In the spring of 2021, MTBVT, Ranch Camp and Backyard owner-founder-partner-brother-from-other-mother-freinds Nate, Evan and Ryan decided to drop everything and go biking… for a week… hundreds of miles from home. The following is a dramatized reenactment of their true adventures. Only two survived. JK, bikes and trips are awesome! We good! Here we go…
- It’ll all fit… right?
Day 1 – Brandywine Creek State Park, Delaware
The terms “mountain bike destination” and “State of Delaware” are two phrases that don’t generally show up in the same conversation. But tucked in amongst the expansive commerce parks and office complexes lies a little hidden gem of a trail network called Brandywine Creek State Park. The mix of old growth forest, dramatic topography, meandering brooks, and a smattering of U.S. History makes this network worth a stop if you’re passing through (Knoxville, here we come).
The trailhead is in the parking lot of a Marriott. Not kidding. But everyone seems to coexist peacefully so when Trailforks tells you you’ve arrived, just go with it. Diversity is the order of the day at Brandywine: the trails strike a really nice balance between technical rock garden chunder, and flowy hand-built singletrack. And as much as we all love a good machine-built berm fest, the natural berms here are some of the most fun you’ll ever find. Sprinkle in a few natural doubles and side hits and you’ve got a recipe for fun.
As our luck would have it, MTBVT mercenary, trail assassin, taco-connoisseur, and globe trotting rad-dad Brice Shirbach was kind enough to tour-guide us on this brief but oh-so necessary first stop on our Sprung Tour 2021 (aka the “Let the inmates run the asylum, we’re going riding” Tour). If you don’t already follow Brice’s content, you should, but we’ll validate that Brice is fast AF and has style for days. No internet trickery afoot.
So huge thanks to Bryce for leading the charge, and thanks to Fred for being the unexpected “holy sh*t one of our bros is going to meet us there!” special guest. Photo dump commence…
- Following Brice through the DE farmland
- DE Rocks
- Schirbach climbing a rock garden like he’s riding an escalator.
- Dude men
- Back at the hotel
Day 2 & 3 – Knoxville, TN / Urban Wilderness trails
Every few years a new mountain bike destination comes online that captivates the bike world. That place upon which we collectively fixate, planning our next trip, obsessively Youtube’ing and hashtag searching. “Dude, you’ve never been to Sedona?” “Yeah, we’re headed to Brevard, next month.” “Hey you wanna join us on our trip to Bentonville?” You know the drill.
Now you can add Knoxville, Tennessee to that list. The riding itself is everything you’d want from an MTB destination: hand built, sinewy singletrack; full-on bike park level jump lines; a world-class pumptrack, (Litterally world class…actually that might sell it short. It’s that good.), and on and on.
As good as the trails are, their proximity to the city and the amenities that come therewith are what really set this area apart. To wit: on our Grand Tour de Knoxville, we pedaled until lunch, ducked out of the trails for bombass breakfast burritos, and dove back in fully sated and ready to stack more miles post-repast.
In short: the community’s efforts to create something truly unique has given rise to a cultural shift that’s melded trails, craft beer, an outstanding food culture, and advocacy efforts that could literally be the playbook for aspiring trail stewardships.
Big ups to our man Shaggy for tour-guiding us through the Urban Wilderness. If you’re lucky enough to spot this wildman in his element – either building trails or shredding mtb’s – throw him a high five, thank him for his artistry, and see if you can keep up with this style monger on a bike. Now let’s let the photos do the talking…
- Chismark @ Baker Creek bike park
- Shaggy leads the way down a section of Year Round Get Down
- Quick layover in the bamboo forests of Japan
- Um, yes, this does exist. Unreal! This was built by Vermonters too! What up Ideride crew!?
Day 4 – Brevard, NC
Dupont State Forest in Brevard is to the North Carolina mountain bike scene what Cady Hill Forest is to Vermont; it’s a must-do for any visiting mountain biker and an outstanding trail network that will put a grin on the face of just about any rider. If Vermont and New Hampshire had an overgrown lovechild, it might look something like Dupont. Its flavor is oddly reminiscent of Vermont with some rooty tech, but calls to mind the exposed granite in northern NH. The term “technical flow” rings true here, testing riders to find natural doubles and flow amid the undulations of the expansive landscape. In short, shit’s rad.
- Chismark in the lead
- Quintessential NC slick rock
- Still a kid. Sticker bombing Oscar Blues.
Day 5 – Stokesville, VA
The humble little ‘burg of Stokesville, VA sits quietly off of interstate 81, an unpolished diamond just waiting to be discovered by us Yanks from the north. Rife with trails, and nestled amongst a Rockwell-esque backdrop that’s so beautiful as to be almost cliché, this place will test your mtb mettle. The pastoral beauty and downhome vibe belie the rugged trails hidden amongst the deceptively big mountains that surround the town.
We rolled into Stokesville kinda late in the day and figured we’d knock out a “quick evening ride” before retiring to the parlor for a snifter of port and some spirited dialogue. After knocking out 1,600 of the most challenging feet of climbing we’ve ever seen, we picked our way down the mine field of rock gardens that challenged every bit of the 160 millimeters of travel on our bikes. But don’t confuse tough with not fun. In a world of sculpted berms and cultivated flow, the heavy terrain here was a welcome change.
- Guest star Freddy B in the house!
- Thibault, pointing, pondering…
- VA is purdy
On day two, we turned our sights to the infamous Redish Knob, which is a must-do if you visit Stokesville. Typically shuttled, but pedalable if you’re game, this descent is long, rugged, and will likely cost you a set of brake pads or two. It’s a paradoxical mix of hot nasty speed up high, and purpose built mtb-flow in the latter half.
Although Timber and Wolf are the most popular, there are adventures to be had off of these two beaten paths. While our time was short in Stokesville, it left an indelible mark and is on our must-return hit list…
- Dunno what to say here. Not our art FYI.
- Nate rollin’ coal
- VA is for lovers
- Evan drops the Reddish Knob
- Fred in the raddest rock garden we found on the trip
- Too steep even for Ev’!
- Beast mode up a 45º slope
- Cold beer sold here
And on that note… we out. See y’all on the trails.