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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a mountain bike about six months ago, and I've been riding a few days a week ever since. At this point, I know just about every rock and turn on T100. I've also done the Desert Classic several times, and each time I get it done faster and with less effort.

So I finally decided I'd graduated to the National Trail. Everyone here raves about National, but I've been reluctant to try it because the guides list it as "advanced." This afternoon I spent about 3 hours riding National, and the main thing I learned... I'm still a noob!

I rode from the Pima lot up the fire road and then took National zigzagging up the mountain. Man, it was tough! There are several one and two-foot staircases that I'm not sure how anybody stays on a bike to climb. I found myself walking about as much as I was riding. It was frustrating. The worst part was when I was pushing my bike up a hill, inevitably a couple of super intimidating riders came flying down the hill hopping over the rocks like they were tiny anthills. I just tried to get as far off the trail as possible, and maybe cower behind a bush.

Once I got to the top, I could see why National is so loved. The trail smoothed out a bit, and there were parts where you’d be making a sharp turn between massive boulders on either side. That was pretty cool. There was one downhill section that maneuvers around a huge boulder in the middle of the trail. I could see tire track going right to the edge of the boulder. It looks like a four foot drop. Do people really jump off that?!

I guess National is a good example of "technical" up and downhill trail. I’m sure I’ll try it again. But I really just like to jump on my bike and zip along trails for hours without ever having to stop. Maybe that makes me more of a cross-country rider.
 

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dirt visionary
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You made a wrong turn going up ;) After the fireroad where you dip into the wash just past the big sign you can go right up Morman instead of the zig zags and climbs. Thats a much easier route than pedalling up national. You continue up morman and it makes a southward angle back to National to the smoothed out area you speak of.

National is fun but tame compared to other areas on SOMO.
 

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I bought a cross-country bike three years ago since I live near Hawes trail in Mesa. After "mastering" Hawes in a few weeks ... I started riding National. I couldn't clean anything up or down. But I kept at it and after about 6 months of riding up and down National a few times a week I could clean most of it (not in sequence though). I tried to ride with guys who were better than me so I could learn the lines. Then I bought an all mountain bike with 6" of travel and my skills continued to improve. I have a downhill bike too and we shuttle down National sometimes. It's amazing what you can do with 8" of suspension. The key to National is superb balance. Try to track stand for long periods in your driveway. Session all of the tech stuff up and down National to get really connected to how your bike handles. Put sticky tires on your bike, lower the air pressure, and play with the suspension settings to really dial it in. Sooner or later, you'll get it. Then when you ride other places you'll be amazed at how good your tech skills really are. Moab will be easy (but still very fun) after getting good at National. And just when you think you've got it nailed and you're really good, some guy will still come along and do a stunt that blows your mind. I learn new lines often even after riding National 200 times. It never seems to get old and there is always somebody better than me on the trail :)

We're you riding with two other guys today? I was on National blasting down and ran into a few folks that were on their first National ride. I was on a black Enduro SL with a black full face helmet and full pads. Great fun :)
 

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Just Joshin' ya!
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Congrats on your first ride. Hopefully it will be the start of many more! I felt the same way when I started riding the National Trail. Give it a couple of years and you will have no problem.

What kind of bike are you riding?
 

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dirt visionary
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superstition said:
I bought a cross-country bike three years ago since I live near Hawes trail in Mesa. After "mastering" Hawes in a few weeks ... I started riding National. I couldn't clean anything up or down. But I kept at it and after about 6 months of riding up and down National a few times a week I could clean most of it (not in sequence though). I tried to ride with guys who were better than me so I could learn the lines. Then I bought an all mountain bike with 6" of travel and my skills continued to improve. I have a downhill bike too and we shuttle down National sometimes. It's amazing what you can do with 8" of suspension. The key to National is superb balance. Try to track stand for long periods in your driveway. Session all of the tech stuff up and down National to get really connected to how your bike handles. Put sticky tires on your bike, lower the air pressure, and play with the suspension settings to really dial it in. Sooner or later, you'll get it. Then when you ride other places you'll be amazed at how good your tech skills really are. Moab will be easy (but still very fun) after getting good at National. And just when you think you've got it nailed and you're really good, some guy will still come along and do a stunt that blows your mind. I learn new lines often even after riding National 200 times. It never seems to get old and there is always somebody better than me on the trail :)

We're you riding with two other guys today? I was on National blasting down and ran into a few folks that were on their first National ride. I was on a black Enduro SL with a black full face helmet and full pads. Great fun :)
Where you been hiding?
 

