A dirty word: Asphalt, on a mountain bike

OPINION – A “dirty” word: asphalt.  “Asphalt? On a mountain bike?” you ask.  Now, before someone shouts, “String him up!” let me point out that the mountain bike is the most versatile of bikes. It can do everything from the obvious burn down a trail, to the not-so-obvious run to the store.

Several times its been said, they don’t ride because they don’t have the time to load up the bike, drive to a trailhead, go for a ride, and drive home. While it is sad to miss out on the fantastic off-road trails in the area, it certainly shouldn’t mean a lifetime of hanging in a garage for your beloved bike.

Simply air up your tires nice and firm (the pressure ratings are printed right on the side of the tire), throw on your helmet, and go ride some pavement! It really can be fun. Heck, roadies do it all the time!  Bonus: The mountain bike gives you the option of jumping curbs, cutting through vacant lots, and riding down stairs (watch for traffic, thorns, and people)!

Bridge, undated | Photo courtesy of Jay Bartlett, St. George News
Bridge, undated | Photo courtesy of Jay Bartlett, St. George News

I also hear people say, “I ride road bikes because I can leave right out of my driveway and go for a spin.”  While that is true (I ride both road and mountain), they say it as if a mountain bike can’t be ridden on the road. Well that’s just silly — of course they can.  One thing to keep in mind though, if your roadie friends invite you on a road ride, don’t take your mountain bike. You will get spanked. It’s like pitting a pickup truck against a sports car.  If they’re not cool about it, turn the tables and invite them to take their road bikes out to some local singletrack.  You will kick butt!

Let’s talk about the paved multi-use pathways that wind around Washington County.  There are many of them now, with more to come.  That means most of you live fairly close to one or more of them, and that most of you live reasonably close to one or more of our fun and challenging dirt trails.

I personally enjoy long rides. So for instance, I will leave my house near Red Cliffs Mall and ride the Virgin River Trail (asphalt) out to Bloomington’s Navajo Drive trailhead, which has some brilliant dirt options for rides that suit beginners and experts alike. Ride a loop in the dirt, then head back home via the paved paths.  There are many options like this that add adventure and miles to a ride, not to mention beautiful scenery and access to drinking water on a hot day.

A nice thing about an out-and-back on the asphalt is the options for bailing if you get too tired.  Access to stores for food is another plus, as well as having someone in a car that can easily pick you up on the road, as opposed to the middle of the desert if you “bonk” (lose energy due to lack of nutrition).

Now, after more than twenty years of riding off-road, am I suggesting you ride only asphalt?  Absolutely not! In that case asphalt would be a dirty word. Few things bring more joy than boogying down a twisty, bumpy, rolling piece of dirt. But if you haven’t been on your bike in a while and need to get used to it again, don’t have time to get to the dirt, or you’re looking to change things up and add adventure to your rides, then asphalt is not a dirty word!  Now get out and ride your mountain bike — wherever that may be.

Jay Bartlett
Jay Bartlett

Written by Jay Bartlett  for St. George Health & Wellness Magazine and St. George News.

Bartlett is an avid mountain biker currently working as a mechanic and salesman at Bicycles Unlimited. He has extensive experience with all the local trails and is a wealth of information.


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  • JW November 22, 2014 at 10:53 am

    That’s why I love my mountain bike. I can go down the paived trails or take a detour if I want to go off trail and hike around a bit.

  • Herd November 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Paved trails are the best way to go to avoid getting run over by those jacked up drivers

  • Koolaid November 23, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Asphalt. Isn’t that what you say to blame someone else for an accident? “A***’s Fault?

  • mesaman November 23, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I’m glad to read some bikers actually use the paved trails and bike paths. There is still a group that loves to be seen on city streets showing off their spandex and pointy headed helmet.

    • Zonkerb December 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Ahhh you poor little thing your all upset because you don’t know how to ride a bicycle

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