Ben Bank’s Birthday Challenge marks another mega-classic epic ride in Utah. The goal, to ride 74 different trails in one day in a continuous loop around all of the Park City mtn biking areas, isn’t where the greatness lies. Classic status comes from the fantastic aesthetics of our ride and the way you can easily make up something just a classic yourself following our template. Most of these trails would merit many stars on any type of rating system; perhaps making our ride the most ever stars ridden in a single outing.
Ben’s age, 37, didn’t conjure up any meaningful events for this year. Doubling it, however, promised something super cool. Not only could we possibly ride 74 trails but with a little strategy we’d hit 74 miles, too, which just happened to be close to the distance for a perfect circle through the mountains above Park City. This loop also promised somewhere on the order of 3,700 meters of climbing. It was all too symmetrically perfect not to give it a go.
Park City’s bike riding was recently given the very first Gold Rating by the IMBA as a riding area. This made it, at a minimum, one of the best places to ride in the country, if not the world. I’ve raved about it before but we live in a area that kind of spoils us for riding. That said, if we didn’t take advantage of the epic ride potential I think it would be very sad. Sometimes you’ve got to go big.
Unfortunately we timed our ride with a fire so the air quality was lacking. We started early, I guess figuring that if we could see the smoke it might be better to breathe. It definitely caused us some major grief and, at one point, to consider abandoning our little adventure. But by then we’d already done most of the major climbing so it seemed just as easiest to finish it off.
We also got lost a few times but this was to be expected trying to link up an average of one trail per mile. It was never too epic, however, as even when you feel you’re in the middle of wilderness all you need to do in these parts is point your bike down and you’ll be back in civilization in a matter of minutes. It truly is a Shangri La for riding.
The “classic ride” was more a concept than a course. Pick up a Mountain Trails Federation map at any outdoor strore in town. It’s only 5 bucks and a ticket to an entire season of adventure.
Here was our plan.
Parked at the Jeremy Ranch entrance to the Glenwild and 24/7 area. Connected quite a few trails over to the Kimball Junction entrance. Headed under the highway to Old Ranch Road where we picked up a trail system leading towards Round Valley. A big loop around this entire area probably ticked 10 or 15 trails, all buffed single track. We then cruised up through the Prospector area into the Snow Top area and connected some trails down Village and then climbing Deer Crest et al to Silver Lake, where we had some breakfast. More than 30 trails, 25 miles and about 4k of climbing in the books.
We then climbed up to the top of Deer Valley on a few different trails and looped around the fun stuff like Flagstaff, Moosebones, etc, eventually dropping down TG1/Corvair to Empire Lodge. Another stack of trails and 3k or so of vert.
The next section began on Mid Mountain and linked stuff in Park City, where it’s super easy to make sensible link-ups (at one point we ride 5 trails in less than a mile), before heading across to Red Pine Lodge at The Canyons. Time for lunch, with some beer for recovery. 70 trails and 65 miles were now done, all of the needed climbing, and it was basically downhill back to the car.
The final bit of the ride finished off Mid Mountain into the Pinebrook area (unfortunately not all downhill as we were starting to get a tired), where we connected a few steep trails that took us down to Gorgoza Park and back to our car, with an extra trail and a few miles in the bank as well. All in all a very fine outing and a fantastic way to turn 37.