In this third version of the Interstate Ride Guide, we follow Interstate 70 as it crosses the country from Maryland to Utah, going past some riding spots both level and mountainous, famous and little-known, epic and modest. Behind all of them, however, stands a community of mountain bikers that love and care for these trails, since they are their home.
With this edition we gave the riders a chance to go beyond a mere description of their home trails. What makes them home, after all, is more than mere proximity: it is sweat equity and memory of great experiences.
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There's more than what you see here for this project—go to the Web Extras for this article at Dirtragmag.com for more stories, links and locations.
If you start your I-70 journey at the eastern terminus, the first mandatory stop is Patapsco Valley State Park. The park spans 32 miles along the river valley and has two primary biking areas. Known as Avalon and McKeldin, they are separated by less-developed areas of the park and each has their own network of trails that can keep you busy for a few hours. Most would argue the Avalon area is the No. 1 mountain bike destination in the Baltimore region.
In 2002 a group of us struck out on what we hoped would be a ground-breaking trip, one that would connect the Avalon and McKeldin riding areas by as much singletrack and dirt riding as possible. With prior field research (i.e. lots of riding) and a new park map that had just been published showing a huge network of "unmaintained trails," we were successful in joining the two areas together for what was later dubbed the Tour de Patapsco route, a 50-mile round trip connecting the two local jewels.
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Now the park management itself is working on making this a legitimate end-to-end trail dubbed the "Thru Trail" complete with sweet bench cut singletrack where there were once barely-existing slivers of eroded dirt. The "Thru Trail" is not complete yet but a lot of progress has been made. Anyone with a sense of adventure can purchase a topo map from the park, which touts "over 170 miles of trails." Then just pack a lunch and build your own adventure.
Patapsco itself is a huge success story. In the mid-90s some trails were in bad shape and the finger was being pointed at the two-wheeled trail users. Threats of closure were in the air. Mountain bikers rallied, fought to keep access and became a tour de force in trail advocacy and maintenance in the park. Local trail advocates have a great relationship with the park and a huge influence on trail projects. Just as important, the park staff understands and embraces IMBA trail building standards and has seen huge success in building and maintaining sustainable singletrack. —Joe Whitehair
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