Mt. Biking Culture Sweeps the N.E.K.

helmetBURKE- If you drive through Burke on the weekends, you're almost guaranteed to see a pack of mountain bikers making their way to the trails. The sport's popularity has significantly increased over the past few years, boosting the Northeast Kingdom's economy tremendously.

The area's trails have even united riders from across the globe, as this year's North American Enduro World Series was hosted at Burke Mountain.

The race welcomed riders from near and far, all who were excited to try out the Northeast Terrain. According to Head Official of the series, Chris Gilbert, this is one of his favorite areas to ride. "It is probably one of the best locations that we travel to. This is the final event of the three that we do, and it's probably one of the riders favorites as well. I mean the terrain is perfect, and the people that we work with, it's all tremendous," he said. 

Burke's marketing director, Jessica Sechler, shared her excitement for bringing the competition to the area as well, stating that it puts their trails on the map. "It's huge. You know? This is really great exposure because we have people from all over the world here competing because it's part of this huge series. There's a $5,000 cash purse for first prize in the pro category. So that's some pretty solid incentive to come here. Plus to have that title, it's a very prestigious title in the Enduro world. So yeah, it's actually super exciting to have it here. It's really neat."

Both Sechler and Gilbert expressed a hope and an interest in bringing the race back to Burke for next year's finals.

Another association sparking interest in the mountain biking world is Kingdom Trails. The non-profit conservation organization has been encouraging riders to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of the area since their establishment in 1994.

Within the past few months the organization has even inspired some passionate bikers to open trails of their own in Derby. According to Abigail Long, Kingdom Trail's Executive Director, she's been in close communication with the individual spearheading the project. "If we can bring those benefits, and that impact elsewhere, not only in our region, but our state and our country, we are more than happy to spread the wealth."

Long continued to discuss Kingdom Trail's personal expansion into East Haven, stating that it's the first time the organization has crossed county lines, and that they couldn't be more excited to extend their network.

And along with all of the economic prosper, the sport has also sparked a passion in many riders, both new and advanced. "We're finding that everyone in the family can do it, and everyone loves to do it together," said Sechlar.

According to Long, not only can mountain biking bring you more miles than running or hiking, but it can also bring you to some of the most beautiful locations that the area has to offer.