Sunday, September 19 2021

I should preface this article with a little personal information. I’m not a mountain biker, although I have a really good Gary Fisher mountain bike that I rarely use. I guess going to Stamford or Grand Gorge and hitting the railroad is quite different than going through rocks and roots while pedaling up and down and through the woods as fast as you can. I hiked the New Island trails once, but they don’t compare to other trails in the area.

A few years ago we rode our motorcycles all the way to Plattekill Mountain outside of Roxbury. I wanted to check out the mountain biking, thinking that taking the chairlift to the top would make it easier to go down the twisty mountain bike trail. I got it wrong pretty quickly when I saw a guy with a bunch of scratches and bruises and blood flowing here and there. Before going up the mountain, he just said, “I guess I’ll go in and rent some safety gear before I do my second run.”

Anyway, let’s go back to what I was saying earlier. Oneonta has some great mountain biking trails. There are about 40 miles of them, and most of them are interconnected. At this point I must add that these trails are a wonderful all-rounder. You don’t need to ride a bike to use them. You can hike or walk your dog, and they’re open to the public. These trails are fully maintained by volunteers who love to ride.

A few years ago, Oneonta High School hosted the New York Interscholastic Cycling League event. High school teams from across the state showed up. The school parking lots were full.

So where are all these bike paths? There are miles of trails just minutes from downtown Oneonta. The Table Rocks near Hartwick College, SUNY Oneonta College Camp, Job Corps / Homer Folks on West Street, New Island, and even Wilber Park have trails. In the trail system there are eight trails rated as easy, 23 are intermediate and six are difficult. These are certainly not for the faint of heart.

Just like skiing, each slope has a name. With names like Over Easy, RIP, Upper Widow Maker, Recess, Old School, Blood Sweat Tears or Wicked Joe, the choice is vast. There are also jumps and sharp turns to test your abilities.

These trails are very underrated and underused. In the opinion of many locals, Oneonta is missing another tourist attraction and source of income. A few years ago a video was produced and uploaded. Lots of people saw it, some from as far away as Florida. Since then, many more kilometers of trails have been built, but the idea has not been commercialized.

I stopped by Otsego Bicycles this morning to inquire. Maps of the many cycle paths cover their walls. I’ve been told that many baseball park visitors who enjoy mountain biking sneak up a few rides. Mountain biking is a big sport, especially in the west, in places like Moab, Utah.

With proper marketing, Oneonta would attract more tourists who would stay in motels, eat in restaurants, and spend money. Baseball is primarily a three-month gold mine for the county, with the exception of the Hall of Fame.

If you want more info, stop by and see the guys from Otsego Bicycles. Not only do they know the sport, but they live it.


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