Gear grinding: Here’s how to go mountain biking near the city

Mountain Bike in New York

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Our interest in mountain biking was piqued at a wedding last fall when we overheard a bunch of dolled-up friends of the bride planning a mountain biking trip for the following day during the reception dinner. We couldn’t make that trip so when we saw that Brooklyn’s very own 718 Cyclery was hosting a ride at Allamuchy State Park (about an hour outside of NYC) and offering to haul a fleet of mountain bikes up and back for beginners to borrow, we couldn’t say no. We had never so much has touched a trail bike before that day but after our trip, we came back to the city and measured the remaining corner of space in our apartment to see if an MTB would fit there.

Mountain biking is a relatively new sport. It took off in California and Colorado in the 70s and back then riders were retrofitting their cruisers with fatter wheels and better brakes so they could bomb down mountain roads. While it got its initial acclaim out west, there are plenty of spots near the city where you can get your singletrack fix. The sport might conjure images of your brother or roommate’s boyfriend, but plenty of women have proven that they’re up for the adventure (our group ride was almost half ladies).

We recommend 718’s shop rides for curious beginners as well as advanced riders new to the city or those looking for a community to ride with. The terrain at Allamuchy was surprisingly technical at first but accessible even to us novices (we had to hop off our bikes a few times when an uphill—or our nerves—got the best of us). The experts in the group looked like they were having fun shredding over and around rock gardens, logs and boulders.

The community rides generally take place at locations that are accessible by train and there are always bikes to borrow if you sign up beforehand. They’ll even send you the contact information of someone driving to the ride near you in case you want to carpool. So grab a helmet—the shop’s next ride is on December 19th.

For more adventure ideas (like how to start planning your first BIKEpacking trip), check out the rest of this week’s newsletter.