Eddy Merckx famously said; “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades!”
But in the mountain biking world, there are a whole bunch of riders who live by the alternative motto of; “Don’t ride up grades, get a lift to the top and bomb the descent!”
In the past I’ve been VERY dismissive of this. Earn your turn! Not riding up the hill first is clearly cheating! Recently though, I’ve had the opportunity to try this “downhill only” stuff myself and it turns out it’s actually damn good fun.
A proper downhill bike makes the job a little easier too!
It is also much, much harder than I thought it was going to be! For us road cyclists the downhills can often mean recovery after crushing the climb, not so on the trails! The downhills are fun, furious and flat out!
Recovery for a “downhiller” means racking your bike and taking the relaxing trip up the hill (usually either by chairlift or minibus) It’s a good time to dial in your focus. You need to be 100% switched on for every single second that you’re smashing it downhill. There’s good reason full-face helmets and protective armour are highly recommended!
Relax and take in the view on the way up.
Even though you are hardly pedalling, it’s a full body workout as you manoeuvre the bike through fast downhill switchbacks, across rooty, rocky singletrack and over tabletop jumps. Six or seven runs down the mountain at Queenstown and Christchurch (New Zealand) and I was gassed. Shattered. Totally exhausted. The morning after my first ever day on the mountain I was aching head to toe, but itching for more. I loved it so much I quickly sold my hardtail mtb and bought a more downhill-capable trail bike!
A moody, misty morning at Maydena!
Back home here in Tasmania, I am lucky to live close enough to Maydena (a world class gravity mountain bike park) that I can easily day-trip there to trip to bomb some seriously steep trails. Maydena offers over 60 trails to explore and a dedicated uplift shuttle bus. I’ve only been once so far (in the pouring rain) but I will be back for sure. Hopefully next time it won’t be so wet and muddy…
Hmmmm, that’s gonna take some cleaning.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend you give downhill a go. It’s a great workout, a change from your usual cycling routine and it really is a hell of a lot of fun!
Charging downhill at Skyline Queenstown, New Zealand.
In news just in, Maydena Bike Park has closed it’s doors from today until further notice. I don’t think I need to explain the reasons behind it…
Also given the current worldwide situation, now probably isn’t the ideal time to go start hucking yourself down gnarly trails if you don’t know what you’re doing…