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RHRF!
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It's like a drug...

...because if you continue to go out there, YOU WILL become addicted. I finally purchased a 6-inch travel bike last year and I am much more confident and in control... although the up never does seem to get that easy.

It is never boring out there. Just when you get half-way decent, you see a new line and you challenge yourself all over again.

I like to concentrate on small sections at a time, both up and down... many small victories somehow help me conquer that crazy place... at least in my mind!

Get yourself some body armor and keep at it - it is the best riding in the valley.
 

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Pivotal figure
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Man, I've been riding Nat'l for almost 14 years now (!?) and it is still a challenge. I clean pretty much everything but there's always something that just won't work. I've only gotten one "perfect" ride in all those years (cleaned it all, first shot). That's what makes it such a great trail IMO, you never get bored cause it never gets easy :thumbsup:
 

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im4Gsus
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crispy said:
But I really just like to jump on my bike and zip along trails for hours without ever having to stop. Maybe that makes me more of a cross-country rider.
yup, i'd say so, and there's nothing wrong with that!! not every rider is cut to do those technical trails. there are LOTS of xc trails here in the valley and in az where you can enjoy hours of riding and not worry about walking your bike or worse, dying!!:)
 

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more beers, lees gears.
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so i too need to get off of DC & Hawes, and on to national.

Question: What bike to take?

I have a steel hard tail 29er & a Specialized epic. I know neither are probably ideal for Natioal. But which is best? I love the 29er, but fear the drops may not be so fun on the hardtail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
clockwork said:
You made a wrong turn going up ;) After the fireroad where you dip into the wash just past the big sign you can go right up Morman instead of the zig zags and climbs. Thats a much easier route than pedalling up national. You continue up morman and it makes a southward angle back to National to the smoothed out area you speak of.
I just read in one of my guide books that Mormon is a much easier ride up and reconnects to National. I'll try that one next time. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
NMPhi767 said:
Congrats on your first ride. Hopefully it will be the start of many more! I felt the same way when I started riding the National Trail. Give it a couple of years and you will have no problem.

What kind of bike are you riding?
Thanks! I have a Trek EX7. It's full-suspension... which I imagine is necessary for most of SoMo.
 

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Nothing is really "necessary" for SoMtn. I see guys riding full rigid singlespeeds out there all the time. Not my cup of tea but it can be done. I climb Nat'l on my DJ with a 1X9 setup and have a blast on the DH as well. It's not what you ride, it's how you ride it :yesnod:
 

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mattKHS said:
so i too need to get off of DC & Hawes, and on to national.

Question: What bike to take?

I have a steel hard tail 29er & a Specialized epic. I know neither are probably ideal for Natioal. But which is best? I love the 29er, but fear the drops may not be so fun on the hardtail.
I'm new to Mormon/National, and I ride a Fisher X-Cal 29er HT. If you want to clear all of the technical challenges, then suspension is your "weapon of choice." However, the hardtail really doesn't become a wrong choice until you get west of the towers. Once you are west of the towers, then a HT has met it's limits (especially down most of telegraph pass). It was National though that made me recently purchase a FS 29er to add to my stable. So my advice is to pick the bike that fits what you plan to do. If you want to ride, and are comfortable having to walk through some of the really technical parts, then the HT is fine. If you want to session it out, and have a better chance at the drops and tech sections, then the epic is better, but still limited by it's design as a racing XC bike.
 

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kenbentit said:
Nothing is really "necessary" for SoMtn. I see guys riding full rigid singlespeeds out there all the time. Not my cup of tea but it can be done. I climb Nat'l on my DJ with a 1X9 setup and have a blast on the DH as well. It's not what you ride, it's how you ride it :yesnod:
True, for the most part...
huffy boy waterfall
 

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dirt visionary
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crispy said:
I just read in one of my guide books that Mormon is a much easier ride up and reconnects to National. I'll try that one next time. Thanks for the tip!
NP .....let me guess cosmic rays book ?
 
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