Have Mountain Bike, Will Travel

According to internal surveys, 67% of mountain bikers ride, in part, to explore new places. The desire to explore new mountain bike trails is what motivated us to start singletracks.com almost 14 years ago and it seems like we keep adding fresh singletrack to our trail wishlist every day!

We’ve also been surveying thousands of mountain bikers about their travel habits over the years and figured it was time to share some of the insights we’ve gleaned.

How many different mountain bike trail systems have you visited?

Well, if you’re like the average singletracks member you’ve ridden 5.5 distinct mountain bike trails so far. To put that number in perspective, there are a few singletracks members who have notched 150 trails or more – and most of them are still exploring! Of course the number of trails you’ve ridden is determined by a number of factors like access to a vehicle, the number of trails in your area, etc. and clearly not everyone is diligent about keeping their “My Trails” list on singletracks up to date. But still, most of us can do better than 5.5 trails.

Speaking of driving to the trailhead, 83% of singletracks members are willing to drive at least 25 miles to get to a killer mountain bike trail. For many folks, 50-100 miles seems to be about the distance they’re willing to drive to experience epic singletrack, though 13% of respondents are willing to travel 500 miles or more to shred. I know several riders whose rule of thumb is the drive time must be less than or equal to ride time on the trail which seems to work out pretty well. A few weeks ago Greg and I drove about 5 hours round trip to ride at the Five Points trail system but we were on the trail for more than 6 hours which made all the driving worthwhile!

Ok, so traveling 500 miles to ride a trail clearly isn’t going to be a day trip so we asked members where they typically stay for overnight bike trips. Forty percent (40%) preferred campgrounds which is smart: it’s economical PLUS you can often camp right at the trailhead (how’s that for a short commute?). Sadly, 33% responded that they never ride far enough from home to stay overnight – though we’re thinking that’ll change once they get hooked on mountain biking!

Of the remaining overnighters, 17% of folks reported staying in a cheap motel or at a friend’s house and only 12% opted for a hotel. It seems most mountain bikers would rather spend money on new bike toys than blow cash on a pricey hotel room. But for those who have the margin to spend big on bikes AND travel, a paid mountain bike tour is clearly the way to go.

According to our survey, 52% of the mountain bikers we polled have no desire to go on a guided mountain bike tour (for the purposes of this discussion we’re talking about organized, multi-day MTB tours). I can’t say I’m TOO surprised – most of the mountain bikers I know are fiercely independent and enjoy exploring on their own – but I suspect there may also be a bit of resentment at the high cost of such adventures. Still, almost as many riders (43%) said they’d be interested in going on a tour sometime, finances willing.

Of the roughly 5% of respondents who said they had been on such a tour, the vast majority said they had a great time (and we’re assuming they would do it again). Only 13% said the tour was a waste of money which isn’t a bad track record. (By the way, if you’re thinking about taking a big trip this summer, now is the time to book – things will start to fill up soon if they’re not already full. Here are some ideas.)

Ok, so where do you fall on the MTB-travel spectrum? Are you one of those who rides to explore but hasn’t left the state yet? If so, start planning your summer trip now by checking out our list of the best mountain bike trails and adding interesting trails to your wishlist!