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Nov 18 / admin

That Epic Time of Year Again

Epic Time of Year

It’s November, and that means that one of hardest-working non-profits has once again released its annual additions to the pantheon of so-called Epic trails. IMBA‘s latest list of inductees includes a few I’ve heard of. The trails at Indiana’s Brown County State Park, for example—25 miles of succulent singletrack winding through one of the largest contiguous hardwood forest east of the Mississippi.

Brown County Bridges; Lifted from: WereThereMan.com

I’ve also heard of the Kerr Scott Trails in North Carolina. No, this isn’t the same stupid-rocky hard-scrabble singletrack that’s earned Pisgah its well-deserved reputation for gloriously agonizing riding. Instead, the W.Kerr Scott Reservoire is on the western end of the state, tucked in between the Blue Ridge and Brushy mountains, where the trails are loved more for their roller-coaster flow than their technical traits. The three networks that make up this new IMBA Epic are Dark Mountain (7.5 miles), The Overmountain Victory Trail (9.5 miles) and Warrior Creek (17+ miles).

Video intro to another new IMBA Epic, this one by way of Wales: The W2 Trail

IMBA’s defiinition of “Epic”has changed as the sport and the trail-building ethos that help grow it have evolved. While a lower-case “epic” ride might still mean getting lost in the backcountry for hours on end, or “epic” scenery, the upper-case Epic is increasingly used to designate trail systems that exemplify large-scale sustainable trail-building practices and positive, lasting cooperation with local land managers. Epic yawn, right? Sortof. To get the Epic stamp the trail still has to meet certain criteria—not the least of which is a propensity to make grown men giggle like little girls while riding said trails.

Last year I wrote a piece for Adventure-Journal about the evolving definition of IMBA’s Epic designation that took a closer look the Epic Class of 2010. [See HERE for the official IMBA master list of Epics.] For a look at this year’s freshman class see Lou Mazzante’s write-up at Bicycling.com, where you’ll also find my run-down of a new O-fficial model trail designation from IMBA: Ride Centers, which includes the Cuyuna Lakes success story, pictured below.

Photo: Hansi Johnson