The trails of Big Bear West Virginia hold a special place in the heart of Dirt Rag. Our annual mountain bike festival has taken place there during the month of July over the last three summers and we are already looking forward to the 2020 event. Besides being our partners in Dirt Fest, Big Bear is truly one of the more enjoyable, challenging and enchanting trail systems in our region. The ferns grow chest high, and the boulders covered in moss give off the vibe that you’re car ride to the trailhead may have actually been a time machine back to the Jurassic period.
This past weekend was the annual meet up at Big Bear (the Big Bear Braap) to celebrate another solid season of trail riding by, well, riding trails of course. While the trails are not yet officially closed, they will be after October 31st to make way for the hunting season. From the first of November until the beginning of the new year the trails are closed to mountain bikers for their own safety. (As displayed today, mountain bikers are a bunch that doesn’t really consider the repercussions of their actions and or has regard for their own safety.)
Since this past summers Dirt Fest, it has rained maybe all but once in West Virginia. The state was actually under moderate drought conditions so, of course, this past Sunday morning as we loaded the car and filled the coffee thermos West Virginia was getting a fair amount of rain. I sat sipping coffee staring at the computer screen watching the weather radar, the green blob engulfed almost the entire state of West Virginia. “What to do?” I thought. The weather in Pittsburgh was set to be a perfect day for riding, 70º and sunny, while the trails of Big Bear were looking wet and cold.
After a hefty internal debate and bonus round of coffee, I shoved off for Big Bear. Perhaps worse than being wet and cold is knowing that you missed a good day out on the trail with good people. I arrived at the trailhead just as local trail builder, rider and talker into’er of scary stunts, Beji Klimer was rounding up a mixed heard of local NICA kids and veteran trail riders. Knowing Benji’s knack for building secret drops and cuts on the trails of Big Bear, I hustled into my shoes and helmet to make sure I didn’t miss the train leaving. It wasn’t long before the group was hucking themselves off of moss-covered rocks to the saturated ground below. Young and old took turns impressing one another with faster approaches or sketchier lines off of the rocks.
After some heavy sending and a few close calls, the group headed up the climb to check out Chunder Mountain before heading back to the lot for some burgers and treats from the grill. The group of NICA kids split off for Gene’s Trail as the bunch charged for Chunder, and I split for a little solo loop out to the Pines and Mother of Crack. I wanted to squeeze in a few trails I missed this past summer during Dirt Fest. The beauty of the fall leaves and the emptiness of the forest was a perfect combo, further solidifying how much I enjoy the trails of Big Bear. If you have the ability to get in there before the season ends on October 31st, do yourself the favor.