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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went to a bike park for the first time in my life. As a kid I used to dream of all day downhills but I am now 40 and boy did I get beat up. I did about 3.5 hours at Mountain Creek in NJ. It was definitely an awesome experience but I was instantly noticing my hands and shoulders were taking a significant beating. Definitely feeling it today!!

My question is about stamina versus proper equipment. My bike is a Pivot Mach4 Carbon which crushes my daily XC needs. I am wondering if the 130/115 front and rear travel is simply out gunned and rattling the crap out of my bones. I am also wondering if I can do some sort of training to build up my muscles. Will that help or should I start looking for another bike. I am thinking something like a ripmo would have been more appropriate. There were trails with so many rocks that I didn't even bother trying them.

I surf a lot and have boards for different conditions so I am guessing it might be time to consider a bike quiver.
 

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Yes, on both fronts.

Without knowing your specific bike park, there will certainly be some sort of "optimal" bike/setup for the rockier and rowdier stuff. Pay attention to what others ride - especially the folks who ride that stuff really well. Talk to any staff there, look at what gets rented for those trails, etc.

As for the strength/fitness side of things, you can absolutely do exercises to build your body's ability to handle that stuff regardless of the bike you're on. I don't really do the bike park thing, but the trails I ride definitely have downhills that can be miles long. Getting pounded by rocks can wear you out. It definitely happens to me and on the longer, chunkier stretches, I might have to stop and take breaks.
 

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Personally, more bike is harder, not easier. I just ride faster on the bigger bike, so the hits are AT LEAST as hard. But I am doing that on a 35 pound bike now, so it is even more work.
 

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Shartacular Spectacular
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I regularly ride Mountain Creek and Blue Mountain (nearby in Pa). Both are rocky, but they are different flavors of rocky. Mountain creek is chunky immovable rocks while blue is shaley in and even the chunkier big rocks move—chunky but loose chunky. I rode a Bronson (150/150) at both parks last summer. I thoroughly enjoyed riding the Bronson in the park and chasing guys on DH bikes around made me faster and better at line choice, but if you want to ride laps all day with less fatigue, a true DH bike is the antidote (can’t speak to long travel enduro, because I don’t have one).

I picked up a V10.6 over the winter and I can ride longer, faster, and more comfortably at either of these places than I could on my trail bike. Don’t get me wrong, the Bronson handled it with gusto and I still like it better on some of the flow trails, but when it comes to getting in lots of laps in the chunky tech, having more travel and modern geometry is huge.

Do you need a bike with more travel than you have to ride these parks or any other park? No, but you’d be a lot more comfortable if you had it :)
 

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Both. Your getting rattled on the xc bike. Go a 150--160mm.

Park uses a lot more underbody compared to xc which legs and aerobic. Do more park days. Your body will get used to it.
 

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I just went to my first bike park this last weekend.

I ride bigger bike than you (Kona Process 153 29'er), and also rode for about 3 hours ish. And I also noticed it the day after, and while I was riding (mostly hands).

What I noticed was that at a bike park, I'm much more observant of bike setup issues.

On a normal trail around here, I climb for 20-60min (ish), and then descend for 2-8 minutes. If my suspension is a tiny bit harsher than it needs to be, or my lever position isn't exactly perfect... its fine, as its not long enough to wear me out, or give me blisters, or cause cramps/etc.

What I noticed at the bike park, was I had one brake lever in the wrong position, by about 1/8 - 3/16in. It forced my hand over a bit much for braking, onto the locking collar for the grips. So that hand got a blister right on that one spot. I'd had the lever there for 6 months, and never noticed it, as my other runs were so short, it wasn't really an issue.

Same with suspension. On a shorter trail, if its beating you up a bit more, I haven't really worried about it. At the bike park, I noticed I wasn't quite using all of the suspension (about 1in left). On a normal trail, that doesn't bother me much, as most trails I ride aren't the most intense, so leaving some travel in reserve for a bigger hit makes some sense. But at the bike park, I guess I assume that the hits there are the biggest ones I'll likely do so I want to fiddle with my pressures/tokens more to get my setup more worked out. Basically anything to reduce feedback to the hands.

Oh, and I found that I want bigger grips. I have cheapo grips with a small diameter, and I think that contributed to the hand fatigue.

And... like you, I just want to go some more, as all those laps sessioning the same turns, helped me realize that my form is off some, so I have room to improve :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies. I might try the rental thing but I'm also going to hit up a Yeti demo and try some of the long travel bikes. Ibis has one later in the summer. Hopefully I can grab something over the winter. Hopefully my wife agrees :) The good thing is she can fit on my Mach 4 so that can be "her" bike just like my longboard is "hers."

I'm still pretty amazed at the whole experience. The sport has progress so much. I started racing in the early 90s and was just happy to be riding in the woods!!!
 

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There is another thread on this in the All Mountain forum something about “riding chunk fast.” I’m also 40 and have been mtbing since I was a kid but not until fairly recently did I feel like I learned proper DH technique.
Of course your bike and fitness play a huge part but until I started what I’d describe as riding more passively with relaxed arms did I realize I was straining unnecessarily. I’ve heard others describe it as letting the bike dance below you.
There are times you need to muscle it and dig in( cornering), but Mostly there seems to be a balance of just enough grip on the bars to not lose control while also not trying to fight the terrain and let the bike do all the work. Much less fatigue and I’m also much faster through rock gardens than when I was all tense.
 
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