This could be a fun one. I’m really interested.
For me it was following a lifestyle change in 2017. @Mattcasey303 and I had a few too many beer/garlic fingers and ended up decideing the next day we would buy mountain bikes from kijiji and go out and ride them the next day. Of course nothing went the way we planned and Matt spent a half hour trailside after the first hill sampling some garlic fingers for the second time. 7 kilometers of green trail and we were hooked.
Oooo, fun thread idea.
I’m an old man, about to turn 46, which represents my 30th year of mountain biking. I actually started when I was 15, but the bike I bought that year only lasted for one offroad ride. It was a Raleigh and it was made of high tensile steel. The fork bent and then snapped on the first ride. When I turned 16, I started working in a kitchen and earned enough money to buy my first real mountain bike, a 1989 Nishiki Barbarian. Fully rigid, I think it had 15 speeds (triple chain ring) with cantilever brakes, 1.9" tires and a full cromo frame with some XT components. I think I bought it at Sportwheels for $400. It had a sweet blue black fade on it.
Two of my best buddies in high school also bought bikes in grade 11 and we started doing the XC races around here Jimmy’s Roundtop, Martock, Wentworth, Dollar Lake. Our entire lives revolved around bikes. We skipped school to ride Jimmy’s which was behind the old Sir John A.
Other than a few years when I moved to Saint John, NB for work after university when I worked 100+ hours a week, never rode and got fat, I’ve been a mountain biker pretty much since that summer.
Agreed, fun thread. I always had a bike when I was a kid, but when I was 12 (around 1992), I got my first mountain bike. At the time, my brother got his first job as a mechanic at Slickrock, over in the Woodlawn mall. I got a Tech Projectile, a fully rigid steel beast. But, it kept getting upgrades from parts laying around my brothers’ basement workshop, or from the bike shop. It’s hard to remember now, but I think it had XT derailleurs, and definitely had XTR brakes. I wasn’t riding anything crazy. Mostly dirt roads, where Portland estates is now, or the power line behind Dartmouth crossing, or just around the city. But, it got me hooked. Found this picture last year, circa 1993.
When I was 11 or 12 years old in '94 I think, I needed to get to the store to buy candy. I just got my new CCM Excel “mountain bike” from Crappy Tire. I started biking to the store at about 6km away. That was a lot for me at 12 years old. I then started biking to Griffins General Store in Mt Uniacke, and school too. Some of these trips involved biking through the old Uniacke Mines. Eventually, Sherry Huybers convinced my mother(they were coworkers back then) to drag me to Martock for a race. I entered and came last and just kept at it for many years. My first real mountain bike was a 1996 or '97 Diamondbank Topanga SE.
Back then we rode Wrandees, Jacks Lake, Shearwater, and where all the apartment buildings in Clayton Park are now.
Racing the Diamondback Topanga SE in St Margarets Bay in some year way back then.
Always rode bikes as a kid- remember those late 70’s early 80’s bikes with the plastic gas tank, dual crowns and big coil shocks in the back meant to look like dirt bikes of the time? Yeah, my friends and I used to build jumps and launch ourselves. Growing up in the middle of nowhere there wasn’t a lot to do so we amused ourselves being idiots and getting hurt.
For those of you too young to remember-
I kind of fell off the wagon in my teens and got into other stuff. While at University I got back on the wagon for commuting around St. John’s, then stopped again for 5 or 6 years. Finally decided I was going to get back at it and bought a Kona hardtail at Cyclesmith in 2006, in 2007 had a kid and no time for riding until about 3 or 4 years later. Busted out that hardtail and the trail guide that they had given me when I bought it and talked my friend into joining me on a borrowed rigid while we explored Whopper, Fight, Evil Birch and others- that was it, I was hooked again. Every chance we could we got out and pretty soon it was obvious that a bike upgrade was in order- scored a not too old Kona full sus and rode more and more.
