Words and Photos: Aaron Rhode
Nemba fest 2013 got off to a great start with temps near 80, blue skies and plenty of sun shine. A steady stream of cars caravaned up route 114 towards Burke Mountain, carrying bikers from around New England and Canada (eh). Lifts opened Friday afternoon at 3 and were almost immediately packed with anxious riders ready to shred. With a near full moon to light the night, night rides helped continue the stoke for those arriving that evening.
By 7am Saturday morning the small town of East Burke was humming with bikers, exploding the population of the small town ten fold. Spandex clad pedalers swarmed both the East Burke Market and the Country Store in search of breakfast sandwiches, waffles and coffee. Every where you looked were groups with open trail maps, planning the day’s adventure through the Kingdom Trails. The Main Expo was bustling with dozens of reps setting up demo bikes for curious riders interested in the latest and greatest bike technology.
There was definitely something for all types at this event. DH junkies had shuttles to the mountain top and lift service to help feed their addiction. Beginners didn’t feel awkward about learning with novice group rides that took advantage of shuttles up Darling Hill to easy rolling terrain. Those with skills but looking to cruise, felt right at home in the mellow rides covering most of the Kingdom’s more exciting terrain at a rasta friendly pace.
With most people heading out in the morning on group rides, tranquil woods soon became alive with the sounds of hoots, hollers and the squeal of brakes. Trains of groups, some 20 or 30 deep, hammered through rolling trails on Darling Hill. Some of the more popular trails, such as Sidewinder, were tire to tire. A few aggro riders, nearly running over the slower paced, detracted from the spirit of the fest. Overall most riders out on the trail were very considerate, friendly and understood the weekend was about fun, not how many miles you could rack up.
Rain starting Saturday afternoon thinned out the crowds at the main expo. Most people took refuge in their tents to drink away the rainy day blues. The brave came out to view some of the events at the expo, the huffy toss, bike limbo, and Jeff Lenosky’s trials show. As the rain tapered off in the evening, the band Waylon Speed filled the slopes with tunes, echoing from the expo through the campground higher up.
Sunday morning brought breakfast sandwiches and more group rides. After a brief period of morning sun, thunderstorms moved into the area with downpours forcing a mass exodus from the campground. By late afternoon, only a handful of die hards remained.
“It really brought me back to my roots of riding” said Nate Hamlin, during his first trip to the Kingdom Trails and the NEMBA Fest. “I would definitely go back every year to experience the vibe you get when you see smiles on every face and mountain bikes on every car.”