Rides long and longer highlight county's trails
By Amy Orndorff
Friday, Oct. 7, 2011
If you're an adrenaline junkie, there's no better way to enjoy the crimson, auburn and gold of the fall foliage than from a mountain bike. To try out the rush, register now for the Oct. 16 MoCo Epic, a day of rides from 25 to 62 miles designed to showcase trails in Montgomery County.
All the routes begin at a mountain biker's mecca, Schaeffer Farms. Adjacent to the mammoth Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, the 1,400 acres of woods and former farmland now owned by the state pull riders from the busy suburbs and connect them to the trails of Seneca Creek State Park. The park's trails cross creeks, wind around fields and ascend steep, rocky hills.
Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, which organizes the Epic, maintains these routes and hundreds more miles of trails in the D.C. area. Its goal is to tout 75 miles of trails - just a portion of the county's offerings - and show riders how to connect with other trail systems. The routes created just for the Epic link Shaeffer Farms's permanently blazed trails to trails in 10 parks, including Black Hill and Little Bennett regional parks. Ride organizer Denis Chazelle says even seasoned riders are surprised to discover the extent of the trails in Montgomery County.
The annual Epic is equally suited to physically fit novice riders and experienced mountain bikers. Because it's an organized ride instead of a race, there's no need to worry about competition. Printed directions, aide stations and well-marked trails keep everyone safe and heading in the right direction. And you can always practice on Schaeffer Farms trails before the big day.
To avoid weekend crowds, your best bet is to head out on a weekday afternoon. Try the 3.5-mile white loop for a quick ride to try the different terrains.