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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a Park Ranger in an area with many hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Recently, our ranger staff received two 2019 Specialized Stumpjumpers. These bikes are a valuable asset to us, allowing us to patrol those trails and rapidly respond to emergencies. Aside from those benefits, I'm also pretty stoked about being able to ride a MTB while at work. Unfortunately, I have little to no experience mountain biking. That said, in an effort to avoid looking like a complete rookie on an incredibly expensive bike, and to avoid damaging said expensive bike, I bought an old 2002 Trek 820 for 40 bucks and took it into the local shop to have it inspected and to have new shifters, cables, and a new chain installed. Since the frame is good, and since I like to tinker, I'd like to improve my bike as much as I can and tailor it for the intended purposes of patrolling and responding on the trails in my park. And of course I intend to use the Stumpjumpers from time to time, but the beauty of having my own bike and gear is that it negates the check out process, allowing my to have my bike and gear at all times while on duty, checking that rapid response box.

What advice can yall offer a new rider like me whos looking to improve their endurance, climbing, narrow track riding, stability in rocky sections, on roots, and overall confidence on the trail?

Also, what parts and set ups can yall recommend to increase my bikes utility, long-term comfort, control, and preparedness? It would also be a huge benefit if I could find a detailed, year specific spec sheet covering my 2002 Trek 820. I've tried to do my own research yet I've only been able to find a few vauge documents.

Lastly, given the intended use of trail patrol and response, what advice can yall offer regarding safety and preparedness?

Any advice is welcomed and appreciated. I'm also eager to see how you folks feel about the idea patrolling popular biking trails. So far, I've gotten mixed feedback on the topic. Many folks welcome the thought of more enforcement on the trails, others see it as unnecessarily intrusive for an area that doesn't see many emergencies. I genuinely enjoy hearing about and discussing both sides of that coin. Just know that I can only speak for myself, and won't speak on behalf of the district I work for.

Hope to hear back soon from the MTB community.

Thanks all.

- FiveThreeOh
 

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since 4/10/2009
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I have an acquaintance who is a police officer and bicycle patroller. He periodically patrols mtb trails within the city's park system in full uniform, but everybody knows he just likes to ride. ;-)

He also maintains the department's fleet of bikes. I've sold him parts before.

I think it's a great idea for park rangers to get out on the trails. In so many parks I know, none of the staff (let alone the enforcement staff) go out onto the trails with any regularity, so they have a poor understanding of what trail users experience or deal with.

I'm not sure that old 820 is going to be very good for your purposes. It's going to be a maintenance pit pretty quick.

I would recommend taking some skills clinics outside of just riding and getting your bike fitness in order. If you expect to actually use bikes during your patrols or emergency response, you ought to have a base level of handling skill and fitness.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I appreciate that feedback. I certainly intend on making the best of the bike patrol opportunity and am definitely willing and motivated to improve in the areas where I lack knowledge and experience. Outside clinics are a great idea that I hadn't thought of. I'll bring that up to my leadership and see how they feel about possibly footing the bill and sending a few of us through one or two of em.

What off bike workouts are beneficial? Obviously a stationary bike comes to mind, but are there others?

Regarding your comments about the bike becoming a maintenance pit, can you elaborate? What should I look out for routinely? What maintenance problems can I expect? What preventative measure can I take? What type of bike would you suggest to someone on a tight budget? I don't expect to ride very hard or aggressively while on duty, (not that I could right now anyways) unless the situation call for it. Much of my time will also be spent on the paved road, quickly riding from one area to another when the park is full of people and vehicles. Thisll help me avoid having to consistently find a place to park my patrol truck, turn around in tight spaces, and will take one more vehicle off of an already congested road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Maintenance classes* offered

I guess these questions could also be extended to the Stumpjumpers. What suggestions do yall have in tailoring them for the intended purpose of patrol and response? What preventative maintenance should we be doing? Are there maintenance classes offered? Perhaps I can send some recommendations up to my leadership.

