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The joy of Hero Dirt

Adam Love and a mountain bike: “You feel the burn the first couple of rides and then after that it starts to come back.”

Adam Love and a mountain bike: “You feel the burn the first couple of rides and then after that it starts to come back.”

By Sara Villalobos

As the snow melts and gives way to the moist earth beneath it, a local past time is revived each year.

Mountain biking in Wenatchee reaches its peak in spring when novice and experienced riders alike brush off their helmets and rebuild their fitness, pushing pedals and putting rubber to the “hero dirt” that is prized this time of year.

“‘Hero Dirt’ is tacky, playful, responsive, lively trail conditions on the single track where the berms aren’t dry, dusty or airy,” said Adam Love, a local cyclist and the bicycle buyer for area bike shop Arlberg Sports. “It’s something that you don’t get when it’s July and it’s 105 degrees out and it’s been dry for weeks.”

Adam is the guy who gets to learn about the latest and greatest in the bike world, and figure out what’s going to work best for you on the roads and trails of the Wenatchee Valley.

A Wenatchee local, born and raised, Adam didn’t begin biking himself until after a season at Arlberg Sports piqued his interest staying outdoors and active after ski season. “I was hired on for winter and then come springtime biking became an interest,” Adam said. “I started commuting and then it became mountain biking and then road riding. Next thing you know you have six bikes in your garage and they all have a different purpose.”

Fourteen years later, Adam is as dedicated to cycling as he is to the winter activities that originally drew him to work at Arlberg Sports. Like many people who get back on the bike in their adulthood, Adam’s perceptions of local transportation were changed when he began using a bicycle to commute.

“In Wenatchee, being the size that it is, it’s actually very easy to not drive and just get around on your bicycle if you just give yourself enough time,” he said.

“Not being a cyclist you don’t think about it, but when you are a cyclist you definitely conduct yourself differently when you drive. It just makes everything work together. To me that was a pretty big eye-opener for the way that I keep myself alert when I drive and keep myself alert when I ride my bike.”

Between the Apple Capital Loop and a spectacular grid of bike lanes and on-street bike routes, Wenatchee is a highly bike friendly city. But the practical aspects are just the beginning of the joy of local biking.

“The amount of energy you get and the way you feel after you ride your bike is bar none better than pushing down on a gas pedal,” Adam explains. “It’s a great energy. A great feeling. It’s like drinking coffee but there’s no caffeine.”

That kind of buzz is what attracts Adam and many others to stay on the bike. Luckily, Wenatchee is practically built for biking. With its on-road infrastructure surrounded by off-road mountain biking, world class bicycling is a hot commodity that Adam doesn’t take for granted.

“We’re very fortunate to live in the valley and have all of these things around us,” he said. “The single track, the forest service roads, the Cascades. It’s something that other people take a lot of time to go access and we have it right in our back yard.”

Springtime is a kind of reawakening for those trails, and the legs who’ll pedal up and down them. Even those who stay fit in the winter skiing and snowboarding have an adjustment period getting back on the bike.

No matter who you are, “the beginning is always a climb,” said Adam. “You feel the burn the first couple of rides and then after that it starts to come back. That’s also the cool thing because you can kind of see how you build. You can ride the trail a few times and see the progression.”

Areas like Sage Hills and Horse Lake Reserve give a challenging-but-approachable mountain biking experience within minutes of Wenatchee.

For beginners, the My City Bikes Wenatchee app provides a list of entry-level MTB rides and GPS enabled directions to find your way to the trailhead. The proximity of mountain biking and the ability to ride to scenic heights to the Wenatchee city limits is unusual, and the hero dirt and flowering fields are a beckoning distraction from the fitness curve faced by experienced and novice riders alike.

“If you live in town you can get on your bike and ride to a trailhead within 15 minutes,” explains Adam. “Or you can get in your vehicle and drive half an hour to get a different scenery and be in the trees.

“Within 20 minutes you can be looking at an awesome view of the valley. In the springtime everything is blooming and it’s just beautiful.”

Sara Villalobos is a My City Bikes spokeswoman and cycling advocate from San Jose, CA. My City Bikes is the web and mobile public health alliance supporting beginner cyclists at every age. The My City Bikes Wenatchee app is the beginner’s guide to biking in Wenatchee. It is available to download free on Apple and Android devices. To download, visit mycitybikes.org/washington.


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