You probably wouldn’t buy a new car if you didn’t have a chance to test drive it ahead of time.
But until the recent past, consumers who were in the market for a new mountain bike rarely had the same kinds of opportunities, apart from a quick spin around their local bike shops.
The dearth of options gave the team at Western Spirit Cycling Adventures an idea: What if bikers could test the latest models and innovations on the trails in one of the world’s mountain biking hotspots?
In 2010, the team launched Outerbike, a Western Spirit demo event that brings mountain bikers from almost every state and a growing number of foreign countries together with manufacturers and industry vendors.
“We thought that it would be great for the consumers to be able to ride the bikes and meet with the manufacturers,” event coordinator Ashley Korenblat said.
As the event grew over the years in Moab and Whistler, British Columbia, Outerbike’s organizers began to hear from manufacturers and vendors who asked them to expand their offerings.
“They really wanted to have a chance to touch base with consumers at the beginning of the buying season,” Korenblat said.
In response, they’re launching a new spring Outerbike demo event that will run from Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15 at the Bar M Trailhead.
Event registration typically costs $175, but this spring only, Outerbike will be offering locals a 40-percent discount at the gate, which is located about eight miles north of Moab off U.S. Highway 191.
“It would be hard to do that in the fall because it’s so big and people are coming from all over,” Korenblat said. “(But) the spring is going to be quite a bit calmer.”
The registration process is pretty straightforward.
Event costs will cover access to the demo bikes, as well as lunches, shuttle rides, prizes, movies and evening parties.
Participants will receive cards at check-in that are linked to their personal information; they will need to exchange their cards for a bike. Exhibitor staffers will then set up each bike before participants take off on rides. Bikes will be coded with different-colored tags, which indicate whether riders can take them on shuttles to trails in the Amasa Back and Mag 7 areas, or if they must stick to the 20 miles of looped trails near the Bar M venue.
Whichever trails they choose, Korenblat can promise attendees that they’ll have options they won’t find anywhere else.
“Moab is the best location in the country for doing this type of testing, because we have so many different types of trails,” Korenblat said.
This year’s spring event will likely include some special guests.
The “Queen of Pain” herself is expected to make a return appearance. Rebecca Rusch has won national and world titles in whitewater rafting, adventure racing and cross-country skiing events.
Among the Outerbike crowd, however, Rusch is probably best known for her mountain biking adventures, including a record trip along the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail between Moab and Fruita, Colorado. She finished that trip more than 90 minutes ahead of the previous record holder, even though she sustained serious injuries along the way.
When all is said and done, Korenblat is hoping that attendees will walk away with indelible experiences that draw them back to the area for future events.
“What’s important is that it keeps Moab on the map,” she said.
Mountain bike demo event takes place March 13-15
“Moab is the best location in the country for doing this type of testing, because we have so many different types of trails.”
When: Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15
Where: The main demo event will be held at the Bar M Trailhead north of Moab; from there, shuttles will depart to trails in the Amasa Back and Mag 7 areas.
Cost: $175; registration pays for lunches, shuttle rides, prizes, movies, parties and beer. Local residents will receive a 40 percent discount at the gate.
For more information, or to register, go to www.outerbike.com/spring-outerbike.html.