04.12.2010 | 9:58 am

A “Hi, I’m Back” Note from Fatty: I loved my Spring Break. I rode a lot, and I’ve got a lot of fun new stuff to talk about. That said, I’m — once again — working on very little sleep today, due to some pressing family stuff. So: today’s post won’t be as riotously hilarious as it might otherwise be. But if you’ll stick with it, you’ll find it does include a rather awesome new video I finished assembling last week.

There’s no reason in the world why cyclists should choose to be either strictly mountain bikers or road cyclists (or track cyclists, or cyclocrossers, or downhillers, or BMX-ers).

Don’t be one or the other. Be both.

Or all twelve. Or — to be more realistic — as many as you have money, time and inclination for. As near as I can tell, there are no bad forms of cycling.

That said, if there must be a debate about which, between road and mountain biking, is the more awesome, mountain bikers do have a compelling argument worth making (and please note that I’m saying “compelling,” not “conclusive” or “winning”):

When you’re mountain biking, you have the choice of riding technical trail, or riding trail with great flow.

For those not really familiar with these terms, “technical” trail is stuff with lots of obstacles and features that demand focus and attention. Roots. Tight turns. Ledges and drops. Trail with “flow,” on the other hand, tends to have terrain changes that happen more slowly, often with beautiful scenery that lets you get immersed in the ride.

Technical trail is intense, challenging you and leaving you exhausted and happy at the end of the ride. Flowing trail is more mellow and leaves you…exhausted and happy at the end of the ride.

And having that option — flow or technical — is magnificent.

The difference in kinds of mountain biking trails came to mind strongly the weekend before last when Lisa and I were in St. George. On one side of the road is Gooseberry, justifiably famous as one of the best technical trails in America.

On the other side of the road is Little Creek, which is far less famous than its neighbor, but is — in my opinion — every bit as fantastic of trail as Gooseberry.

Because Little Creek has incredible flow. It’s a good-sized loop with a number of beautiful add-on detour trails. All with incredible views, winding singletrack and rolling sandstone.

I think Lisa, Kenny, Heather, Bob (not this one), Brad (not this one), and Dwight would all agree: you’d be hard-pressed to pick a better place to kick off your mountain biking season.

We rode for five hours — all five of which I recorded on helmetcam. For your convenience, however, I have condensed it into the following three minute video.

Seriously, there’s no good argument to not be both a mountain and road cyclist. And if you are a pure roadie, I’d like to suggest that a flowing trail like Little Creek makes an excellent case for checking out a bike with fat tires.


  1. Comment by Daness40 | 04.12.2010 | 10:07 am

    Oh how I would love to do mountain and road. Unfortunately, I’m in a position where I have to choose…road wins :)

  2. Comment by Emil | 04.12.2010 | 10:16 am

    I’m adding Little Creek to my bucket list. Nice video and “Love is All Around” mashup, by the way.

  3. Comment by Lucas | 04.12.2010 | 10:20 am

    mountain, road, commute… all good in my book.

  4. Comment by VT_Rob | 04.12.2010 | 10:29 am

    “No bad forms of cycling….” Does that mean recumbent isn’t cycling? (Kidding recumbent riders.)

    Welcome back.

  5. Comment by mateo | 04.12.2010 | 10:48 am

    oh, how I wish more riders felt the way you do…there is way to much segmentation, even with “roadies”. Now we have to deal with those that consider themselves PRO (what’s with the need for all caps? Can someone please explain that?) and its a damn fashion show out there. I got sh*t for having all black shorts recently as white is apparently the new black for road riding. Meh. And, with mountain, its the battle of the 29rs and the 26rs and the SS and geared. Arrrgh! Love the road, love the trail, disgusted with the “attitude” of both. Just ride.

  6. Comment by John | 04.12.2010 | 10:53 am

    O rotund one -

    I require recon information from St George IM bike course. How breezy/ horrifically windy does it tend to be. What sort of wheels will you and Runner be using on the the course?

    For that matter – I don’t ever recall you gloating about a super-awesome Tri bike that someone gave you. What will you ride at the IM? If Levi or Lance are not offering up one of their custom painted wonder bikes, I think you should go hardcore and ride your fixie.

