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While we haven’t seen an official press release from IMBA yet, this morning we spied on IMBA’s website the new 2014 ride centers! While we have a bone to pick about how the ride centers are chosen (specifically, many of the amazing destinations that are not on the list), there’s no doubt that all of the destinations that have made the list are more than worthy of a mountain bike vacation!

Silver-Level Additions

While Park City is still the only IMBA ride center that can boast the venerable gold-level designation, there were several destinations added at the silver level for 2014:

Bentonville, Arkansas

Photo: YetiPlease

Photo: YetiPlease

Bentonville, the home of Walmart’s global headquarters, is also home to a fantastic network of singletrack tucked away in the Ozark Mountains. Funded in part by the Sam Walton family, the local trail network contributes significantly the quality of life in the Bentonville area.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

IMG_0943-0

Photo: ckdake

Having received accolades on our Top 10 Destinations in North America list and our 10 Beer Towns with a Mountain Biking Problem list, it’s no secret here on Singletracks that the riding in Santa Fe is off the chain!

Silver Star Resort, British Columbia

Photo: skisilverstar.com

Photo: skisilverstar.com

Silver Star resort has built a reputation as a renowned downhill mountain bike park… which is no small feat in British Columbia with heavyweights like Whistler in the same province. Located in Vernon, this interior resort is guaranteed to deliver a mountain biking flavor all its own.

Teton Region: Jackson, Wyoming to Driggs, Idaho

Photo: Justin70

Photo: Justin70

While Jackson and Driggs are both fantastic destinations, this selection raises a serious question: how exactly do you define the area that a ride center encompasses? Some locations, like Silver Star, are a ski resort. Others, like Coldwater Mountain, are a singular trail system. Many “ride centers” are designated as a city, such as Tucson. But the “Teton Region?” Really? Heck, let’s just lump together any range of mountains across the Western United States, I’m sure we can meet the criteria for a ride center.

Confusion aside, we know this is a great place to ride mountain bikes, and that you should go there… just check out our Photo of the Day above from July 25th, taken in Jackson.

Tucson, Arizona

Photo: kirkastroth

Photo: kirkastroth

Tucson is a renowned winter mountain bike destination, with fantastic desert riding through massive saguaro cacti. However, according to a local I was chatting with at a recent race, they also have some great trails on a nearby mountain that are perfect for beating the mid-summer heat.

Bronze-Level Additions

The number of silver-level additions this year was quite surprising, since it seems that most destinations join the list at the bronze level and then move their way up. While bronze is the lowest of the three designations, don’t let that fool you: these destinations are all superb, each in its own way.

Chequamegon, Wisconsin

Photo: Scott Anderson

Photo: Scott Anderson

We’re a little unclear as to what constitutes “Chequamegon” for this selection. Is IMBA referring to the CAMBA (Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association) trail system? Or are they referencing the Chequamegon-Nicolet National forest as the region in question? One thing we do know: there is no town of “Chequamegon,” but there are hundreds of miles of gorgeous singletrack trails hidden deep beneath the canopy of this forest.

For more information on the CAMBA area, be sure to catch up on Jeff’s series on CAMBA from last fall.

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Photo: bpc8c8

Photo: bpc8c8

Let me be clear: I’m not ripping on any of these areas by questioning what, exactly, the area is, but Fayettville is located so close to Bentonville (30 miles by car) that the distinction between the two gets blurry… especially considering the 33-mile distance between Jackson and Driggs.

My recommendation? Plan to hit both Fayettville and Bentonville in one fell swoop.

Marquette, Michigan

Photo: goridemike

Photo: goridemike

It’s good to see some midwest locations getting the credit they deserve! Marquette has long been on my mountain bike vacations wishlist, and its selection as a ride center only verifies my longing to explore the deep UP north woods on my mountain bike.

Roaring Fork and Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Photo: Nick Ontiveros/Big Mountain Enduro

Photo: Nick Ontiveros/Big Mountain Enduro

While Aspen/Snowmass has rightfully earned a reputation as a fru fru mountain town, you still can’t deny the beauty of the surrounding mountains and the quality of the singletrack. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience racing there for the Big Mountain Enduro, and thanks to a quiet campsite, we were able to skip most of the fru fru, too.

Valley of the Sun, Phoenix-Scottsdale, Arizona

Photo: Projekt Roam

Photo: Projekt Roam

Picking the Phoenix metro area as a ride center is a pretty bold move, but there’s no question that the desert singletrack in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area is world-class. In fact, we highlighted Phoenix on our Top 10 Mountain Bike Cities list… but if you’re planning a mountain bike vacation there, you better enjoy interstate traffic and urban sprawl.

While the way some of the destinations are delineated by IMBA could lead to more than a little confusion, the Singletracks community can help you pick out the very best trails to ride when you go to visit these destinations for yourself!

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# Comments

  • delphinide

    Very interesting, and I agree with all of your statements. I would consider Albuquerque a ride center too, if Santa Fe is in the mix. I have seen some interesting work being done on trails in NW Arkansas, but having spent 15 years of my life living in Arkansas, and riding my heart out, no one talked of trails in Bentonville or Fayetteville. That is all new, and good for them. By the IMBA logic it makes me wonder why towns like Golden aren’t at least Bronze level, with several excellent trails you can ride from town, lots of bike shops, and culture. Weird. I think this list illustrates that IMBA is either evolving, or losing credibility. First it was Epics. Then Ride Centers. Then Flow trails. Maybe they need a new category?

    • mtbgreg1

      Here’s a breakdown of how a location becomes an IMBA ride center: https://www.imba.com/ride-centers/evaluation-overview
      And here’s even more information: https://www.imba.com/sites/default/files/IMBA%20Ride%20Center%20Evaluation%20Criteria%2019%20August%202011.pdf

      I think some of the things that keep places from applying include:
      -Having IMBA invite them to apply (what if some destinations don’t have IMBA-friendly trails?)
      -The detailed, time-consuming nature of the application process.
      -Most likely having to foot the bill to get IMBA to come check out their location (I believe since the last time I read this document, they changed it from a required visit to a highly recommended visit)
      -Having to repeat said process every 4 years

    • delphinide

      Ahhh…now it makes cents…I mean sense. Salida should start soliciting an application right now…you guys definitely fit the criteria

    • bravesdave

      Is there any good riding in the Salida area? LOL.

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