Fall Forwardby Adam Riser
Some people see fall as the end of the riding season. Those who know better think of it as the highlight. Pack up your ride, find a place with dry trails, and get after it.
Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia
You've been riding all summer and have never felt more dialed on two wheels. Temperatures are finally cooling, and you have a healthy chunk of vacation time that's just begging for some use. It's time to pack up your bike and put in some serious trail time at a world-class destination. But where do you go? Well, you need some place that's not going to be too cold or rainy. You need a place with tons of variety, and you need a place that's not halfway around the world–or, maybe that's exactly what you need.
Whistler, BC, Canada
Why?: Yeah, we just suggested you not go somewhere that's likely to be rainy, but Whistler's worth a little wet-weather riding (and in early autumn, you might luck out and have bluebird days). This riding mecca has everything from ridiculously buff singletrack to never-ending jump lines to full-on, ultra-steep gnar. You can hardly find a bike video without a Whistler seggy, and you can't ride there without seeing some of the best bikers anywhere.
Type of Riding: Lift-served freeride and downhill.
Where to Start: There are a few nearby campgrounds, but after a hard day of riding it's pretty nice to take a shower and sleep in a real bed. Make sure you get your room early. Whistler's a popular place. As far as the actual riding, just take the lift up and start sampling the trails one at a time until you can't hang onto your bike anymore.
What to Bring: Bring a big bike, a full-face, enough armor to keep you in one piece, and plenty of painkillers. And definitely bring extra pads, tubes, tires, or anything else you can imagine needing during your trip.
Get There: Fly into Vancouver or Seattle, then rent a car or take a train, bus, or taxi. Whistler is a two-hour drive from Vancouver.
Whistler Blackcomb; Photo by Sterling Lorence
BC Interior, Canada
Why?: While the Canadian Rockies get feet of snow, the BC Interior stays in the shadows of the range and tends to stay pretty dry. This lets you ride the BC Interior well into late fall. Nelson represents the mecca of riding in the Interior for good reason: flowy trails, well-built stunts, totters, bridges, steeps, shuttles, loops, and anything else you could want. Rossland and Kamloops also have a good helping of world-class riding, so if you make the journey, you sure won't run out of trails to sample.
Type of Riding: Absolutely everything. Cross country, freeride, DH, shuttles, loops … what do you like?
Where to Start: There's plenty of camping available, and so many trails to choose from that you won't know what to do. There's no substitute for local knowledge, so walk into either Sacred Rides or Gericks bike shops in Nelson, tell them want kind of stuff you want to ride, and let them point you toward the right starting place.
What to Bring: If you're coming from the States, make sure you bring a passport, or you may not get home. On your bike rack should be either an all-mountain rig or a pedal-friendly freeride bike, depending on your preference. Bring a full-face and armor if you're going to get serious when sampling the classic interior senders.
Get There: Fly into Spokane, Wash., or Castlegar, BC. From there, rent a car or take a shuttle to the Nelson area. Spokane is a 3.5-hour drive, and Castlegar is less than a half hour from Nelson.
SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES
Why?: There's a reason that you've seen Moab featured in about half of the mountain bike videos ever made. Its terrain is unique—just try to find another sandstone heaven like this. Moab features everything from smooth singletrack to rolling slickrock to ridiculously big drops. Since it's about 100-degrees there in the summer, late fall is a really good option. Whatever you do, don't leave without riding UPS and the Porcupine Rim.
Type of Riding: Shuttles, long loops, freeride, cross country.
Where to Start: The Bureau of Land Management oversees the campgrounds around Moab. You can reserve group sites by calling 435-259-2100, but smaller sites are first-come, first-serve. You could also book one of the many hotel rooms. Once you have your bed nailed down, go to one of the many bike shops or call Acme Shuttle at 435-260-2534, and hit up Kyle for info and a shuttle ride. He knows everything there is to know about biking in Moab.
What to Bring: Slickrock isn't soft, so bringing at least a minimal amount of armor is a must. Most riders bring a long-travel bike, and it's not uncommon to see full-on DH rigs. Definitely get a bike pack that holds plenty of water—it is the desert, after all.
Get There: Fly into Salt Lake City, Utah, or Grand Junction, Colo. Rent a car or take a shuttle. Grand Junction is about a two-hour-drive from Moab; from SLC takes nearly 4 hours.
Why?: It's about 300-degrees in Sedona during the summer (or at least feels like it); you definitely want to wait for late fall or even early winter before you can ride mid-day. This place has everything from buff, chill trails to full-on freeride goodness, so you can't miss. There's also a strong bike culture around Sedona. It shouldn't be too hard to hook up with a crew and share some shuttles.