Now the garage is full of bikes and I can’t get enough… time is still my main limitation with 2 kids keeping me busy but now my son is into it a bit too and we ride together sometimes. Riding behind him down the trails at Keppoch was amazing… such a cool feeling. At 46 I feel like I kind of missed out on lots of years of good riding but hopefully I can make up for it over the next decade or more. Then I’ll switch to an e-bike if I can’t do it completely under my power any more.
I always had bikes as a kid, but picked up skateboarding when it got big in the 80’s, at some point a friend or 2 had bikes and were bashing around in the woods one of them was @TuffRider brother. They just seemed to be finding so much more stuff to have fun on because it didn’t have to be paved… I got my first “real” mountain bike in 1987 I think. I was 12 or 13. A Schwinn Woodlands like this one:
We started riding more and exploring further away, I remember getting lost in early spring at Spider Lake on this bike. I got home wet and cold and had to use a hairdrier on the cold setting to try and get the feeling back into my feet. I was hooked, started riding more and foolishly upgrading that hunk of junk but I loved it and all that wrenching on my own bike lead to my first real job fixing bikes in a bike shop in maybe 1989. Did some racing in the 90’s. I Took a break from MTB for a few years and rode mostly BMX then did lots of city commuting and some touring but have been back on the MTB solid since 2010. Bicycles have been my mode of personal transport since this bike, I’ve never had a Driver’s License.
Like most of you, my youth was spent on two wheels, BMX, because mountain bikes did not yet exist, not in Cape Breton anyway.
Mid teens I started hanging with the wrong crowd (roadies) until the summer of '87, that’s when my life got back on track.
I was on a ski race training trip to Tignes, France and we went for a MTB ride as cross training. Amazingly, someone has made of Strava segment of where I remember going. (https://www.strava.com/segments/1950681) What I do remember like it was yesterday, a gruelling climb, followed by an extremely fast descent as my rear brake cable broke in the first minute of starting down, followed by what was most likely the most spectacular crash of my life. By the time I got back to the village I was missing half a tooth, had bitten several holes in my tongue and lip, had significant dirt road rash, a smile from ear to ear that I couldn’t erase and a beer in my hand despite being 16.
I came back from that trip hell bent on getting a mountain bike, which I did the next spring. I also convinced my best bud of the day to buy one at the same time, 32 years later we still get out for a few rides together.
Some definite slow years in there and one year I didn’t ride at all, luckily the last few years it’s been trending in the right direction.
I agree with everyone. This is a great thread.
In 2001 my brother was killed in a road riding accident near the MacDonald Bridge on the Halifax side
At the time I was not a rider but when we were packing Corey’s stuff up one of his bikes caught my eye and I thought it would be great to have that piece of him. I had no idea how or where to ride. I had some rough days but found that pedaling a bike was a great escape. I know it sounds crazy but I could feel my brother there with me. Started on the crusher dust at Shubie. Went up the power lines, across the highway and up into the old Burnside Trails. This is where I fell in love with mountain biking. I remember standing on the trail many time saying “there isn’t a human being alive who could ride a bike on this trail”. A month later we were cleaning it from end to end I loved those trails. They were of like your first girlfriend. There have been many afterward but you still always remember that first one in the best way
My buddies are all riders and my wife and I hold hands and ride most weekends in the summer
I love me some mountain biking
Man, I miss Corey, Kirk. He and I had some great rides. I think of him often.
It’s a shame the three of us never got to get out.
I grew up riding bikes in St. Margarets Bay, back then it was only way to get around to see friends. I would bike to Hubbards to go to school on the old rail bed now Rails to Trails. Back then when you NEEDED a MTB to ride on it. When I got older I spent more time on dirt bikes hitting all the trails in the bay. In my 20’s I moved into Clayton Park so city life took over. When I finally was able to buy a house and move back to the bay my wife and I decided to get bikes and use the Rails to Trails more because our property borders it. I had money saved up to buy a dirt bike again but after some thinking I thought maybe it would be better to find a nice MTB and get more exercise while on the trails. So I’m new to MTB even though I’ve been on bikes my whole life. Having a good quality bike is a WORLD of difference from the Canadian Tire specials I grew up on. More in common with the dirt bikes I rode than the bicycles I was used to. I’m now hooked on it after climbing some hills and doing a few descents. In the process of gearing a hitch up so I can really take advantage of the trails around the Halifax area. Not to mention this site has been a wealth of information and from what I’ve seen there’s a really healthy MTB community on the east coast.
