East Bound and Down: NEMBA Fest Photo Epic

Jul 1, 2015 at 10:09
by Brice Shirbach  
East Bound and Down Header
NEMBA Fest 2015



The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is not particularly close to anybody. Vermonters just call it "The Kingdom", and it's tucked neatly away in the northeast of America's 2nd least populous state; wedged into a corner with Canada to the north, the Connecticut River to the east and the Green Mountains to the west. Sitting squarely within these boundaries you'll find the small hamlet of East Burke, a community that may easily be mistaken for just another typically quaint and picturesque Vermont town; at least to the casual passerby. But the odds are far more likely that if you're anywhere near this town, your bike is likely with you and you understand that East Burke is anything but typical. East Burke is home to the heralded Kingdom Trails and the Kingdom Trails Association, and is a town with almost as many miles of singletrack as it has residents.

The New England Mountain Bike Association held it's 18th annual NEMBA Fest in East Burke for the 4th consecutive year, with the expo area and hub of the weekend's activities taking place off of Darling Hill Road at the Wildflower Inn. This year, over 2000 riders showed up to celebrate mountain biking in in Vermont, and on the Kingdom Trails in particular, where a unique relationship exists between private landowners (95% of the trails are located on private land) and trail users. Vendors arrived Thursday to set up and ride some trails, before their respective branding responsibilities kicked in and chained them to the expo area. The crowds arrived Friday and Saturday, and were able to enjoy some glorious northern New England summertime weather, with a light rain Thursday night into Friday morning tacking up the trails before giving way to sunshine and blue skies. Demos, guided rides, delicious grub, a massive expo, an obstacle course, live music, and some truly stunning trails were just a few of the many allures of the event, and Pinkbike was on hand and happy to capture as much of it as possible.



NEMBA Fest 2015
Everything looks and feels better in the Northeast Kingdom. Up until Sunday's deluge, it was a truly stunning weekend for riding.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The expo area was massive and filled to the brim with vendors.
NEMBA Fest 2015
The Big 'S' was there to greet visitors at the very front of the expo corridor. It's only a matter of time before this event is seen by the industry as a major opportunity to showcase new and developmental products.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The expo area was full of small peaks, and surrounded by much bigger ones.
NEMBA Fest 2015
The KTA crew worked their tails off to make this event as fun and successful as it was. Hats off to the lot of them.

NEMBA Fest 2015
East Burke is like Disneyland for mountain bikers and bovine alike.

NEMBA Fest 2015
It was amazing to see so many kids on bikes throughout the weekend. The expo area offered up some riding opportunities for the little ones in addition to the trails.

NEMBA Fest 2015

bigquotesMy favourite part was seeing all the families this year. Lots of Dads with kids too for Fathers Day weekend. I also love seeing my two girls being there all weekend in such a healthy environment. - Tim Tierney, Director of the Kingdom Trails Association

NEMBA Fest 2015
The Community Bikes and Boards boys were in town from Philly for the festivities, with plenty of wheelie-filled shenanigans on and off of the trails throughout the weekend.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The Kingdom Trails offer something up for riders of all abilities; oftentimes on the same trail.

NEMBA Fest 2015
Ali Zimmer has retired from racing, but is more than happy to keep the stoke alive by leading group rides and through coaching clinics.

NEMBA Fest 2015
Kids of all ages came out to share their stoke for riding bikes.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The food was plentiful and delicious throughout the weekend, with local food trucks and vendors bringing their tastiest offerings to the expo.
NEMBA Fest 2015
Ribs. I had ribs for lunch.

NEMBA Fest 2015
According to the rule book, no dogs were allowed to camp out. But seriously, who's going to say no to Lou Dog??

NEMBA Fest 2015
KTA Trail Boss, CJ Scott has done some amazing work with these trails alongside his devoted trail crew. While he's a beast on two wheels, his preferred mode of transport during the event was quite a bit more efficient.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The Kingdom Trails are hallowed grounds for mountain bikers.

bigquotesI wanted to keep everyone moving in the same direction for the demo loop. It's a pretty ideal demo loop, with a little bit of wide double track, fast descending singletrack, and a nicely graded singletrack climbing trail. The rider gets a good feel for everything and I wanted it to be as uncrowded and congestion free for anyone demo-ing a bike. Otherwise I let the masses ride everything else at their discretion. I haven't heard any horror stories yet of riders getting in each other's way - CJ Scott, Trails Manager for the Kingdom Trails Association

NEMBA Fest 2015

NEMBA Fest 2015
Trials legend Jeff Lenosky put on quite a show for a massive crowd, eager to see Jeff make the near impossible look easy.

