Video: A Beginner's Guide To American Mountain Biking

Feb 25, 2022 at 10:46
by Pinkbike Originals  


It's been 10 long years since Tom Bradshaw rode in America, so a trip over to Bellingham was long overdue. Armed with some preconceived notions about eagles, orange cheese and donuts, Tom sets off to find out what American mountain biking is actually all about.








167 Comments

  • 439 14
 Step 1: Buy a Toyota Tacoma
Step 2: Buy a YT or Canyon with 50mm more travel than you'll ever use, and enough body armor to invade eastern Europe.
Step 3: Load up your fanny packs with 2-3 IPA's, 12oz of water, a candy bar, and enough flat protection for at least 4 bikes.
Step 4: Don't invest in a cycling computer.
Step 5: DON'T INVEST IN A CYCLING COMPUTER YOU NERD.
Step 6: Check your phone every 100ft to make sure you're on the right trail(because you don't have a cycling computer to guide you).
Step 7: Find out that mountain fire roads are steeper than the trails usually.
Step 8: Exhale loudly and point out how steep this trail is, extra points if you forgot to take your inhaler.
Step 9: Get passed by the locals that use the fire roads for training.
Step 10: Get to the top of trail and take EVERYTHING off, bonus points if you block the trail entrance with your bike.
Step 11: Be careful on the descent! You're too old(ripe age of 32-37) to get injured(even though you make $70-90k+ and have an amazing company-provided insurance plan).
Step 12: Get back to your car, 2.5hrs and 7 miles later. Drink 6 beers or so. Plan the burrito or taco stop with your buds.
Step 13: Take an insta photo of your taco in front of a Taco shop and caption it; "Taco's with my Taco!". Remeber to tag Toyota for a potential #pro sponsorship(you won't get it, sorry).
Step 14: Get home, rested and well-fed at 9pm, and text your buds planning for your trip to the desert next spring... The PNW is too humid and wet.
  • 87 13
 Step 15 buy an ebike.
  • 69 0
 The real ones put down an IPA halfway through the ride, unbutton the flannel, put on the swaggy glasses that make them feel special, and then go back for more hot laps with the boys (or girls!) with blood running down their right shin, livin' for the descents baby. (Bald eagle screech)
  • 75 0
 I feel personally attacked.
  • 19 5
 ebikes are more popular in Europe, so not really a American thing yet
  • 11 0
 Step 6: totally me.
  • 24 0
 YT capra + body armor annnnnnd straight to duthie
  • 2 0
 @two-plank: body armor includes full face right?
  • 12 0
 Save for the Toyota, this hit way too close to home.

At least I sold my 180mm Capra last fall after admitting to myself that I don't need it for the +/- 50' of elevation here in Minnesota.
  • 27 0
 Can we please do this with every Country? This would be so funny
  • 14 0
 #11 was personal. We fightin'
  • 2 0
 Damn, this hit way too hard. Haha!
  • 4 0
 the flat protection for 4 bikes got me feeling exposed
  • 11 0
 "Any hate speech or personal attacks will not be tolerated and result in suspension.'

