There are precious few truly “family friendly” mountain biking events in the United States, and even fewer still that enjoy the full support of a thriving community while offering world-class riding and learning opportunities for anyone who throws a leg over their bike. The Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival, hosted by the Evergreen MTB Alliance at Duthie Hill just outside Seattle is one such event: a perfect storm of phenomenal, all-access riding and the support of a multitude of vendors eager to show off and demo their latest and greatest products. Used as a fundraising platform to help finance future trail efforts, Evergreen ensures that every rider or family member in attendance benefits from the opportunity to demo a bike, learn a new riding skill, enjoy live music, or sample great local food. Everyone wins, and Evergreen makes it look easy.
Not unlike an amusement park in the woods, the “clover leaf” network of insanely fun mountain bike trails around the Duthie Hill festival grounds are ripe with immediate access to opportunities for all kinds of riding: speed and big air for the cross-country and downhill crowds, as well as calculated skills lines for those with proclivities to trials riding. And also like an amusement park the woods is not a quiet place — the air is filled with the buzzing of freehub bodies, punctuated by shrieks of joy. Also within the confines of the park is a pair of twisty pumptracks, and a dual slalom course to rouse up a bit of fast and friendly, side-by-side competition. Man-made obstacles also abound; some just inches off the ground, with others rolling more than a dozen or so feet above the forest floor, each requiring steady balance and even steadier nerves. Oh, and plenty of suspension for the dismount. At Duthie, you can go big if you want to, and bail out if you need to because there’s a clean line for each at every point on the no mountain bike trail.
The gentle learning curve seamlessly integrated into the trails at Duthie makes it a perfect environment to earn the various proficiencies needed for tackling big-mountain riding, and thusly an ideal venue for an all-ages/all-skill levels festival. Not limited to just advocacy and mountain bike trail building, Evergreen also utilizes its staff of top-tier mountain biking talent to teach a bevy of skill-building classes and riding bootcamps for all ages and all skill levels. This encompasses everyone from Strider-balancing groms to new converts learning their first drop. Many of these classes and group rides are incorporated into the event’s schedule, giving attendees a chance to further elevate their skills on a new demo bike in a festive, and pressure-free atmosphere. If you want to learn how to do it on a bike, learn it at Duthie Hill.
Naturally, this unique environment coupled with immediate access to great riding make the Evergreen festival a perennial family favorite. We watched as parents tag-teamed between overwatch of their little ones on the pumptrack and flitting between the thick foliage on the nearby Bootcamp trail, taking laps and catching air with their eldest. There were also races on the slalom course and pumptrack to watch, particularly keen for those who weren’t at the festival to ride.
The riding at Duthie is nothing short of world-class; around every smooth, high-banked berm there’s a sweet line, a skinny, a drop, or a kicker for literally every skill level in the sport. Like much of the great riding in and around the Seattle area, it’s largely due to Evergreen’s impressive efforts which have harnessed advocacy and land usage rights and combined them with massive trailbuilding efforts for the betterment of the greater riding community. All of the impressive developments on nearby Tiger Mountain, and the successful I-5 Colonnade urban unification project have been brought to fruition through numerous work parties and thousands of volunteer hours. There is no greater proof that passion, hard work, and a little cooperation make the world — or rather, Washington, a much better place to ride a mountain bike.
While currently recharging in its port of call, the Kitsbow Sprinter will soon be back out on the road charting a course for our next event. Remember you can stay abreast of the most current updates by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter. [zp]
See more from the Evergreen Festival photo essay here on Flickr.
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