If you have even been mountain biking for more than a week, you know what I am about to talk about. It’s the number one reason I get on the bike every chance I get…that perfect ride.

You hear golfers talk about that perfect shot that keeps them coming back for more abuse every time they hit the links. That one great shot lives in memories and stories only to be shadowed by the next great shot that the player longs for.

That perfect ride for mountain bikers will do the same thing. You will climb 7 miles feeling the worst you ever have in an attempt to get stronger for the perfect ride.

What is the perfect ride for me?

  • I never get tired…no matter how hard I push. It is what I like to call “one of those Superman days.” Your legs just seem to never give up. For some reason your entire body is just in sync and you feel like you could ride at your 100% pace for a week straight.
  • The traction is perfect. No washouts, no mud (if I can help it). Normally this happens a day after rain in GA, but NC trails tend to have a lot of this. Your tires just seem to be velcro’ed to the ground and nothing could go wrong.
  • The bike just feels flawless. The suspension is dialed, there is no creaking, I am incredibly comfortable…it is just me and the bike out in the mountains doing what we do best together.
  • The weather – the sun is out with a slight breeze, just cold enough that I don’t sweat too much but just warm enough that I am in shorts and a short sleeve jersey. It just seems to be one of those perfect clear days with just a couple of white fluffy clouds in the sky to break up the sun’s rays.
  • The trail – Big ups for big downs. NC riding at it’s best. Climb for what seems like forever to just blast down for the rest of the day.
  • On the downhills, I just get in a zone. It’s almost like blinders on a race horse or like a pitcher in baseball throwing the perfect game. You don’t even realize anyone else is out there…it seems like you know no limits when it comes to speed…every line is just hit perfectly for some odd reason and you don’t know why. Basically, everything just seems to click.
  • And last but not least…I left everything on the trail. There wasn’t one section that I would have ridden differently. Complete satisfaction with the ride.

Now…it is very rare that all of these elements come together, but when they do…it is the perfect ride. At every trail head you can hear stories about these rides and they seem to grow over the years until that next perfect ride comes along to replace the last.

Ingles Field Gap
The perfect ride is different for everyone, and that is one of the things that is so great about mountain biking. You can make the perfect ride whatever you want it to be, and sometimes you don’t even know what it is until you have experienced it for yourself. For some people it is during a race and for others it might be a trip out with the family. For me, it’s when I can’t seem to do any wrong on the bike on killer North Carolina single track. The last time I had a perfect ride was a day out at Bent Creek in Asheville, NC. I got done with a customer early and hit the trails to do my favorite loop…everything was perfect.

Share your comments below on what your perfect ride is…



BobbyHiggins March 28, 2008 - 8:33 am

I remember one day up at Bull Mountain a couple years ago. Instead of trying to go fast and keep the heart rate up I decided to just go slow. I checked out lots of the side roads/trails. Found a FS road off of 77A that had not been used for years. Trees were starting to grow in the middle of the road. I followed this up the mountain for maybe two miles and ended up in a large wildlife clearing. The road went on, but was there were lots of down trees. Saw a huge bob cat that day.

On a different day, Daniel and I stopped at the top of the rutted out section at Black Branch. It was early spring and the orange native azaleas were in bloom. It started raining lightly and felt really good. He and I both talk about that ride from time to time.

Lately I rode Yargo under a lunar eclipse. That was pretty cool.

Carebear March 28, 2008 - 7:58 am

Amen Cordell! So many rides that fit just right with the state of mind at the time!

One in particular stands out though and go figure, it’s a race. Carter’s Lake MTB Classic 2004. I had been struggling all year long in beginner to learn this racing thing and then BOOM, the perfect ride. Third place was the order of the day for me and it seemed so easy!

RegularJoe March 28, 2008 - 7:58 am

Totally agree about the state of mind thing.

For me, the physicality, fitness, challenge, etc… are all wonderful things but they are sort of a means to end, if that makes sense. When all those elements work well and combine with what happens chemically in the brain, it is the ultimate feeling of peace and happiness. Two emotions that are often all too fleeting…

CordellC March 28, 2008 - 7:58 am

While I agree all the things you mentioned are important in the perfect ride, I do believe a perfect ride for me is much more a state of mind than anything. A ride where I can just get away from the books, the classes, the deadlines, and all the other crap that happens and just be free for a couple of hours to enjoy myself, my bike, my friends, and nature, that’s a perfect ride to me.

