MTB Tip of the Week – Episode 5: GPS for Mountain Biking

This is Episode 5 in an ongoing series of videos we will be posting regularly to share our mountain biking tips and tricks with our subscribers.

Prior Episodes:


Episode 4: Maps for Mountain Biking

Episode 3: The LBS

Episode 2: 1X Drivetrain Bail Out

Episode 1: Cold Fingers Remedy


EPISODE 5: GPS Tips for Mountain Biking


Last week, I shared a great solution I have found to view where you are on a map with your mobile device, even when you don’t have a data connection.

Sometimes a phone just won’t do what you need it to do as well as a dedicated GPS will however.
My good friend Rick recently purchased a Garmin Etrex. He has used an android phone as well as a Spot Satellite Tracking device to map his routes and send updates to family and friends in the past, but the Garmin Etrex fills a role that other devices cannot.
He asked that I shared some basic tips and tricks for this device, which also applies to many other GPS devices.

Here are some of my tips for utilizing the Garmin Etrex for mountain biking, bikepacking, bicycle touring, or other activities where uploading, downloading, recording, and following routes/tracks are desired.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Let me know your experience with handheld GPS recievers, like the Garmin eTrex for cycling. If I can help you utilize it more effectively, or if you need any custom videos shot to demonstrate a particular way to utilize it, I would enjoy providing any assistance that could help in that area. Leave a comment below or send me an email at .

Thanks for your support! Now get outside and find some trails to ride!

– Nick


The Baja Divide

Lael and Nicholas are currently mapping out a 2000 mile off road route from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of the Baja California peninsula via the rural backcountry with 90% of the route planned to be unpaved.
Although the route won’t be finalized until the summer of 2016, many of us are already wondering what our schedules will be like during the inaugural send off in January of 2017.
It sure sounds like an awesome bikepacking adventure!

Read more about the route here:

The Ultimate Indoor Cycling Trainer

This week I saw this short video and just had to share it. I hope many of you are actually able to get outside for a ride this week, whether it is on dirt or snow, it will undoubtedly be better than riding the trainer or rollers inside…even if it is an awesome set of rollers like this!


DIY Bike Rack – How To

I watched this video on how to make your own bike rack with a fence-type wall to hide the bikes from the street. This design is from a guy who has lots of bikes, skateboards, and kids scooters, big wheels, and other outside kids toys, but he shows how to adapt it to all sorts of bicycles. He kept spots for helmets and other accessories as well, making all of it instantly go from a huge eye sore in the driveway, to all out of sight and hidden from the street/parking area.
I thought some of you would enjoy this and find it useful, especially those of you with lots of bikes and/or kid toys.  Enjoy!

Heard of Bike-Centennial?

How about the Adventure Cycling Association? They are celebrating their 40 year anniversary and have lots of events planned throughout the year and around the country!

Check it out!

MTB Tip of the Week – Episode 4: Maps for Mountain Biking

This is Episode 4 in an ongoing series of videos we will be posting regularly to share our mountain biking tips and tricks with our subscribers.

Prior Episodes:

Episode 3: The LBS

Episode 2: 1X Drivetrain Bail Out

Episode 1: Cold Fingers Remedy


EPISODE 4: Maps for Mountain Biking


This week, I thought I would share a great solution I have found to view where you are on a map with your mobile device, even when you don’t have a data connection.
With the free version of the PDF Maps app (the only one I have used or tested), you can download base maps while you have a data connection and then display them on your device when you are out for a ride. When having your GPS location enabled, you will be able to see where your location is within the map in real time. Not only that, but you can drop a pin (waypoint), give the pin a custom name, save it, and come back to it later. You can also record a track (line) as you ride. The line appears in the map and provides you with a distance and elevation measurement as well. Seeing your route displayed on a custom map is huge.
For example, here in San Diego, we have some riding locations that have new trails that have opened this year and others that have recently closed for habitat restoration. In many of these areas the trails are a labyrinth of segments looping back on one another with many junctions through thick chaparral and scrub oaks that make it very difficult to tell where you are in the landscape. If you have the city’s georeferenced PDF uploaded and displayed in the PDF Maps app, you would be able to see which trail you are on and when you come to a junction, you can see which direction to go and which to avoid. This could save many riders from having to backtrack for miles after finally realizing they had made a wrong turn a ways back.
The maps available in the PDF Maps Store seem to be pretty decent for the San Diego Area and there are plenty of free downloadable maps, such as the USGS Topo Quad maps and many of the City of San Diego’s Open Space Area trail maps. Don’t let the lack of free maps stop you however. Many of the downloadable maps in your area might cost a fee, but most are minimal at $0.99. You can search the PDF Maps Store by viewing and searching a map of your desired location. There is even a check box to display only free maps which is great to see what is first available without spending any money.
Another great option is to make your own georeferenced PDF to use in the app. You will need specific software to place your image on the earth’s coordinate system and export out a georeferenced PDF, but it makes the use of this app limited only to your imagination of what map you could make to bring with you I’m on your next ride. I have made these custom georeferenced PDFs for a few people and it has been exciting to hear how useful they were while out on a ride. One of the most requested types of maps is a satellite background with a route shown that they plan to follow. Sometimes they have used a friends previously ridden route, other times it is a recon mission to see if they can connect a route that they have drawn by studying different segments of trail. Those are the most basic maps and it doesn’t take me too long to make them. I can only imagine the value it has added for them while on the trail.

