Muddy Butts and Mountain Bikes
The air is warm, the snow is melting, and bike trails are drying out here in Gunnison, Colorado, so when a sunny day over 50 degrees rolled around on March 25th this year, I was itching to get back on my mountain bike. Of course with a new activity to think about, I couldn’t help but take out the Go There™ Pants to see how they would work for spring biking. After mailing another round of our Pee Outside hats, I pumped up my tires, snapped the Go There™ Pants into capris, put on a good layer of sunscreen, and headed out to the Signal Peak Trails (conveniently located right behind SheFly Headquarters at the Ice Lab!).
Mountain biking, like many outdoor activities, has seen a recent boom in growth. With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting access to social and indoor activities, many people turned to the wonders of recreating outside. While I have alway been an outdoor enthusiast, I was never a mountain biker until I moved to Gunnison. As a hub of outdoor recreation, trails, and sunny days, Gunnison stands as a prime spot for mountain biking. From the 45 miles of single track at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area to the Signal Peak trails and beyond into the endless routes of Crested Butte, it's hard to not join in all the fun. The two local organizations: Gunnison Trails and Crested Butte Mountain Biking Association, who are the ones to thank for the 750+ trails in the valley, have built such a variety of routes that people of all abilities and experience levels have space to play and learn on their bikes.
Although I grew up around biking in Vermont, (my father is an avid road, mountain and gravel biker), I had only used the free bikes found at our town dump to get to and from places in my small town. For so long, I refused to take part in such an uncomfortable, boring, and slightly scary activity that I perceived mountain biking to be. When I moved out to Colorado, however, I got a taste of mountain biking through field-based classes and borrowing friend’s bikes, so by the time my first summer (2021) in Gunnison rolled around, I was scouring the internet for a small frame, full suspension bike - that I could afford.
About the Bikes
Like many adventure-based activities, mountain biking is expensive! Most bikes are well over $1,000, with the better ones costing more than a used car, and that’s not including the cost of maintenance, and additional gear. For many people, this sport is yet another exclusive gateway to the outdoors. It’s hard to invest in such a costly toy, especially if you aren’t yet in love with the sport. A dilemma I certainly faced.
If you are unsure about entering the world of bikes, a great place to start are hardtails - a more classic mountain bike that only has suspension in the front wheels. These bikes are often a lot cheaper and easy to find in used gear stores or online. When you’ve decided that mountain biking is worth the investment, you want to ride more technical trails, and maybe experiment with speed, a full suspension bike is the next step. Having both front and rear suspension allows you to absorb more bumps and travel faster through those technical rock gardens found on a lot of mountain biking trails. After trying a few bikes myself, I knew I was willing to spend a little more for the thrill of dual suspension. I looked on pinkbike, a website for buying and selling bikes, but it was on Facebook Marketplace that I found my bike in May, 2021. Facebook Marketplace lets you look for bikes (or really anything) within a certain area, similar to ebay. I drove the two hours from Gunnison to Fairplay, Colorado to pick up the new GT Force mountain bike the very next day.
The Go There Pant™ Meets Mountain Biking
The question on everyone’s mind: Does the zipper bother you on the bike seat? No! I was pleasantly surprised that, because the patented second zipper is situated where there is already a pants seam, I didn’t feel it against my bike seat at all. I’ve been skiing all winter, but the muscles we use for biking are surprisingly different, so I felt very out of shape climbing even the smallest hill. I drank lots of water to aid my tired legs and lungs, so I was happy to have an easy and covered pee break halfway through my 7 mile ride.
Why else are the Go There™ Pant ideal for bike season? The zippered side pocket is perfect for easy access to a phone while biking, but also comforting to know that it won’t fall out on bumpy downhills.
The four way stretch fabric meant I was comfortable pedaling uphill and while holding the athletic stance required for the thrill of the descent. While most of the trail was dry, I was happy to have DWR coating when I was splattered with mud on the sections that were still wet from snow melt. After all, the Go There™ Pant isn’t designed to stay clean–we want you to put them to the test–go adventure, get dirty!
Having the option to roll up the pant legs or cinch them at the bottom was great for biking because I was never concerned about getting my hem caught in the chain, but I could still cover my pale winter legs as I got used to spring sun exposure.
With summer biking season right around the corner, we are all thinking about shorts with our patented zipper – trust us, we're working on it!
Spring Biking / Trail Etiquette
While it is exciting to see bikes coming out of their winter hibernation, it is important to remember that caring about the flora, fauna, and regulations that protect them are what will make mountain biking a lasting sport for all. Here in Gunnison, we have access to so much public land, but it won’t stay as wild unless we all commit to being stewards of the environmental spaces that we get the privilege to play in.
It is especially vital to respect the rules, spoken and unspoken in this early, in-between shoulder season. The snow melt on trails makes them muddy and while technically rideable, it’s not good for the longevity of the single track to be ridden in such conditions, as it speeds up erosion that leads to less-than-ideal trail conditions. On all Bureau of Land Management trails in Gunnison, there are closures for Sage Grouse, Elk, and Mule Deer protection. Check out the Gunnison Trails Website for more information on those specific trail closures. By sticking to the trails, respecting closed signs and practicing Leave No Trace, we will get to bike, run, and play on public land while respecting the environment around and underneath us.
Hartman Rocks is expected to open sometime in early April and SheFly co-founder, Georgia Grace and I are starting to train in our Go There™ pants, of course–for The Growler, a 14-year-old, 30+ mile endurance mountain bike race around the trails of Hartman Rocks! While we have a love for snow out here, it’s hard to complain about the start of a new season and all the warm weather that accompanies it! With one ride under my belt, I am looking forward to more days of #GoingOnTheGo with my bike and Go There™ Pants!
- Casey Ober, SheFly Marketing Intern