Mountain bikers go with the flow

2014-07-26T05:00:00Z Mountain bikers go with the flowBy Roger Phillips Idaho Statesman The Billings Gazette
July 26, 2014 5:00 am  • 

Mountain biking started on hiking trails, then trails were later built with bikes in mind. The latest evolution in bike trails is commonly known as a “flow” trail, which enhances the riders’ experience as much as getting them from Point A to Point B, or around a loop.

If you haven’t ridden one, you’re missing out on an exciting ride that is not only fun, but will improve your mountain-biking skills.

There are a variety of these trails in Idaho’s Treasure Valley and beyond, and it’s worth a road trip to ride them.

There is no exact definition of what constitutes a flow trail, but it typically features bermed corners, rollers (a mound you can roll over or launch off) and jumps. 

A flow trail is also downhill-oriented and designed so riders can descend it with minimal pedaling and braking. Some flow trails are solely constructed from dirt, and others incorporate man-made structures like wooden ramps, bridges and berms.

There’s a lot of variations to a flow trail, and builders put their creativity and touches into them. Flow trails are usually designed with most skill levels in mind, so an expert can ride fast and catch lots of air, while less experienced riders can enjoy them while keeping their tires firmly planted in the dirt.

Another fun thing about these trails is you can ride them repeatedly in a session. They’re typically fairly short, so you can ride back to the top in a reasonable amount of time and effort, ride a chairlift, or use a shuttle service, such as at Jug Mountain Ranch near McCall, Idaho.

Some trails built years ago, if not decades, also have similar qualities, even though they aren’t considered flow trails by modern standards.

You can find cool flow trails and similar ones throughout Central and Southwest Idaho from McCall to Eagle to Sun Valley.

“There’s some great new-school riding opportunities,” said Greg Randolph, a former professional mountain biker and director of the Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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