This past Sunday, January 29th, when it was 52 degrees and sunny outside, a large group of outdoor enthusiasts gathered at the Pocomoke YMCA. They had planned to take full advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures and clear skies. More than 25 adults and kids took off on two wheels down the thin dirt paths carved through the woods.

The International Mountain Biking AssociationEastern Shore Chapter (ESIMBA) hosted a winter Fun Race at the Y. I had heard about the event from my friend, Tres Denk, who happens to be one of the chapter’s coordinators. Originally, I had planned on heading to Cape Henlopen to hike but decided to stay a little closer to home (I’ll write about that park some other time). On Sunday morning I grabbed my camera, filled my to-go cup with hot tea, loaded my labradoodle into the car, and traveled south on Route 113 towards the Pocomoke YMCA. 30 minutes later, I walked out into the large open field behind the Y and was greeted by many familiar faces.

Denk was the first person I saw. He immediately filled me in on the details: 15 adults competing, 4-mile trek, kids were up next. He told me where I could head to see the most action. I immediately headed towards a biking trail known as The Ripper.

Not too long ago, a group of men (including the past director of the YMCA) decided it’d be an awesome idea to carve biking trails through the 100+ acres of land behind the Lower Shore stable. Since then, the trail has been created, maintained, and tailored to fit riders from beginner status to those who are advanced. The Ripper is defined by tight loops through the trees, varying dips, mud holes, bridges, and straightaways.

There are several small ponds, a medium sized man-made lake, a large wooded area, an open playing field, paved trails, dirt trails, and gravel trails throughout the property. Even while walking behind a string of riders I thoroughly enjoyed hiking the thin bike trails. It was really interesting to see how carefully planned out these trails were. They really wound through the woods with great precision.

The almost 4-mile single track took experienced riders less than 15 minutes to complete. In the future, the group hopes to add another 6 – 8 miles of pathways to the current setup.  Once the adults, who returned panting, sweating, and laughing, it was the kids turn. About 10 kids from Pocomoke, Snow Hill, Berlin, and Ocean Pines mounted their bikes and slowly peddled their way up the man-made hill on the property. Some of the kids actually walked their bikes up the hill – that’s how steep it was.

I’m not even sure that I could have peddled the entire way up that steep hill. It looked pretty small from far away, but seemed to grow in size as I walked closer to it. I left my mountain bike at my parent’s home a few months ago, figuring I wouldn’t need it on the shore. Ever since I heard about ESIMBA I’ve been wishing my bike was here.  Mountain Biking is an exciting and fun way to spend time outside and get healthy, too.

These mountain biking trails can add value to our local communities. By encouraging children and adults to get outside and get active, the ESIMBA can help Eastern Shore residents increase the wellbeing of our communities.  The ESIMBA hosts monthly family fun rides at the Lower Shore YMCA in Pocomoke City, MD on the last Sunday of the month. Denk said he hopes that their non-profit organization hopes to plan more mountain bike races throughout the upcoming winter months and into the spring.

Keep checking Shorebread for new information regarding the ESIMBA bike club. There are meetings tonight, and tomorrow night in Berlin regarding bicycle trails through the historic town. Grow Berlin Green and the Lower Shore Land Trust are hoping to ‘get Berlin moving’ by sketching out plans for walking, biking, riding, and running trails.

To read more about Ami’s outdoor adventures, visit the thinks below: