Sam Moffat grew up on the smell of chain oil and trail dust, spending his childhood riding Fernie’s vast network of biking trails.
He started working on bikes when he was 12 and now tinkers with them for a living as service manager at GearHub.
The sporting store is reporting its busiest spring for tune ups yet as mountain biking continues to grow in popularity.
“Normally we’re a one or two day turnaround but right now we’re a little bit backed up, booking a week in advance,” said Moffat.
“But we’ll be back to one and two day turnarounds soon.”
Moffat has shared his advice for people looking to get into the sport as mountain biking season gets underway.
Hardtail or full suspension?
A full suspension bike has rear suspension shock absorbers over the back wheel, as well as the front, while a hardtail only has one suspension fork.
According to Moffat, the right bike to buy depends on the rider.
“If you’re just riding around the river trails and stuff like that then a hardtail would be a better option because then you can be nice and efficient, and your shock won’t be taking up all your pedaling energy,” he said.
“But if you’re wanting to do the mountain bike trails, I would definitely suggest full suspension. “Nowadays with all the suspension technology, you can actually adjust the rear shock so that it’s stiffer on the way up and nice and soft on the way down, so you can get the most out of your pedal efficiency on the way up.”
Buying a used bike is the most affordable way to get into mountain biking, according to Moffat.
“To get a decent used one, somewhere around $1500 is the lowest you will find if you want a high performance bike,” he said.
“But it goes all the way up to $12,000. If you’re just getting into it, it would be a good thing to get used.”
People can pick up a secondhand bike at stores such as GearHub or at the annual Spring Bike Blitz, hosted by the Fernie Mountain Biking Club on Saturday.
Moffat recommends wearing a stiff-soled shoe for an easier ride.
“So that your foot doesn’t fold over the pedal, it gives you nice support… Obviously a helmet and gloves, and then a little backpack with some trailside tools like a multitool and a hand pump for if you get a flat tire,” he said.
There’s no need to keep your bike squeaky clean but regular check ups and a yearly full performance tune will help to keep it running smooth.
“It’s ok to let the dirt sit on it for a little while then once it’s been used a bit then you want to give it a good clean,” said Moffat.
“Use a little bit of water and soap, we have lots of products which are designed to wash the mud off but aren’t harsh on lubricants and grease, and stuff like that, so you can spray your whole bike, hose it off and most of the dust and dirt will come over, and leave all the lube and stuff on your chain.
“Then you just give it a wipe down and kind of floss between all the little nooks and crannies with a rag.”
GearHub will soon host monthly “meet your bike” nights for anyone interested in learning how to maintain their bike.
Hitting the trails
Moffat was hard pressed picking his favourite trail: “there are so many good ones”. But there was one that stood out for him and its name is Project 9.
“It’s kind of got a little bit of everything… just really cool features. There’s a rock slide where you can choose your own line and freeride through it,” he said.
“There’s lots of variables and it covers all the bases – high speed berms and technical single track.”
For beginners, Moffat recommends hitting the Ridgemont and Montane trails.
Some riders do spin classes to get into shape for mountain biking season, while Moffat prefers ski touring during winter. “But it always takes a couple of weeks to get back into pedaling for sure,” he said. “Spring time is good for that, just hitting the lower trails and warming up.”
On Saturday, GearHub will host a demo and garage sale day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Its No. 1 brand Rocky Mountain will have technicians on site as well as the 2018 line up of full suspension bikes for people to test drive.
“You will be able to talk to the guys about all the new technology and take out any of their models that you want to try out,” said Moffat.
“It helps people decide which model they prefer.”
Also on Saturday is FMBC’s Spring Bike Blitz, which will feature a bike swap, barbecue, scavenger hunt and the club’s annual general meeting. It will be held at Elks Hall on 1st Ave, with the bike sale running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.