You can click the icon below to visit the PDF Maps Store, find what maps are currently available in your riding area, and read more about the app and how the vendor, Avenza describes how to use it.

Affiliate Button

(Note: There are many FREE maps in the PDF Maps Store, just add them to your cart and check out, you don’t have to enter any billing info at all if you are only buying the FREE maps, but you still have to click the BUY NOW, add them to your cart, and check out as if you were buying the maps. Its actually a very quick and easy process.)

Here is a quick video I made this week to quickly show me using the app to display my locstion on a few maps while I was out on a ride.

After filming the video above,  I had wanted to make a second video of the track I created, but figured that a screen shot of the custom, satellite background map showing my GPS track after riding around a little would be simpler and take up less of your time.

All of the downloadable maps I have made available for download on the Mappy Trails to You page of are georeferenced PDFs that can be downloaded and displayed in the PDF Maps app.

Let me know your experiences with this app, if I can help you utilize it more effectively, or if you need any custom georeferenced PDF maps made. Leave a comment below or send me an email at .

Thanks for your support! Now get outside and find some trails to ride!

– Nick

Are Plus Tires Too Fat?

Regarding durability and potential sidewall cuts, plus sized tires, by design, have wider sidewalls that allow for fewer possible line choices to pick than narrower tires would when navigating tight rocky singletrack. Its in these situations where precise tire placement may be preferred more than the increased traction, rollover, and compliance that a plus tire provides. The issue becomes when a plus tire either is so well reinforced that it is incredibly heavy or the tire is made so attractively lightweight that the sidewalls are too thin to depend upon in all trail sceanarios.

Price of course comes into play here and yet again we see a place for the bicycle industry to focus it’s efforts on achieving highest possible durability, with lowest possible weight, while providing it to the consumer at the lowest possible cost. As the saying goes, however, “Light, strong, and cheap: pick two.”

What are your thoughts?

When would Plus-sized tires be too fat?
For that matter, when are 3.0, Plus-sized tires too skinny?

When are 4.0, fatbike tires optimal? What about 4.8’s?

When are 2.2 or 2.4 width tires too skinny?
Can it be quantified? (E.g., for snow greater than 3 inches deep, a 3.0 tire is too skinny to be efficient enough, etc.)

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We would love to carry on a discussion for which tire size you would choose and which conditions you would prefer it.


MTB Tip of the Week – Episode 3: The LBS

This is Episode 3 in an ongoing series known as the MTB Tip of the Week.

Prior Episodes:

Episode 2: 1X Drivetrain Bail Out

Episode 1: Cold Fingers Remedy




The humble LBS.

Its also known as the Local Bike Shop.

Yes, my tip of the week is to visit your LBS. You may be asking, “Why is this a tip of the week?”.

Well, let me explain by first putting forth a few scenarios that I have witnessed, regarding riders and their LBS.

You may already visit your LBS weekly.

You may visit a variety of Local Bike Shops in your area and “not play favorites”.

You may be like many riders I know and shop wherever you get the best deal (including shipping of course) on the item you are looking for at the moment.

You may have a LBS that has great service, but only stock products that are not at all what you use. So you only visit when you need help getting it back into optimal riding condition.

You may have a LBS that has great inventory of products at great prices, but you would never let them touch your bike because of the horror stories you have heard of about their service department. So you only visit when you have a part that you want to replace or upgrade.

