Want to try mountain biking? Here’s your chance

With spectacular wooded trails and challenging rocky terrain, mountain biking is the perfect way to take a ride on the wild side.

“It’s the only type of fitness I’ve tried that doesn’t feel like exercise,” said Pete Hitzeman, Miami Valley Mountain Bike Association race director. “I’ve tried a lot of sports, and I can honestly say that this one is for everybody.”

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If mountain biking is your passion, you’re not alone. An estimated 43.1 million Americans annually participate in more than 2.7 billion outings, according to the most recent Outdoor Recreation Participation Report conducted by the Outdoor Foundation.

Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, the Miami Valley has miles of mountain biking trails to explore. The MetroParks Mountain Biking Area (MoMBA) at Huffman MetroPark and John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs have more than 21 combined miles of trails for riders of all ages and ability levels. And if you’re anything like Hitzeman, your first ride will not be your last.

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“When I found out MoMBA was just a couple of miles from my doorstep, I knew I had to go,” he said. “I bought a cheap bike on Craigslist and went out. I was terrible, but I was hooked.”

Recent renovations to MoMBA have made the MetroParks facility accessible to a wide variety of riders. The nine-plus miles of trails include areas for everyone from toddlers on balance bikes to adrenaline-fueled riders who can scale the nearly vertical rock at the entrance of the Talon trail.

Those who get bitten by the mountain biking bug can join other like-minded adventure seekers in the Miami Valley Mountain Bike Association (MVMBA), a nonprofit educational association designed to create, enhance and preserve great trail experiences for mountain bikers in the Miami Valley. The association strives to create a bicycle-friendly community through cycling awareness, safety advocacy and promotion of bicycling for fun and fitness. They sponsor a variety of special events and races throughout the year.

“And all of the events are between cheap and free,” Hitzeman said.

If you’re not sure if you are ready to make the investment just yet, the MetroParks upcoming Try Mountain Biking event is free, including the use of a bike.

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Tot Track (beginner) — Designed specifically for balance bikes, this trail provides future mountain bikers an opportunity to ride on a natural surface that rolls and flows just like traditional single-track trails.

Hilltop Flow Trail (beginner) — This flowing trail, designed for all levels of riders, includes optional progressions to work on the skills needed to ride more difficult trails.

Twisted (beginner) — The next level in the progression for new riders ready to move from the wide open tread of Hilltop Flow to the single-track style of the rest of the trails.

Voodoo (beginner) — The least technical and the flattest of the trails makes it great for beginners. The optional jump, just outbound of Five Points Junction, is a great opportunity for more advanced riders on their way to Hawk's Lair.

Mr. Zig Zag (intermediate) — One of two true closed loops at MoMBA and one of the coolest ways to ride a mile and end up where you started.

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Creekside (intermediate) — The longest intermediate trail, it has five creek crossings, two large bridges and many intermediate climbs. New features include a couple of berms designed to allow greater speed through turns.

Upper & Lower Stealth (intermediate) — Upper Stealth is a roller coaster ride with wide sweeping turns leading out of Five Points Junction. With tight turns and a few climbs, Lower Stealth is a quick, technical trail connecting Five Points Junction to Wild West Junction.

Hawk's Lair (advanced) — Hawk's Lair has some of the best rock riding in the state from cobble to exposed bedrock in the Moonscape to large limestone boulders on the Hawk's Lair ridge.

The Talon (advanced) — This double black diamond trail is designed to challenge the most experienced mountain bikers and is accessed from Hawk's Lair. The most difficult features at MoMBA are found on The Talon.


What: Borrow a MetroPark bike and take it for a spin at MoMBA

When: Wednesday, July 17, 4 to 7 p.m.

Where: MoMBA, Huffman MetroPark, 4485 Union Road, Dayton

Who: Toddlers to adults, riders younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

More: Bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Helmets are required and are provided with the bike. Weather dependent.

Cost: Free

More info: www.metroparks.org

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