2017 Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest

Last year’s Chihuahuan Desert Mountain Bike Endurance Fest was one of my favorite Lone Star State adventures. The venue for this bike fest that draws hundreds of mountain bikers from across the state and beyond is the expansive Chihuahuan Desert at Big Bend Ranch State Park — without question one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing places in Texas.
Chihuahuan DesertThe Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest is an annual event offered on Presidents’ Day Weekend in February and sponsored by Desert Sports of Terlingua, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and Lajitas Resort. If you are interested in riding, then be sure to register early. The event is capped at 500 riders and fills up well before the registration deadline.
Bike GuysOne of the best things about this event is that it is a ride and not a race. Whether you have a multi-thousand dollar full-suspension mountain bike or an entry-level hard tail, you will feel right at home. There are guided rides for every skill level. You can ride at your own pace and not feel embarrassed if you have to dismount and walk your bike up a scree-covered incline.
Maverick RV ResortBase camp for the big event is the Lajitas Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas, located adjacent to the old town cemetery that looks like something out of an old western. The surrounding desert hills and mesas only add to the old west mystique. The ride turns the RV Park into a boomtown crammed with RV’s and tents, brand name bike vendors, and evening campfires and music and conversation.
Biking FriendsThis year I returned to the Bike Fest with several friends. We had reserved a couple of sites after last year’s ride to make sure that we would have a place to pitch our tents. And, because we enjoy this event so much, we have already reserved our spaces for the next two years and hope to encourage a few more of our dirt-loving buddies to join us.
James at Bike FestAs soon as the sun came up we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and then mounted our mechanical steeds and headed off into the desert. We enjoyed two and a half days of riding and logged a little more than sixty trail miles. To say we had a blast would be an understatement. Sharing this adventure with good friends made it all the more enjoyable.
Trek at Chihuahuan Desert Bike FestI love events that bring people together — and the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest does just that. We enjoyed sharing our dutch oven desert with our neighbors at the campsite, talking with other riders, sharing tales of our daily rides, laughing a whole lot, and warming our feet at our evening campfire under the watchful glimmer of billions of stars in our deep in the heart of Texas sky.
img_1445If you are a mountain biker, then I encourage you to add the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest to your list of adventures. Get it on your calendar now. Register early. And then join the fun in one of the most amazing places in the Lone Star State. Hope to see you in the Chihuahuan Desert in 2018.

Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest

The Chihuahuan Desert is one of the most beautiful places in Texas. The expansive spaces, distant silhouetted hills, distinctive desert flora, deep in the heart of Texas kind of skies, and mesmerizing chiaroscuro splashed across the faces of desert mesas all work together to create an iconic Texas vista. This is a place like none other in the Lone Star State. And this is the setting for the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest.
Chihuahuan Desert PanoramaThe Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest is a mountain bikers dream come true. Sponsored by Desert Sports, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and Lajitas Resort, this annual mountain bike endurance fest draws mountain bikers from far and wide. Dirt lovers from novice to expert come to enjoy three days of guided rides on some of the best mountain biking trails in the country. Evening activities, music, food, and the opportunity to make lots of new friends make this a fun event.
Omar and James Bike FestMy friend James Meredith and I registered for the bike fest at the last minute — and I am so glad we did. The drive from Houston to Big Bend Ranch State Park reminded us that in Texas you measure travel distance by hours rather than miles. We scored a campsite at the Maverick Ranch RV Resort, base camp for the event, and had an unforgettable adventure camping out, cooking out, and riding some amazing single track trails.
Karen Bike FestI am still fairly new to the mountain biking world. No matter. Riders can choose a ride suited to their abilities from a tantalizing menu of guided rides. I will confess that I felt like I bit off a little more than I could chew on our first day of riding. But, I did manage to finish the 25-mile ride through the rugged desert hills. Our second day of 20-plus mile riding took us down more amazing trails in the park.
James Karen Omar David Bike FestI am especially grateful for trail guides Karen Hoffman Blizzard (a contributing writer to Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine) and David Heinicke (head naturalist at Brazos Bend State Park), two of many trail guides assigned to each of the rides. They not only gave me lots of good riding advice, they encouraged me every mile of the way. Karen reminded me that the bike fest is not a race but a ride meant to be enjoyed. She was right. And even though my legs were burning and my heart was pumping hard, I enjoyed every minute on the trail.
Bike Fest SignThe Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest is an annual event offered on Presidents’ Day Weekend in February. Registration is limited to 500 riders. The best bike companies in the nation are present and allow riders to test ride their bikes. And, sponsoring bike companies from around the state set up shop at trailheads and intersections to provide repair services.
James Bike Fest TrailThe Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest benefits the Big Bend Trails Alliance — a local, non-profit organization that helps create and maintain these famous West Texas trails for mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Kudos to the trails alliance for doing an amazing job of keeping these trails in excellent condition.
Bike Fest Riders 2016If you are a mountain biker, I encourage you to check out this amazing bike fest. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. James and I have already made plans to return next year along with more of our buddies from Katy. We agree that the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest is one of the best adventures in Texas. I hope you’ll check it out for yourself.
James Bike Fest