The Angry Singlespeeder: You’re Using the Word “Epic” Too Much

You only get three rides per year that qualify as epic. Which three are they?

The descent off Mt. St. Helens is more like bike surfing than bike riding.

Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.

EPIC | ‘epik | – noun – A long film, book or other work portraying heroic deeds and adventures or covering an extended period of time.

In the mountain biking world, Epic is a word that gets tossed around more than a Hackey Sack at a Phish concert. It’s used as carelessly as “dude”, “like”, “awesome” and if you live in Southern California, “gnarly”. But guess what? The weekly Thursday night ride you do with five of your friends is not epic. The three-foot drop you’ve been scared to ride your whole life, but cleaned it for the first time last week is not epic.

Epic is a word that must be used sparingly. It’s been so browbeaten that its usage is now being extended to inanimate objects like a new bike, a hydration pack, an overpriced pair riding shorts or some post-ride fish tacos.

So in order to preserve the sanctity of the word epic, there should be a new rule in the circles of mountain biking that you only get to use the word three times in a year. That’s right. Only three rides a year that you do can qualify as epic. So which three are they?

Lewis River Trail in Washington features some of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll ever see.

For me, this past week could have qualified as one giant extended epic episode, but one ride clearly stood out to me as a true epic. Four friends and I rode among the five greatest trails on the West Coast, and perhaps in the country. Day one was in Oakridge, Oregon, descending the famous and absolutely ripping Alpine Trail. Day two was Lewis River Trail in Washington, a punchy, flowy singletrack in deep forest that parallels the Lewis River and showcases some of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll ever see in your life.

One of may log bridges on Lower McKenzie Trail.

We hit the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon on day four and five, riding both the lower section and the upper section to Clear Lake out and back. From a quality of trail perspective, McKenzie River Trail is my top three all-time trails.

The flow on the lower 14-mile section of McKenzie is unparalleled, making a three-hour out-and-back ride feel like five minutes. The gently winding, loamy singletrack along the river lulls you into a hypnotic trance, and all the skills you’ve ever learned in your life take over while your mind goes to another dimension.

You’re like Jack Handey, thinking deep thoughts. You don’t even realize you’re riding your bike. If you’ve never been high before, but want to feel the experience without smoking, just ride the lower McKenzie and you’ll begin to understand.

Clear Lake at the top of McKenzie River Trail is a fun and technical four mile loop around the lake.

The upper 12-mile section is completely different, changing from hypnotic flow to sharp, jagged volcanic rock that’s challenging and technical. It’s a full body and mind workout. Don’t go down here or the razor-sharp rocks will make you look like you had a tussle with a wildcat.

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

Related Articles

NOTE: There are two ways to comment on our articles: Facebook or Wordpress. Facebook uses your real name and can be posted on your wall while Wordpress uses our login system. Feel free to use either one.

Facebook Comments:

Wordpress Comments:

  • the-one1 says:

    This story is epic!

  • Luis says:

    Not too concerned with vocabulary words, but those trails in those top pics sure look nice.

  • Don says:

    At least he followed his own rule by making sure this article was not epic.

    For the rest of us, epicosity is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Evan says:

    Epic is when something goes wrong and you have to spend the entire day or even several days getting yourself out of a big mess. To say you had an epic, is to say that you survived something that was intense and dangerous. Just like the definition states, an epic is something that is prolonged, like when that two hour ride turns into a nine hour survival-fest because you broke your chain 20 miles from the car and it’s 110° outside. That is an epic.

  • RoweVelo says:

    Perhaps you might be a little less angry if you didn’t judge your fellow rider. Be it time constraints, technical skill level, physical endurance or logistical feasibility, a lot of riders have EPIC experiences where you might be lead to publish another “This is how I see it and so should you” article.

  • EpicAndy says:

    The word “epic” was used 13 times in this article.

  • James says:

    Yes! Epic is a handful of times in a lifetime. It should be hard, unpredictable, and long. It should probably suck a little bit at the time too. That’s my idea of “Epic”. If yours is every ride, that’s damn cool too, come to think of it.

  • jaxprat says:

    A S S, spot on. May get to ride Plains of Abraham in Sept. Keeping my dirty, grimy arthritic fingers crossed. Thanks for whetting our appetites.

  • Johny says:

    I rode lewis river in 1990 on a old bridgestone, got stung in the ass by a bee and crashed. Let’s see if I got this right, my first mountain bike + beautiful scenery + wildlife encounter + pain = EPIC!

  • Johnny Got Dough says:

    My five year uses EPIC…. no one I know that really rides uses EPIC to describe any cycling event.

  • Gazmend says:

    Does the White Mountain ride qualify as epic?
    14000 + elevation , freezing rain / snow/ 65 miles on moon surface its probably the only epic ride in California that qualifies for it .
    Two times failed to reach summit due to weather closing at Barcroft station .
    I have heard epic used on a 13 mile ride many times and is a joke.

  • EP says:

    The word epic is overused in mountain biking, for sure. Can we blame Specialized?

  • Satch says:

    might have been a decent enough article if it didn’t get off on that vacuous ‘epic’ rant.

  • rob black says:

    The word “awesome” drives me over the edge. Half the dopes on the trail use it constantly and it’s on just about every commercial on TV.

  • professed says:

    Awsome dudes..sooo Epic! I love to exaggerate and overstate. I love America !

  • Albacore says:

    The height of that seatpost is EPIC!

  • Krash670 says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this topic. I’ve been telling my son this for the last 1.5 years. The over use of the word is actually why I let several magazine subscriptions expire. I’m no literary savant, but if your job is to write stories for a living you might want to pick up a thesaurus once in a while and pick a different word to express your thoughts. Now we just need to teach the general public that “alot” is not a single word, and that it is really two words: “a lot”.

  • Jeff O'Hara says:

    According to

    Epic means

    Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size
    or Heroic and impressive in quality.

    It may be relative, but to what, just yourself, only the best or what 90% o riders would say fit that description? Maybe 99% of riders.

    I would say If a ride surpasses the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size relative to what the vast majority of riders or has heroic and impressive in quality, then it qualifies. You can look at milage, but more so, elevation change and technical difficulty and duration for size ad scope. Hours away from safety, trials overcome, riding 30 miles with a broken seatpost or with your geared bike rigged to run SS, might qualify. Or some combination of the either.

    But you may think I am biased given the name of my blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




VISIT US AT and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.