@robin, he said mean things about me.
  • 17 1
 Step 16: barely rides current bike but would ride all the time if they had so and so bike
  • 9 6
 God this is every full face helmet boomer in an big travel e bike bombing down a chill fire road whenever i am on the trails.
  • 45 0
 @dairydolores: Fun fact: The sound everybody thinks of as a bald eagle screech is actually the call of a red-tailed hawk. Bald eagles sound more like sea gulls.
  • 2 0
 @asmtb: Yeah no that's not true. Rad Power Bikes, a PNW based commuter bike giant, has been selling thousands of bikes for the past 5+ years. E-MTBs aren't quite as popular yet, but electric bikes are everywhere.
  • 1 0
 I feel targeted
  • 2 0
 @bahamabermzz: Definitely!! So true.
  • 4 0
 I can’t afford a Tacoma or to live in the PNW but I still feel attacked.
  • 8 16
flag preridedump (Mar 1, 2022 at 12:26) (Below Threshold)
 you forgot about spending way too much on after market parts because americans are disgusting consumers and cant just rung what they brung....ever. Also, forget any real conversation. You will only talk(complain) about bikes and your components and how slow you are.
  • 11 0
 @tacolord: As an American I only perform as good as the equipment I use, so to be the best I must use the best.
  • 1 0
 Why are you personally attacking me?
  • 4 0
 #11…. Right in the millennial… ouch
  • 8 3
 I'm sure I'm missing something but if you can't use a paper map and orientation skills without a computer, are you really engaged in nature? Some of my best days out involved getting lost in the backwpods and figuring my way out.
  • 3 0
 @tacolord: you forgot blame the bike not their poor riding skills or fitness
  • 2 0
 @barp: We have more Bald Eagles every year. Pretty awesome right about now. Happy for them.
  • 3 0
 i would have believed it all if step 2 was buy a steel hard tail and ride it single speed.
  • 3 0
 @barp: oh my god, thank you! I didn’t want to be the one to have to say it!
  • 2 1
 @asmtb: Let's keep it that way!
  • 1 0
 Entirely too accurate jeezus jones
  • 3 0
 Thanks, your post saved 10 minutes of my life I otherwise would have spent watching that video.
  • 3 0
 @kingbike2: 16 and 17- start a YouTube channel and have a trust fund
  • 3 0
 @barp: Oh shit! I learned something today! That's actually pretty interesting
  • 3 0
 @barp: I literally taught this to my students yesterday! I said "you're being lied to".
  • 2 0
 @barp: Haha! I always call this out, to my family and friends cringe.
  • 3 0
 @Chuckolicious: That was me at Galbraith! Took me a while to figure out that Trailforks was upside down too...
  • 2 0
 @dairydolores: If you're not dripping blood from somewhere, you're not really trying, might as well be taking the kids for a walk.

Last major shin damage I got was from a 1-inch by 12-inch (2.5cm by 30cm in science units) stick that got schralped up by my front tire and speared my leg at like 25 mph. Instant golf-ball sized egg and bloody sock about 10 minutes into a 3 hour ride, totally normal.

Last ride's damage was rogue thorny branches that had wind had bent down into the trail that I "couldn't avoid" because there is a sweet take-off on that side of the trail, so I took the sacrifice hit on the elbow. Didn't even realize it was bloody till the safety break a half hour later, haha.
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: The cringe is half the fun.
  • 5 0
 @fallingdown: Oh man, I am wondering if I like my teeth enough to brave your scorn. No pads, but as a 50 y.o. who still hopes to keep progressing, the thought of smashing my piehole on the ground has me considering trading in my half lid. I’m keeping the bike acoustic no matter what. I’ve got enough electronics in my life, don’t want it encroaching on my woods time too.
  • 5 0
 @Krackity-Jones: 2 years ago, at 52, my full face literally saved me from catastrophically caving in my jaw. Worst crash of my 30 some years of MTB.
  • 5 1
 @Krackity-Jones: Anybody who gives somebody else shit for wearing more protective gear than they feel is appropriate, is an insecure wanker and should be ignored.
  • 2 0
 @barp: ...should be goaded into doing something stupid that they lack appropriate protection for.
  • 3 0
 @Krackity-Jones: Recent convertibles and lightweight DH lids are so comfy and light, they're very easy to get used to. Maybe noticeable on the hottest days, days you'd be going slow and taking it easy anyway because you're dripping sweat at the first pedal, but otherwise unremarkable in regular usage besides that your face is protected.