  7. Comment by kimbrolio | 04.12.2010 | 10:57 am

    Great post! Had been road-only for years, but just build up a “new” mtb and got it dirty for the first time this past weekend. You should’ve seen the grin on my face! I had forgotten just how much fun it was. I’m officially a dual threat!

  8. Comment by MattC | 04.12.2010 | 11:02 am

    One of things that’s little talked about but is readily apparent is that the EVIL NASTY MEAN MALICIOUS and downright DESPICABLE Mr. WIND (this is my road bike side talking here) isn’t really an issue when Mt bikeing for some reason. I did a road ride on Sat w/ a headwind/crosswind pretty much the entire ride. I HATE THE WIND! On Sunday, the winds were HOWLING even worse. So I did a Mt bike ride instead. Bring it on. Give it your best shot Mr. Wind. Knock me down (almost) on the ridges. HA! Take THAT wind! I can descend and be sheltered by trees and terrain! I beat you! Mt biking RULES in this category! (but road biking is cool too…just that they are apples and oranges…so the comparison isn’t fair).

  9. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 04.12.2010 | 11:04 am

    My best weeks are ones where all the bikes in the stable get ridden. Last week I got 3 outta 4 – Full Suspension, CX and SS rigid – this week should get all four!

  10. Comment by Heidi | 04.12.2010 | 11:16 am

    I was waiting for a big smooch for the videographer at the end!

  11. Comment by KanyonKris | 04.12.2010 | 11:39 am

    Glad you had a good trip, welcome back. Nice video, Little Creek is sweet.

  12. Comment by Jason | 04.12.2010 | 11:42 am

    How do you guys manage riding for 5 hours with only two bottles? I usually go through about a bottle every hour and a half – or more if its really hot.

  13. Comment by DC | 04.12.2010 | 11:47 am

    While my head says, “Yes, yes, yes” to MTB
    My two shot knees from MX racing say, “No,no,no”
    Sadly, road only.

  14. Comment by Keylin1994 | 04.12.2010 | 11:53 am

    Ah, what a great blog. This one hits home. A few years back I traded in my mountain bike for a road rig in the interest of self preservation (the risk reward ratio for roadies is somewhat different) and have since been yearning to get back to the dirt. As soon as I can scratch together some pennies for a singlespeed 29er I will be heading off road.Thanks for the vid, love that stuff.

  15. Comment by Banger | 04.12.2010 | 11:59 am

    The awesome thing is when you can do both. It’s possible to make a trail that is very technical but meant to be done at speed. They don’t get made as much because there won’t be a as many riders for them, but they are out there. The better you get at handling a bike, the better your chances at flowing on a section that you used to slow down for.

  16. Comment by CAGard | 04.12.2010 | 12:07 pm

    Wow, clearly I’m no MTB-er because that looked like the technical trail option instead of the one with smoother flow. Then again, my cx bike and I had a go at climbing what’s probably a smooth flow descent for MTB-ers in driving rain and matching wind. Nothing like seeing birds get blown sideways in a 40mph cross breeze at the top.

    @MattC: be glad you only got the wind part of the storm. See you in San Jose in July. : )

  17. Comment by MattC | 04.12.2010 | 12:33 pm

    @CAGard…oh, we got the rain…it started in the late afternoon and is continuing on thru today (well, it’s not too bad at the moment). Was really glad the forecast was right, cuz I was out on the MTB kind’a late, and had just got back to the car when it started spittin’. Rain in April…down here…how very odd.

  18. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.12.2010 | 1:53 pm

    Nice. I thought the theme song from the Mary Tyler Moore show was ironicly funny. But to mash it with Joanie Jett! Hats off, sir.

    Guess what? I got in my first on-road (not mag trainer) ride since the March 2 Total Knee Replacement surgery, this last Saturday. YeHaw! I was one happy guy for 28 miles. At wich point I encountered calf cramps and knee pain until the end of the ride at 34.5 miles.

    No regrets, though.

  19. Comment by markg | 04.12.2010 | 2:00 pm

    I’ve seriously tried to love mountain biking. The idea of it is very appealing. The actual experience, not so much. An hour off-road is all I can take. The bike feels heavy and sluggish. I can’t reproduce that same feeling of gliding. Tipping over gets old fast. There aren’t any bakeries in the woods, for God’s sake! I respect and admire mountain bikers, but it’s just not for me.

