New partnership in New Hampshire to promote mountain biking year-round

Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 5:01 PM EDT
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CLAREMONT, N.H. (WCAX) - The city of Claremont, New Hampshire, has approved a deal to move a bike shop into a well-known recreation area. The aim is to not only grow the sport but the community as a whole.

Like ski resorts across the region, the city of Claremont is working to turn its city-owned ski hill into a four-season recreation area.

For the past two decades, a group of dedicated mountain bikers have been cutting trails at the Arrowhead Recreation Area. It’s a city-owned park in Claremont that is mostly used for skiing and tubing. But the mountain bikers will tell you the trails are tops in the region.

“I really enjoy peddling up and it’s got some awesome terrain. It’s really chunky, a lot of gnar,” said Ben Pirkey of Henniker, New Hampshire.

That translates to good jumps and lots of turns.

What’s unique here is that pedal power, not a lift, gets you to the top. And the price is just right-- it’s absolutely free.

“Winters have changed, the season has shortened and I think everybody is looking to get out more,” said Rob Walker, who co-owns the Wheel House, a bike shop on the outskirts of Claremont that has just been approved to set up shop in the base lodge. “The vision is it’s not just beneficial for the business, it’s beneficial for everybody involved including that nonprofit and all the users in the end.”

Some of the best riders in New England have already raced there with the Eastern States Cup series. Another event is planned for Sunday.

“The first was a world qualifying race that we hosted here. We had 1,000 people,” Walker said.

Those people bring a lot of foot traffic to the downtown corridor which is just a mile from the hill.

“There’s access to rail trail riding, there is family experiences, riders or visitors can contribute to the local economy. They can hit the new Mexican restaurant that just opened up,” Walker said.

It’s mostly expert terrain for the time being, but the new partnership brings opportunities to grow the park with easier trails for younger riders.

“Couldn’t be more excited for the Wheel House, having a place right at the bottom. It will be great for us who notoriously break stuff,” Pirkey said.

It’s a sport that seems to be attracting more attention every day.

“I’ve been doing it since I was a kid but I’m stoked to see the popularity of it,” Pirkey said.

Registration for this coming Sunday’s race is still open, and spectators are welcome. It’s an event that will likely benefit the sport of mountain biking and the region as a whole.