And you don’t have to dive first. Hannah Finchamp, a member of the 2020 US Olympic mountain bike team, recommends starting slowly and tackling more challenging trails.
“I don’t want to be afraid of the whole vehicle! Start with the fire path and the smoother path. You can increase the difficulty to feel comfortable.”
Where to ride
Finding a place to ride near where you live is a good way to get into mountain biking. But once you taste it, that’s a big reason to travel. Moab, Utah, Crestet Butte, Colorado, and Whistler, Canada are beloved and trafficked destinations for North American riders. And wherever mountain bikers go, development continues. Today, top bike destinations include craft breweries, restaurants, hotels and, of course, bike shops for rental and repair.
“This year will be busier than usual, but it won’t affect the experience much,” said Jared Fischer, owner of Las Vegas Cycly and Moab Cycly and founder of bike tour company Escape Adventures. He predicts that national parks will be particularly criticized, but “America is big enough to provide space for everyone.”
Here are some places to explore America on a mountain bike.
Urban bikes and beyond
Bentonville has accepted mountain biking as a major tourist attraction, proclaiming it the “capital of mountain biking in the world” and offering hundreds of miles of trails through northwestern Arkansas. Founded in 2016, Oz Trails has information on trails in the area and travel planning tips. At home in Bentonville, experience urban mountain biking on the Slaughter Pen Trail or backcountry without a drive at Coller Mountain Bike Preserve, a dedicated mountain biking reserve two miles west of downtown Bentonville. You can do it.
For ski resort style cycling
California, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, Texas (really!)
Whistler was one of the first ski resorts to build a bike infrastructure to expand its off-season business, but it’s not the only one now. Mammoth in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California, Aspen and Snowmass in Colorado, Timberline Creek in Oregon, and Mountain Creek in New Jersey are all mountain bike destinations. Spider Mountain, Burnett, Texas, adopted ski resort infrastructure when it opened in 2019, making it the first year-round bike park with lift services in the United States.
For bike packing
Utah Aquarius Trail Hat System
Utah is described in pious terms among mountain bike enthusiasts, thanks to its extensive network of trails and the stunning scenery of Moab. Try bike packing on the Aquarius Trail Hat System, a 190-mile route that was completed last fall and passes through Bryce Canyon National Park and Red Canyon and Dixie National Forest. The route has five solar huts that can sleep up to 12 people, a fire pit, a fully equipped kitchen, showers and electric bike charging facilities. Prices vary depending on the time you want to spend on the trail, the size of the group, and whether you want to self-guide or accompany your trip.
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Mountain Bike Cure: Exercise, Fresh Air, Fellowship
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