Sushi, Surfing and Mountain Biking - Surprisingly Similar
From the memoirs of a local female rider: “There is something so therapeutic/spiritual about being in the woods … the smells, views .... better than church in my humble opinion. And then the people .... so chilled and relaxed. Egos are left at the door ... nobody's counting grams or carbs ... just enjoying the ride. And even though it's social, I enjoy the solitude and space you get on the trail … it's your ride … and then you fasties graciously wait for me at the turns. Favorite trail? Tough one ... love them all for different reasons. Also I have met some of the coolest girls mountain biking ... no competition, just fun.”
As you begin reading this article, prepare yourself for an exotic adventure from the lush Allegany Mountains to the shining sea and up to the giant white pines in the Tunungant hills.
Mountain biking is not just a sport - it’s a lifestyle, it’s a sub culture, a symbol of what people love that goes beyond the bike or the trails, but right to the pulse of how they live. The sport of surfing is similar in that first you get the board, then you’re free to paddle out and ride the waves of the ocean. The people are chill, a little hippie dippy, and the environment is important to them since their sport depends on keeping the land healthy. After that it’s about something greater than the individual. It’s the mystery of the ocean and the mountains - the power of being so present in order to not fall or wipe out - that allows the surfer and rider to be really awake and alive in the present moment. You really cannot go on autopilot, simply because you are the pilot, and that’s a beautiful place to be - the pilot in charge of your ride whether that be on your bike or on your board.
THE TRAILS: YOU’RE TICKET TO ADVENTURE
In and around Ellicottville, NY there are a number of trails for mountain biking; if you’re at Holiday Valley, stay off the golf course – please, or try the trails at HoliMont. Wear a helmet, bring water, bring a friend or a cell phone. The WNYMBA map is the best tool in terms of directions, and if you are a beginner, Holiday Valley might not be the best place to start. It’s uphill from the get-go and geared more towards the intermediate to advanced rider. The best place for a beginner … Allegany State Park in Salamanca, NY - nice rolling hills, dirt or grass trails and room to move without catching a log on the side of single track. In total there are about 8 miles of trails, which incidentally are cross-country trails by winter, mountain biking trails by spring and summer. If you want to introduce someone to the sport, this is a great location to plant the seed to enjoy biking in the mountains!
If you want to take your girlfriend or boyfriend out for a ride that’s more challenging than Allegany State Park, but not as demanding as Holiday Valley or HoliMont, try Golden Hill. These trails are tight and twisty with some steep climbs … and not rocky by any means. If you are an avid rider, go ahead and explore the 1,000 acres of New York State forest with 35-40 miles worth of trail.
Bike rentals in Ellicottville are available at The Inn at Holiday Valley and Tamarack Club for $15 half day and $25 full day, or at Gear UP at HoliMont (pricing depends on the type of bike.)
Mountain bike trails are similar to sushi rolls you order in a restaurant. If you have never had sushi, you will want to start with a beginner roll - something like the California roll is basic rice, cooked crab, avocado, and carrot wrapped in seaweed. The beginner roll is equivalent to Allegany State Park now. More advanced trails are proposed for 2013. For more information go to www.wnymba.com
For your intermediate sushi roll, you can order a rainbow roll - a California roll with a vibrant school of fish wrapped around it. The intermediate ride, similar to a rainbow roll, includes McCarty Hill, which has more rocks than Golden Hill, and includes such trails as Big Merlin, Sidewinder, Rim, Dead Dog and Porcupine Trail. HoliMont trails are more of an access point to other trails and are better defined as intermediate to advanced, with good uphill climbs and some ditches to ride through. If you want a more advanced sushi experience (advanced riding) - you can try Nigiri and Sashimi. Nigiri is two pieces of raw fish on top of rice pads; Sashimi is plain raw fish that is more expensive and advanced. Holiday Valley and HoliMont are compared to Nigiri. Rock City is more technical with an abundance of rocks as the name implies, meaning definitely more of a Sashimi raw fish and adventurous experience.
DIP INTO BRADFORD, PA
You can find great riding beyond the New York border if you head down into Bradford, Pa. You’ll discover the same stellar surf attitude at the local downtown shop, “Just Riding Along.” Ironically enough, the trails exist in the Tuna Valley. Tuna can really be served so many ways, which lends itself easily to the sushi metaphor. To be historically clear, the proper pronunciation of the Valley is “Tunungant” and is called “The Tuna” by the locals. Within the historic valley you have your Town Trails and the Marilla Trail system. To learn more about the level of difficulty for the Tuna Valley trails, stop by and visit Bradford local and owner of “Just Riding Along” Bike shop, Pete Dzirkalis. He is passionate about biking and the area he caters to. Pete does not serve sushi, but he will give you honest, smart, everyday information about how to enjoy the bicycling lifestyle served up any way you like it - whether it be commuter, cruiser, mountain biker or roadie!