Highly recommended, since at 42 I know what it's like to just not heal as fast or as completely: I have so many more recent noticeable scratches and scars on my arms and legs, the ones from childhood are nothing. I'd like to minimize damaging my face and mouth, since big injuries at this stage are much more likely to stick around.
  • 2 0
 @fallingdown: That dude is probably having his best hours of the whole week/month. Don´t shit on him, give him a nod and pedal on.
  • 1 0
 ipa beer in state???
  • 70 2
 For the record, Bellingham is pretty darn "Canadian" if you ask me. Wink
  • 8 0
 @sixjimmy ha from the low level science experiment above I’d have to agree, just missing a distinct lack of “sooooorys”…
  • 5 0
 Baby Steps mate
  • 6 0
 My wife is from just north of Seattle and I've been accusing/hassling her of being Canadian since we met. She just tells me to shut my hillbilly pie-hole.
  • 8 0
 I was thinking the same thing. He should have gone to Florida for 50' of climbing and 10 miles of sprinting from what might have been an alligator, snake, wild hog, etc. . . .
  • 4 0
 @rodeostu: I fully support sending him to Alafia or Boyette.
  • 2 0
 @hellbelly: good on her
  • 63 2
 Fun fact.....if you live in Bellingham WA, you live farther north than most Canadians.
  • 61 8
 But you still aren't actually Canadian. Its a lose lose.
  • 5 0
 @paulskibum: well played.
  • 5 12
flag millsr4 (Mar 1, 2022 at 17:03) (Below Threshold)
 @paulskibum: Definitely a win win!
  • 4 0
 Most Vancouverites put up with such a high cost of living because it is the mildest climate in the country.
Not sure why someone who lives in a country that offers such a vast array of climactic regions (Moab) would live in the dankest corner (apart from the Alaska panhandle) of the country.
Or more succinctly; This is as good as it gets in canada...what's your excuse?
  • 34 1
 After more WA and OR, to finish out your west coast series:
- Marin County: veggie burrito and booby trapped trails on a klunker
- Santa Cruz: UCSC and Demonstration forest trails w/ Jordie, raid his fridge
- Downieville: Downieville DH and a twelve pack of IPA + hot dogs
- LA County: shit your pants following Gwin down local Laguna ridge trails
- San Diego County: Laguna/Noble Cyn and a Surfin' CA burrito (with fries inside!)
- Tijuana: Milpa Alta Epic Tláloc and fish tacos
never see Tom again>
  • 9 0
 @chrod I like the way you think….
  • 14 0
 Laguna Ridge is in ORANGE County. You can get away with something like "LA area".
  • 7 0
 LA county would be Malibu and doing big hills with Reggie Miller
  • 1 0
 Don’t need to add with fries inside, that’s like saying eating poutine (with cheese curds on top).
  • 1 0
 LA County: replace Gwin with Keene and Laguna with Malibu or Santa Monica.
  • 3 1
 @Marquis: Please, OC Life is a thing of the past. Y'all got swallered up.
  • 3 0
 @Marquis: To anyone outside of SoCal, all of SoCal is LA. Even the IE is "LA".
  • 3 0
 @JSTootell: Even southern californians are sometimes ignorant of anything > 45 mins or a significant hill / valley away
  • 23 0
 Most american thing about the vid is Kaz didn't ditch work to join his guest for the whole ride. In Canada it is called a " sick day" although posting on social media on said " sick day" is not recommended.
  • 7 2
 I've been called out as a stereotypical American since moving to Canada because I'm bad about taking my vacation days. Something BC definitely gets right.
  • 2 0
 Pulling a sickie, eh?
  • 21 0
 Mandatory US locales for the future (this should be a series):
- Santa Cruz (CA)
- Moab (UT)
- Crested Butte (CO
- Brevard (NC)
- Bentonville (AR)
- Lake Tahoe (NV)
- Sedona (AZ)
- Kingdom Trails (VT)
- Santos Trails (FL)
  • 15 1
 - Windrock (TN)
  • 7 0
 @tatchle1: Just do all of Knoxville in that case
  • 2 1
 @tatchle1 guilty as charged. After close to 11 years in Denver, I moved to Bentonville. Happily a stereotype. Big Grin
  • 6 0
 @tatchle1: Windrock for the FULL 'murica experience.
  • 7 0
 Durango, CO
  • 3 0
 @slimjimminnies: We agree with that Smile
  • 5 0
 Not Bentonville.
  • 1 0
 I'd like to see him do more of the every day rides most of us get - Santa Cruz is the only location that's closeish to a major city here...maybe Sedona. Lets see him try to find parking and dodge hikers in Denver (Apex), suck down some smog on an LA ride (Simi/Laguna), race the heat on a summer morning ride in Phoenix (S. Mtn or Hawes), ride some flat tech in Boston (Lynn Woods).
  • 18 2
 Philly cheesesteak so good it stopped Tom in his tracks. Adds 10 lbs on the climbs.
(waiting for the Philadelphians to pick a cheesesteak and be a dick about it)
  • 27 0
 Philladelphian here, the one in the video looks surprisingly good for Washington. Most cheesesteaks in the west are hot garbage, mostly due to the bread.
  • 6 1
 @thats-joe: its not wiz wit though...
  • 12 0
 @chrod game changing - although dangerously filling at 8.30am
  • 2 0
 @thats-joe: www.grantsphillycheesesteaks.com in Portland is pretty tight.
  • 5 3
 @chrod @thats-joe: Born in Philly and moved to Bellingham a bit over 3yrs ago. The cheesesteaks aren't that good. Nobody in this town has been able to replicate a good Philly cheesesteak.
  • 1 0
 @Tombrad: Sorry that Kaz made you go there. It made for a good story though.
  • 7 0
 @thats-joe: Amoroso or go home Smile
  • 7 0
 @Tombrad: This is the only area I think Mike steered you wrong. You gotta get a breakfast burrito before the ride and save the Philly Cheesesteak for the post-ride food with beer. That 12" sub is way too heavy for a pre-ride meal (IMO). And breakfast burrito's are uniquely American (Mexico doesn't do Burrito's, they do breakfast taco's) and I highly recommend one before the next ride
  • 2 0
 Davinci's before the ride....savage.
  • 3 0
 @gerrycreighton: You are being too nice, those cheesesteaks suck. Their normal sandwiches are pretty good though. I totally get your struggle though, I grew up down in San Diego and the Mexican food in this town is even worse than the cheesesteaks.
  • 2 1
 @gerrycreighton: also from Philly in Bellingham… yeah, I’ve yet to see anything remotely close
  • 2 0
 @millsr4: if you find yourself at a Mexican restaurant in a 99% white area the life hack is to ask them to make the food like they make it at home.
  • 1 0
 @millsr4: Have you been to Neto's? They make the best Mexican food in town. I know that's not saying much, but they have some great specials and will make most things if you ask them for it.
  • 1 0
 @willdabeast410: correct: netos is the best also la gloria aka exact same family also dank. How many super Mario punchcards y’all kill?
  • 1 0
 @willdabeast410: Haha yup, Neto's and La Glroia's(who owns Neto's) are the only 2 places in town worth trying. Most the other ethnic food in this white washed town sucks too... I'm so sick of sub par Thai food!

