Mountain bike races at lakes make for an epic vacation

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Amateur mountain biking is a great way to combine beautiful scenery and fresh air with adrenaline-pumping activity.

Why not combine a popular mountain bike race and a much-needed lake vacation?

Keep reading for suggestions for an unforgettable holiday. And, even if you don’t want to compete, you can still be an enthusiastic race observer.

Mountain biker looks out over scenic lake
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Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota

Cuyuna Lakes in Minnesota are a series of natural and mine-pit lakes surrounded by the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. CCSRA includes 55 miles of singletrack bike trails and also showcases the Cuyuna Crusher, a race that attracts more than 500 mountain bikers each summer.

Allowed to return to nature once mining was ended, the Cuyuna Lakes have evolved into scenic fishing and nature ponds surrounded by walking trails and bike paths. In addition to camping in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, there are plenty of other lodging options within the surrounding area, including other campgrounds.

Nearby, the Brainerd Lakes area is full of natural lakes large and small, well known as vacation destinations for hundreds of thousands of summer residents and visitors. The Brainerd Lakes provide great fishing, plenty of swimming beaches, boating, water sports, guest cabins and resorts.

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Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

A cyclist traverses Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe
A mountain biker navigates the Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe. Photo by PeterThoeny.

Lake Tahoe, the quintessential four-season lake, is one of North America’s largest and deepest lakes. Straddling the border between California and Nevada, 122,000-acre Lake Tahoe is a favorite of mountain bikers

The Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Race, Tahoe Trail 100K (a 33-mile loop on Tahoe’s northwestern shore) and Great Trail Race between Truckee and Tahoe City are annual favorites that attract thousands of visitors each year. Get more details on these races.

Tucked within the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is renowned for its incredible beauty and diverse recreational offerings both on and off the water. Come explore both the California and Nevada sides of the lake by water, car, bike, or on foot.

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Big Bear Lake, California

Big Bear Lake, a popular southern California getaway about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, hosts a number of mountain biking races each year.

The Big Bear Grizzly 100 is part of the National Ultra Endurance Race series and attracts some of the world’s top mountain bikers. The MTB Gran Fondo offers four different routes to accommodate riders of all levels. The Fox US Open of Mountain Biking also moved to California in 2019 to much acclaim.

Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake is a favored weekend getaway year round. Twenty-two miles of shoreline and 2,900 acres of water offer hiking, horseback riding, water sports, ATV routes, fishing, camping, and plenty of resort lodgings near the scenic reservoir.

The town of Big Bear acts as vacation headquarters for eclectic shopping and dining, while several ski resorts near the lake offer some of California’s best winter skiing. Come soak up the sun and play in the water, making sure to save some time in the leisure schedule to watch the many mountain biking races.

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Mammoth Lakes, California

Located in the High Sierras, the Mammoth Lakes area is well-known as a winter ski resort destination, but it has also developed into a prime mountain biking venue in summer with a growing network of trails and events.

For serious competitors, the summer event calendar features the Mammoth 50K MTB PedalPalooza, the Mammoth XC VC Summer Series and the Mammoth Grand Fondo.

Others choosing a more leisurely pace can bike a quiet trail through the Inyo National Forest or head for some of the famous small lakes in the area such as Lake George, Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, Horseshoe Lake or the connected Twin Lakes. The lakes offer swimming, fishing, camping and plenty of small, unique shops featuring crafts by local artisans.

So, pack up the mountain bike (or rent one at your destination) and enjoy some wind in your hair and water between your toes. Mountain biking around the lake will make for one of your most memorable vacations ever.

Lake Placid, New York
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