BIKE PARK TRIP

Bike Park season is now fully underway. It seems almost every weekend a different park is opening its lifts to the bikers. It’s an exciting time of year for those adrenalin seeking, lift loving riders. Unfortunately it can be a bit of a painful time as our bodies try and adjust to the seemingly endless vertical descending. This past weekend I was able to head up to Whistler for my first day of the season in the park. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my hands we able to endure the entire day. Keeping your hands on your bike can become quite harder then you’d think towards the end of a day, and Ergon has found a way to almost alleviate that problem.

This will be my 12th season riding in the Whistler Bike Park, and I still enjoy any day of riding on that hill. I started back in the day with poor brakes and short travel. Before the trails were machined or buffed. I guided, coached, raced and pretty much lived in that park. Over the years the bikes evolved as technologies have increased. The common theme seemed to be finding ways of making the bikes safer and easier for the rider, so that the sport can reach new levels and attract new riders.

Rider’s personal goals for a day in a bike park seem to resemble that of basic survival. I’d like to think that I’ve figured out tricks and tips to help make the most of your day. But it still seems no matter how much training or riding you do prior to a day in the park, your hands will still fail you. Throughout all those years, as certain as taxes, your hands are never ready for the challenge.

For those that may not have experienced a weekend of park riding and think that downhillers are weak, there are a few forces at work to destroy your body. And that’s if you don’t crash! The amount of vertical you can ride in a day is hard to recreate at your local trails and your muscles take awhile to get used to the constant strain. Compound that with the never ending vibration of braking bumps. It seems no matter how well your forks are tuned, most of it transfers directly to your grips. There’s the constant pull of gravity keeping your body’s mass forward, weighting your hands. Finally toss in the “This isn’t the trail I thought it was” Death Grip and your hands are done.

We’ve all been there, your mind is so excited to be riding, the endorphins are flying through your system, but your palms are getting blisters and that little finger on the end just refuses to close. You almost have to peel your hands off the bars at the base and can barely hold the pint glass at lunch. After lunch the thought of your hands touching your handlebar makes you cry a little inside. A great day with great riding, friends and amazing trails, brought to an end by poor hand management.

In the past to help solve this problem you’d learn the trails. Find out the smoothest lines, learn areas where you could relax your hands or even take one off the bar and shake it out. You’d drop your heals to help keep the weight on your pedals and try to avoid that dreaded Death Grip. These little tricks throughout the day could translate into extra laps in the afternoon, delaying your bodies inevitable shut down. Much like how suspension and brake technologies have improved and allowed us to push our riding further, Ergon has found ways to extend our hand’s life and therefore the entire riding experience.

Ergon has spent so much time and effort in creating the most comfortable and supportive grips I’ve ever used. I have average sized hands and thanks to an active lifestyle, they have both suffered tendon, ligament and bone injuries. Over the winter or non-bike park months, I use the GA1-S for all my riding needs. Once the lifts start running I switch over to the GA1-L. I find the extra material around the grip, which gives it the larger diameter, really helps to cushion the small trail vibrations. Those deep lunges during Yoga class you curse kept the legs solid and my Ergon GA1’s keep my hand pain free and strong all day. It was one of the best starts to a season of down hilling I’ve ever had. I’m not a fan of training, so I’ve got to give Ergon a lot of credit for my amazing weekend of riding. For anyone planning a trip to a Bike Park, these grips are a definite must!

Words/Rider: Jonathan Duncan of NORCO
Photos: Cadeyrn Craig

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