@RonSauce that's a good idea but the problem is that what I really want is SD style Mexican food lol.
  • 1 0
 @matthoff: Super Mario's fell off years ago. They used to be OK but their burritos are 99% rice these days.
  • 2 0
 @millsr4: two each tastebud their own bud…I’ve had stellar burrito experiences in my 10 years here from all of my top three spots. 1) Netos 2) Super Mario’s 3) My Rancho, their Burrito > the their $1 tacos. Also Ambo Ethiopian is legit, but yes I agree the food scene here is lacking in many ways.
  • 1 1
 @HaydukeLives: There is one place in town that imports Amorroso rolls. A step in the right direction but they use bell peppers. Nobody I know eats a cheesesteak with bell peppers! It's not a main ingredient.
  • 1 0
 @matthoff: Is that the same Ethiopian place that was at the Public Market?! I thought they closed down when the market closed, thanks for the heads up!
  • 1 0
 @guide210: dang it. I was in Portland yesterday. I wasn’t on the Pinkbike though so I missed out on this one. It was a quick in and out but I did get a chicken burrito at el rincon in hood river on my way back home.
  • 19 6
 Total fail. If you wanted to experience American mountain biking why not go to the MOUNTAIN BIKING CAPITAL, Bentonville AR? What a joke.
  • 7 0
 Don’t read the news huh? Everybody knows Bentonville isn’t the mountain biking capital of America. After they opened that XC track they renounced US citizenship to become the WORLD CAPITAL.
  • 1 0
 Bentonville happens to exist in the most uninteresting, unappealing, under-educated portion of the US. Arkansas has a terrible standard of living unless you're used to living on $35k and providing for a family somehow. Bentonville trails are for the "rich" to have 1 single reason to move there. It's a talent acquisition gimmick. If you're not a god-fearing conservative you don't belong and you can feel it.
  • 11 0
 One day I hope to ride with Mr. Bradshaw. He sounds like a hoot!
  • 6 0
 @mountainjnky yea, I’ll provide the ear plugs
  • 8 0
 Start riding bmx, then transition to mtb, proceed to tell everyone you cross paths with you came from a bmx background.
  • 1 0
 My approach: take a selfie in front of some BMX bikes and show it to people who question my BMX background (after I crash on something easy).
  • 8 0
 It's always 420 at the trailhead and beyond.......
  • 5 0
 This is not realistic. If you were really in America, step 1 will pretty much end your MTB experience right away if you leave your bike outside a store.
  • 3 1
 IDK, isn't the NEW American MTB experience to have an entourage of cameras and crew with you at all times to document your experience, watch your bike when your doing off bike camera work, carry your extra donuts and the 2nd half of your philly cheese while you embrace the trials and tribulations of the world ALONE...
  • 2 0
 Didn't Bear Grylls introduce the world to this version of being ALONE? Smile
  • 7 0
 Tom you little beauty!
  • 6 1
 Wait this is American biking?