  20. Comment by AngieG | 04.12.2010 | 2:24 pm

    As I stated in my email to PhillyJen last week, I don’t know how you do it. I dove into the mud on my new MTB this past winter and have a new appreciation for my core muscles and your talent on a bike. :-)
    I love the post. You are so right. Having just competed in my first 8 hour relay I was thinking that very thing. (Dejavu this feels like a new Windows 7 commercial). There was a lot of technical riding on the course which left me mentally and physically exhausted, but there was also periods on the fire road which was much more peaceful.

    I must say I wasn’t sure at first if I would really enjoy going off road, but I had a total blast. Even the crashing was fun. I have discovered it takes about 2 weeks for purple to change to green. :-)

  21. Comment by Weaky6 | 04.12.2010 | 2:55 pm

    2 crashes, shown on the blog. Where are you sleeping tonight? That first one looked like it hurt some. Shake it OFF baby. Good stuff. SS 29′r here, sold the tri bike. Road is a tad to boring for me and harder. I like to ride the road to the trail. ;-)

  22. Comment by Drdave | 04.12.2010 | 5:01 pm

    That’s a “flow”. Pretty technical for a Michigan mountain bike ride. But that’s right. We don’t have mountains.
    Great post!

  23. Comment by High Plains Shifter | 04.12.2010 | 8:22 pm

    It kind of bums me that this is considered a flowy non-technical trail. I’ve got ride outside of Texas.

  24. Comment by Hank | 04.12.2010 | 9:27 pm

    Ride everything! Flow = good. Technical = fun (often type II fun, see end of comment). I personally excel at technical since I am largely ruled by the brutish lizard side of my brain, yet I LOVE FLOW! Flow happens on the road too and it is equally beautiful and awesome. If you are in Portland OR go down Germantown Road to understand my version of flow on the road. Flow shuts off the brain and thought so the body can simply act…dude.
    Type II fun: Fun that is often miserable until you get to talk/brag about it later. It usually involves bad weather and something else “bad” but not tragic.

  25. Comment by Sasha | 04.12.2010 | 10:26 pm

    I MISSED you! So glad you are back! The video wasn’t long enough! I have discovered some nice mtn bike trails that I can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can ride them! I am planning on combining road and mtn biking this summer for maximum entertainment. I can’t wait for the snow to melt! Wish we had rocky rides like that in Alaska! I think I use too many exclamation points. :)

  26. Comment by Mike Roadie | 04.13.2010 | 2:36 am

    Welcome back….glad it was great!

    Time and money—that’s what it is always about!!!

    Road cycling has its great choices too; left OR right!

  27. Comment by Niall @ Brisvegas | 04.13.2010 | 3:32 am

    Welcome back! Would love another bike and off-road does appeal (to a degree) but the Minister for War and Finance says “No”. In the meantime I will have to get my off-road kicks from watching your videos and imagining my 18 mile commute is not on tarmac (although at times the road surface has been so lumpy I could have been forgiven for thinking I was on a singletrack somewhere).

  28. Comment by FliesOnly | 04.13.2010 | 6:50 am

    Well, I think I’ve mentioned it more than once now…but one of the reasons I got into mtb biking was because of your blog (and more than a little pressure from assorted “friends” in my bike club). I was pretty anti-mtb for a while, sticking solely to real biking…road. Admittedly now, I love mtb biking. The two are somehow or another quite different, yet at the same time quite similar. Weird. Nice video, by the way. Look kinda technical to me, but then again, I am relatively new to the sport, so what do I know.

  29. Comment by mainiac_rager | 04.13.2010 | 7:49 am

    I envy your slick-rock. Those trails look great!

    Road and MTB go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you haven’t tried one or the other, give it a shot.

  30. Comment by Chicken Legs | 04.13.2010 | 8:01 am


  31. Comment by Speedy | 04.13.2010 | 8:24 am

    Was that video of the trail with flow? My idea of flow is a trail that you can ride in the big ring at top speed with very few obstacles and turns to slow you down. Kind of like … riding on the road … just without the pavement. Yeah, that’s my kind of mountain biking. :) I love to ride trails like that in the off-season.

