The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will partner with Terlingua-based outfitter Desert Sports to present the third annual Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest, February 14–16, in the Lajitas/Terlingua area.
Bike Fest 2013 will again feature three full days of riding in Big Bend Ranch State Park, considered to be one of the premier mountain-biking destinations in the Southwestern U.S., and a day in Big Bend National Park, and on the Lajitas Trail system. The Desert Sports/Big Bend Trails Alliance team will lead rides through the national park’s Old Ore Road and Lajitas trails on Thursday and Friday, while Texas Parks and Wildlife staff will provide multiple guided and unguided ride opportunities each of the three days in the state park.
The lineup for Big Bend Ranch State Park includes its signature, 58-mile EPIC ride (as designated by the International Mountain Biking Association) scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, onto which bikers can elect to extend an additional 12 miles (covering 70 miles total). There’s also a two-day EPIC ride option on Thursday and Friday, with an overnight stay and meals at the park’s Sauceda bunkhouse.
Additionally, there will be daily riding on the 30-plus-mile Rincon Loop, the Chimney Rock Cut Across, and the Dome Loop and Contrabando trails, which are perennial favorites with riders who love singletracks, desert scenery, and historical points of interest. Park staff has added additional guided rides for this year’s event, such as the Rock House Ride, a 21-mile course led by a park ranger that ventures off the beaten path to some of the park’s natural and cultural features such as 100-plus-year-old rock house ruins. There will be a Geo-Ride, a self-guided geocache tour for those bikers who like to use their GPS skills.
Although most of Bike Fest’s rides are geared to intermediate and advanced mountain bike enthusiasts, the park will also offer a ranger-led short ride of 10-11 miles for strong beginner and low-intermediate level riders who have the conditioning to ride 11 miles of relatively flat terrain. There will be a kid’s ride on Friday and Saturday’s agenda. While there are many challenging trails in the state park, there are also a number of doubletrack sections, which are great for beginning-level mountain-bikers who are physically fit and equipped with appropriate gear, water, and self-sealing tubes.
Water stations with drinking and potable water are located at various intervals along the trails, and trained park staff and volunteers will be on hand for each ride. But even so, all riders should bring plenty of water, and do some advanced prep and training for Bike Fest. All riders should read the “Gear List” on the Desert Sports event website and be fully equipped before heading to Bike Fest. (http://www.desertsportstx.com/mountain-bike-event/suggested-gear-list/ )
“We’re telling riders to bring at least two or three liters of water per day, per person, sunscreen, and at least two self-sealing bike tubes, as a minimum,” said Dan Sholly, deputy director of Texas State Parks. “This country is gorgeous, but it can be unforgiving if you’re not prepared. It is critical to have tubeless or self-sealing tubes,” he said.
The primary staging area for Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest will again be hosted by the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa, and Maverick Ranch RV Park, also in Lajitas. Both are strategically located along State Hwy 170 near the event’s daily trailhead start and the state park’s Barton Warnock Visitor Center.
Fun won’t just be limited to the two-wheel variety; each evening there’ll be live music, swimming, hula-hoop dancing, dining in Lajitas, Study Butte, and Terlingua, and other activities. Bike company representatives will be on hand with a fleet of demo bikes for riders to try out on the trails. In all, last year, nearly 300 riders participated in Bike Fest, and more are expected for this year’s event. Proceeds from the Bike Fest will go to support the Big Bend Trails Alliance.
Reserved hotel or camping reservations are highly recommended. For more information, to view a daily schedule of event rides, or to register for the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest, visit www.desertsportstx.com or www.lajitasgolfresort.com.