2017 Travel Bucket List for Mountain Bike Road Trips

While it is true that there are now mountain bike trails just about everywhere you go, the same can also be said for post offices, strip joints, bowling alleys, and underground street fighting clubs. Just like all of the aforementioned, except maybe post offices, there are boring, overrated, just plain crappy trails and there are trails worth driving thousands of miles to get to. With this in mind, all of the destinations on this list have one thing in common: they all are home to absolutely kick ass trails and trail systems, and the locals want you to come out and enjoy. We'll take a look at both the trails and the things that give the local riding vibe that little something extra tingly in your mountain bike britches.

Fruita, CO
Denver, the Front Range, Boulder, Breckenridge, Durango: These are the places that most people think of when Colorado comes to mind. While they all have great trails and tons of outdoor spaces, they also come with the crowds of weekend warriors, tourist families, and people who are just out for a casual stroll that happens to include dirt and a few rocks. For this trip, we are driving right on through the central part of Colorado and heading all the way to the west side. Fuita and the surrounding areas are much more high desert than the lush green that people typically associate with Colorado, but that means the trails rip big time from April to late August or early September, depending on whether global warming is real. When you get to Fruita, check out Over the Edge Sports to make sure your gear is locked in. If not, you can rent a kick ass full suspension rig to give you a little more cushion for the full days in the saddle. The Edge Loop in Fruita is the kind of ride that will make you pucker up in more than one place, but for a true test of cajones, put on some body armor and see if you can ride the drop-in at Horsethief Bench. There is no shame in walking it, and the trail itself is amazingly beautiful, but only the hardest of the hard ride the drop-in. Feel like gettin' sendy? As they say at Over the Edge, "You have no idea how hard we ride!"

Kansas City, MO
Kansas City and mountain bikes? No, I'm not on crack. While they aren't quite mountains, the trail systems in Kansas City offer up all the technical stuff you could want, enough climbing to scare a sherpa, and variety that will make you questions if it is all real. Swope Park, Landahl, Shawnee Mission Park, BuRp, and Wyandotte County Lake Park are all within thirty minutes of the KC metro area (all but Landahl are fifteen or less depending on where exactly you are) and if you are willing to drive a little bit, or a little bit more, Wilson State Park is like landing in southern Colorado but just a few hours west of Kansas City. It is a former IMBA Epic Trail, and a destination for riders from around the country and around the world. Wherever you decide to ride, make sure you check in at Velo Plus/Maps Coffee Roasters in Lenexa, KS for any bike and coffee needs. The shop owner, Vincent, is killing it in both areas and can get you hooked up for the best of both worlds.

Bentonville, AR
The Ozark Mountains are not just a name, nor are they just a stereotype. There is some seriously sweet, smack you in the face 'cause it's so much fun, trail work going on in northwest Arkansas. Hobbs, Slaughter Pen/Blowing Springs, and Devil's Den are some of the highlights in the general vicinity, but NWA has a ton of other stuff that will bring in the cyclists but also keep the husbands, wives, and significant others who don't ride feeling like they were not a complete afterthought on this trip. Bike Rack Brewing in Bentonville is a bike-friendly/bike themed brewery that allows you to bring in your own food. The world famous Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is also a spot that makes the trip worth the travel, no matter what you are into.

Asheville, NC
Just to kick things off on the right note, we'll start by letting you know that Asheville is home to Industry Nine, maker of some of the nicest looking and most trail shredding mountain bike wheels on the planet. So why not take a trip to their backyard in the final leg of our journey? Asheville and its surrounding areas are so full of kick ass trails, you would have to try pretty damn hard to run out of rides. Did I mention they have beer, bikes, and a friggin' ranch/camp that are all owned by the same company (Oskar Blues Brewing) about thirty miles away? The Pisgah Forest, state and national forests in any direction, and a culture that seriously knows and loves bikes, beer, and nature. That's the mother lode of mountain bike trips. Unfortunately, you can't stay at the Reeb Ranch forever, unless you are "I hate you" rich, but get out and getcha' some dirt either way.

Drew has been on a quest for the best dirt his tires can find and isn't stopping until he's too old to pedal.