  32. Comment by Rantwick | 04.13.2010 | 10:40 am

    Hey, couldn’t agree more. Do it all, I say. I think there is a road-based parallel to MTB technical vs. flow… commuting in traffic = technical and a nice long highway ride = flow. I may be thought a little strange, but I totally enjoy the technical challenges of riding hard with cars.

  33. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.13.2010 | 12:12 pm

    BTW, Fatty, when I first saw the title of this post, I hoped that there would not be any urologists involved.

    Thank-you – my hopes were not dashed.

  34. Comment by MattC | 04.13.2010 | 1:12 pm

    There’s nothing else on the planet like a swoopy FAST super-narrow ribbon of downhill singletrack…your vision is almsot blurred by the passing trees and grasses, as your focus is on holding the trail while riding as fast as you dare…and at the bottom your smile has to be surgically removed. Ahhhh…thats the icing on the cake for any MTB ride. The trick is finding a ride that combines that along with a highly techinical singletrack climb with tight switchbacks, steep pitches, rocks, roots, logs, you name it…that’s is what it’s all about. The perfect trail. I’d sure like to ride your “Joy” sometime Fatty…see how it ranks w/ MY Joy trails. Hopefully everybody has their own version of JOY. If not, then you need to find it!

    @ClydeSteve…glad to hear you are back on the bike..full knee replacement..I know it’s pretty routine these days, but YIKES!!! Don’t ever watch a video of that! My knees hurt just thinking about it!

  35. Comment by axel in texas | 04.13.2010 | 1:36 pm

    nice trail, nice video…

    Mr. High Plains Shifter, texas has it all:
    flow: walnut creek in austin, rocky hill ranch in smithville, trails of the chihuahua desert challenge in lajitas/terlingua
    technical: city park in austin, flat creek in comfort, hill country sna in bandera, lots of the pirate trails in austin
    what we don’t have climbs longer than a mile…
    and if you are in the high plains, just go to new mexico and ride the south boundary trail – after the climb at the start it flows.

  36. Comment by Greg @ Greg Rides Trails | 04.13.2010 | 2:49 pm

    Nice crash at the end there!

  37. Pingback by A Note on the Commercial logic of Cycling tribes-Roadies v MTBiker v BMXers and so on | Cycling Satin Cesena | 04.13.2010 | 5:34 pm

    [...] Fat Cyclist recently posted a call for us to go beyond what¬†could be¬†labeled ‘tribalism’ in the world of cycling. He [...]

  38. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.14.2010 | 10:42 am

    MattC – I watched a video of a TKR a year ago, and almost blew my cookies. I was in a cold sweat.

    This time I avoided the movies of TKRs until AFTER the surgery, safely in the arms of Percoset. I watched three, in fact.

    For the curious, heres a movie. Hold on to your cookies.

  39. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » How to Behave When Another Cyclist is Hurt | 04.15.2010 | 11:18 am

    [...] Last Monday, I showed a video, shot from my helmetcam, of a group ride at Little Creek. The centerpiece (i.e., the moment I showed four times 24 seconds into the piece) of the video was when The Runner crashed, whacking her buttbone (a technical term) good and hard into a sharp protruding rock. [...]

  40. Comment by Sean | 04.15.2010 | 8:10 pm

    Totally awesome. Where do I sign up?

  41. Pingback by Lukewarm » Blog Archive » [FW]How to Behave When Another Cyclist is Hurt | 04.18.2010 | 7:01 am

    [...] Last Monday, I showed a video, shot from my helmetcam, of a group ride at Little Creek. The centerpiece (i.e., the moment I showed four times 24 seconds into the piece) of the video was when The Runner crashed, whacking her buttbone (a technical term) good and hard into a sharp protruding rock. [...]

  42. Comment by BurkeInTheOzarks | 04.19.2010 | 3:29 pm

    It’s MTB all the way for me. I keep threatening to get a road bike but I never quite pull the trigger. Too many of my local friends have had angry encounters with cars for me to get too motivated. I prefer to crash into things that are moving slower than I am!

    By the way, did I hear an “Oh shucks!” at the end of the video? That could be a misquote…

  43. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Fall Moab 2012 Part II: Power Faces | 11.15.2011 | 8:19 am

    [...] were riding the Little Creek Trail, a lesser-known — but equally great — trail very close to Gooseberry Mesa. It’s [...]


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