Each October, the Brown County Epic attracts riders from all over the country to Nashville, Indiana. The paths, dreamed up by world-renowned trail designer Alex Stewart and built almost entirely by hard-working volunteers from the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association (HMBA), snake through Brown County State Park into Yellowwood State Forest and Hoosier National Forest. How impressive are these trails in our backyard? Only about 40 other trail networks worldwide have earned the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s coveted Ride Center designation, and Brown County stands side-by-side with singletrack from New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Canada, and other far-flung destinations.
The Epic is inarguably local mountain bikers’ favorite event of the season. Riders can pedal between 25 and 100 miles across a wide spectrum of singletrack, ranging from fast, flowy trails—I’ve ridden all over the world, and Hobbs Hollow may be the most fun trail I’ve ever skidded a tire across—to more rugged, backcountry paths. A few of the trails can only be ridden on the event weekend each year. But because the event coincides with peak leaf season, it’s almost impossible to keep your attention focused entirely on the trail in front of you.
In addition to the awesome riding, visitors can partake in free beer from Quaff On Brewing Co., live music, and massive amounts of barbecue. You can also get free last-second bike adjustments from SRAM volunteers or even test-ride bikes from Giant, Liv, Specialized, and other companies.
Best of all is the sense of community surrounding the Epic. Riders catch up with old friends on the trail and around the campfire.
“The Epic brings together the best of Hoosier mountain biking to one place for a whole weekend,” said Mark Finney, a frequent participant. “The best trails in the state, great music, great people, and great demo rides on dream bikes.”
Not sure if you’re skilled enough to tackle this literally epic event? Sally Marchand Collins, who once stood on a mountain bike world-championship podium and now teaches mountain bike skills to both new and experienced riders, offers an intensive clinic that weekend.
Tickets range from $40 for youth riders to $125, with all proceeds going back to the trails. To register, visit Big Woods Brown County Epic Mountain Bike Festival’s website.