” Shredding the Gnar” – in the city.

Don’t you just love that hilarious term- “shredding the gnar?” Originally it was an expression of the ski, snowboard, mountain bike set when they set out of some radical run where peril and intimidation were around every corner. Now it is a term that is used in tongue and cheek when we all do something radical or radical in our minds. ” Yea man- we were shredding the gnar today, dude.” Hilarious and everybody laughs. Well this is a story of “shredding” in the city.
Most mountain bike adventures are, well, in the mountains. Adventures out west, in far away places in the mags, and our own personal adventures in remote locations. But mountain biking can be enjoyed wherever there is a trail and many city/county locations have some pretty interesting trail systems managed by city and county government. Several come to mind in my experience. http://www.o.c.parks.com describes the Orange County, California managed trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness just above Laguna Beach, CA.IMG00159 Great trail system which I described in my post from May 19, 2013 in the archives. Check it out.IMG00214-20100708-1448 Tiger Mountain is part of the Issaquah, Washington managed system described in http://www.singletracks.com. Great trails within easy driving distance from Seattle. Golden, Colorado manages an extensive hiking and mountain biking system- http://www.cityofgolden.net. A lot of these trails are in fairly remote locations but within city and county governance. But most people would not know that there are some really enjoyable trails right within the limits of some major cities.
Wissahickon Park is part of the famous Fairmont Park in Philadelphia.images (5) It has an extensive trail network with some pretty technical riding.cdv_photo_001-23 The amazing thing about this park is that when you are “shredding” the technical there, you would think that you are in a tropical forest. The only clue that you are near a major city is the traffic noise that you hear from the Schuykill Expressway. ( Surekill Expressway). . Ride this extensive system and peddle out to the Fairmont section and run up the art museum steps like Rocky. Or better yet- try to ride the steps. 🙂 Moving west to my neck of the woods are the parks managed by the city of Pittsburgh. http://www.pittsburghparks.org Most of the riding is in two of the more famous parks. Riverview Park for one, is one of the older parks but has an extensive trail system which curiously drains really well. It is the park to ride in the winter and after a rain storm. Most of the trails are on a shale bed which aids in the drainage and can be enjoyed at all times of the season. The picture you see here is of my Saturday morning group with the famous Allegheny Observatory in the background.IMG_0180 This facility was founded in 1859 and still serves as a major research facility for the University of Pittsburgh in the Astronomy curriculum. Lots of well maintained gardens line the trails and walkways and again, you would never know that you were well within the city limits of Pittsburgh.
Frick Park- the largest park in Pittsburgh has a rich history with the Frick family who donated the land.images (3) Very technical riding in this park especially in wet weather. If you can survive some of the downhills and sidehill off camber riding – you have definitely “shredded the gnar” in one of the more centralized parks in the city limits. Interestingly, this is also a favorite park for night riding in the winter because the trails tend to be well used by city mountain bikers, hikers, dog walkers, so the snow tend to be packed rather quickly and the trails are rideable most of the winter despite the snowy conditions that may exist in the suburbs. night ride october (2 of 1)
In the old days, we used to do night rides and connect some of the city parks. ” Shredding the Gnar” might include some railroad crossings within city limits, busways( we almost got arrested one night for trespassing on the busway- (another story another time), or perhaps some large culverts under the parkways and city streets which tended to be, well, gnarly. Urban riding includes streets, tunnels, busways, railroad tracks with missing wooden boards on the riding surface next to the tracks- gnarly to say the least when your front wheel drops in. All of these features interconnecting to the city parks trail systems lead to a rather enjoyable riding experience that most people would not think is available to “mountain bikers.”
So, the next time you are in a major city, do some investigating and see if there are trail systems managed by the city or county. Chances are there is some real “gnar” that can be enjoyed and an exciting time can be had riding well within an urban setting. Mountain bikes are not just for mountains. Thanks for reading.

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