The Mountain Bike Cure: Exercise, Fresh Air and Fellowship

And there’s no need to dive in headfirst. Hannah Finchamp, a member of the 2020 U.S. Olympic mountain biking team, recommends starting slow and working up to more challenging trails.

“You don’t want to spend your whole ride afraid! Start with the fire roads and smoother trails; you can increase the difficulty as you feel comfortable.”

Finding places to ride near where you live is a good way to get into mountain biking. But once you’ve gotten a taste, it’s a great reason to travel. Moab, Utah, Crested Butte, Colo., and Whistler, Canada are beloved, highly-trafficked destinations for riders in North America. And where mountain bikers go, development follows — top biking destinations now have microbreweries, restaurants, hotels and, of course, bike shops for rentals and repairs.

“This year will be busier than normal, but it’s not going to affect the experience that much,” said Jared Fischer, the owner of Las Vegas Cyclery and Moab Cyclery and the founder of bike-tour company Escape Adventures. He predicts that national parks will be particularly slammed but “America is big enough to provide space for everyone.”

Here are some places for exploring the United States by mountain bike.

For Urban Biking and Beyond

Bentonville has embraced mountain biking as a major tourism draw, declaring itself “the mountain bike capital of the world” and offering hundreds of miles of trails through Northwest Arkansas. Oz Trails, which was founded in 2016, has information on the region’s trails plus tips for trip planning. In Bentonville proper, experience urban mountain biking on the Slaughter Pen Trails, or get the backcountry experience without the drive at the Coler Mountain Bike Preserve, a dedicated mountain bike preserve two miles west of downtown Bentonville.

for Ski Resort-Style Cycling

Whistler was one of the first ski resorts to build out biking infrastructure to increase their off-season business, but now they are far from alone. Mammoth in California’s Eastern Sierras, Aspen and Snowmass in Colorado, Timberline Creek in Oregon and Mountain Creek in New Jersey have all become mountain biking destinations. Spider Mountain in Burnet, Texas, adopted the ski-resort infrastructure when it opened in 2019, became the first lift-serviced, year-round bike park in the United States.

For Bike-packing

Utah is described in reverential terms among mountain-bike enthusiasts thanks to an extensive network of trails and the jaw-dropping scenery of Moab. Try your hand at bikepacking at the Aquarius Trail Hut System, a 190-mile route that was completed last fall and passes by Bryce Canyon National Park and through Red Canyon and Dixie National Forest. The route has five solar-powered huts that sleep up to 12 people and offer fire pits, stocked kitchens, showers and charging set-ups for electric bikes. Pricing depends on the amount of time you’d like to spend on the trail, the size of your group and if you’d like your trip to be self-guided or accompanied.

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