Everyone knows the first step is always McDonald’s drive-through. Wink
  • 1 0
 Painfully true.
  • 1 0
 THIS^ soda to drink with my sausage mcmuffin OR mcgriddle and large coffee with 6 creams and 6 sugers for the trailhead morning AAAAHHHHH before I get moving...

That is the way.
  • 5 1
 How about leaving the PNW and coming to the SW (southwest and specifically New Mexico)! The chile is just as spicy as the trails.
  • 2 0
 The desert is the new Loam. Love me some desert.
  • 2 0
 Jokes aside this video was super entertaining and wholesome. Tom has a great attitude and the way he giggles after every dirt jump should help everyone remember why we ride bikes because clearly Tom hasn't forgot. Not that y'all have either it's just a good reminder!
  • 5 0
 Land of the free, home of the whooper
  • 5 0
 Welcome to America, now pick a political party and be a dick about it!
  • 3 0
 I'm a Green Party member and we are pacifists. Armed and drunk, mind you, but generally peaceful and tolerant.
  • 1 0
 I almost puked just *watching* him ride after the cheesesteak ~ Otherwise, looked like an awesome day, Bru ~ I'll definitely try to visit Bellingham when I make that Bucket List visit to Whistler & the Sea to Sky Corridor..!
  • 4 0
 Please translate. WHAT is in my backpack?
  • 12 0
 He said AR15 strapped to your backpack.
  • 1 0
 @vapidoscar: Got it. Thanks.
  • 2 0
 I would say your guide steered you wrong by not sending you to Rocket Donuts, but apparently it doesn't exist anymore. My world is in shambles.
  • 16 1
 Lafeen's is way better than Rocket Donuts ever was.
  • 5 0
 @mikekazimer: This is the way
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Mike, always looking for a good pre ride breakfast burrito in Bellingham. Can't find one, any good suggestions.
  • 6 0
 @bedell99: , IMHO, the best breakfast burrito in the 'ham is the Chorizo, egg and potato burrito at the La Gloria market on Guide-Meridian which isn't at all near the trails. If you're coming from down south, it's pretty out of the way.

In town, the little taco stand at Hardware Sales makes a surprisingly decent breakfast burrito. DaVinci's makes a decent breakfast sando (til 10, which is probably why Tom got a cheesesteak) and their biscuits & gravy aren't bad...I go with an egg on top as well.
  • 1 0
 @ebxtreme: Thanks. Much appreciated. Always coming from the south. Will definitely check out DaVincis when biking and when going to Baker we generally go near Guide Meridian and will check La Gloria market. I always think a Mexican food truck would kill it on any given weekend at the south Galbraith parking area serving burritos.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Time for you to check out Joe Joe’s.
  • 1 0
 @tomac18: So rush downtown at 8am before they sell-out to pay like $40/ dozen? Hard pass, bruh
  • 4 1
 Is that a coil on Kaz's SJ Evo? Push?
  • 1 1
 looked like a push to me!
  • 8 0
 @Liam-J, it's an EXT e-Storia.
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: I was tempted to get one for my spire.. but semi-frugal me took over ; ) went for CC coil kitsuma... this e-specific shock labeling I think is a bad move.. but what do I know.. lockout and adjustable HBC is a win...
  • 2 0
 All I know is that was alottt of food! Dont think I would of been able to ride eating all that .
  • 3 0
 Tommy boooooy
  • 2 0
 Tom always delivers, but this still counts as Canadian to me
  • 1 0
 very education - adds to my knowledge of Bellingham gained via the Lil Diky Pro Rapper track
  • 1 0
 *educational
  • 3 2
 IPA’s before the down sounds awesome…been there, done that. I prefer whisky. That’s how we get down in Texas!
  • 1 0
 haha the guy at cedar dust jumps is the dude from the beans tiresealant video
  • 1 0
 why does Tom look like Seth from berm peak? when I saw the thumb nail I thought Seth had joined yall.
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike with one staffer in Bellingham automatically whores the location out by default. Everytime.
  • 1 0
 So, where did my comment and it's 6 replies go (according to my Dashboard)?
  • 1 0
 Is Canada not also in an America?
  • 2 1
 That's my local!!
Below threshold threads are hidden





You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2022. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.022598
Mobile Version of Website