The leaves were on the ground and there was a chill in the air as Highland Mountain Bike Park wrapped up its 2016 season last weekend. Despite the looming change of season, the trails were in perfect condition and a large crowd of riders came out to celebrate the mountain's S'Ender Weekender and Clif Bar Ride with the Pros bash.
November weather can be fickle in the northeast, but sun and above normal temperatures had the party trains, including this one led by Lindsey Marie, leaving the station at regular intervals all day on Saturday and Sunday.
It goes without saying that Highland's dirt jumps, some of the most beautifully sculpted and maintained anywhere, were also in prime condition.
A highlight of the weekend was the Ride with a Pro event sponsored by CLIF Bar. CLIF athlete Eric Porter was on hand Saturday for a day of kids rides, party laps and giveaways from his sponsors Diamondback Bikes and POC Sports. Porter was born in Louisville and now lives in Utah with his wife and son. He has appeared on the covers of Decline Magazine and Bike Magazine in back-to-back months and was featured along with fellow Team CLIF Bar riders Kirt Voreis and Jeff Lenosky on Fuel TV's Built to Shred. Recently he has been producing quality edits at a wide variety of locations, from Alabama to Alaska.
The day started off with free coffee from CLIF and a giveaway of POC helmets. The first 20 kids in line received new POC helmets, absolutely free. The early bird gets the worm.
Eric Porter's autograph was a prized addition to many of the new lids.
Who does't like free stuff?
Complimentary CLIF Bar samples kept riders fueled all day.
The raffle of two Diamondback Sync'r bikes and the sale of CLIF Bar products raised money for the Ryan St. Lawrence Recovery Fund.
After the POC helmet giveaway Porter and the kids headed out to Highland's Central Park progression area.
There were some quick studies in the "how to manual" workshop.
Porter led a kids party train through Central Park.
The fine weather brought out a big crowd of riders for the final weekend.
Nothing but smiles at the top of the mountain.
Laps on Cats Paw are always a crowd pleaser.
Highland Mountain was doing some fundraising of its own on Saturday, raising money for the Wings for Life charity, a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. One of the mountain's fundraisers was a Not So Super D Ride down the new Freedom Trail, with costumes and clunkers encouraged.
Much of Porter's afternoon was spent in the dirt jumps of Sherwood Forest and Pirates Cove.
Throwing a steezy no-hander in Sherwood.
Porter was a magnet for the kids all day.
Shoulder buzzing with style.
The mountain's biggest Wings for Life fundraiser was the wacky Pixie Bike Race that saw competitors negotiating an obstacle track on tiny bikes. Local ripper Matt Driscoll had the best time for much of the day but wound up in second.
Not a pixie bike, but bacon-clad Mark Carboni's fat bike contraption was a hit with the crowd. The trailer didn't weather the obstacles too well, coming apart on the first feature and spilling its occupants to the ground.
Miguel Almeida spent much of the afternoon trying to dial in the Pixie bike course and his efforts were rewarded with a win and a Highland season pass for 2017.
Last light as the lift came to a halt and the party moved indoors.
Popular enduro racer Ryan St. Lawrence came to the big event to hang with his bike crew. St. Lawrence suffered a spinal cord injury at Highland early this summer. Every dollar raised by CLIF Bar went to his recovery effort.
CLIF Bar's Richard Patty and Porter pulled the names of the lucky winners in the bike raffle.
Twelve-year-old Aidan Lewey, who lives just down the road from Highland, won the Diamondback Sync'r 24 raffle.
Trent Sanders took home the adult version of the Diamonback Sync'r Pro.
2016 is in the books and we're already looking forward to next season! Have a great winter.