2018 Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest

For the third year in a row, I drove across the Lone Star State with friends to participate in the Chihuahuan Desert Mountain Bike Endurance Fest. We loaded our mountain bikes and camping gear at four in the morning on Valentine’s Day and arrived at Big Bend Ranch State Park at four in the afternoon.
We wasted no time in getting our base camp set up at the Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas. This park serves as ground zero for the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest that draws upwards of 500 mountain bikers from around the nation. For three days on Presidents Day weekend in February, the RV park becomes a small town with a population several times greater than that of Lajitas.
Big Bend Ranch State Park features some amazing trails, including a 50-plus mile Epic Loop rated as one of the best trails in the country by the International Mountain Biking Association. No worries, however, if you are hesitant to tackle a torturous trail like the Epic Loop. The bike fest is a non-competitive event that features a variety of guided rides for every skill level.
After setting up our campsite, we mounted our bikes and headed east toward the Buena Suerte Trail to get a ride in before sunset. The Buena Suerte trail is a wide jeep trail that leads to several single track trails that range in difficulty from easy to pretty hard stuff to ride.
Over the course of our two and a half days, we managed to rack up close to eighty-miles on the trails. While we all enjoyed riding our own mountain bikes, we couldn’t resist checking out the more expensive mountain bikes made available by the country’s biggest bike brands.
On our second day, I opted to try the Cannondale Monterra 2 electric mountain bike with full suspension and fat tires. This is one amazing mountain bike that features four electronic settings that make trail riding a whole new experience. This bike is nothing short of amazing. It was so much fun to ride and the fat tires just ate up the trails.The best part of an event like the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest is sharing the adventure with friends. We had a blast checking out new trails, stopping to take pics along the way, back-tracking to repeat fun sections of the trails, eating some delicious meals, and sitting around the campfire in the evenings.
I was especially glad to run into Karen Hoffman Blizzard and David Heinicke, two friends I met on my first ride two years ago. Karen is a contributing writer to Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine and David is the head naturalist at Brazos Bend State Park. They were great encouragers to me on my first ride and shepherded me down a trail that was a little above my riding skills at that time.
If you enjoy mountain biking then make it a point to do the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest. This ride is 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. I think you’ll agree that this ride is unquestionably one of the best things going for mountain bikers in the Lone Star State.

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