I've been something of a mountain biking hermit since (re)discovering the sport last summer: I ride solo on the same 8-10 miles of single track out my back door once or twice a week. I ride mainly for fun and for fitness, but I know I'd get even more out of the sport by riding with others and checking out some new trails. Some of the organized mountain biking events taking place in the Saratoga region and Adirondacks over the next few months may give me the opportunity to expand my horizons a bit.
Saratoga Mountain Bike Association's Mix Up the Dirt Festival on June 9 is free and open to the public. SMBA's trail system will be open for members and non-members alike to check out. There will be group rides for all ability levels, demonstrations, vendor displays, a barbecue, and a free raffle.
The HRRT “Hot August Nights” Race Series in Schenectady's Central Park is a 4-race series every Tuesday night in August at 6pm. The course, described as a "combo of flats, twisty singletrack (under the trees) and skinnies," is marked with white squares with black arrows and can be pre-ridden anytime. The race prizes caught my attention: "Beer and prizes will randomly distributed among all racers." Free beer is always indicative of an excellent event, and the mid-week timing fits well into my schedule. I've never done a mountain bike race before and fully expect to get my butt kicked.
The Wilmington-Whiteface Bike Fest, June 14-17, is an opportunity to check out the rapidly expanding mountain bike trail network around Wilmington, including the Flume Trail System, Hardy Road Trail System and other trails built and maintained by the Barkeater Trails Alliance. On Sunday, hundreds of riders (not me) are expected to compete in the second annual Wilmington/Whiteface 100k (WW100), held in conjunction with the festival. Other festival events include a "Fun not Fear" mountain bike instruction for beginners, "Brainless not Chainless Gravity Ride" and BikeFest Beach Party, demos, and other races and activities.
The legendary Black Fly Challenge, a 40-mile race across the Moose River Plains from Inlet to Indian Lake, will be held on June 9. The Black Fly is more of a commitment than I'm willing to sign up for at this point, but challenging, one-of-a-kind races have always appealed to me, so I'm keeping it on the radar screen for the future. Here's one rider's account from last year's race.
Close to home, Blue Sky Bicycles in Saratoga has weekly group rides on the SMBA trails every Thursday night at 6pm. Elevate Cycles, also in Saratoga, has several free mountain bike skills nights at the Saratoga Spa State Park warming hut. Check both shops' websites for additional information.
There's also lift-served mountain biking at Gore and one-day mountain bike skills camps ($59, includes lunch) for beginner and intermediate riders on June 30, August 4 and September 15. If you're considering traveling to North Creek and Gore by train, keep in mind that the Saratoga North Creek Railway transports baggage - including bicycles - for free.