I have; both of them.
What were they like?
They both had their own feel, their own personality as such, and the sensation was very distinct, but I must say I enjoyed the experience.
One was distinctly harder than the other, it’s curves tighter and sharper, it’s surface coarse and less soft to the touch. A number of its more salient protrusions sent my hands and head cascading giddily. The propensity of its tiny bumps would normally deter me, but are something one must tolerate in the pursuit of pleasure.
The other, despite its proximity, was far smoother and provoked an entirely different response. Its soft, flowing contours guided my hands and the rest of my body around its entirety and at times caused a feeling of weightlessness – as if I were floating on air.
That said, both set my heart racing, sped up my pulse and left me with a dry mouth. They both left me weak at the knees and slightly out of breath.
Fred and Man Boobs are both mountain bike trails in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. The trails lie fairly close to each other and can be ridden consecutively after climbing on this famous trail network.
Man Boobs is a fun, flowy trail with a decent gradient, berms and small jumps which encourage the rider to let go of the breaks and enjoy the chance to get some air.
Fred, on the other hand, is a more technical trail with small rocks and tree roots and is also known for a few short climbs which lead to some reasonably steep and short rock rolls which set the heart racing.
I almost fell on Man Boobs. Not from an errant rock or obtrusive tree root, but from surprise. As I rounded a corner and looked ahead to negotiate the trail, I glimpsed its eponymous artwork. Halfway up a tree, a manikin with a garish wig and lacy bra strapped around the chest caused such a distraction that it nearly threw me off my bike. Luckily I stayed on and managed to negotiate and enjoy the rest of the trail and make it to Fred, where the trail became flatter but also more tight and technical.
The two trails were as distinctive as their names and it made me wonder, how do mountain bike trails get their names?
Essentially, mountain bike trails are named by their builder. You build it, you name it.
The names of mountain bike trails, therefore, tell us something about mountain bikers.
Trails attract names like Toads of the Short Forest, Handsaw and Gretel, Butthead, A Reptile Dysfunction, Sleeps 3, which provide some insight into the mindset of the average mountain biker.
Many trial names carry a back story, but the average rider knows nothing of that story as they set off on trails like Misty Mushroom, Curse of the Were-rabbit, The Ducks Guts and Wine Shanty, while riders descending Dirty Little Secrets must surely have their curiosity piqued.
Some trail names are informative, and carry words like loop, creek, hill or link. Some examples, like those in Adelaide, South Australia, include Uprising, a climbing trail connecting riders to a downhill trail, or Blue Luge, an intermediate trail whose lower half boasts long sweeping turns which hug the banks of the small creek and are enormous fun to ride. One of the world’s most famous trails is Top of the World in Whistler, Canada. No prizes for guessing that this massive trail starts on the top of a mountain and descends to the Whistler resort area.
Mountain bikers have a peculiar sense of humour.
The trails of south Nowra, in NSW, Australia, are managed by the local organisation called South Coast United Mountainbikers – proud to be known as SCUM. Another trail in the Nowra region is called How Roo’d, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a kangaroo on these trails. Meanwhile, close to Man Boobs and Fred, riders can start on Tinder and finish with Your Mum – how rude indeed.
Mountain bikers are mad.
Many trails suggest impending doom. Names like Certain Death, Widow Maker, Verge of Ruin, Rock and Roll Suicide, Treachery and Tombstone, reflect the inherent danger of this extreme sport.
Ultimately, mountain bike trail names reveal their fun-loving irreverence of the average mountain biker, and while I don’t know why a couple of Squamish locals called a trail Fred, I do know that a fellow local has a serious obsession with man boobs.
Images: Simon Blake