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Harrisonburg (VA) Bronze-level

Photo courtesy of Shenandoah Mountain Touring.

Anyone who has spent time riding in the Mid-Atlantic or southeast knows that the "secret stash" mentality can be hard to overcome. Not in Harrisonburg, where a strong community of riders has long dedicated themselves to moving beyond the "You need to know somebody to ride here" ethos.

Want to take a novice rider for a spin in the center of town? Head for the Rocktown Trails at Hillendale Park and follow the green loops. Step things up with the blue- and red-blazed trails and you'll find more gnar than you'd expect in a city park; it's the embodiment of IMBA's "stacked loop" approach to providing progressive levels of challenge in a small area. Continue exploring in and around town and you'll access everything from two full-on Epic trails (the Southern Traverse and Spruce Knob) to flow trails at Massanutten Resort. Not interested in buying a resort pass? If you're willing to join the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and log 8 or more hours of volunteer trail building time, you can ride for free.

"The leaders in the SVBC, the Shenandoah Bicycle Company, and Shenandoah Mountain Touring have done an excellent job of making friends in high places," says Frank Maguire, IMBA's Regional Director. "It's their political savvy and community spirit, even more than their trail building skills, that have made Harrisonburg a stand-out location."

Harrisonburg is also a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community and has numereous ways for cyclists to be part of the ride. From the queen stage of the NUE series, the Shenandoah Mountain 100, to the Yee Ha and Hoo-Ha races at Massanutten, Harrsonburg has great sanctioned ways to get your racing fix. Want to try a more low-key event, but still race for bragging rights? Then check out the Tour de Burg in July, or the Fall Six Pack series. The Shenandoah Festival in October has become a great season ending celebration of the trails over the last 14 years, balancing trailwork, rides and good times in a surprisingly family-friendly environment.

Both the City Parks and Rec department and James Madison University offer excellent introductory mountain bike classes, taught by local instructors. If you want to see the very best trails in the region while all the logistics get handled for you, Shenandoah Mountain Touring has been guiding people on the local rides for over a dozen years.