Houston MTB Guide
Houston is a great city for mountain biking, despite the lack of mountains. This is a crash course in mountain biking in Houston, and having fun doing it. There is a lot of well maintained single track mtb trail around town. Once you venture out, there is even more but this should keep you busy for a year or two.
As with most sports there are barriers to entry, information is secreted, and information that is disseminated is done so in a way to lead the potential bike shopper to one conclude the other person’s opinion. Bike trails are mystical places referred to by nicknames and in code, not clearly mapped, and the maps that exist are hard to find.
It can be rented. Dont rush off and buy the bike someone wants to sell you. Go rent and ride Hard Tails, Full Suspension, 29ers, all make and models until you find what suits you. I like a hard tail 29er. That is just me. West End Bicycles rents bikes. I do not know about the others. I shop there cause it is a small owner run outfit, they are good mechanics and close to Memorial Park.
Bike Trail Lingo and Rules of the Road
1. RIDER – yell this if you are approaching a section you cannot see, are starting a climb or difficult area you will not be able to give way on.
2. RIDER UP – yell if you are beginning a climb. Climbing rider has right of way.
3. BACK – Yell number of riders behind you. Like “Two Back” or “Clear Back” so someone does nnot go around your and hit your buddy they could not see behind you.
4. CLEAR – Yell to mean you are gonna sit tight and let the other person on the other side of the blind drop in go first.
YIELD TO THE RIGHT – If you need to stop or get out of the way, get off the trail. There are really fast riders that will go 22 miles an hour on trails.
BE COURTEOUS! – We are all out having a good time. You will see that same folks at again and again.
And…I love Texas…Watch out for horses. Yell ahead, before you get close enough to be kicked. Wait on the rider. His horse weighs 1500 pounds more than your bike, and thinks you are a mountain lion.
Mountain Biking Commandments
1. HELMET – Always, always wear a helmet and eye protection. You are a slippery rock away from the ER. Never let your kid on a bike without a helmet. My son split a helmet IN HALF and was fine.
2. Make sure your bike is in good shape. Tire Pressure is a big deal, check it before you go. On most MTB tires, 35 lbs is minimum pressure. Proper pressure is listed on the side wall of tire.
3. Hydrate. That means drink at least 20 ounces of water for 45 minutes of exercise.
4. Carry a cell phone, and know someone who can come get you. Walking out is the pits. Trust me.
5. Ride with a buddy. If you do fall and get hurt it might be a while before you get help.
6. Do not ride the trails if they are muddy. A lot of volunteers work hard on them, and rutted trails erode fast. (if you see some dudes with axes and chainsaws, they are a trail work party, not hired by your wife to exact revenge. probably not.)
7. Join GHORBA. They have skills clinics, group rides, and are the dudes in the woods with chainsaws maintaining your trails.
8. No headphones, you will never hear the guy that runs into you coming. If you must, one ear only.
9. Ride Aware. The trails do not belong to bicyclists only, there are runners, walkers, horses, snakes, angry squirrels, weirdos chanting and play drums. I have seen some odd things.
10. Carry spare tube, tools, CO2 inflator or pump, snacks, just generally be prepared, and be willing to help someone who is not. Karma is real.
Trails – Where to Ride?
There are 3 great single track trail systems in Houston. Memorial Park, Terry Hersey Park, and Sugar Land. So as to demystify these for you, there are maps of each and some pointers to clarify.
Memorial Park Bike Trails
These are awesome and have stuff for skill levels from my 6 year old to things I get off and walk. They are refered to as Ho Chi Minh, Cambodia, and The Triangle. Ho Chi is for beginner to intermediate rider. Camboia is advanced, and The Triangle is expert.
Terry Hershey Park, The Anthills
There is only one part of all Terry Hershey that is really the Ant Hills. It is a small section that is used for Cyclocross between Eldridge and Dairy Ashford. All that lies between BW 8 and Hwy 6 is called Anthills on maps, but Google is wrong. Yes, there is a secret land of jumps and ramps. No I will not tell you where it is. Here is a map of the trails, so you do not have to spend a week wondering if you will get lost and be eaten by racoons.
This is a pdf, so click and it will open up. Lots of detail.
Sugar Land – Brindley Memorial Trails
These are some awesome trails suitable for begginers, but if you put your head down and push they are a real challenge when riden fast or at night. (with lights) All the maps I have seen are bad, so I took a bad one and drew on it. The Park is nice, all kinds of amenities. Pavillion, restrooms, there is also a dog park there. Snazzy.
15300 University Blvd
Sugar Land, Texas 77479