Every summer thousands of mountain bikers assemble in East Burke Vermont for the New England Mountain Bike Festival. NEMBA fest is two fun filled days of riding on one of North America's premier Mountain Biking destinations, Kingdom Trails.
June 25th and 26th marked the annual NEMBA fest. This is the second year that this event was held at the Burke Bike Park on Kingdom Trails and I was there, enjoying the scene as a happy participant and supplying local knowledge as a group ride leader. This year’s event had a great turnout of New England mountain bikers who were excited to ride. There were a lot of venue vendors, bike demos, and food tents that set up right at the base of Burke Mountain right by the chair lift. The KT trail system is vast with over 120 miles of trails. For riders looking to ride different sections, but didn’t have the time or energy to make the pedal, there were free shuttles provided by Jay Peak (Burke’s sister resort) and Masterlink Tours. Masterlink is run by my fellow 5 10 teammate Josh Gee and I would like to thank him for his help.
The East Burke area is the perfect place for an event like NEMBA. There was a good crowd of participants enjoying the multiple bike industry vendor booths and a solid lift line that snaked through the venue area. Burke Bike Park was keeping people entertained with the smooth flowing downhill trails while XC riders met up for all day adventures on the 100 miles of single track that Kingdom Trails maintains. The family scene was huge, as parents took their kids out to enjoy a great weekend of mountain biking.
Friday was the start of the NEMBA fest for me, with laps at Burke Bike Park till the sun went down. The riding didn’t stop there as some local friends from shuttled and went on a DH night ride from the summit of Burke. With our head lamps on we schralped our way down one of my favorite trails at Burke, Jbar. It was the perfect way to get NEMBA fest kicked off.
Saturday started off with an exciting group ride with Kona rider Barry Wicks. I guided everyone on a trail called Moose Alley which descends from the resort to the Village of East Burke. Once in town, I dropped my group off at the shuttle. From there Mike, Barry and I went on a quick sprint ride, on the Darling Hill section of our trail network, that absolutely winded me but didn’t really seem to phase Barry (big surprise).
Rain was quite persistent later on in the afternoon but barely diminished people’s spirits to go ride. When people returned from their rides to the venue they were able to fuel up at their choice of food vendors, peruse the booths for peeks at the latest and greatest gear and play bike games organized by local shops. Live music entertained the crowd till everyone was tired and went back to their respective condo, rental house or camping area to call it a night.
The rain stopped early Saturday night and dried up nicely by morning. I led another group ride, this one was huge with 25 riders and included Giant pro rider Jeff Lenosky. With the group being so big we decided to split up into groups and I eventually ended up riding with 6 others. We covered around 20 miles on that ride going from Burnham down all the way over to Darling hill. After the ride, Lenosky put on a trials show at the base of Burke Mountain. It’s amazing to watch someone with so much bike control, he was able to center his chi and make his bike do whatever he wanted even after a 20 mile ride.
To finish up the day I did some Bike Park laps and checked out the industry booths with my son Daymien and lovely wife Jen. The afternoon thunderstorm that rolled through put a stop to the lift and that was the end to the 2013 NEMBA fest for us.
NEMBA fest was an awesome event that is really geared toward enhancing the riding experience for all abilities. That being said, a lot bike events like this include some sort of race. This provides fun for the more competitive crowd and spectating for the rest. There was no racing this year but I would like to see it added in the future.
Till next year,