Thanks again.
 

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Here's a couple vids with basic skills.
The first shows how to use your body off the seat with your heals low on the pedals to deal with bumps without being bounced off your bike. This is when using platform pedals.(flats)

The second shows basic body positioning when your coming up to a corner.

GMBN offers vids on different skills.

The Trek 820 is designed for bike paths and smooth trails. Use it for endurance training. The fork will be overwhelmed quickly on rocky trails.
 

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Kudos for just buying something. As you will see on this forum (Beginners), many newbs understandably get caught in analysis paralysis trying to get a competent bike for a low price in case they don't stick with it. Just getting something and riding it is probably the best solution, even if the riding experience is not a great one. It probably won't be bad enough to deter you from the sport/hobby if you enjoy riding offroad.

And you have the stumpjumpers for easier comparison than most riders have. So you are able to just ride and figure some things out as you go along. Really, everyone has to do this.

Skills videos are a great resource, but sometimes they get pretty abstract beyond the basics. Until you have ridden something (or stopped yourself from riding something) and said "I dunno wtf I am doing," then the skills videos make more sense.

Some other good series are Skills With Phil and Seth's Bike Hacks. The latter is a little more "hardware" oriented, but I find Phil's videos to be nicely accessible to the new rider.
 

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Cycologist
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I enjoy meeting rangers out on the trails where I am, though it is very rare. I don't see it as intrusive at all.

You'll quickly discover differences between your Trek and the modern Stumpjumpers. As mentioned, I would not put a lot of money into the old Trek, you could spend a lot but it will never really be modern. As you progress, you'll start to realize its shortcomings. Watch some videos and ideally take some skill lessons but a lot of it will be just getting experience riding. As far as conditioning, I'd say mostly just riding. I'm also a runner but I don't think it helps as much as you might think. It does help, but cycling is actually a lot more "legs" than running is.

Plenty of videos on maintenance. The biggest thing to start with is keeping the chains on the bikes properly cleaned and lubricated. You'll also want to watch/research info on bike set-up.
 

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this might give you a perspective on the differences in the two bikes.


in my experience, it'll be easier to work on your technique on the trek at slower speeds. it's a smaller bike with smaller wheels, it won't be as intimidating to practice all of the body positions as it would be on the stumpjumper. when I finally got rid of my mid-90s 26" wheel bike and got one a modern bike, I first noticed how much bigger the new bike is. also you might worry less about crashing on it than you would on the official work-issued bike.
 

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I appreciate that feedback. I certainly intend on making the best of the bike patrol opportunity and am definitely willing and motivated to improve in the areas where I lack knowledge and experience. Outside clinics are a great idea that I hadn't thought of. I'll bring that up to my leadership and see how they feel about possibly footing the bill and sending a few of us through one or two of em.

What off bike workouts are beneficial? Obviously a stationary bike comes to mind, but are there others?

Regarding your comments about the bike becoming a maintenance pit, can you elaborate? What should I look out for routinely? What maintenance problems can I expect? What preventative measure can I take? What type of bike would you suggest to someone on a tight budget? I don't expect to ride very hard or aggressively while on duty, (not that I could right now anyways) unless the situation call for it. Much of my time will also be spent on the paved road, quickly riding from one area to another when the park is full of people and vehicles. Thisll help me avoid having to consistently find a place to park my patrol truck, turn around in tight spaces, and will take one more vehicle off of an already congested road.
If you do get approval to take outside clinics, there are a multitude of options. You could probably find a certified and experienced instructor to offer one or more private courses for your staff, too. Just depends on how serious your department wants to get about it. It's even a realistic possibility for one or more people in your department to get certified to BE a skills instructor (eventually, that'll take time) to be able to hold in-house skills development.

