Good bike shops in area?
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Scott - DCSki Editor
August 14, 2004
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,137 posts
Hello,

Winter isn't here quite yet, so I've been thinking about buying a newer mountain bike. I currently have a front suspension Cannondale, and am considering stepping up to a full-suspension Cannondale all-mountain model such as the Jekyll. Since at this point I'm just in the "dreaming" stage (as opposed to the "actually financing" stage), I've been thinking about the Jekyll 3000, which is the high-end Jekyll with really good components (such as the Shimano XTR series). This is probably not the most popular Jekyll model, so I'm not sure it would be stocked by local bike shops. (Admittedly, it could be anywhere from a month to several years before I buy one -- I start to think about these types of purchases well in advance.)

I was wondering if folks have a favorite bike store in the Baltimore/D.C. area that carries the Cannondale line.

I bought my first mountain bike many years ago from a store in College Park, and quickly discovered that they hadn't assembled it properly. Definitely won't go there again. My next mountain bike was bought at Princeton Sports in Columbia, and they seem OK, although I haven't had a perfect track record with them (e.g., an improper ski boot fitting). Are there are any bike stores around here that you all swear by? If I do swing for a new bike such as the Jekyll, which might need to be special-ordered, I want to make sure the store would do a proper fitting, assembly, etc.

Any recommendations would be welcome.

And if anyone has comments on the Cannondale Jekyll line, I'd be interested in hearing those, too. I love my current Cannondale, and the Jekyll seems to be very well respected. Cannondale is a U.S. company right in our backyard, in southern PA. The "Lefty Max" shock seems a little awkward (not used to forks that only connect to one side of the wheel), but I guess that's not supposed to cause any issues. The product page is at:

http://www.cannondale.com/bikes/04/cusa/model-4VN3.html

Thanks!

- Scott
Packyderm1
August 14, 2004
Member since 11/8/1999 🔗
36 posts
Scott,

I'm not very familiar with mountain bikes, but I do enjoy them when I have an opportunity to ride them (that's pretty much the extent of my knowledge on mountain bikes).

You might find the following link helpful:

http://localdc.com/bicycleshops.htm

I bought a road bike last month from Spokes Etc. in Vienna and the experience was very positive. They at least have a good reputation from one of their competitors (the other store recommended Spokes Etc.)

If you are concerned about fit, Spokes can put you on a bike on a stationary trainer to help find a proper fit.

JC
JohnL
August 15, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
I have a related mountain bike question. Scott is in search of a high-end bike; I'm thinking of taking up the sport as an additional cross training activity for skiing. How low end of a bike can I get and have it be useful? I'd be using the bike mostly at local parks (I live real close to Wakefield), local day trips, with maybe the occasional trip to West Virginia. It would be for training/fun, not competition. (Though I do tend to explore limits.) I'm 6'1", 190 lbs, good athlete, if that matters in choosing a mountain bike.

I'm a gear hog for skiing, so I don't want to go overboard on mountain biking gear, especially if it turns out I don't have a lot of time to use it.

Thanks in advance.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 15, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Scott:

Roger at Blackwater bikes doesn't like the Cannondale line of MTBs, nor do the folks at Citybikes in Adams Morgan. He thinks that the Santa Cruz Blur is the way to go. It's more $, but it will save you in maintenance and hassle.

http://www.santacruzmtb.com/bicycles/blur.php

My favorite is the Trek Fuel 98.

JohnL:

Check out the Specialized Rockhopper:

http://www.specialized.com/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=6013&JServSessionIdroot=nh1uwr8vrp.j27005

Because I know you'll be iching for expert terrain very soon after taking up this sport, I'd suggest that you splurge for a more expensive x-country dual suspension, but if the budget won't allow it, go with the basic $450 Rockhopper. You will not be dissapointed.

