Living the Adventure

Hit the Trail for the Bigfoot Adventure Challenge…

It’s gotta be the socks.

How else to explain why nearly 400 people entered last year’s Bigfoot Adventure Challenge last year, completing some 3,050 bike rides, hikes and runs that collectively covered 31,000 miles (enough to circumnavigate the Earth and then some) and included 3.5 million feet of elevation gain (akin to scaling Mt. Everest 121 times)?

Yes, the snazzy Bigfoot socks are part of the appeal, says Nathan Knudsen, the head of Redding Trail Alliance and one of the Bigfoot Adventure Challenge organizers, but the fact is, “people are into having fantastic trails.”

Photo by Ryan Thompson

Getting people outdoors and introducing them to the North State’s abundant network of trails is the goal of the Bigfoot Adventure Challenge, which begins April 1 and runs through May 31. “It’s just us and all of our partners trying to get people out to explore the amazing outdoor opportunities we have that are made possible by our robust trail system,” Knudsen says.

Challengers need only download a passport for one (or more) adventures, choosing from mountain bikes, gravel bikes (unpaved trails but accessible for sturdier bikes), trail running/walking and a Junior Bigfoot challenge for kids.

Photo by Brent VanAuken

This year, the challenge includes a category for four-legged adventurers. “A lot of us who run this thing are fans of our dogs and like to get them out there,” Knudsen says. “We thought it would be fun to do a dog passport, do some fun prizes and make sure there are safe routes with plenty of water.”

Each passport lists adventures sorted by beginner (1-3 miles, low elevation gain), intermediate (3-7 miles, modest elevation gain with some technical elements), and advanced categories (7-12 miles, high elevation gain and a lot of technical elements). Check off three adventures on the passport and submit it by the end of May to win a pair of socks. Motivated trail fans who check off every adventure on their passport will receive a “Blackout 24” hat.

Photo by Brent VanAuken

The fun continues on Friday, June 7, at the wrap-up party at the Caldwell Junior Bike Park. All participants who turned in a passport will be entered into a drawing for gift certificates redeemable at their favorite local adventure store. One lucky winner from the Junior Bigfoot Challenge will receive a Cleary bike.
Brian Crane, a retired Redding public works director, has been a volunteer with the Bigfoot Adventure Challenge since its inception in 2017 when Brent Weaver, a former mayor and avid cyclist, launched what was then called the Mayor’s Mountain Bike Challenge. “We’re in a unique position,” Weaver told his fellow City Council members, referring to the network of mountain bike trails in Redding and the surrounding countryside. “It’s a story we have to do a better job of telling.”

Photo by Ryan Thompson

A few years later, the Mayor’s Mountain Bike Challenge morphed into the Bigfoot Adventure Challenge and expanded its range of trails to take in the Weaverville basin. The Redding Trail Alliance took on the responsibility for organizing it.

Crane didn’t start riding mountain bikes until he was in his 50s and finished with coaching his kids’ sports teams. “I fell in love with it. I ride five or six times a week, even now.” A native of Weaverville, Crane says he’s always enjoyed the outdoors and likes to stay active. “It’s a good fit for me and my interests. I have three boys and they all enjoy the outdoors and they love mountain biking. It’s something we can all enjoy,” Crane says.

Photo by Ryan Thompson

That the North State has such a wealth of mountain bike trail opportunities is a testament to the work of the Redding Trail Alliance, a nonprofit group that formed in 2016 to bolster the area’s status as a mecca for riders of all abilities.

Working with Brian Sindt of the McConnell Foundation, Knudsen says the Alliance crew learned how to navigate the approval process to create trails on nearby land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The result: trails in the Swasey Recreation Area like the Enticer, a 1-mile collection of banked curves and jumps that allows riders the chance to increase their skills and test their limits, and the Snail Trail, a 1.6-mile “flow” trail that incorporates berms, rollers, jumps and other features to provide a blend of speed and rhythm.

Photo by Ryan Thompson

The Caldwell Junior Bike Park, a popular attraction for pint-sized pedalers just south of the soccer field at Caldwell Park, is another example of the Alliance’s work. Next up is a full-size bike park adjacent to the Sacramento River Trail on the east side of North Market Street.

Crane says organizers of the Bigfoot Adventure Challenge are grateful for the support from title sponsor Cornerstone Community Bank as well as contributions from the McConnell Foundation, Redding Electric Utility and the Shasta Bike Depot. •

Photo by Ryan Thompson
About Jon Lewis

Jon Lewis is a Redding-based writer with 37 years of experience. A longtime San Francisco Giants fan, his interests include golf, fishing and sharing stories about people, places and things. He can be reached at [email protected]

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