The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival is your chance to ride the best mountain bikes in one the world's premier mountain bike destinations. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
Editor's Note: This sponsored post is courtesy of the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival.
It's basic common sense. If you want to know which mountain bike is the right new mountain bike for you, there's only one way to find out - ride them. But that's often not feasible in today's cycling landscape where local bike shops only carry a handful of brands, and some bike makers only sell consumer direct. There is an answer, though. Consumer demo events such as the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival (March 1-3, 2019) avail the chance to do legitimate side-by-side testing on real trails, not parking lot loops. So why else should you come to Arizona in early spring? Here are 10 very compelling reasons.
1. More demo bikes than any other consumer demo event
The key to a successful consumer demo event is having enough demo bikes. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
This is the reason why you come to the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival and you will not be disappointed. The 2019 line-up includes all the hot offerings from brands such as Evil, Ibis, Santa Cruz, Juliana, Pivot, Yeti, Intense, YT, Giant, Liv, Specialized, Salsa, Transition, Scott, Marin, Commencal, Canyon, Mondraker, Spot, Devinci, Niner, Cannondale and more. On top of that, there are plenty of component and apparel brands showing off their latest designs and offering special deals. And Shimano will be on site showing their STEPS System and leading e-bike group rides on motorized legal trails.
2. Amazing trails
Sedona is a true mountain bike bucket list destination. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
This is the other reason you need to come to the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival. The greater Sedona area features over 200 miles of spectacular singletrack, most of it set within the red rock wonderland that makes this area so special. And because there are so many trails, it never feels crowded. Better yet, most of those trails are directly accessible right from the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival venue, including flow trails and a pump track in the city park that hosts the event.
They also offer unlimited shuttles for riders who want to explore a little further afield. And with so much terrain to choose from there are literally trails for all skill levels. Beginners can utilize the shuttle service to access Bell Rock Pathway or Long Canyon, while advanced riders can pedal to the Hogs Trails or Scorpion/Pyramid trails, as well as shuttle to Hi Line. In between are tons of intermediate level options, including a well-marked intermediate-level test loop that's accessible right from the venue. It uses Grand Central as the downhill trail, and overall has a bit of everything, making it a great way to feel out a demo bike.
3. Amazing weather
You can never predict the weather 100% accuracy, but sunny warm days are the norm in Sedona in early March. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
With average daytime high temperature in the mid 60s and rain being relatively rare this time of year, the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival is the perfect way to kick off you spring riding season. Because you know that chances are high that in early March there will still be snow on the ground where you live. Heck, you might even be riding the indoor trainer (yuck…. Instead come somewhere it's warm and sunny and have fun.
4. Easy to get to - and you don't need to rent a car
Sedona is just 3 hours from Phoenix, but might as well be a world away. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
If you are coming in from out of state, you can fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), which has incoming direct flights from more than 100 cities. Once on the ground hire a shuttle van and you'll be in Sedona in less than 3 hours. Once here getting to the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival venue is easy, as it's located right in the heart of town - and they run free shuttles from numerous hotels.
5. More than just bikes
There's free live music all three days at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
Besides a ton of amazing MTB demo bike and gear, the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival features an array of great food trucks to keep you nourished between rides. When you're done riding for the day, head over to the beer garden where they'll be pouring tasty adult beverages from the likes of Ska, Oak Creek, Wanderlust, and Dark Sky. There is also live entertainment slated for all three days, featuring bands such as Decker and the Dead Country Gentlemen.
6. It's a family friendly event
The Sedona area truly offers something for everyone. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
Go ahead bring your non-riding friends and family, because besides great riding Sedona literally offers something for everyone. From hiking, to shopping, to spas, there is plenty to do while you're out shredding singletrack. And entrance into the venue is free for family members in case they want to look around or hang out with you in the beer garden. There are even free daily yoga sessions and a very special movie premier on this year's schedule.
7. Improve your skills
There are numerous skills clinics during the three-day event. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
If you're looking to take your riding to the next level, both the women's-specific VIDA MTB Series and Ryan Leech Connection Skills Coaching will be onsite offering clinics. Many brands also host group rides throughout the three-day festival, and they're often led by sponsored riders. Indeed, last year's Sedona Mountain Bike Festival featured rides captained by the likes of Adam Craig, Jeff Lenosky, Leigh Donovan, Kyle Warner, and Lars Sternberg. There was even a ride led by local Forest Service Rangers.
8. It's a huge trail fundraiser
Part of the event proceeds go to building and maintaining the local trails. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
A significant portion of the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival's proceeds are donated to the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund, which aims to continue the city's ongoing expansion of mountain bike trails. And all your beer garden bar tips and portion of the beer garden proceeds will be donated to the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition, which aims to improve the overall cycling experience in the area, including using bikes as an energy-efficient means of transportation. Bottom line, this event is the single largest annual fundraiser for local advocacy groups - and that's really cool.
9. Full array of lodging options
Free shuttles will pick you up at your hotel - and take you to some of the farther afield trails. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
Whether sleeping in a tent or a comfy five-star hotel bed is your thing, options abound. For tent types, they have reserved the Chavez Crossing Group Campground. There is also free camping located in West Sedona, about 7 miles from the event. If you prefer to have a roof over your head at night, Sedona features a full array of hotel options, and there are free shuttle stops at several of them so you don't have to mess around with parking.
10. Price is just $100 right now
Deals like this won't last. Get in there now. Photo Courtesy Sedona Mountain Bike Festival/Devon Balet
With discounted pricing currently in effect, this is the perfect time to get registered - or get a great gift for the mountain biker in your life. And your 3-day pass includes a T-shirt, pint glass, socks, and more schwag, plus as many demos (and unlimited shuttles) as your legs can handle.
To learn more about the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival, head over to sedonamtbfestival.com.