@brightwhite Thanks Jeff. One of my biggest regrets is that he and I never got to ride together…man it’s getting dusty in here…
Everyone has such great stories. What a great thread
I was huge into BMX for my entire childhood-teen years and switched over to MTB in 2000 when the freeride thing started taking off. I was more about stunts, jumps and stuff more than actual riding at that time, riding was just a means to get to the fun stuff.
Its was all about wrandees when the stunts were there, Fight trail back then had a lot of that stuff too, whopper, etc. I did my first race in 2001 I think as kind of a joke on my Kona Roast, 8 hrs of gore, I was mega hungover, and did terrible, but it was kinda fun.
I sorta slacked off for a few years when I got big into car racing, as that progressed and our we kept making the car faster and I got faster, I started having issues with fitness levels during long hot races, so decided to get back into cycling to improve fitness to help in the car.
Then as I started down that path, it took over a bit and I got into trying to get fast on the bike, racing everything, XC, CX, bit of road. I don’t race as much now, so I ride more for fun.
My first memory of a “mountain bike” was my parents getting me a blue 20in 5sp when I was around 7-8. We converted it to a 10sp by welding on a granny ring and installing a front derailleur/shifter. I eventually progressed to a CCM 18sp, then a 21sp. All this time I was more into BMX/Dirt Jumping anyway, with the occasional ride through some local ATV trails and in Keji in the summer.
The second milestone was when I was around 15-16 and my parents agreed to pay half of a new bike. I got a 2000 Norco Saquatch. Definitely my first “real” mountain bike. I raced with that bike for a couple summers (around 2001-2002 I guess). I remember racing Truro, Martock, Kentville, Berwick, Hillsborough NB, Poley Mountain, probably other places.
I then got into other hobbies and a career, moved to HRM in 2004. I didn’t do much biking for a long time. I still kept my bikes and even got a dirt jumper (2003 Kona Stuff).
Then in the summer of 2014, my wife and I went to Alberta to visit some friends. While they went shopping for wedding dresses, I went to a bike park for the day (COP in Calgary). I rented a proper downhill bike and had my first experience with lift access riding, and dual suspension. My mind was blown. The following week I got myself a full suspension frame off pinkbike and swapped the frame on my dirt jumper. Around the same time I started getting into the local scene in HRM and eventually got myself a trail bike, much better suited for the trails around here.
Today, I have two kids (ages 4 and 1) and my wife is working on a master’s degree, so I don’t have a ton of free time, but I try to get out as much as possible!
First bike I really remember riding was an old rigid red and white norco Bush Pilot with a bent front brake boss and friction thumb shifters that was handed down from my older brothers. That thing was a freedom machine! Rode it everywhere, to the lake, the quarry, tennis and basketball courts and faraway friends houses. Always took the paths through the woods, trying to get some air off every little root or rock. We would prop up wooden boards we scrounged from construction sides to make ramps in the nearby parking lot and have “big air contests”. My friends older brother was into mountain biking and we would go into the woods on “real mountain bike trails”-mainly dry creek beds from what I recall-sadly those woods are now subdivisions. On rainy days we would read his old Mountain Bike Action magazines.
I upgraded it as best I could from the bargain parts bin at the LBS- barends, new grips, tires pedals and brakes (I could never get those cantis to align right).