You may never visit the LBS in your area because shopping online is so convenient and you watch videos on how to fix your bike when you need service.

If you haven’t been to your area’s LBS, you are totally missing out.

Here is a quick minute and a half video of the LBS in my area of San Diego:

The humble LBS is a beacon in the fog of local retail shops for those of us who ride the local trails. They provide the products and services that only riders like us are interested in. Many shops have put in serious time, investment, and analysis of what products and setups work best and are most highly desired for the local trails, paths, roads, and climate in your area.
The owners, managers, and employees are well aware of the online shopping alternatives we all have access to and are usually willing to cut you a deal, price match, or do whatever it takes to ensure that you feel like you get a better deal from them. Just ask.
The LBS has riders that work there and know the local places to ride better than many. These employees are often the riders that you have said hello to on the trail. Have them put on a helmet if you have a hard time recognizing them. 🙂 Also, asking what bike they ride makes the connection between who they are and where you might have seen them on the trail. Strike up a conversation with any of them about any cycling discussion to find out what they are about. You will often find another rider that you may end up riding with every week for years. I can tell you from personal experience that I wish I would have talked to shop employees much sooner in my life.
If your area’s LBS doesn’t carry the products you want or need, let them know what those products are. They often will offer to special order them for you (a good majority of the products in a bicycle shop are ordered through the same distributors that all the other shops have access to). They will sell them to you at normal MSRP because they will not normally be aware of what other shops are selling those products for or they are not placing a large quantity order of that item. Have a genuine, honest, and open conversation with them about your wants and needs. They will probably work with you or even suggest another vendor that has those items.
There are many shops that have decided to focus primarily on a particular niche in one area or another within the bicycling world. For instance, there are shops in San Diego that focus primarily on triathlon cycling gear. This should not deter you from entering into the type of conversation I mentioned above about your cycling wants and needs, even if you are strictly a downhill racer. Chances are that they would love to know what other cyclists in the area are into or if they are potentially missing a part of the market that needs a good LBS that caters to their side of the sport. They very well may direct you to another shop, even one that you potentially didn’t know about.
Though you may be finding killer closeout deals online for some piece of gear that you could really use, seeing the items in person, especially those that need to fit well, is invaluable. Trust me. Anyone who has ordered shoes online, only to find that they didn’t fit right can attest to this. Its not only the fit however. By seeing, touching, and experiencing, in person, those items you will potentially buy, is more valuable than you may initially think. Sometimes you have to try the item out on the trail to find out however, which is why we try to provide our honest, and straightforward reviews here at Ride Alongside. There are some items that just plain fail, or need to be refined further, or are spectacular. Not only is it good to vote with your dollar as a consumer of those goods, but it is important to provide feedback to a Local Bike Shop to enable them to do so on a larger, wholesale bulk buy. This has a lot more power than you may realize. Sure, online reviews are good to some extent, but when you have a relationship with the manager at your LBS and they hear how great or awful a new product is that they are deciding to stock, they listen. It really can make the cycling industry better as a whole when you have a great relationship with your Local Bike Shop.
Those are the reasons why this is the Tip of the Week.
Thanks for reading all the way through this article, I really do appreciate it and could literally go on for quite a while longer about the value I have seen so far by developing a relationship with my LBS, but I will be learning more as time goes on and those relationships deepen, so a reminder and follow up article may be in our future, stay tuned.


UnBoost Your New Frame


With many new frames using the new BOOST 148mm standard, you may have recently purchased a new frame or found one under the Christmas tree that uses that new spacing. What could be a potential problem for you however, is trying to use your existing wheels with your new BOOST-spaced frame.
Well, there is now a MADE IN THE USA solution now for you to use your existing wheels with your new frame.
D.Fender is a company making a spacing kit that will convert the 148mm spacing to the more conventional 142mm.


You will need to space your disc brake appropriately, but this is a great step in the right direction for those of us who love the new frames available with the 148mm spacing, but also love our 142mm hubs that we already own.

Get your D.Fender UN-BOOST-SPACER-KIT  by clicking the link below.

This is Home

Many riders I know focus entirely too much on the bike they ride and/or where they ride it.
In the fantastic video below, Brett Rheeder said it better than I could say it myself, “We are all trying to accomplish the same thing in one way or another; regardless of where we live or what we ride. What I’ve learned is that you can over-analyze and complicate things all you want, but in the end, riding is fun no matter where you are.”

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