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 can get very hot and very cold. There’s no secret here. However, the heat and the cold on the West is dry.
The East? It’s hot, cold and wet. Rain, snow, hail, etc. are a regular occurrence throughout the year and therefore trails are frequently wet and muddy.
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 mph. The vegetation is way less dense and the smooth DG that makes up most trails makes for a great, smooth, flowy ride.
On the East Coast? Average speeds rarely hit double digits. Rocks and roots make up more of the trail surface than dirt does and the thick trees and ferns make for a tight and twisty ride. Oh, and about 50% of rides turn into mudfests as the sky opens up so frequently.
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 or 5 thousand feet and climb to really skinny air around 8 or 9 thousand feet.
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, East Coast races often come down to pure bike skills and ability to recover after ridiculous 1-2 minute efforts.