Out There

Rim shot The view from North Rim Trail

Rim shot The view from North Rim Trail

BIKE IN ACTION Mountain bikers rejoice! It’s a day that many thought would never come. The rainy season is gone, the warm sun is here, and the trails in Bidwell Park are finally open. (Curses to those of you who’ve been poaching the trails when they’re closed.)

At last count, there were something like 70 miles of biking trails in Upper Park alone. Of those, there is a variety of trails for different styles and abilities of riding. Think of the trails like slopes at a ski resort. There are green trails for beginners (Lower and Annie Bidwell), blues for adventurers (North Rim and Guardian) and blacks for extremists (B Trail and Bloody Pin). Likewise, there are downhill runs for those craving speed, big air and soft landings, while there is also a plethora of cross-country trails for a more cardiovascular workout and technical challenge.

ROCK AND ROLL Learning, developing and honing your riding skills in Upper Park will make mountain biking seem like cake anywhere else. The chunky Tuscan formation that makes up the majority of the rock in the park forces people to learn balance, grace and craftiness to stay upright and moving.

If you’re new to the sport or looking to get into it, Lower Park has a series of trails that zig-zag along the northern bank of Big Chico Creek running all the way from One-Mile to Five-Mile. They also make for a good warm-up to the more challenging rides in Upper Park. If it’s your first time riding in Upper Park, the road can be a good intro to the type of terrain you’ll be facing—it’s dusty and bumpy as all hell, just like the rest of the rides. Plus, it’s closer to the creek if you need to jump in and cool off.

BOOKS ON BIKES The riding in the park is renowned, so much so that Falcon Guide, a popular series of trail manuals, has devoted an entire book, Mountain Biking Chico, to the riding in the area. Additionally, trail maps are available at the city of Chico’s Web site and at most bicycle-affiliated shops around town.

If you don’t yet own a bike or are in the market for a new one, North Rim Adventure Sports has rentals that begin at $25 a day for hard-tails and $35 a day for full-suspension bikes. Half-day rates are also available.

YAHOO! As with anything, there’s certain etiquette to riding mountain bikes. Uphill traffic always has the right of way. Yield the path to pedestrians, and get off your bike so as not to freak out horses. And please, stay on marked existing trails. Environmentalists like me get pissed off when some yahoo goes screaming off through a field of wildflowers. The purple ones are pretty.