The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
The West Virginia Mountain Bike Association’s (WVMBA) annual race series is one of the oldest of its kind in the nation, and has a legendary status among the mountain biking community.
The WVMBA has helped grow mountain biking during the past 30 years by introducing people to some of the East Coast’s best trails for mountain biking. Since then, elite-level riders like Matt Marcus, Gunnar Shogren, and Sue Haywood have honed their craft on the state’s wild trails, and now call West Virginia home.
The annual race series has about 25 races throughout the state from April to September. The races cover a wide spectrum of the many disciplines within mountain biking—kid races, short track races, traditional cross-country races, ultra-distance races and Enduro races. You have 3 categories to choose from in each race— Beginner, Sport, or Expert— and divisions based on age, sex, single-speed and clydesdale.
All of the races have great courses, but some in particular have gained a reputation as must-do races for mountain bikers in the Mid-Atlantic region. In fact, you might even call them a rite of passage.
Enduro races like the Big Bear Lake Enduro, Coopers Rock Benduro, Black Bear Enduro and Slatyfork Fat Tire Enduro are for the downhillers at heart. Think big rock drops, blasting through gnarly rock gardens and roots at top speed, big jumps, and even a few man-made kickers thrown into the mix. After climbing the hill at a leisurely pace to get to the start line, the real fun begins. Once it’s your turn, the timer starts and it’s full throttle all the way to the finish.
Some of WVMBA’s most beloved (and revered) races are ultras that combine the best trails of the area, and give racers a chance to really explore the region’s riding.
Races like the Big Bear Lake Ultra, Slatyfork Fat Tire 50 Ultra and Revenge of the Rattlesnake Ultra combine endurance with technical trail riding for some of the best mountain bike competition in the region. These races are usually around 40 miles long, and make for an unforgettable day. You can find all the typical West Virginia flavor of riding on these courses— from creek crossings to mile-long rock gardens to gnarly descents.
Finishing a WVMBA ultra is a remarkable achievement. To podium one is something you will never forget!
The WVMBA calendar usually includes a few mountain bike festivals, too, and the Canaan Mountain Bike Festival and the Slatyfork Fat Tire Weekend are 2 of the best. They pair races, music and free beer with a community of like-minded folks, which makes for one heck of a good time.Sometimes there are slideshows, guest speakers and demos, too.
Make new friends, have a fun weekend with a bunch of your riding buddies or bring out the family.
The Canaan Mountain Bike Festival is near both the outdoorsy town of Davis and the artsy town of Thomas, which makes it ideal for a mini-vacation, complete with great local restaurants, music venues and local breweries.
The Slatyfork Fat Tire Weekend is much more isolated, and is what you would think of as a traditional mountain bike party, with tent camping, keg beer, a bonfire, live music and good old-fashioned 2-wheel racing.
WVMBA adds new races and events to its calendar every year. If you love riding on 2 wheels in the woods, then you owe it to yourself to head out for a few of these local races. And don’t be surprised if you are hooked for life. You might even find yourself standing on the podium with a beer in hand next to a living legend!
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Originally written for West Virginia .