Type of Riding: Cross country, light freeride. Loops and out-and-backs with plenty of pedaling.
Where to Start: The Red Rock Ranger District (928-282-4119) controls most of the camping around town, so give them a call to get your site reservation. Then go to Bike and Bean for coffee and the lowdown on local trails. If you can't get the info you need, head to Mountain Bike Heaven and pick the staff's brains.
What to Bring: A good, pedal-friendly all-mountain rig should do the job on most trails. Make sure to bring a bike pack that holds plenty of water. And don't dare go on some 13-mile loop without the right tools.
EAST/SOUTHEAST UNITED STATES
Pisgah / DuPont, North Carolina
Why?: Those who prefer pedal-powered days should definitely check out the goodness at Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest. Amazing scenery, buff terrain, some drops and jumps, and just good ol' singletrack goodness. There's nothing like losing the trail because of all the fallen leaves, and it's something that everyone should experience.
Type of Riding: Cross-country with a few stunts, drops, and jumps. Pisgah also hosts several mountain bike adventure races each year.
Where to Start: First you better contact the Pisgah National Forest or the DuPont State Forest to nail down a campsite. Then call Sycamore Cycles (828-877-5790) in Brevard, NC, to get the lowdown and figure out which trails to ride first.
Get There: Fly into Asheville, Charlotte, or other North Carolina town. Asheville's about 30 miles from Pisgah and 40 from DuPont.
Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia
Why?: You're a long way from Whistler, but that doesn't mean you can't ride buff, well-built trails at a lift-served location. In addition to seriously fun freeride terrain, Snowshoe Mountain also hosts a solid race season for East Coast downhillers. This place will get you dialed on everything from steep roots to rock rollers to jumps to wide-open berms and also give you a location to test your skills late in the season.
Type of Riding: Lift served downhill and freeride.
Where to Start: Go to the Snowshoe Mountain website to get the lowdown on pricing, rentals, and lodging. You could camp, but after a full day of riding downhill you'll feel like you've earned a comfortable hotel room, especially the nice hot bath.
Get There: Unfortunately (or fortunately), Snowshoe is in the middle of nowhere. Fly into Charlottesville, Va., rent a car, and drive a little more than four hours to the west to get there.
SOUTH AMERICA Peru
Why?: The bike scene in Peru is alive and well with buff singletrack, incredible views, and descents that take hours instead of minutes. Though many riders go to Cusco where you can ride everything from loops to long shuttles, those who want a serious adventure will head to Huaraz before going into the Cordillera Blanca. In the Blanca, you can ride massive loops, get shuttled on sweet singletrack, or strap your bike to the back of a burro and hike unencumbered to a 16,000-foot base camp before riding down. There are a few standard rides, but you can make your own adventure and go into just about any valley for a unique experience. Any serious rider will want to bring his or her own bike, and don't forget to acclimatize in Huaraz before heading into the hills.
Type of Riding: Long shuttles, long loops, all-mountain and cross country.
Where to Start: If you're headed to Huaraz, the Casa De Zarela is an excellent place to set up base camp. While Zarela usually caters to climbers, she has connections with everyone and can make logistics easy for those looking to set up their own adventure. Peru Mountain Bike Adventures and Peru Adventure Tours can hook you up with shuttles, rental gear, and plenty of other information about local trails.
Get There: Fly to Lima. Take an eight-hour bus ride to Huaraz. Make sure you arranged with Zarela to pick you up at the bus station. She'll get you through the rest.
Think Outside the Americas Box
Why?: It would be cool to go to a place that you've heard so much about, but why don't you consider going to a place where you've never thought of biking? New Zealand has an incredible scene for all types of riding. Morocco has seen trips, and visitors have come back with incredible stories. Greg Minnaar has found enough sweet trails in South Africa to help him become the 2008 UCI Downhill World Cup Champion. Though you could get some friends together and try to set up the logistics, your money would be well-spent if you hooked up with a group like Big Mountain Bike Adventures. Take a peek at the Morocco segment in the Collective's film Roam to see the sickness that these guys can lead you to.
Type of Riding: Any kind you want; anything you've ever dreamed of.
Where to Start: You can either book a flight, find a friend of a friend of a cousin or a guy who knows a guy who knows the local trails, or you can get in touch with a guide/tour company. Either way, you're in for a seriously sweet trip.
What to Bring: It depends on where you go and the riding you expect to do, but in general you want a nice lightweight freeride bike or long-travel all-mountain rig, some versatile armor, and probably a full-face and trail helmet. Bring anything you can get on the plane. Don't forget a bike box to transport your rig.
Get There: Our money's on Big Mountain Bike Adventures, but your cousin's friend's friend might have just your ticket.