more as we went along through the years. The amount of people I met through cycling is just staggering.
Now, flash back to last year (believe it or not we have been down here for a year), I have no one still like my original family. I tried to reach out on the local forum which sucks compared to the home of mtbnj, I’m this guy who is looking for fast people to ride with and find a new home at a bike shop. I don’t have time to do the beginner ride, and those aren’t the people I want to ride with anyway. Am I a dick? It’s strange, it’s almost like I need to fill out a dating application to find people.
I have met some local people and slowly over the past year started to infiltrate into cliques and crews of people. I’ve been given tours of the mountains and met awesome people who only race mountain bikes in Pisgah. The fact it isn’t as organic as back home feels weird. I’m some random guy from New Jersey who they’ve never met that is kind of fast enough to be interesting but not enough to really notice. I guess it is kind of like your first crush or something. Everything about the first time homies of cycling are always going to be the best. The stories are bigger, the feelings are awesome, that kind of thing. Kind of like when I was into cars. We always remember those OG times where it was the beginning of the crew and it was awesome. At some point we think it got shitty and always remember how much better it was back in the day. Then we fade out.
I just realized I was one of those people in the car scene that faded out. I have some friends who still play with cars and have gone from playing with hondas to racing NHRA All Motor Honda class and another buddy who has a big turbo Supra that is beautiful. I wonder if they think the old school days were better? Or maybe it’s so long ago, it’s totally forgotten about?
Here are two photos from the H2H jungle race 2010. Where are some of these people now? I see Paul M in the back, Sturm in UT, I remember that guy with the flat pedals won that day. I remember Chris passing me that race and thinking man, I need to be fast like Chris. I think Joaquin still races fat bikes or something.
I wonder if the people who we have lost along the way and faded out from cycling still think about those days, 5-6 years ago and tell the tales about them. I was talking with Bill about our first trip to Kingdom Trails, before I ever had a Garmin.
Kingdom Trails, 2009. I think I everyone was running tubes in this photo.
I feel like we rode SOOOOO many miles. Kingdom was epic, everything we expected. I have no idea how many miles we did but we rode 3 days and it felt like a HUGE trip. We went to Kingdom two years ago and in three days rode every single trail, and some more than once. It was awesome, but it wasn’t as awesome as that first time we did it. The same thing with Charm City, Nittany, all that stuff. Why is that?