Clearerphish March 28, 2008 - 7:57 am

I had a ride like that on the Pinhoti not long ago. Couldn’t stop smiling after. All I need is one of those a year, the rest can be as bad as they come, that one will keep me coming back.

rbyoung March 28, 2008 - 7:56 am

great job…

I had one of those great rides last Saturday…first time since last Fall really. Just a short hour long ride at The Beach…not even in the mountains.

Everything was dialed in….and it just seemed to be for no particular reason at all.

I wish I could find a way to access it online but I submitted a story to Fat Tire Times about a year or so ago that they published and it echoed some of these same types of things. It was simply about, “why we ride”.

anyway, great article and thanks for sharing….

Sadlebred March 28, 2008 - 7:54 am

I wrote this about 10 years ago after a ride with the fast guys. It was one of my best rides every. (Just a note that I now know my “asthma” attack was really EIVCD, which I would not get diagnosed with for another 3-4 years. I still suffer from it. If you’ve ever heard me have an attack, you know what it sounds like.)

Starting out on the ride, she feels stong, stronger than she has felt in a long time. Life is looking up; things are good. Twenty people are ready to start the ride. She and the other women lead out. Behind the two stonger women, she starts to draw on their power. They pull her along, with the guys following a safe distance behind. Her legs are beginning warm up; she isn’t getting dropped like she normally does. She is still close to the front, but two of the experts pass her. The group is at the first stopping point so that everyone can catch up.

Her legs are on fire; her lungs are open. She is not having an asthma attack for the first time in weeks. The first expert goes off, she follows. The second expert passes, she sticks to his wheel. Finally, he pulls away. Still behind her are all of the sport men, the expert women, and everyone else. Her bike begins to float, barely touching the ground. Suddenly, nothing seperates her and the bike–they truely become one. The new entity weaves in and out of the single track, bouncing off of the bermed corners onto the next one down the first hill and up the next. It eats up the ground at a record breaking pace. No one is in sight; the entity is left alone to float on air. It follows the curves of the roots and rocks, feeling nothing except freedom and the wind. There are no sounds, no stress, no worries. The world is hers to take. The feeling is unlike anything she has felt in a long time, a rush like no other. Suddenly, the trees disappear and the gravel road is beneath it. The spell is broken. The two experts are waiting for her at the road; everyone else trickles in. She smiles at the experts and they smile back. She turns around to see everyone else smiling at her. She can do it!

This is mountain biking!

This was my ride……

I CAN do it….

chocolate girl March 27, 2008 - 9:00 pm

The perfect ride usually turns out being whatever the lastest ride I just did. Each one seems to be better than the next. It’s all about the friends I am with and the laughs we have together while zippin around on the trails.

gsellis March 27, 2008 - 3:42 pm

It happened to me at Sunset Beach. But it was not on a bike.

I saw Shaun Thompson (world champ surfer in the 80’s) do a really late drop and make the section. So, easy! So I setup and a local drops in about 20 feet in front of me. Crank a quick turn and I am about 15′ behind him. He gets a standup barrel. As he kicks out, I shoot by him. It was about a 7′ Sunset insider and that is about as deep in a tube you can get. The guy who snaked me did not do it again. That was January of 86. I was out there for the Morey Boogie Pro Invitational at Pipe. The perfect ride. The insanely deep barrel of a lifetime and the ‘in your face’ if you thought your were deep ride.

Next year was when I got the most punishing over-the-falls wipeout at Pipe. Headached for an hour. Blew my leash off my leg (but my board popped up besides me.) Too late at Pipe with too much rail shoots you back up. Then it feels like being in the middle of a Rolling Thunder drop from a B-52.

RedRocker March 27, 2008 - 10:07 am

That reminds me of a few days at Tanasi. Just flowy trail and that climb out of River View Loop isn’t as long as it usually seems. Then it’s on to Quartz Bypass.
Down TRE to beers at the bottom by the Ocoee.

burtonrider250 March 27, 2008 - 8:35 am

Flow baby, it’s all about flow!!!

milliron March 27, 2008 - 6:37 am

Perfect ride is when I’m not the last one to the top!


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