By Eva Potter
Get ready for an exciting season of mountain biking in the Enchanted Mountains. This year, fat tire junkies will be able to choose from over a half dozen organized events in a range of ability levels. Check out the list of events below or explore the seemingly endless miles of singletrack your own way.
A sports enthusiast’s mecca, Ellicottville has been named one of “America’s 100 Best Adventure Towns” by National Geographic.
“We have a really good draw from 3- to 4-hour radius of people who come here to ride. We get a lot of people from Toronto, Pittsburgh and Ohio,” said Dennis Baldwin, owner of the Ellicottville Bike Shop.
Ellicottville’s network of trails has been named an “epic” hotspot by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), a designation that is not easily earned. So, if you’re into tight, rocky, rooty and fun singletrack mountain biking, this is where it’s at.
Typically, the season runs from mid-April to mid-November, weather depending. This year the season began about a month earlier than usual.
Baldwin said, “We’ve had a really good start to the season. The trails have been super dry and we’ve been riding since about the end of March. We’re really lucky we have a lot of organized clubs and really well-built singletrack.”
Most mountain bike trails in the area are built on public lands – only Holiday Valley and HoliMont have private trails. Most trails are located in the state forest behind the two ski resorts and are for shared use.
“There is almost 6,000 acres of state-owned forest that butts up against the two ski resorts and that’s where 95 percent of the riding is,” said Baldwin.
While the singletrack trails on the rugged hills surrounding Ellicottville are not great for all levels, he said Allegany State Park does offer riding for any level on a variety of terrain. “There are some shorter sections of the trails that are good for families, but unless you’re in good shape some of the local singletrack is for intermediates and up,” he said.
Mountain bikers new to the area will be impressed by the quality and design of interconnecting trails, most of which were built by volunteers and members of Western New York Mountain Biking Association (WNYMBA).
Jon Sundquist, who is in charge of trails and advocacy for WNYMBA, has played an instrumental role in the development of the area’s shared-use trails. In 1997, Ellicottville had no real mountain biking trails, but through WNYMBA’s efforts and DEC approval, the organization was granted permission to build professionally designed, self-sustaining trails on public lands.
June 2 is National Trails Day and WNYMBA volunteers are planning to complete the Mesa Trail, which branches off the top of Eagle trail at Holiday Valley then traverses the flat hilltop.
“(Ellicottville’s) got world-class trails,” Lundquist said. “There’s definitely a couple days of riding (in the area).”
In accordance with Allegany State Park’s master plan, WNYMBA has approval to build over 10 miles of additional trails in the park over the next few years, which will keep fat tire fans coming back for more.
It’s time to inspect your bike, examine your helmet and buy some gloves. Then check out this season’s event schedule and start planning now to guarantee your place at the starting line!
- For those who like to run and mountain bike, the Dirty Duathlon held at Holiday Valley on June 10 will offer hardcore trail running and mountain biking in team competition format.
- June 13 marks the start of the 6-week Summer Mountain Bike Series at Holiday Valley with weekly cash payouts. Event organizer Mike Nenno said this summer series is a “fun training series for all levels of riders.”
- Test your endurance on a gnarly 10-mile, singletrack course at 6 Hours of Power on July 15 at Holiday Valley in the solo and two-person, tag-team race. How many laps can you do?
- The Ellicottville Bike Shop is planning the next Roots, Rocks n Ridges event later this summer or fall. Stay tuned for details.
- Fall Festival in Ellicottville is highlighted by the fun and relaxed annual mountain bike race on the trails of Holiday Valley Ski Resort on Oct. 4. Do up to four laps and see if you end up with an award.
- The Ellicottville Bike Shop is now organizing free shop rides that leave from the shop at 30 Washington St. every Monday at 6 p.m. sharp. Anyone who can ride at an intermediate level and up is welcome to join them. Just show up.
For more information on the events listed above, visit www.heartrateup.com, www.holidayvalley.com and www.ellicottvillebikeshop.com. Area trail maps are available at www.wnymba and can be purchased at area bike shops.