Great Mountain Bike Events For Beginners

Scenic morning on a mountain bike trail

Mountain biking is a fantastic hobby and sport. Whether you enjoy leisurely touring city parks, bombing down epic mountain bike trails, or racing around on a road bike, there are countless ways to enjoy cycling.

Organized events are a great way to improve your mountain biking skills and meet other cyclists. Some events are heavily geared toward competitive mountain bikers, but there are plenty of fun festivals with opportunities for people of all skill levels that emphasize fun and learning over competition. They are a great place to learn, grow, have fun, and try new things. 

Here are four festivals around the country that offer opportunities for the whole family.

Mussels In The Kettle Mountain Bike and Poker Ride

Non-competitive cyclists rejoice! This mountain bike event is not a race, so there is no pressure to perform. Join fellow cyclists on beautiful Whidbey Island in Coupeville, Washington for an out-and-back trail ride to the Kettles and Fort Ebey trail networks. 

Cyclists can choose between a leisurely nine-mile ride with just 800 feet of elevation gain, a 10-mile moderate ride, or a technical 13-mile ride with 1,250 feet of climbing. All routes lead to the Penn Cove Mussel Festival where riders can enjoy mussel chowder, cooking demos, farm tours, live music, and much more!

If you are looking for a little friendly competition and fun, you can participate in the Poker Ride. Collect a playing card at each of the designated checkpoints and the cyclist with the best poker hand at the end of the ride is the winner! Local businesses donate fantastic prizes for Poker Ride participants. 

All participants receive a pair of custom socks to commemorate the event and a token that can be redeemed for an ice cream bar from Whidbey Island Ice Cream or an adult beverage at MusselFest. Who doesn’t love finishing a bike ride with ice cream or a refreshing beverage.

Sea Otter Classic

Photo by Tom Conway on Unsplash

This is an exciting four-day cycling festival in beautiful Monterey, California that draws cyclists of all levels from around the world. There are professional and amateur races, criteriums, and a Gran Fondo. There’s even a kid’s mountain bike race for the tiny peddlers in your crew.

Enjoy gear demos, skills clinics, live entertainment, food, vendors, and everything that families and cyclists of all levels will love! Bring your tent to camp for the full festival experience.

The Gran Fondo is a beginner-friendly, European-inspired recreational ride. There is a 24-mile mountain bike Gran Fondo and two distance options for the road bike event (51-mile and 92-mile routes). Be sure to stop at the fully-stocked aid stations along the way to refill water bottles and enjoy delicious snacks and maybe even some live music.


Head to North Carolina for TuckFest, a celebration of all things outdoors! The festival takes place at the US National Whitewater Center and gets its name from the Tuckaseegee Trail that runs through Charlotte. 

There is something for everyone at TuckFest. Make memories together at the family obstacle race. Try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding. Be amazed at (or be amazing and enter) the epic bouldering competition. Participate in one of the trail running races that range from a 5K to a half marathon. There’s even a 5K Twilight Fun Run for the less competitive runners and a kids’ fun-run for the little tykes.

Cycling events abound at TuckFest, and mountain bikers of all skill levels are welcome. The Prairie Go Round is a mountain biking time-trial event. King and Queen of Goat Hill is a four-lap mountain bike race that navigates some of the trail system’s steepest climbs and heart-pounding descents.

Try your hand at downhill mountain biking in the Enduro Event. There’s a short track race for both kids and adults. The mountain-bike half marathon boasts 13.1 miles of beautiful single-track riding.

The icing on the mountain biking cake every year is the Short-Bike World Championships in which participants race 12” kid’s bikes through a “flat-ish” mountain bike course. You’ll laugh until you cry and you won’t want to sit this event out. 

When you’re not out on the trails, enjoy gear demos, skills clinics, yoga sessions, short films, live music, and great food. Don’t miss out on the whitewater rafting activities, orienteering, adventure races, and obstacle courses. 

One unique feature of TuckFest is that you pay a flat $35 entry fee and sign up for as many events as you’d like! Pack your weekend full of outdoor adventure for one very budget-friendly price. 

FIBArk Festival

FIBArk stands for First In Boating the Arkansas River. Located in Salida, CO, FIBArk began as a whitewater festival in 1949 and ballooned into a full festival celebrating all things outdoors! This is an excellent weekend for elite competitors, newbies, and everyone in between. 

The beginner mountain bike race is one lap around a six-mile loop on “the most mellow singletrack” downtown Salida has to offer. Come for the amazing, beginner mountain bike race and stay for everything else.

Watch some of the best whitewater competitors in a variety of events. Enjoy free yoga, a kids’ fun runs, 5K and 10K trail running races, disc golf, stand up paddleboarding, BMX and skate competitions, and more mountain bike races for kids, beginners, intermediate, and expert riders. 

Don’t miss the pancake breakfasts, live music, and other festivities. Participate in skills clinics, peruse the arts and crafts fair, test out some new gear at the gear demos, or sit back and relax with a cold drink. Get the full Salida FIBArk experience by bringing your tent or RV. 

Do you have a favorite beginner-friendly mountain biking event? Share in the comments!

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