The Beauty of a Mountain Bike Getaway with Friends

If you’ve ever been on a ski trip with friends, you know the feeling. The camaraderie. The thrill of the slopes. The hygge-infused hangouts at the end of the day, with whiskey and wood-burning fireplaces.

Now apply that exact algebra to the summer sport of mountain biking, and what do we have when we ”solve for x?” One helluva good time, that’s what.

The beauty of a mountain bike getaway with friends is all there in the name. You’re mountain biking. And you’re with your friends. Quite frankly, there’s not much better.

Here are a few tips for mastering the unforgettable art of biking with your buddies.

Resort vs. Town

Two mountain bikers on a forested trail near a river Finding a trail system that suits every member of the group is key.

One of the key tenets of a solid mountain bike getaway is striving for centrality. Ideally, you want your lodging to be in close proximity to the trails. And you want your trails to be an accordion-like network of routes that fan out and fold on top of each other in equal measure.

In other words, just like with a ski trip, you want each of your friends to have optionality in the trails they choose—just in case not everyone bikes at the same level. But you also want to find a trail system that spits everyone out at the same terminus, so that you can all crack a cold one together at the end of the line.

For these reasons (and more), resort downhill mountain biking makes great sense. Resort biking is literally made for this. You ride up in a gondola or lift—or you can grind up if you’re a purist—then you bomb down either a green, blue, or black diamond run. After that, you meet up with all your buddies and grab some aprés on the mountain. Then bloody up those crisp-white resort lodge sheets with your gnarled up elbows. What more could you ask for?

Well, if you’re more of a DIY old-schooler, you might steer your handlebars toward something a little less tailor-made. In this case, you single out one of those mountain bike towns always featured in a listicle roundup like “Best Mountain Biking Meccas in America”—you know the ones: Bend, Moab, Asheville, and so on. You find you and your friends a nice Airbnb cabin or yurt that’s centrally located near a few bucket list trailheads, and boom—you’re in business.

Map out which trail systems you want to hit on which days. Ideally, there’s enough diversity of trail difficulties to make everyone happy. Then unwind with some card games and whiskey deep into the 9pm region of the night when your bone-deep exhaustion inevitably takes hold.

In truth, there’s no wrong or right answer between resort or mountain town. So long as you and your group are having fun, that’s all that matters. It’s trite but it’s true.

Renting vs. Bringing Your Bikes

This one largely comes down to where you’re going. And where you’re coming from. In general, if you’re flying to some bucket list MTB destination halfway across the country, better start dialing up those rental shops. If your getaway is of a more regional variety, by all means, whip out those bike racks and bring your own.

The good news is that, if you’re renting, many bike shops these days are truly top-notch. From Moab’s Poison Spider Bicycles(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) to Burlington’s Outdoor Gear Exchange(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) (which is an Osprey Pro Shop(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) by the way!), bike rentals aren’t like they used to be. No more glorified beach cruisers pretending to be mountain bikes. No more rusty, rinky-dink clunkers whose breaks squeak like a pack of angry mice as they make their way down the mountain. These days, “renting” is almost as good as riding your own. At many bike shops, particularly at resorts and MTB epicenters, you can even demo the latest and greatest models.

Good Beta + Good Luck = A Good Time

Two people and a dog sit on rocks, mountain bikes leaning on the ground next to them Good beta and good luck, the keys to a good time.

A mountain bike getaway is equal parts good beta and good luck. What this means is that it’s always important to prepare as much as you can. But preparation, in the end, only takes you so far. Some things—like bad weather, washed-out trails, flat tires—are out of your control. In these instances, a third (almost equally important) component enters the conversation: a good attitude. Stoicism, after all, is and should be a mountain biker’s modus operandi.

So, when planning a MTB getaway with friends: 1) Plan ahead, 2) Cross your fingers, and 3) Enjoy the hell out of it—even the crummy parts.

7 Great MTB Getaways to Check Out

A close up view of a biker on a mountain bike(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) Taking to the world-class trails of Moab, UT. Photo by Tim Foster(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre)

Without further ado, here are some renowned mountain bike destinations (including a mix of towns, resorts, and retreats) that deserve a spot on your MTB getaway bucket list.

Mulberry Gap, GA

Located in the heart of the “Mountain Bike Capital of Georgia”, Mulberry Gap(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) offers ride-in, ride-out access to 140 miles of some of the sweetest singletrack in the Southeast.

Asheville, NC

Home to the Pisgah National Forest, Dupont State Forest, Beech Mountain Resort, and Bent Creek Experimental Forest, the Asheville area(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) boasts some of the most epic mountain bike trails in the country. Not to mention, a downright legendary craft beer scene for all your post-ride thirst-quenching needs!

Killington Bike Park, VT

Featuring three high-speed lifts and 30+ miles of trails, Vermont’s Killington Bike Park(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) is what New England mountain biking dreams are made of.

Moab, UT

Home to the world’s best Slickrock mountain biking terrain, it’s no wonder Moab makes an appearance on pretty much every mountain biking hit list.

Durango & Cortez, CO

The high desert of southwest Colorado is home to some seriously world-class mountain biking. From Purgatory Bike Park(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) to the roughly 400 miles of backcountry singletrack surrounding Durango, to the one-and-only Phil’s World(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) (located in our very own backyard here at Osprey), the options are essentially limitless.

Whitefish Bike Retreat, MT

Located near Glacier National Park, amongst some of Montana’s most jaw-dropping mountain scenery, Whitefish Bike Retreat(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) offers beautifully maintained trailside lodging and a vast network of stunning singletrack.

Bend, OR

With nearly 300 miles of MTB trails accessible from town, Bend(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre) is an epic mountain biker’s paradise. The most popular trail system is Phil’s—featuring gloriously long, smooth downhills with big berms.

Written by Ry Glover for Matcha in partnership with Osprey Packs.

Featured image provided by Jan Meuhlbach(S'ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre)

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