Can’t-Miss Bike Festivals for Every Type of Rider
Because demoing bikes and gear, exploring great locations, and celebrating afterward with new friends, craft beer, and music is way more fun than riding alone
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It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime rider or a total newbie at these bike festivals, the perks of being there are numerous—you can stock up on the latest gear (many festivals offer bike demos as part of the entry fee), learn critical skills, join group rides, or grab a map and head out on your own. When you’re done riding, return to the grounds for what good festivals do best: music, food, and beer.
Sedona Mountain Bike Festival
Every March, the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival brings together thousands of singletrack fans for a laid-back gathering of riding, beer drinking, and gear testing. Its three-day event pass grants access to demo fleets from more than 90 top mountain-bike brands, shuttled drop-offs to the area’s best trails, skills clinics, live music, food-truck fare, and craft beer. Riders get to traverse the scenic trail system within the Red Rock Ranger District of Coconino National Forest, and proceeds from the event go toward its maintenance. Red Agave Adventure Resort (from $169), a 20-minute shuttle ride from next year’s event location at Posse Grounds Park, has nine A-frame chalets that sleep up to five and five two-person studios, plus an outdoor pool and private entry to trailheads like Bell Rock and Slim Shady.
Sea Otter Classic
As one of the oldest and most well-attended festivals in the country, the annual Sea Otter Classic, held on the Pacific coast in April, is a sight to behold. Started in 1991, the four-day gathering has a massive gear expo with over a thousand brands, as well as stunt shows, kids’ programs, and road and mountain-bike races for elites and recreational riders, who show up in numbers nearing 10,000. The competitions cover almost every discipline, from cross-country and downhill to dual slalom, plus noncompetitive races for all ages. Camp on-site (from $70) or rent an RV from nearby Family RV (from $150) for the full festival experience. In 2017, the event expanded to Europe, too, with the still growing Sea Otter Europe taking place every May in Costa Brava, Spain.
Whistler, British Columbia
Crankworx is the ten-day mountain-bike party that has taken over this resort town every August since 2004. Watch as the pros battle it out in downhill or best-trick contests, sign up for a women’s or adaptive group ride, get the family involved through Kidsworx, or check out the accompanying photo and film competitions. The centrally located Aava Whistler Hotel (from $225) has 192 modern rooms and a valet bike service. The event has also gone global: you’ll now find Crankworx in New Zealand and Austria, too.
Pedalpalooza, the monthlong tradition that takes place every June, is as much a worthy bike festival as it is a way to experience the true spirit of Portland. It's wacky collection of free, volunteer-organized events and gatherings includes galactic disco rides, a banh mi–powered bike tour of the city, and the notorious local version of World Naked Bike Ride, which sees upward of 10,000 participants. In true Portland style, there are group rides for every sector of the community, from vegans and remote workers to human-rights activists and bookstore enthusiasts. The recently opened Hotel Zags Portland (from $179) has 179 design-forward rooms, plus bikes and film cameras to rent from an on-site gear shed.
Virginia Trail Festival
Held over Memorial Day weekend, the Virginia Trail Festival takes place within the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, which is an easy 90-minute drive from Washington, D.C. Organized by local bike-touring outfitter Shenandoah Mountain Touring, it’s a family-friendly campout at the Stokesville Campground (from $50), where you’ll have access to up to 500 miles of purpose-built mountain-bike trails from your tent and group meals prepared by volunteer cooks. After your ride, take a plunge in the North River, which flows through the campground. At night, post up around the campfire or stargaze from the on-site observatory.
Alyeska Bike Festival
More and more ski resorts are realizing they need to attract summertime visitors—and what better way to do that than by throwing a killer bike festival? Alyeska Ski Resort, located an hour by car from Anchorage, hosts the Alyeska Bike Festival at the start of September to mark the final weekend of its summertime bike park. Participants can ride lift-accessed downhill mountain-bike trails, sign up for dirt-jump contests and enduro races, or enter more lighthearted events like a tractor pull or pond crossing. Stay at the 300-room, château-style Hotel Alyeska (from $299) so you can hop on the aerial tram at sunset and soak in the saltwater pool at the end of the day.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho
Join professional cyclist Rebecca Rusch in her hometown of Ketchum for Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a bike festival over Labor Day weekend that features gravel races of varying lengths, from 18 miles to a four-day stage race. The event raises funds for bike and trail-building organizations. To counter its growing popularity, Rusch limits the number of registrants to around 1,000 in order to keep the vibe more low-key. That said, the festival ends with a raucous beer-guzzling, gelande-quaffing contest. Many of the group rides start from the Limelight Hotel Ketchum (from $385), which has 93 rooms and six suites, and Four Mountain Sports, an on-site bike shop that offers demos and rentals from the brands Giant and Norco.
Fruita Fat Tire Festival
The trail-heavy town of Fruita is a verified mountain-biker’s hub in Colorado. Many of those knobby-tire enthusiasts unite for one weekend in May every year for the fun-loving Fruita Fat Tire Festival. You can test out new bikes from the demo fleet, listen to live bluegrass from a central beer garden, and join skill camps and guided group rides through wine country and Colorado National Monument and over Douglas Pass. The company Fruita Crash Pad has a number of vacation rentals, from downtown bungalows to a teardrop camper.