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!
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, 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.
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 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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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