Bringing People Together
Despite the worldwide scare of the Coronavirus pandemic, a unique gathering occurred amidst the Red Rock landscape on March 6-8, the Sedona Bike Fest attracted an inclusive conglomeration of mountain bike fanatics from around the continent to the beautiful landscape of Northern Arizona. Comprised of a mix of bike demos, tradeshow type product showcasing, peer to peer knowledge sharing, extensive access to amazing trails, and plenty of great food, beer, and music, the event offers a prime opportunity to spend a few days in a beautiful place with thousands of like-minded folks.
Shuttles to all the surrounding trails, live music, group rides, bunny hop and wheelie contests, along with many other activities help to create a uniquely inclusive vibe at the festival giving participants of all ages, interests and ability levels an opportunity to find something that suits their needs. Eager riders stormed bike brand vendors each morning after they patiently waited in line before the daily “running of the bro’s” as one vendor called it. If you’re in the market for a new bike, the Sedona Bike Fest offers a great opportunity to ride before you buy on some great trails in a beautiful place.
For 2020, the event has continued its growth trajectory, welcoming an estimated 4000+ riders from around the U.S. and surrounding countries. Riders were greeted with sunny weather and dry trails this year, making for a fun and predictable event unlike some years past. With a massive list of almost 100 exhibitors, demo bikes were plentiful which allowed attendees to try bikes from all the top manufacturers on some of the Southwest’s best trails while helping to give back to the local trail organizations.
Industry celebrities in attendance included riders from all genres Sam Schultz and Wade Simmons from Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Hannah Bergman from Transition Bikes, Richie Rude from Yeti Cycles/Cushcore, Jeff Lenowsky from REEB Cycles, Ryan Leech, Leigh Donovan, YouTube stars Syd and Macky, Seth’s Bike Hacks, and many others. The event offers a relaxed environment that allows riders of all ages and abilities the opportunity to enjoy some great trails with some wonderful personalities from around the bike world.
More than just Good Riding
A smattering of brands were onsite offering an array of services for festival attendees. The venue felt like Willy Wonka’s mountain bike emporium, where there were options and flavors for everyone’s palate including, having your suspension fork serviced by the mohawk man, himself, at Diaz Suspension Design, connecting with the Stan’s No Tubes crew to set up your tires with their liquid sealant, chillaxing with the friendly Patagonia Worn Wear division team, who offered repairs for that pesky hole in your favorite rain jacket. Don’t forget all this perusing is easily enjoyed with a frosty beverage from Ska Brewing Company in your hand and a break to catch the bunny hop competition with a gaggle of your newest friends.
Sure, the trails can be a big draw to come experience Sedona, but the Sedona MTB Festival takes the riding experience one step further and creates a communal energy reminiscent of the one that drew me into mountain biking in the first place. Of course, the trails are going to be busier during the festival. Such a significant influx of people in the magical land of vortices (many vortexes), will inevitably create an impact on the local trails, but smiling faces and the opportunity to take in the view while yielding to other trail users creates a new space to take in the amazing opportunity we have to be able to enjoy these niche gatherings.
If you do decide to come to the festival, be sure to take a moment, breath deep, and take in the special beauty that can be found on singletrack with your mountain bike on a trail in Sedona, Arizona. It’s not a race, a competition nor a popularity contest. There’s no right way to to do it and no wrong way to try. Yield to passing riders, hikers, and follow the rules of the road events like the Sedona MTB Festival put mountain bikers in the spotlight and an entitled mentality can create a lasting impact for the local riding community and possibly trail access.
With some of the most embraced trail momentum, Sedona offers an extensive trial network that meanders through the layered red rock topography surrounding the picturesque southwestern town. A recent boom in the interest in trails for mountain biking, hiking, and general exploring has created. Because of the Sedona areas richness in public lands, the town is ensconced in a plethora of trail offerings from mellow and flowy beginner trails to some of the most exposed and technical trails in the US Forest Service trail inventory. Though these trails have quickly become a vital community asset, they are the result of many years of hard work, tumultuous negotiations and community outreach.
As the event has grown it has helped to create immense visibility for the mountain bike community in Sedona and the economic value the well designed and managed trail network brings to the town of Sedona. Many years of tireless effort from the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition and other local advocates has helped to set the ground work for the growing support from the Red Rock Ranger District of the USFS, who not only have a full time trail crew but are also extremely involved in furthering local recreation and improving access for users of all types. Employees of the district graciously spent their weekend answering questions, directing riders, and connecting with visitors to share their knowledge of the area. You can donate here
If mountain biking is more than just the adrenaline released from whizzing through the desert with dirt beneath your wheels; but rather the connection of individuals, the natural world, and the enjoyment of play, then the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival should be at the top of your list for next season or at the very list making the pilgrimage to Sedona to enjoy the warm embrace of the vibrant red rock landscape. You can find more information here: http://sedonamtbfestival.com/
Photos by: Corie Spruill