As for maintenance, it has more to do with the absolute age of the bike than anything. Even if you bought it in good shape, which it looks like it is, some of the older stuff will wear out faster. Some of the less expensive stuff parts will break. Some of those parts won't be easy to find reasonably good quality replacements because standards have moved on. Start riding it off-road enough, and it'll happen a bit sooner. It's not something to be super worried about right away, especially if it's used as more of a pavement bike. Just be aware of it. Anything that moves is something you need to watch. I'm sure your old 820 had a fair number of things that were "under-maintained" before you bought it. Taking it in for a checkup now was a good idea, but that fork is probably the major concern and could rather suddenly turn south. From that era, it was most likely an elastomer spring and those just crumble with time. You probably won't be able to replace the elastomers when they do crumble on you, so that means a new fork. And given what the fork is, a rigid replacement is probably a better idea than trying to find a suspension fork when that time comes.

I guess these questions could also be extended to the Stumpjumpers. What suggestions do yall have in tailoring them for the intended purpose of patrol and response? What preventative maintenance should we be doing? Are there maintenance classes offered? Perhaps I can send some recommendations up to my leadership.

Thanks again.
As for maintenance classes, yes, you can find some. Where you find them, and the quality of them can be variable. Some shops just offer basic classes for their customers during the offseason. These are a decent place to start. In the meantime, though, you'll probably want your department to have an agreement with a local shop to provide regular service to your fleet bikes. I've known shops that have had such agreements in place with police departments and park agencies. I knew one shop that had an agreement to service a university outdoor rec department's rental fleet. I don't know what the details of these agreements necessarily looked like. You'll want to ask around your local area to see what different shops are willing to do, and probably some specific research online with bike law enforcement departments and how they handle fleet maintenance.

Somewhat like the skills instruction, there are higher quality service related classes if your department wants to get involved with maintaining its own fleet bikes. These sorts of courses are offered by much fewer locations, so you'll likely have to travel to take one. One such place is REALLY close to me, and I took a wheelbuilding course over the winter. The person who runs the place does all kinds of instruction for bike shop employees and custom courses and such. I was the only non-shop mechanic in the wheelbuilding class I took (though I've worked in shops in the past).

One source to consider for skills instruction is ryanleechconnection.com. You have to pay for it, but it's infinitely better than the above posted youtube videos. It's done online with "homework" for you to go out and practice, but stuff is broken down into much more achievable chunks and it's set up in a way that makes it easy to progress. There's a whole section in there for off-bike workouts that includes yoga as well as strength work. Judging from the pics you posted above, at this point, I'd say you'd benefit most from just riding the bikes you have access to on easy stuff for awhile. Use that 820 you got and build some base pavement miles to get the legs and lungs going. Include off-road rides, too, because there are certain aspects of off-road riding that you won't be able to replicate on pavement, but getting base pavement miles will still be useful for your fitness.

For safety and preparedness, I'm sure you're going to have to carry more than anyone here given your position. The vast majority of patrollers are going to have a rack on the back of their bike with some sort of trunk bag on that rack that contains a large amount of their gear. The good thing is that your Trek 820 is well suited for that. The Stumpjumpers, not so much. AFAIK, the only rack that's made to work with rear suspension AND a dropper post is going to be the Thule Pack 'n Pedal if you HAVE to use one, but I wouldn't want to for bikes meant to be used out on the trails.

You're going to have to figure out exactly what you need to carry as part of your responsibilities and how you're going to do that. I suspect it'll probably be similar to some sort of bikepacking setup with a soft frame bag to carry/organize what you need in combination with a backpack of some kind.
 

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Single(Pivot)and Happy
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OP, check your inbox. I'm sending you contact information of a friend of mine. He was a Park Ranger, then Senior Park Ranger and now is the Trail Manager of a park that is managed by our County, City and four cities. Hard enough to convince one bureaucracy to get something done, imagine trying to get all these bureaucrats to agree on anything. My friend gets things done.
 

