Kanuga Bike Park Is A Go!

callie horwath enduro race

It all started in the Spring of 2019 when I received the call that said, “quit your job, Kanuga’s a go.” The call was from my boyfriend, Neko Mulally has been involved in the initial deliberation of the Kanuga Conference Center, allowing him and Dave Lamond, Ride Kanuga’s co-founder, to build mountain bike trails on their property. Everything fell into place rather quickly, but unfortunately, we had to wait another year before we broke ground.

Elevated Trail Design

In the meantime, I was hired by Peter Mill of Elevated Trail Design to be a part-time trail builder. Peter and the crew taught me all the ins and outs of proper trail building and were incredible mentors throughout the process.

I worked with Elevated Trail Design until the start of 2020, then the pandemic unfolded. Coincidentally, the Kanuga Conference Center granted us permission to begin the bike park at that same point in time.

July 2020, Ride Kanuga officially opened

In April, Ride Kanuga hired one other trail builder and me to build the initial set of trails. The plan was one climbing trail, one beginner, two intermediate, two advanced, and three progressive jump lines. We had a small crew of trail builders, volunteers, family, and friends helping to build the Park. After a summer of non-stop hard work, dedication, sweat, and tears (primarily by me), we completed the Park, and by the end of July 2020, Ride Kanuga officially opened to the public.

A E-bike Friendly Park

With the Park now open and E-bike friendly, I decided to give E-bikes a try on some of the more challenging trails at the Park. It was a whole new experience. The E-bikes give me extra speed, increase range and help conserve energy when climbing the trails. With my newfound interest in the E-bikes, I decided to look for a set of carbon wheels that would work with my bike. “E-bikes are known for being heavy, and one of the best upgrades is to invest in a high-quality set of lightweight wheels. I landed on a set of Gulo Carbon Composite wheels. My Gulo GME 30 wheels are the perfect combination of strength and light-in-weight. Wheel Strength and weight are important when racing (and gnarly trails) since you’re able to have better handling, acceleration, and reliability. Typically, with very lightweight wheelsets, you’re always compromising on the strength, but with the Gulo GME 30’s, that is definitely not the case. These wheels have endured harsh bike park trails, backcountry steeps, and everything in between.”

On opening day, we had no idea what to expect. Who’d pay to ride mountain bike trails when DuPont and Pisgah are a few miles away? Would people see value in bike-specific trails? After a few hundred riders came through the Park that day, leaving with smiles on their faces, we realized we had created something special.

The progressive style and design of Ride Kanuga make it unique to this area.

The trails range from beginner to advanced with various trail types, filling a void that WNC lacks. Although there are hundreds of miles of trails in the region, the area lacks beginner trails, safe environments to hone mountain bike skills, and progressive jump lines and features. The Park is very inclusive to beginners and families alike. Another aspect that makes our Park distinct is our bike-specific trails. Our region tends to have numerous user issues on multi-use trails involving bikers, horseback riders, hikers, and other pet owners. Bike-specific trails remove those situations and allow for a more enjoyable mountain biking experience.

These trails are often more fun, sustainable, directional, and can deliver much more diversity. Our trails are a mix of flow, loam, jump, rocks, tech, and more. The variety keeps riders captivated and coming back for more.

Callie Horwath

About Callie Horwath

I am the Ride Kanuga’s Bike Park Manager, and I handle most of the day-to-day operations at the Park. The job scope involves customer support, social media, employee scheduling, obtaining permits, and various other duties. Luckily, I still get to dig on occasion, but it’s not as much as I’d like. I’m proud of the place we’ve created in our community and excited for what lies ahead.