PS Avoid Citybikes AKA "sell me a bike." Revolution cycles in Georgetown is the way to go. They are one of the only Trek certified dealers in the area--that ought to tell you something. My personal favorite is Blackwater Bikes in Davis, WV--of course! Roger does a lot of work with Sue Haywood of the Trek mountain bike team (who is competing in the Olympics right now). He's the one of the best in the business--well worth the drive.
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Scott - DCSki Editor
August 15, 2004
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,137 posts
Quote:

Scott:

Roger at Blackwater bikes doesn't like the Cannondale line of MTBs, nor do the folks at Citybikes in Adams Morgan. He thinks that the Santa Cruz Blur is the way to go. It's more $, but it will save you in maintenance and hassle.





John,

Have they said why they don't like the Cannondales? I've had a Cannondale MTB for many years and couldn't be happier with it. The Jekyll 3000 is outfitted with top-of-the-line components (such as Shimano XTR components) and has received many industry accolades. I've never heard of any maintenance problems with them, other than the normal maintenance your would perform on any bike. But this is a big investment, so I want to do my research. I should also point out that I'm not going to be putting enormous amounts of stress on the bike. You probably won't see me racing in a 24-hour race anytime soon and, sadly, I spend most of the year daydreaming about riding in Moab vs. actually riding in Moab.

I looked at Blackwater Bike's web site and they don't appear to be an authorized dealer of Cannondale bikes, although they do carry the Santa Cruz. I'm sure they wouldn't recommend a bike they don't carry over a bike that they do! But I'm probably being a bit cynical. I would be very interested in knowing if there are problems with the Cannondale Headshok system (besides the frame, this is really the only "original" part in the Jekyll 3000).

Thanks for the tips,

- Scott
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 16, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Scott:

I've seen Cannondales for sale in Blackwater Bikes so I think they do sell them, but I could be wrong.

The complaint with the Cannondale is with the unique single fork in the front. They may have worked out the kinks with the new 3000 series, so don't trust me on this issue.

Santa Cruz got very good reviews in Outside Magazine. It might be worth test driving the Blur. Also, have you tried the Trek Fuel 98? I ride a Fuel 90 Disk and love it--it's very sturdy and can take the hard terrain of the Davis area very well. My wife rides the Fuel 90 WSD (Women Specific Design) and also loves it. WSD is what pushed her into spending more money for the Trek when she bought it. Now, however, many companies offer WSD, so it's not as big of an issue.

The two crucial ingrediants in my opinion for an all terrain MTB is second generation dual, cross country suspension and hydraulic disk brakes. Those two features will give you the confidence and the technology to conquer steep terrain. Another crucial issue is fit. No matter how good a bike is, if it does not fit, don't buy it.

You might call Roger at Blackwater Bikes and pick his brain. He interacts a lot with Haywood and others on the Trek Team, so he's got some good insights. Also, Davis has some of the best MTB terrain in the region.
bawalker
August 16, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Depending on how far you are willing to go to get a Cannondale bike, a shop in Winchester, VA sells them. The shop is called Element Sports and they stick to very HIGH end sports gear for summer and winter sports. Think nothing but Burton snowboards and Cannondale/Trek bikes. It really does depend on if you want to drive down I-66/I-81N. for about 2 hours one way to get there.

They do have a good reputation among me and many others for having top of the line service with professional people who are extremely knowledgable. Check out their website (www.elementsport.com). If memory serves me correctly they are a certified Cannondale reseller/partner.
tgd
August 18, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
I have a Cannondale road bike I bought in 97 that I really like; however, the rap I've heard on Cannondale recently is related to their business problems. The company got into motorcycles in a big way a few years ago, and began designing and manufacturing alot of their own parts. This took their focus away from bikes, and word was their bicycle line suffered. Their business did too, and the company went bankrupt last year I believe. They took on a majority partner, and I think the original family owners were all booted out. I'm not sure if "bike" people are running the company anymore.

I too think a lot of Blackwater Bikes in Davis. Roger and JR are good people. Santa Cruz is a great - though expensive bike. I bought a Giant NRS1 DS mountain bike from them this summer. This is a lot of bike for the money - I saved $400 buying it at BWB over what Performance wanted for the same bike.

