Mountain Biking is a fun way to travel off-road and see the countryside, and whether it’s a wild downhill ride at Sunday River or a scenic cross country ride in Presque Isle, Maine has got some great trail riding! If you ride a mountain bike in Maine, you should wear a helmet, dress appropriately, check your equipment and follow the rules of the road and trail (see our “Basics of Bicycle Safety”).
Choosing a Mountain Bike
Mountain bikes come in a variety of types, from burly downhill bikes that weigh over 40 pounds to lightweight cross-country trail bikes that come in under 25 pounds. Trail bikes also come in a huge variety of prices, from about $250 for a bike that can handle occasional light trail duty up to more than $7000 for rigs that you could ride on Mars.
What Else Do I Need to Mountain Bike?
Besides the bike, a helmet is absolutely necessary! Gloves are recommended, too.
In addition, you will want to have some method for carrying water, whether it’s on your bike or on your back using a pack and tube hydration system (eg. Camelbak). Hydration systems offer the added benefit of providing a pack to carry spare clothes, food, etc. A map of where you’re riding and a cell phone is good to have at all times, too.
A spare tube, pump and the knowledge to repair a flat are basic self-rescue tools for mountain biking.
You’ll inevitably learn more about the many other gadgets, doohickeys and techno-marvels in the mountain bike world as you get more into the sport!
IMBA Rules of the Trail
For safe, responsible and courteous trail riding, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine endorses the “Rules of the Trail” developed by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA):
- Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.
- Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
- Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
- Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions.
- Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
- Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Places to Trail Ride in Maine
Pretty much every town in Maine has some kind of riding stash. Some of our favorite places to ride cross country include:
- Bradbury State Park (Pownal, all levels)
- Camden Snow Bowl (Camden, intermediate-advanced)
- Acadia National Park (Mt. Desert Island, carriage trails, easy)
- Carrabassett Valley Rail Trail (Carrabasset Valley, rail trail is easy, but there are some challenging single track loops off it. Also visit the Sugarloaf Cross Country Ski Center for more trails)
- Maine Nordic Heritage Center, (Presque Isle, all levels)
- Gould Academy Trails (Bethel, off Grover Hill Road, all levels)
- Edwin Smith Preserve (Kennebunk, off Guinea Road, all levels)
- Pine Ridge Trails (Waterville, trail head at Inland Hospital, easy-intermediate)
- Thorne Head (Bath, stop in to Bath Ski and Cycle for more info, intermediate-advanced).
New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) Chapters
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has a great relationship with the New England Mountain Bike Association. At last count, Maine had 4 different NEMBA chapters around the state. If you want more beta on local riding, contact one of these folks:
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