Eventually, I scraped up my allowance money and paper route money and went splits with my parents on my first new bike-a pearlescent White norco Kokanee with multicoloured paint splatter. I had a blast on that thing-until gut-wrethchingly it was stolen while I was swimming. That was the longest walk home of my life-scared shitless of what my parents would do to me, and checking all the Tim Hortons cups along the ditch to see if I could win a new bike. So it was back to the trusty bush pilot…
Wow, my old brain is getting taxed to remember some of the details. I moved to Falmouth the summer before grade 9,(1985), I could see Martock out my bedroom window. I rode dirt bikes then. I think it was 1986 or 87 I had a CCM road bike to cruise around on, and I decided to see if I could ride up and down Martock. I did that a few times before I killed a rear wheel. Coming down Martock on 27" slicks with crappy centerpull brakes and drop bars was “interesting”.
I ended up buying a “mountain bike” from sportwheels. Don’t remember the brand, but it had plastic brake levers and shifters, I think it was 10 speed. It weighed a ton.
Then I moved to Banff to Ski for a couple seasons, and picked up my first real MTB, a TECH Elite. Butted cromoly frame, full Shimano Deore DX group. 21 speed.
Moved back to NS to go back to school, Then took off for BC, ended up spending about 10 years in Whistler working night shifts, being a ski/snowboard bum in the winter, riding, climbing and skateboarding in the summer.
Moved back to NS to go back to school again in 2001. Drove across the country with 3 bikes, a surfboard, a couple pairs of skis and a couple snowboards and everything else I owned in/on a Geo metro. Met Jeff, Adam, Chris etc. the originators of ECMTB at Martock when they were setting up the first freeride stuff there.
Not that I’m old or anything, but when I grew up in the 70s, mountain bikes didn’t exist. I had a banana seat bike with ape hanger handlebars.
Once I got my driver’s license, put the bike away. When I went away to university, I noticed people were using bikes to commute to and from campus, and I thought that was way better than walking, so I claimed my brother’s 10-speed drop handlebar road bike that he wasn’t using and started to use that and got to enjoy biking, and started to do road rides for fun.
Around the mid-80s I started to see these weird flat handlebar, fat-tire bikes around, and heard they were mountain bikes. Didn’t realize that you could ride trails with them.
In the 90s I saw more and more people on mountain bikes, and thought they would be fun, but as a poor way-too-long-in-university student, couldn’t afford one.
In 1998, after I got my first job after university, I thought I would finally buy a mountain bike. 1998 Norco Serengeti steel hardtail. Not too badly equipped - Alivio/Deore components and a Rockshox Jett 65mm travel fork. Linear pull rim brakes of course. Still sitting in the basement. Not ridden too much these days.
I asked the guys at Sportwheels where I bought it where people rode. They said a lot of people rode at Wrandees, but it was a little rough. Went there for my first ride, my idyllic picture of mountain biking being leisurely rides through sunny rolling meadows. Lasted 20 minutes in Wrandees - 10 minutes (mostly walking) in and 10 minutes (mostly walking) out.
Decided I needed to find easier trails, and got Tossed Salad’s trail book. Started working on easier trails and went from there.
I have been on a bit of a hiatus for biking this past year, but still follow the site, and liking the stories. Hoping to get back onto the scene this summer. My story starts in PEI, first bike was about 7 years old, bmx style, no clue what brand, just remember it was silver, it had coaster brakes, and it gave me freedom to travel in my rural community. About age 10, I adopted my older brothers road bike, a Norco Monterey, got some miles in, but then would take the skinnies over the roots and through the mud when I got to the riverside trail about 5km from our house. After seeing my bro’s new (rigid) Rockhopper MTB back in 93 or 94, I saved up after a summer of mowing lawns and got that ridiculously heavy CCM Ice with that “mega oversized” downtube that I thought was pretty cool at the time. Looking back, what made them think that was an appealing feature and why did we agree with them?.. I would also use the bike to make the 10km journey to Kensington to get a movie rental in the good ol’ VCR days… Arrived in Halifax for university in 2000, one of the residence leaders there let me borrow his Nishiki(?) full suspension a few times, and made my way to the trails I heard about (Fight and Whopper) and fell in love with the trails. Never seen granite before then. The following year I got my own bike, but student loans only afforded me a “Arashi Matrix” from Sportchek, think it was only 200$. Snapped the chain in the first week getting around campus, but eventually got more miles on it than I do with my current ride. I eventually graduated to a hardtail “AMC Incline” with a Rockshox Judy fork, and then onto my first real FS Kona when I graduated. Been riding a Trance for the last few years.
