2024 SMBA Challenge Review


Well-Known Member

Stef and I did the 2024 SMBA Challenge 20 mile. It was a first year event so only about 80 riders I think. The event was hosted at a Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs NY. The trail head is literally at the brewery parking lot. Unlike in NJ the breweries up in NY can serve food and they had a pretty decent menu. The brewery has a large outside beer garden patio and grass area to hang out at.

The trail system up there in Daniel's Road State Forest is really well done. A lot of the forest is pine sections so a lot of the flowy sections of trail are that soft pine needle type of loam. A lot or exposed bedrock and roots that are really grippy and fun. Long rock slab sections and steep hop ups and rollers that provide enough challenge to keep it fun. The sections that were build were done right with either natural rock construction or wooden ladders/bridges. A lot of parts of the trail had many alternate lines of varying difficulty. Sections of the trail reminded us a lot like Waywayanda.

We got up there on friday and rode the 10 mile course to check out the area. It was really marked up well for the event and the course was easy to follow. Unfortunately they only marked the first 10 miles of either course so had we not hooked up with some locals on the day of the event it would have been really challenging to navigate the upper half on the 20 mile course. There's little cell coverage and no real distinctive trail markers to let you know what trial you're on. Also a bunch of the trials are loops that were incorporated in the 20 mile and we weren't quite sure if we were doing them in the proper direction.

There's a few Air BNB's within riding distance of the brewery and we stayed at one of the closest. I think we were about a mile away. Behind the brewery there's a gravel parking lot that may tolerate camper vans if someone was so inclined. A few people were definitely camping for the weekend during the event but not sure what if any permission was needed.

Overall some great trails and definitely worth the trip. The only bad part was the lack of navigation marking for the event on the second half of the 20 mile course but hopefully if they do it again next year they'll rectify that issue. If you like beer and biking, definitely put this event on your calendar for next year.
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