The 3 best things about mountain biking in Southern Utah

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — First off, this is a very unofficial list. It’s a subjective list, if you will. Depending on mood, situation or whim, the top three not only have the ability to be shuffled but also to be replaced. Anyhow, on with it!

No. 1: The thrill

Now, I’m not suggesting 70-foot gap jumps or bombing down the side of a mountain where one mistake could be your last. Thrilling? Yes, of course, if you’re into that. By far, most people find their thrills in a more “mild” way.

A beginner, for instance, may get a huge thrill by just making it through their first few rides, even if they have to walk the “hard” parts, whereas an intermediate rider finds thrills everywhere, from cleaning a piece of trail they’ve never been able to ride or completing a section of trail faster than they ever have.

And, by the way, “fast” is subjective as well. Morgan Harris, the godfather of mountain biking in Washington County, once told me, “If you see air under my tires, it means I’m crashing!” Although he generally wouldn’t be considered a “fast” rider, to see Morgan climb and descend a slickrock problem is a master class in technical prowess and comes with its own set of thrills.

No. 2: The scenery

Sure, you can see some pretty great things just driving down the road, but if you’re a mountain biker, a hiker, an equestrian or a dirt biker, you know well how distance and isolation can bring out the glow and beauty of a view.

Gooseberry Mesa, Hurricane, Utah, Date unknown | Photo courtesy of Jay Bartlett, St. George News

There’s no doubt that the chemicals that course through you when you put in an effort to get to a place enhance the views. Recently, after riding for hours on Gooseberry Mesa, I spent a wonderful 20 minutes eating a sandwich and soaking in great views wherever I looked, both micro and macro.

Sometimes, the scenery can only be taken in at a glance because the riding demands your attention, but a quick look at Zion’s West Temple or a peek at an unusual rock formation can be quite satisfying. Mountain bike trails are often built within or adjacent to some of the most beautiful places on earth, so it’s just natural to take in the view.

No. 3: Riding partners

There is certainly a camaraderie that comes with a shared love of the sensations of a given activity. When a group gathers back together after an especially fun section of trail, the whoops of joy, stories of the ride and laughter prove that everyone felt many of the same things while pedaling their bikes. A sense of community and adoration develops. These are your people!

It’s no small thing that I met my girlfriend of many years while on a group ride, so I definitely have a soft spot for my riding partners!

There you have it: the top three reasons to mountain bike. Feel free to move them around, edit them or add your personal favorites, because there are many, many things about riding mountain bikes that can fill your own top three list.

Truthfully, I could have easily done a top 10, but I’m only allotted so many words per article. So get out, hit some trails and craft your own top three (or ten) best things about mountain biking!

Written by JAY BARTLETT, Bicycles Unlimited.

This article was first published in the January/February 2021 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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