Epic long mountain bike rides throughout the world
How it started
Around 2008 a guy named Greg contacted me through Geoladders because I was doing some interesting and sometimes epic exploratory rides in San Diego. He asked if I wanted to ride locally. On that ride he started to tell me why he reached out to me, one of the reasons being that he wanted help exploring links to piece together a 100 mile “dirty century” somewhere in San Diego County. We started sharing GPS files and our explorations immediately to link as many dirt fragments as possible to build that 100 mile ride, preferably a loop, quite a task in North County San Diego considering its 900,000+ inhabitants and shrinking open space. After countless emails, solo rides, team rides, dead ends, never really getting lost, and countless hike-a-bike miles later we finally made the connections. This was all before Strava and decent cell phones for tracking, but our Garmin units and Google Earth were all we really needed.
There was no fanfare when Greg and I finally put the epics together, in spite of our efforts to tell the media, the local mountain bike community, and every land manger in the county what we had done. Regardless, to us it was huge, and we still think it is. We hope the connections stay, stay open, and people get out to see San Diego. These routes are one more item to add to the long list of why San Diego is so awesome. Trail connectivity certainly is one impetus to help save open space in San Diego.
Greg and I created Dirty Century.net to celebrate the San Diego Dirty Century, which birthed additional epic MTB rides as a result (Big Ring, Big Point, and several Dirty Half and Metric Centuries). We also wanted to acknowledge the plethora of other long dirt rides throughout the world.
People that mountain bike don’t have an Appalachian Trail, or Pacific Crest Trail, but the Continental Divide is the next best thing, though mountain bikes have to skip vast portions and hit pavement. The goal of Dirty Century was to keep you on the dirt as much as possible. We hope the spirit of exploration, adventure, and connectivity will continue to grow as we welcome public participation in this pursuit– to build a place for epic long mountain bike rides throughout the world because bikes belong.
I’m not sure how much more effort will be put into continuing this endeavor beyond what we have already done above, and the world table, but there are some great “epic” routes at these sites: bikepacking.com and bikepacking.net. Other than helping out your own local trail or mtb group, you can visit some of these links to learn more about advocacy and thinking about what it means to ride free and share trails. “Long live long rides.”