Speaking of @tossedsalad’s trail book, here’s the 2010 edition … Halifax MTB Trails Guide.pdf
I think the first one I had was the 2nd edition in 1996. Spent many hours studying every map and trail description in it. I still have a tattered and torn hard copy. It was that trail guide that got me hooked on mountain biking.
I had ridden bikes my whole life growing up in Cape Breton, mostly of the CCM variety, which was awesome in its own way. But when I moved to Halifax after university I bought a copy of that trail guide and my mind was blown. An actual MTB scene! With real trails! In a book by some local bike dude! His stoke rubbed off on me, through those pages.
I got away from riding for about 10 years while my kids were young. Still had the itch to ride and did a lot of daydreaming about it, but just didn’t have the free time to make it happen on a regular basis. In 2014 though I decided it was me time again. Bought my first full suspension, discovered ECMTB (PedalTrout at the time), showed up for my first group ride on a freezing cold night in February 2014 at Spider Lake and loved every minute of it. And it’s just been one great ride after another since then.
This is a great thread.
Looking back, I feel like I arrived late to the mountain biking scene after reading these responses. Growing up, my first bike, a Crappy-Tire full suspension Supercycle, was funded by mowing lawns. We had plenty of goat-pathes to ride in my area, but no real trails. Biking faded once I moved to PEI for college, and then off to Alberta to work for many years.
It wasn’t until I moved to Halifax in 2010 that I started biking again. It started off as a bike purchase to use for commuting instead of paying for monthly bus passes, but then transitioned into exploring some of the trails that Halifax had to offer; Whopper and Shubie Park mainly.
I moved to Markham, Ontario for a couple of years in 2013, which is where the bug really set in. I purchased my current bike, a Marin Palisades 29 hardtail, and really enjoyed the the mountian bike scene in the area. Many trips were made to the Durham Forest region in Uxbridge, as well as a trip to Horseshoe Resort near Barrie. It was in the Durham Forest, which offered many kms of double-track and fast, flowy single-track where I discovered how awesome mountain biking was.
I moved back to Nova Scotia around 2015 only to wonder if I would find similar mountain biking to what I found in Ontario. I was introduced to the ECMTB group after making a trip to Sport Wheels, and have managed to make it out for a few weekly rides. There are many trails I have yet to explore that are on the to-do list.
I was always on a bike as a kid, usually playing on jumps made out of scraps of wood, or making stunts or short trails in the woods around home. When I was 14 or 15 and riding around Fall River, I bumped into the ‘Fall River freeside boys’ aka Nick Vail, Matt Gillis, Cody Morris, Corey Pinhey and Luke Heffler. I started riding with them and learning a ton, all while riding my crummy Raleigh full-suspension. Eventually I got my first real bike when one of their buddies decided to get out of biking, a 2002 Norco One25. That bike got modified significantly, I believe that was when I was first diagnosed with Upgrade-itus, which I still ‘suffer’ from to this day.
At some point in there I discovered the original ECMTB, which is probably around the same time I started riding at Whopper. Met some of the guys who had built a lot of the original trails at Whopper, and was introduced to Shawshank and the beginnings of Flipside (I believe it had a much different name at the time). I was trying my best to keep up with people who were much faster and way more skilled than me, always at the back of the pack, sucking wind, trying to not get left behind. It certainly helped and motivated me to progress and I really don’t think I’d be the rider that I am today without it.
Like many, there was a point where my bike sat on the back burner and didn’t see much, if any use, but I never sold it. I would have had my 2004 Norco Atomik at the time. After a while I got back into using the bike again, and really getting into trail riding. I’ve been completely hooked ever since and I don’t see that changing any time soon, if ever.