It’s official, bike park season has finally kicked off! While people were traveling from all over North America to head to Whistler for opening weekend, I opted to head south from Oneonta, NY to Vernon, NJ to ride Mountain Creek Bike Park with the SUNY Oneonta Mountain Bike Club. The student-run college club has been annually visiting Mountain Creek for quite some time now, and this time the conditions could not have been more perfect for a long day of riding. With temperatures in the high 70s, a slight breeze blowing, and the sun beaming down on the recently opened trails, we knew we’d be in for a treat and how right we’d soon prove ourselves to be.
The SUNY Oneonta Mountain Bike Club.
After checking in, renting bikes, getting lift tickets, and stocking up on food/water/tools, we were ready to hit the trails around 10am. A short lift up to the top of the mountain brings you to a junction and a trail kiosk where you can access most (and then connect to) Mountain Creek’s 51 different trails. We began with all seven of us riding some of the beginner and intermediate trails such as Greenhorn, Ego Trip, and Deviant, and after a few runs we ended up gathering enough courage to test out some of the black diamond trails.
Merrick Shawe taming a rock roller.
A few more runs (and crashes) later, one begins to wonder if there is truly anything more fun than flying down a trail on a bike on a beautiful spring day… that is, until you reach the bottom of the hill to find a biergarten, or beer garden. Who cares what it’s called, there’s delicious beer and equally delicious gastropub delights such as barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork or chicken tacos, cheeseburgers, and so on. So after a pint of german beer and a few tacos, I felt energized enough to throw down several more runs.
My Stumpjumper was able to handle most of what Mountain Creek threw at it.
Feeling a little more adventurous, a few riders from the club and I decided to head to the backside of the mountain and ride some of the more technical, rocky and rooty sections. Riding trails such as Bushwhack, Asylum, and Waterboy were by no means impossible on my Stumpjumper, but I was definitely careful with my line choice, compared to some of my fellow riders who were able to get away with slightly more thanks to their downhill rentals. Regardless of bike selection, some sections on those trails were challenging and downright nasty at times, and yet were still fun.
Zeke Brynin was probably wondering “where is the trail?” after navigating this rock section.
With 51 different trails to choose from, there’s a trail and a style for every rider. Whether you’re into smoother, machine-built jump trails with an abundance of flow, or more natural, technical and rockier sections, or even freeriding features with plenty of drops and wall rides, Mountain Creek is sure to satisfy your needs as a rider.
Kelvin Casey hitting the drop on Flume.
From the perfect weather and great trail conditions, to the music and delicious food and beer, the atmosphere surrounding opening weekend could not have been any more ideal. Mountain Creek has set the tone for what is sure to be an amazing season of not only downhill mountain biking, but mountain biking as a whole. Northeast riding is alive and well and Mountain Creek Bike Park and its staff are doing their part to make sure it stays that way.