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As someone who grew up in Alabama, I would just like to point out that the plural of "yall" is, "all yall".
;)
Just ride, check out YouTube, follow all of our recommendations to the letter and have a great time out there! Welcome aboard.
 

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It is great that your parks has invested in this program. Patrolling on a bike makes you much more approachable and makes it easier to interact with guests. I have been a volunteer ranger assistant with our city natural areas program and our county natural resources and parks department for a few years. In that capacity, I am able to interact with many folks on a regualr basis, and to encounter may different situations. Most of our contacts are informational. We are not authorized to enforce, but use advocacy of the resource to remind folks of the rules of the areas in which we patrol. I carry first aid, but rarely need it. More often, I find I am providing maps and directions, sharing sunscreen, or giving someone a bottle of water or a complimentary lip balm. We also report on trail conditions to the land manager.

I am also a certified bike patroller with our city natural areas program, the county parks, state parks (both Colorado and Wyoming), and USFS. Many of our duties overlap with the volunteer ranger program, but also include traffic and parking counts and helping with bike related issues on the trails. For short patrols, I have a fanny pack with basic patrol related items that I can grab quickly. For longer patrols, I'll wear a backpack or use a frame bag. Each may contain first aid, spare dog leashes (most of the properties we patrol require dogs to be leashed), spare water, sunscreen, spare lip balms, spare bike tubes, bike repair tools, shock pump, tire pump, maps, regulations flyers, extra chain lube, notebook and pen, etc.

Our patrol has many members that are not expert riders, but are good at First Aid and guest relations. Through our patrol program and our sponsoring mountain bike association we get First Aid training, training on guest relations, training on the resources, and some mechanical training and skills training each year. There is a subset of the patrol which is also authorized to do trail maintenance with the USFS, and carries some basic trail maintenance tools on those patrols.

We have online reporting systems that allow us to report encounters with guests, trail user counts, weather, parking counts, trail conditions, etc. so that the land managers can have a good idea of what we are seeing out there. We also carry on-duty ranger numbers so that we can contact a real ranger if something comes up that we are unable to handle.

As mentioned above, taking a skills course and riding a lot will make big improvements in your skillset.

Best wishes for great success with the new program.

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Trek Archives only lists the Gary Fisher models for 2002, for some reason, but here is a link for 2003. https://archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2003/trek/820#/us/en/2003/trek/820/details

In all those responses, they probably covered that wheel size has changed, and compatible forks and the like will be hard to find. You can take a look at the tires and upgrade to the best style for your terrain. And look for a comfortable saddle, good quality flat pedals, and pay attention to whether different bars and grips would be more comfortable. I caution against spending too much. The bike isn't built for real trail shredding, and a lot of the parts are obsolete. It's your job to get the bike adjusted to be as comfortable as possible as learn basic skills. In the meantime, read the forum and do some window shopping to learn more so you can get an idea as to whether you want to buy a real trail shredder eventually, how much you want to spend, and then capabilities you would like. For example, do you want cargo space? Maybe a trail-worthy bike packing rig. Or perhaps something that can handle rock gardens etc? A little more suspension might be in order. It's great you found a bike and are already out there riding. Nice start.

And riding on trails for work? Sign me up!

ETA: I kind of think a fatbike or 29+ would be cool for utility and gear. Fully rigid or perhaps with a suspension fork. Personally, with a lot of rough terrain I'd skip the hard tail and go full suspension. But not at the expense of gear space.
 

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Congrats! I think it's great for you to have these bikes as a resource, and for trail users to see how useful they can be for some patrols.

...

What advice can yall offer a new rider like me whos looking to improve their endurance, climbing, narrow track riding, stability in rocky sections, on roots, and overall confidence on the trail?

...
For fitness, ride the Trek on pavement, and on easy, smooth trails, as much as you can. Bike commute to work if your roads are safe enough for that. I also found that this core workout for mountain bikers can really help, and you can do it anywhere, without any equipment.