As for local bike shops, I'm in search of one myself. I've heard great things about the Bike Lane in Burke - but have not checked them out myself yet. I've used Spokes in Vienna for service but have become less thrilled with them over time. My advice is to avoid Performance in general - it's hit or miss there to find someone who really knows and loves bikes.

As for recommended entry level bikes - I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper hardtail back in 2000 when I first got into mountain biking. It's relatively light, good parts spec, and still a lot of fun to ride.
canaanman
August 20, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
358 posts
Oh wow... john, you said Blur. That bike gets me all excited inside. I'd kill, or atleast maim, for one of those bikes... they're so nice. I got the chance to ride one up there one time... its heaven on earth. The only thing better than a Santa Cruz is a Rocky Mountain.. and you can't get those around these parts (i tried for 3 months).

I'm riding a dual-suspension XC Kona right now... just got home a few days ago from a 3-day biking extravaganza in Canaan. I have some trail recommendations if anybody would like to hear them.
tgd
August 20, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Canaanman - I'd love to hear your trail suggestions. I'm up there every couple weeks during the summer, and have dabbled (more like dabbed) over at Timberline, CVSP, Camp 70 and the BW Canyon Rail Trail. I usually ride alone, so I've been reluctant to do more remote trails for fear of crashing (which happens frequently), breaking my neck (not yet), and laying out there in the woods for days and days until some other biker (or bear) finds my sorry self.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 20, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Canaanman:

It's been a while since we've seen a post from you. Welcome back. I ride a Trek Fuel 90 Disk--purchased two years ago from Revolution. It's a great bike--no real complaints, although Roger at Blackwater thinks it is over-engineered and therefore more prone to maintenance problems than Santa Cruz. Thus far, I haven't had too many major problems but I have not ridden it much this year either due to work related committments here in DC.:(

We'd love to hear some trail recommendations. I've done just about everything in Canaan Valley. I recently, however, tried something new: some Wildlife Refuge trails that can be found off of A Frame rd.

http://canaanvalley.fws.gov/CVNWR-trails.htm

It's a very remote area but beautiful with some amazing wildlife. If you are lucky enough to live in Old Timberline (which I am not), the refuge has a controversial back gate into this trail system from Old Timberline. It's controversial because only Wildlife Refuge Employees and Old Timberline Residents and Guests can use it.
canaanman
August 20, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
358 posts
Well, Canaan hosts one of the best trail systems in the mid-Atlantic.

Most people know about Canaan Loop Rd., which has termini at Blackwater Falls SP (near the Lodge), and at the top of Canaan Heights. But many do not have much knowledge of the trail system between Canaan Loop Rd. Plantation trail is a biking favorite, though a very difficult trail. It has ends on Rt. 32 just outside of Davis, and one on Canaan Loop Road, by Table Rock Overlook Trail.

Lindy Trail starts in the south on Canaan Loop Rd. and continues up to Plantation, crosses it, then followes Lindy Run back down to Canaan Loop Rd. on the north side, by Blackwater Falls. There are also many Fire Trails in the area.

Over by Douglas there are many good trails. You can take the rail grade down to Hendricks if you wish, it's a long ride, but beautiful. Or you can peddle up to the canyon rim. From here you can take Limerock Trail back down to the railroad grade (which is a very hard trail), or continue up to the Olson Fire Tower via road or Canyon Rim Trail.

Blackwater Falls SP has a few trails worth biking. Near Pendelton Lake is the Dobbin House Trail, an intermediate trail, that is both rooty and rocky. Impressive scenery though. The Allegheny Trail also runs through Blackwater Falls SP, so you can ride parts of that as well.

At Timberline, probably my favorite place to ride, due to its proximity to the cabin and good trails. If you're weak-lunged, you might as well just take the lift to the top. But if you aren't, get a map from the bike shop, head out Big Chainring trail (up Winterset), and take FS 80 up the backside. This has been regraveled, and you can drive most of the way up it... but I have a thing about earning all of my downhill. Follow the rockier part of FS 80 to it's intersection with Salamander (go left when you see the Dolly Sods signs). Ride up Salamander, its not as steep as it looks.

