Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
For the past 17 years, Will Hollingbery has been a mountain biking fanatic.
“My childhood friends all rode skateboards. I lived in the country and couldn’t practice skateboarding at home so I picked up a BMX bike. I’ve been playing with bicycles since I was five,” said Hollinbery.
In 2011, along with a group of riders, Hollingbery created a non-profit group called Single Track Alliance of Yakima (STAY), with the goal of protecting the local landscape while enhancing and creating more trails. The group partners with organizations like the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy (CCC) as well as the City of Yakima Parks and Recreation, and has been building trails at Rocky Top.
“The biggest misconception about mountain biking is that we damage the landscape and ruin trails,” said Will. “Bad trail designs ruin landscapes and trails. Bicycle tires actually smooth out and buff well designed trails. They improve trails, if the conditions are right [dry].”
Yakima has many sage brush, foothills, single track trails for riders, like the ones at Rocky Top. Additionally, there are other trails like the LT Murrary (closed in winter months for elk protection) where the double track and cow trails can seem “almost endless”.
Most of the time, Will hits the path with his trusty companion Moses, a lanky shorthair aussie shepherd mix he refers to as his “trail dog”. He also tries to make weekly rides that the local bike shop hosts or he’ll search the Single Track Alliance of Yakima Facebook page for group rides.
Many mountain bikers ride year round and the winter months can be an excellent time to ride if it has been moisture free. Once the ground freezes, the conditions for riding can be exceptional – and Yakima, can be a great un-tapped resource for winter recreation. Riding in muddy or wet conditions can wreak havoc on trails, so be considerate and aware of your environment when you ride.
Will’s advice for picking up the sport is to find a bike that fits you properly, get a map of the trails – or not, and head out exploring. Don’t be afraid to try different styles of trails and see what your comfort level is, and always wear a helmet.
“Mt. biking is good exercise, and it rarely feels like exercise. It is my fun time as well as my workout,” said Will.
Links to past posts featuring Cycling: