By Alicia Dziak

Photo International Mountain Bicycling Association

Is your idea of a perfect day flying through the woods on your bike? Do you live for navigating single tracks to get your heart pumping? You’re not alone! Ellicottville has quite the reputation in mountain biking circles.

Ellicottville is “Epic,” according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), which defines the designation as a region that offers “demanding, singletrack mountain biking adventures in a natural setting … that are technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length.”

National Geographic Explorer calls Ellicottville one of “America’s Best Adventure Towns” for its mountain biking opportunities, and suggests you make a weekend of the trails, dining, lodging and entertainment offerings. Bike Magazine, New York Magazine, the Buffalo News and many other media outlets have given the area rave reviews, too.

If you’re looking to meet up with other like-minded individuals and enjoy group rides, as well as help maintain trails, look no further than the Western New York Mountain Biking Association (WNYMBA). The group meets regularly to tackle trail improvements, and of course, enjoy riding. Upcoming events include a work day at Sprague Brook Park (Erie County, just north of Springville), followed by the Ellicottville Trail Work Day and WNYMBA’s 23rd birthday on May 3. Become a member and join the ongoing effort to improve and expand the mountain biking opportunities in WNY. Individual and family memberships are available. For more information, visit www.wnymba.org.

Ready to compete? WNY has you covered!

Weekly spring mountain bike racing is back at Sprague Brook Park this season. Every Wednesday, May 13 through July 1, get your ride on at Sprague Brook Park, with races beginning at 6:30 p.m. A series finale party and awards ceremony will be held on the last night. Competitors can pick and choose from participation levels and can sign up for one race or for the entire series. For more information, visit www.singletrackracing.com.

The annual Raccoon Rally at Allegany State Park will be held this year June 27-28. While Saturday is focused on road racing, Sunday challenges mountain bikers to a cross country race through the Art Roscoe Trail system. Beginner (13 miles), Sport (19 miles) and Expert (30 miles) classes compete for awards for the top three in each of the following age groups: U14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50+. The races start and finish at Camp Allegany, Red House side of the park.

The weekend also includes a kids’ race, Sunday at 1:30 p.m., in which, weather permitting, kids complete one, two or five laps. Kids’ races are free, and parents need to be on-site for registration. Awards will be given to the top three kids in each heat.  For more information about Raccoon Rally weekend, visit heartrateup.com.

Then, mark your competition calendars for 6 Hours of Power on Sunday, July 12, at Holiday Valley. The event, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is considered one of the region’s most demanding mountain bike races of the year. The event centers around the Mountain Sports Center, where racers will find the registration area, the start/finish lines and the transition/pit areas. The challenging course features a 10-mile loop with 1,200 feet of elevation changes, and is 75 percent singletrack. Competitors can fuel up afterwards at the post-race pasta party and awards ceremony. For more information, visit heartrateup.com.

Of course, for those who are just looking to spend a leisurely day exploring the area biking trails, there are many fantastic places from which to choose.

Take to the woods on Holiday Valley’s mountain biking trails. The 4-5 mile “race loop” starts at the Holiday Valley Training Center and connects to miles of additional trails in the neighboring state forest. Don’t have a bike? No problem! Mountain bike rentals are available at the Inn at Holiday Valley. Call (716) 699-2345.

Not sure where to begin on your adventure? An excellent guide to mountain biking in the area, prepared by WNYMBA, is available at Holiday Valley and at Bike and Bean (30 Washington Street, Ellicottville). Proceeds benefit WNYMBA and its trail building projects.