“Ever since the mountain bikers arrived, the freaky Goth people with vampire teeth don’t hang around much anymore.”
Thus starts my story in last Friday’s New York Times, which covered the trend of urban mountain biking. In cities from Philadelphia to Santa Fe, mountain biking is gaining momentum as a viable urban activity.
About 15 major metropolitan areas have legitimized mountain biking in urban parks or on municipal land, including Pittsburgh; Austin, Tex.; Louisville, Ky.; New York City; Minneapolis; Seattle; Tucson; Salt Lake City; suburban Los Angeles; and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Chris Bernhardt, a consultant with the International Mountain Bicycling Association, said the face of the sport is changing, with urban terrain receiving more attention than traditional wilderness trails in some areas.
“It’s great to take a weeklong bike trip to Moab or Colorado, but people want trails closer to home for riding on weekends or after work,” said Mr. Bernhardt, who works with bike clubs, park managers and municipalities in metropolitan areas to prepare plans and build trails.
The increasing desire to suit up, clip in and ride a mountain bike from home to nearby trails is prompting recreation managers to reassess a sport long outlawed in city parks.
Indeed, in Minneapolis it was the mayor, R. T. Rybak, an avid cyclist, and John Erwin, a former parks commissioner, who spurred development of the city’s first recognized urban singletrack. Mr. Rybak noted his desire for the city’s park board to work with local cyclists at a meeting in 2003.
Today, the Theodore Wirth Off-Road Cycling Trail, which had its grand opening in June 2005, includes 4.36 miles of twisting singletrack with jumps, stunts and banked turns.
See my full report in New York Times here: