By Christian Dietzel
Portland, Maine has been voted one of America's most cycle-friendly cities; from the streaming popularity of road cycling to the now booming population of mountain bikers, life for those who ride is good—and the access is even better.
Enter the river trail—one of Portland's longest-held local shred spots, a seven-mile section of fast singletrack which, in stride with its name, laces along the Presumpscot river.
Upon riding the river trail, riders will be delighted with a fast section of double track which offers several rollers along the first section, and then tightens into a more technical singletrack laced by short, rocky climbs and further flowing, bermed riding into the forest. You will find bridges have been constructed to accommodate foot traffic and alleviate wet weather conditions. When you press further into the ride, it opens up into a flowing section of tight, pristine singletrack lined by tall grass as if a fat tire safari transposed to the rolling New England landscape.
After your session along this pristine semi-urban challenge (the river trail can be accessed just 3 miles from Portland's center), a short four-mile road ride will deposit you trail on the greater Falmouth trail system if so desired. This allows for an enjoyable four-hour sojourn into trails that test wit and skill against technical climbing, craft-fully engineered downhills, and further features which press even the most discriminating mountain biker's skill set.
For those looking to access the river trail and the greater network of trail systems in the surrounding towns, you may be interested in getting your river ride in with local talent such as All Speed Cyclery and Snow, who host their epically fast ride on Tuesday and Thursday, with a more tame version on Monday.
All Speed has been supporting trail development and awareness in the adjoining Falmouth trail system with a passion unmatched by other shops in the area, which can in fact be linked to within the same ride for the ambitious cyclist who will dedicate to a very tolerable 3 – 4 mile fast ride down the main road. What does this make for? World class riding, and lots of it—with local flavor, top-notch knowledge of trail building, and the good will to share the access upon request
All Speed's civic connection to the sports community has extended to sponsoring this year's Teton Gravity Research film premiere in lieu of Sugarloaf mountain, putting an increasing stamp on an already well established reputation for all things mountain culture.
Speaking of world class, the complementing benefit of the river trail is access to greater Portland's booming micro-brew culture. The list is stacked: Allagash, Shipyard, Peak Organic, Gritty McDuff's, Sebago, Geary's, Maine Beer Company, Marshall Wharf, Sunday River, and on and on, amounting to an impressive 31 independent and large label brewers dispersed throughout the state, all looking to corner the market on your après ride at any of the many accessible down town pub-restaurants. Any way you slice it and any angle you ride in on, from the river trail to accessing the greater Portland mountain bike community, there is a thriving mountain culture laying in wait for you to tap into.