There are a lot of differences between the East and West coasts: One has Starbucks while the other has Dunkin Donuts; one has poison ivy while the other has poison oak; one has outrageous gas prices, while the other… also has outrageous gas prices. We could spend all day comparing the two, but let’s focus on the differences that actually matter. Let’s focus on the mountain biking.
The West is hot. There’s no secret here. However, the heat on the West is dry and (usually) goes away once the sun goes down.
The East? It’s hot and wet. While thunderstorms and rain have been a regular occurrence, the humidity is always here to amplify the already unpleasant summer temperatures. On top of this, it doesn’t get much more comfortable when the sun goes down. Sleeping on a rubber air mattress in a van while the low for the day is 80 degrees with 100 percent humidity has almost been more difficult than racing the best mountain bikers North America has to offer.
When it comes to the trails of the two sides of America, think of the West as a freeways system, and the East as very rough side streets. Even on some of the most technical rides I’ve done around Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, the average speed will still be around 12-15. The vegetation is way less dense and the smooth DG that makes up most trails makes for a great, smooth, flowey ride.
On the East Coast? Average speeds rarely hit double digits. Rocks and roots make up more of the trail surface than the dirt, and the thick trees and ferns make for a tight and twisty ride. Oh, and about half my rides have turned into mudfests as the sky continues to open up on almost a daily basis.
Most of my favorite rides back home around Tahoe start with an hour or more of pure climbing. You usually start with skinny air around 4,000-5,000 feet and climb to really skinny air around 8,000-9,000 feet.
Here on the East Coast, the air is so thick with oxygen you feel like a superhero on every climb. Unfortunately, the biggest climbs usually only last about a minute before you’re descending through the rocks, roots, and vines again. Rather than a climbing competition, these East Coast races often come down to pure bike skills and ability to recover after ridiculous 1-2 minute efforts.
Trevor DeRuisé is a U-23 professional mountain bike racer, riding for Jet Lites and Specialized. He is also a nutrition expert and one of the owners of GetReal Nutrition. He is lives in Reno, Nev.