As people have mentioned, a coach is your best bet, as you have a lot of specific challenges and responsibilities. In the meantime, you could consider reading Mastering Mountain Biking Skills 3rd edition by Brain Lopes and Lee McCormack.

It may not be particularly safe to attempt your rocky sections and roots on the Trek, and those are probably saved for after you have established a lot of confidence from successful practice on easier trails anyways.

Regarding the shared Stumpjumpers, one thing to keep in mind is that the size of the bike frame and the height of the seat post needs to be appropriate for the person checking it out, as well as the tire pressure and shock setup for their weight. So, depending on how many people are sharing the bikes, and how different their body shapes are, there may be a bit of setup before riding each bike, to make sure that the bikes will be safe, in terms of balance and traction.
 

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careful bike maintenance and gentle washing is important. Pay attention to brakes as they are easily contaminated. No wash and wax soaps or high pressure water.

Gmbn is great video source.

Ride with a better rider and join a group ride at local bike store.

As for safe riding, Fatigue is your biggest enemy. Frequent stops while building fitness, especially on technical riding.

As for learning, any time you do something incorrectly or fail to successfully clean it, just stop and redo until you get it right. Then build on those successes!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
One thing is certain, the mountain bike community is a welcoming one. thanks all for the advice, Ive been checking out youtube vids, focusing more on building endurance, and will soon look into classes for myself and/or my ranger district.

after having read some of your comments, ive decided to start looking for a newer, more modern bike.

That said, what suggestions do all yall have? considering new or used. id like to keep it super budget friendly, no more than 600 bucks. id also like it to have utility potential. and its important that it be somewhat modern so that parts and accessories arent hard to find.
 

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One thing is certain, the mountain bike community is a welcoming one. thanks all for the advice, Ive been checking out youtube vids, focusing more on building endurance, and will soon look into classes for myself and/or my ranger district.

after having read some of your comments, ive decided to start looking for a newer, more modern bike.

That said, what suggestions do all yall have? considering new or used. id like to keep it super budget friendly, no more than 600 bucks. id also like it to have utility potential. and its important that it be somewhat modern so that parts and accessories arent hard to find.
For yourself? I'd be looking at hardtails, for sure. Surly would be a good choice, but I'd probably try to put the budget closer to $1k.
 

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Read through these bikes.

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/trail

Boost hub spacing and thru axels are the main modern specs you should pay attention to on a Surly. They do make a couple of models with the old quick release (Pugsley, Bridge Club) but I think all the bikes on the trail page should be good.

These represent fat bikes ( Ice Cream Truck and Wednesday) 29+ (Krampus) and 29/27.5+. (Karate Monkey).

The Lowside is a single speed, not what you need.

The numbers 29 and 27.5 refer to wheel diameter. Fat bikes have much wider tires. Over 4 inches. The wheels are 26".

+ means Plus tires, around 3 inches wide. The Karate Monkey takes either standard width mountainbike tires in 29" diameter, or plus 27.5. So they take up approximately the same amount of space, but the smaller diameter wheel has more rubber. More Cush over rough terrain. My first thought for what you describe is fat or 29+.

A lot of the newer tech (thru axel and boost) were adopted from 2017 on. Meaning you might not find one in budget. But Surly makes great utility/trail bikes. And the descriptions will give you the info you need and serve as a primer on bike specs.
 

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Single(Pivot)and Happy
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If there is an active mountain biking advocacy group in your area and you have a great relationship with them, you may want to discuss your situation with them. We have provided funding to numerous Rangers. A Ranger that mountain bikes can experience the issues we all face and have a better understanding of trail user relationships.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Again, i appreciate all the advice. ill definitely be looking to build a report with the local MTB clubs in the area as im sure there are a few.

been looking on craigslist for used bikes. what other avenues are there for used bikes?

also considering buying new. which bikes should i consider in the sub 600 dollar price range?
 
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