From the top of the mountain, you have a few choices. You can attempt the 24 Hours downhill, it begins by the Ski Patrol hut. You can always ride Salamander down... or you can head to the top of Off-The-Wall for my favorite way down. At the top of the Wall, go down it, take a left on the bike trail. This takes you under both lifts (where people will think you're crazy) then across (and at a point, somewhat down) Almost Heaven and Dew Drop. After Dew Drop, you'll connect w/ the 24 Hours of Canaan downhill... you can stay on the trail you're on, or take this. Not much of a difference.

Eventually you'll come to a grassy "horse road" and the trail will continue across this. Follow it. At the end of the trail, you come out on Big Chainring near FS 80. Ride back to Timberline. Another option, from the top, ride down Salamander to the bottom of Off-The-Wall. Then take the trails from there. These deposit you at Mid-Station, ride a little further, towards Lower Almost Heaven and take the sweet trail down to the base from there (you'll go through Pearly Glades).
tgd
August 20, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Thanks for the trail guide. How are conditions on the Timberline trail network these days? I went a couple days after the ATV race in June and all my favorites were a mess (Sidewinder, Salamander, Chain Ring). The guys at the bike shop didn't think they would even try to fix things since there is another ATV race scheduled for later this summer (I think this weekend or next). I read on iplayoutside; however, that the Timber Crit MTB race held a couple weeks ago at Timberline was great and that there was a new course, and a new downhill. I haven't had a chance to check things out since, and won't get up there until after the next ATV race - hopefully the ATVer's won't trash the new trails like the old ones.
canaanman
August 20, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
358 posts
Parts of the trails are destroyed... mainly parts of the 24 Hours course. It's a bummer, but you can't do anything about it now. I'm surprised to see bike trails overgrowing near the base... I guess nobody rides them anymore.

I thought Sidewinder was fine... I didn't see too much ATV destruction at all. There's a sweet trail at the bottom of OTW as well... appearantly somewhere over there is a big rock drop.
tgd
August 21, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
It's good to know that others enjoy the trails at Timberline. They are near my place and, up until the ATV race, they were my preferred place to ride for the last couple years. I hardly ever see anyone on them. It looked like the trails were in pretty good shape this year - I think someone worked on them to get them ready for the Tour of Canaan.

I usually ride about up Salamander to the "s" curve, then cut across the mountain on a trail that leads to Sidewinder (past Winterset I believe). I take that downhill to the horse trail that leads to the base of FS80. I've taken FS 80 up and across the backside and back onto Salamander. But with a little bit of hike-a-bike you can keep going straight into the Sods and wind up on the Valley View trail over the Timberline HOA. I just began exploring the jeep trail up there, but it looks like you can follow that all the way to FS75 and Bear Rocks.

I've also had a couple good rides over at CVSP. They have about 8.5 miles of trail designated for multi-use. By linking Back Hollow to Middle ridge to Club Run I can get a nice ride with a some fun singletrack, a couple tough technical climbs up Middle Ridge, and some varied terrain - open rolling meadow to deep woods. One bonus, these trails are not as muddy or rocky as most of the other trails in the area, and I have never seen anyone over there. Overall I probably rate the CVSP system as easy intermediate - however the climb back over Middle Ridge is long, steep, rooty, and always kicks my butt.

I'm curious about the trails you mentioned on the wildlife preserve. I've ridden out the back gate of Timberline - across the old bridge where you can ford the Blackwater in your SUV to enter Old Timberline. It appeared to me that the trails at the top of the hill near the parking area were off-limits to bicycles. Have they changed to designation? I'm really interested in checking out the biking trails you mention off A Frame road, but the only "legal" way I figured I could get there was off Route 93.
canaanman
August 21, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
358 posts
Actually, if you're up to it, and have access in Old Timberline, you can ride all the way to Davis (and back if you're crazy).

