By Lance Roberts
Mountain biking at WTR
The summer mountain bike riding season is in full swing here in Southwestern Colorado and the trails are in epic form. Mountain biking at WTR and in the Durango Colorado area is a great way for families to come together in a fun, challenging and safe mountain setting while exploring our areas stunning beauty and terrain.
So you have been told or heard that a full suspension mountain bike is better than a front suspension only, a hard tail model.
Read on to find out why this may or may not be true and how it may be more legend and marketing than general MTB trail reality and why Wilderness Trails has chosen “front squish” (the front fork of the bike has a suspension fork) only bikes for our guests.
Why We Choose Hardtails
In our seasoned view, a full suspension mountain bike can actually be a poor choice for most casual or beginning riders. On most corresponding beginner to intermediate trails and terrain the tried and tested simplicity and reliability of a hardtail is hard to beat.
Incorrectly fitted or adjusted full suspension bikes are like shoes that don’t fit- at best they may hurt and at worst you may trip, fall and injure yourself. A full suspension bike that is too big or too small combined with the wrong suspension settings, especially in the rear suspension- that is, too stiff or aggressive of rebound and the bike can buck you off- too soft and you can damage the bikes wheels or bottom out the suspension with excessive force and you can also loose control.
Even expert riders can find adjusting suspension settings (especially rear settings) to be an often daunting and frustrating ritual to make the bike perform in a way that rewards the rider with a consistent, positive and predictable ride.
At WTR, we feel strongly that the light weight simplicity and nimble ease and efficiency conveyed by a hard tail is generally the best ride for our WTR roads and trails and the majority of Durango area terrain.
A traditional hard tail mountain bike provides the best introduction to technical singletrack, forest service roads, and double-tracks (jeep roads) and is the best way to learn the skills, techniques and confidence to graduate into more challenging terrain.
We have been riding MTB since 1983 at Wilderness Trails, and believe it or not, I just started riding full suspension bikes for some of my riding- but not all of it- in the past couple years. But to be honest, unless I’m doing gondola shuttle runs at the park, you’ll likely find me grinning atop a good ‘ol hard tail.
At WTR we believe that from those who have done some MTB in the past to those who are completely novice and beginners, a hard tail with front suspension is the most predictable, fun and easiest way to create a rewarding, consistent and safe bike experience for nearly all of our guests.
If however, you read the above and just said, Ok, “wait a second I love my dually...” Please, by all means, bring your bike or we’ll help you rent a performance bike here.
If you are wanting to spend a considerable amount of your vacation-holiday time exploring the area by MTB, then we can accommodate those needs as well.
For Experienced and Hardcore Riders
For seasoned riders who really appreciate riding a trusty steed, we can handle receiving your boxed bike and have it reassembled and ready for your arrival.
And heck, you are already visiting a mecca for riding, so why not demo or try a high end bike you've been dreaming about- if you’ve been thinking about trying a long travel gravity type bike or a nimble and fast cross country single speed maybe visiting Durango is the time to do it.
Happy trails- we can't wait to go ride with you!
The community at Wilderness Trails Ranch is truly a rich one – with chefs, artists, a massage therapist, dogs, melodic birds – the list could go on. Of course, most visitors to our ranch are eager to meet our horses and wranglers, and they are a lovely crew. To this aim, each week from now until the end of July six horses and one wrangler will be featured here on our blog.
Rick and Red, our gentle giants, are Belgian Draft Horses. They have been with The Ranch for ten years and team up to provide our weekly hayrides. Being in their presence inspires awe, and the opportunity to benefit from their considerable strength and grace during the hayride is a highlight for many. They are also our resident stars as they have been featured in several movies.
Ember was born on The Ranch in 2002, the year of the fire – hence his name. Ember, a Morgan Quarter Horse, is super gentle and playful - ideal for beginning riders to help them build confidence and develop a deeper sense of joy while riding.
Tigger is a favorite among guests because he is highly responsive. He is a perfect fit for people with riding experience. Tigger was born on The Ranch and was Lance Robert’s private horse for many years. The evidence of his loving training is evident to those who ride him. He is a Quarter Appaloosa Horse and has half-brothers who also live with us here at The Ranch.
Lenita, a Paint Mare, requires a confident rider. For those looking to build a relationship that requires more attention, Lenita provides a more complex riding experience. She is appreciated by our wranglers because she calmly walks to and waits in her stall each morning. Lenita was born here at The Ranch and is known for her lasting love for Sideburns, another one of our horses.
Willa’s eyes will tell you how kind she is, and, indeed, this Percheron Quarter Horse mix is a favorite. She is highly responsive and enjoyed both by beginning riders looking to build confidence and experienced riders who want to enjoy a week of ease. Her strawberry-roan coloring is unique, and those that ride her may find themselves enchanted.
“I don’t remember learning to ride” smiles Kathryn Forynski as she watches the horses graze. An unsurprising comment considering that Kathryn’s mother first took her up into the saddle when she was only four-days old. Kathryn grew up riding Arabians in Bedfordshire, England where she was also an event rider in cross country, jumping, and dressage. She will tell you about it – with her customary reserved sweetness – if you ask. Kathryn has been with The Ranch since 2008, and she greatly enjoys the relaxed approach of Western riders. She respects the gentle power of horses, and the feeling of oneness that often arises while riding ties her heart to them even further. Part of what keeps Kathryn coming back is the trail riding; “There’s always something new to notice” she says. And she’s keeping her eyes open for elk shed because she wants a pair of antlers to paint pink and hang on her wall.