The bike challenge: an idea that actually stemmed from a joke. Three years ago while riding the Walnut Creek Greenway toward the newly completed Neuse River Greenway, I jokingly contemplated out loud, “If the Neuse River Greenway is 30 miles long, a full out and back would be 60 miles, or almost 100k. If you did it TWICE, well, that would be 200k! We should do that sometime and call it the Neuse Deuce.” I am pretty sure the general consensus was that it was a terrible idea and that no one would ever want to ride that much greenway in a single ride. At the time, I agreed.
A few days later, David and I got to talking about seriously doing the ride. Well, one thing led to another and as soon as we knew it we had devised a whole plan of hosting an ongoing bike challenge that we would propose to the world and encourage folks to do at their own pace, prove they did it, and give them a patch upon completion. Within the first year we had around 200 riders complete it! The ride, for many, was double or often times more than double the amount of miles they had rode in a single ride. It was amazing to see how excited people were about riding a 130 miles for a little round patch.
High off the success of the Neuse Deuce, we introduced the Lucky Bike 100, an out and back century to Downtown Durham, in 2016. The idea was similar to the Neuse Deuce but a little more challenging in that it featured several gravel roads/trails in the area and a quite a bit more elevation. Ninety percent of the route was/is exclusively on bike friendly trails and greenways. Since 2016 we’ve probably had close to 300 people complete it with more rolling in for their patch every month!
This time around — thank you for listening to my history lesson — I wanted to do something a little different, but just as fun and exciting. As the progression has gone, our first challenge was all pavement. Our second challenge was mixed gravel and pavement. For our third, we are going all off-road! The triangle area is host to a several amazing mountain bike trails that we wanted to highlight in a challenge! Though to do this properly, we felt it important to acknowledge the people that help make these trails possible. So, the TETRACTUS is a mountain bike challenge featuring the various and amazing trails co-designed by, maintained by, and advocated for by TORC (Triangle Off Road Cyclists).
A Tetractus, or Tetractys, or Tetrad is a mystical triangular figure consisting of ten points. Thus, here are ten TORC trails within the Triangle (Mileage of trails are from TORC directly and may not be exact to what MTBproject.com has listed):
- Briar Chapel – 12 miles INFO
- Brumley Nature Preserve – 8 miles INFO
- Carolina North Forest – 18 miles INFO
- Harris Lake – 10 miles INFO
- Lake Crabtree – 9 miles INFO
- Little River – 7 miles INFO
- New Light – 10 miles INFO
- RTP – 4.5 miles INFO
- So-Lite – .5 miles INFO
- Wendell Falls – 3 miles (currently under construction and trail length may increase over the course of the year.) INFO
THE RULES: To participate in the challenge you must pick up a map at either the shop or from TORC at any one of their many events. We recommend that if you are planning on grabbing a map from TORC directly to contact them beforehand and see if they will have the maps at the event you plan on attending. Once you receive a map, go ride! There is no time limit on how long it takes to complete the challenge, but we do ask that you use either Strava, Map My Ride, or some other form of GPS tracking device to show us that you rode the trail. WE WILL NOT BE CHECKING TO SEE IF YOUR MILEAGE MATCHES THE LENGTH OF THE ENTIRE TRAIL SYSTEM. We just want to see you went out there and rode it! Though we strongly encourage that you attempt to ride the whole trail for each of the listed trails, we want to be sure that riders of all levels have the opportunity to participate in this challenge. With that said, if you are new to mountain biking, please be cautious and careful on more technical trails, and be PREPARED (more on that below). Ride as much as you feel comfortable! If you’re an experienced rider, please do not go out to each trail and ride half a mile and move on to the next one. That won’t count, but then if you really want to drive a 2-3 hours for less than an hour of riding, good luck with that! Also, in case you were wondering, we won’t be giving out stamps retroactively. Challenge begins as soon as this is posted and you grab a map.
Once you finish a trail, bring your map to the shop (212 E. Franklin St in Downtown Raleigh), and we will stamp off that trail! If you do multiple in one day or, say, a weekend and want to come in on a Monday to get three or four stamps, that is fine. You can only receive completion stamps at the shop at this time. Once you receive stamps for all ten trails you will get… ready for it?
They’re reflective, too!
Some tips and other things to know:
- Though a couple of these trails are really manicured and can be ridden with a CX/Gravel/Drop-bar bike, many of them need a proper MTB to ride them. We strongly encourage anyone participating in the challenge to use an actual mountain bike, though if you complete New Light on a road bike, you will still get you stamp for it, and probably many questions.
- Keeping these trails in rideable condition is crucial. DO NOT RIDE THESE TRAILS WHEN THEY ARE CLOSED. Good rule of thumb, if it is raining, they are closed. If it rained yesterday, they are closed. If it rained a few days ago, check TriangleMTB.com before riding. Use your brain, if it was a torrential downpour a couple days ago, the trail is probably closed. If it was a light sprinkle in the summer heat yesterday morning, the trail will most likely be open. Get me?
- Be prepared. As always, be sure you have plenty of water. Some of these trails do not have facilities with water and bathrooms, but some do! Carry a spare tube or a tubeless tire repair kit, or both! Multi tools and often times a spare chain link, chain tool, and even a spare derailleur hanger can come in handy. Luckily none of these trails are too long or too “out there” that if you do have a large bike failure, the walk back to the car won’t be several hours. But it doesn’t hurt to prepare for the worse, especially for some of the longer trails.
- Obey all park rules. Enough said.
ALRIGHT! LET’S KICK OUT THE JAMS!!! WHO WILL BE THE FIRST TO COMPLETE THE MAP??
If you have any extra questions, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, please consider becoming a member of TORC by joining SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association) and IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association). You can join all three with one registration HERE.
A huge thanks to TORC for being into this hair-brain idea and to Casey Robertson for the amazing map and patch artwork. Check his stuff out at http://robertson-designs.com/ and @champagne_rodman at Instagram.
Also, if you take a photos of your experiences and share them to social media, please use the hashtag “#tetractus” . And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Over the course of the riding season we are going to dive deeper and create original features of every trail on the map. So, stay tuned! No, there is no pizza element to this challenge, but I am not going to stop you from creating one. Go ahead and eat pizza after every ride. That sounds good to me!