Park at the far end of Cabin Mountain Dr. (soon to be renamed Boulder something or other), And just start hiking up and out on the hill. Eventually you'll intersect what appear to be logging trails/roads, and these will funnel down towards a fork of the Blackwater (i think). From here a road leads east/northeast towards Rt. 93, wraps around the headwaters of a stream, continues back down onto some hunting property, and if you play the trails right, spits you out on the Camp 70 road into Davis. Total mileage (to Davis): 25-26. It's a fun ride though, starting on tough singletrack, opening to moderate double track, then some fast dirt road, followed by some more single/double track and gravel on the last leg into Davis.

And I think I understand where you're riding at Timberline... you take the cut-over from the bottom of Off-the-Wall to Mid-Station, which, if you peddle right, dumps you on an access road. Then you cross that access road and ride that trail for a bit, keep riding it after it muddies out, then take Sidewinder down (crossing a horse "road" that's grassy and it's got a sign, that says "Sidewinder")?
You ought to ride Sidewinder from the top, its a hoot. Hard to follow under the lifts, but the reaction from the senic chairlift riders is well worth it.
tgd
August 22, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Canaanman, thanks for the trail recommendations. I'm going to try out the refuge trails next time I'm up there. The ride to Davis and back sounds like a potential overnight camping trip - I can't recall whether they allow camping in the refuge though. There is a lot of CVI land back there too, and they do allow camping. CVI is doing a trail survey now, and are supposed to publish a trail map soon.

As for the downhill at Timberline - I need to get my courage up. As I've gotten older, I enjoy the climbs more than the descents - less chance of broken body parts. I think I'll give it a try this Fall though.

Hope to see you on the trail - I ride a Blue and Grey Giant NRS1 dualie.

Thanks again.
canaanman
August 22, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
358 posts
You've given me a good idea with your out-and-back camping idea. You could, in theory, run a shuttle, if you had a buddy/wife to run a short shuttle. You drive over to Camp 70 road, where you can camp along the Blackwater River, with a car full of equipment... assuring yourself a good spot. Then you catch a ride back to Timberline and the trail-head at the end of Cabin Mountain Dr. From there you hike-a-bike up to the trail, ride it over to your car on Camp 70 road... set-up camp for the evening, then the next day, ride back to Timberline, get cleaned-up, then go over and get your car/camping gear. Would make for a really fun overnight... and you'd be able to cruise into Davis or something for the brewery or Siriannis if you desired.

Sidewinder from the top of Timberline is nothing like you would expect it to be. Not nearly as steep, though very technical... it's got nothing on the 24 Hours downhill. Now that thing's a beast of a trail... I need to ride it more often. You can avoid the moonrocks section on the 24 hours trail by riding the upper part of Sidewinder, because it intersects the trail right below the rocky section. But I like Sidewinder more than the 24 Hours trail, its easier, you don't have to dismount as much, if at all, and its longer, which means more fun. I was shocked the last time I biked at Timberline... it was busy. I got down to the lodge... and people could see me descending (I kind of freerode from mid-station down Lower Almost Heaven, through the location of the old Half-pipe and to the lodge), and they were asking if I biked down from the top. "Yeah, and up it too." Several people told me I was crazy. I think they were envious.
TerpSKI
September 6, 2004
Member since 03/10/2004 🔗
167 posts
Scott: As far as bike shops go that carry Cannondale, I recommend the Bicycle Pro Shop in Georgetown (right next to Revolution Cycles). I bought my Cannondale F400 at Citybikes (because I live close-by), but it was on sale and I already knew what I wanted. The guys at Bike Pro Shop are much less high pressure on sales and the techs are good.

The techs are also good at Citybikes, but as far as product knowledge goes, I would lean toward Bike Pro Shop. (You also might get better deals swapping out equipment)

For Trek, I like Revolution, and they have a stores in Clarendon & Georgetown.

Love my Cannondale. They make really nice bikes and they are all still made in the USA (unlike Trek).
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