NEMBA Fest 2015
They were also eager to get their mitts on some of that free schwag he was tossing from atop his Giant Factory trailer.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The Community Bikes and Boards crew held a wheelie contest, the winner of which would walk away with a brand new Transition Klunker.
NEMBA Fest 2015
Contestants competed for the new Transition aboard an old Transition, and many seemed surprised by how difficult the task really was.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The trails here are notable for their flowiness. Ella Skalwold enjoys the serpentine stretches of soil throughout the lovely, dark and deep forests of the Northeast Kingdom.

NEMBA Fest 2015

bigquotesKT offers a wide range of singletrack that is fun for all levels of riders. Paired with the bike park at Burke and the pump track/skills park in town, East Burke is a great place to be or a mountain biker! The community surrounding KT is one of the best and most inviting places I've found yet! - Ella Skalwold, guide for IdeRide MTB Tours

NEMBA Fest 2015
Riding on the east coast means embracing the Green Tunnel.

NEMBA Fest 2015
Alex McAndrew recently relocated to East Burke from Stowe, and appears extremely pleased with his decision.

NEMBA Fest 2015
Pro downhill phenom Isaac Allaire doesn't need a lip to send 'er.

NEMBA Fest 2015

NEMBA Fest 2015
There's a noticeable lack of rocks and roots throughout the trails, a direct result of them being built on a sandy esker formed during the last glacial period. The speed that results from the copious amounts of uninterrupted flow is astonishing.

NEMBA Fest 2015

NEMBA Fest 2015
When in doubt, manual it out.

NEMBA Fest 2015
NEMBA Fest 2015

NEMBA Fest 2015

bigquotesI've been coming to ride the Kingdom Trails since I first started mountain biking as a young kid. I have seen it grow to support an entire economy based on mountain biking! The proximity of awesome lift access, singletrack, and the great people that live here make it an ideal place for the die hard mountain biker! - Alex McAndrew, professional rider and guide for IdeRide MTB Tours

NEMBA Fest 2015
Vermont-based Beast Coasters were on hand with a mountain bike obstacle course available throughout the weekend. It drew more spectators than participants, as many people were feeling a bit unsure of the box jumps and various obstacles seen throughout.

NEMBA Fest 2015
Those who did decide to engage in some shenanigans on the "Beastly Coaster" course had so much fun, they seemed to forget that there were trails available to ride as well.

NEMBA Fest 2015
The Copouts were on hand to close things out on Saturday night.

NEMBA Fest 2015
Based out of Vermont, the Irish-punk band has a dedicated following and absolutely smashed their 2-hour long set.

NEMBA Fest 2015
Despite a long day of riding bikes and brilliant sun, the crowd was energized by the Copouts amazing set.

NEMBA Fest 2015
BFF: Bikes, Fires and Friends.
NEMBA Fest 2015
Warm summer days gave way to cool nights, and there was no shortage of bonfires throughout the expo and camping areas.

NEMBA Fest 2015




For more information on the Kingdom Trails Association, click here.

For more information on the New England Mountain Bike Association, click here.

For more information on IdeRide MTB Tours, click here.

In early 2015, a 133-acre property-known as the West Branch land came on the market. There was a risk that it could be sold to a private individual and that recreational access to the land would be lost. The property contains several popular trails including Sidewinder, Old Webs, Hogback, West Branch, West Bench, Meadow Wood, and Border. You can help the KTA preserve this land and these trails by clicking here.






28 Comments

  • 16 0
 Festivals that bring together many facets of mountain biking are helping to grow our sport in such a great way! This is awesome.
  • 3 0
 Anyone planning to go there should check out the Burke Bike Barn, right on White School trail. 150 year old timber frame barn resurrected by an awesome local family who all ride.
  • 1 0
 also probably home to the best view in the Trail network a few hundred feet up the hill. Great family.
  • 3 0
 This event is a blast, and the trails are really fun out there. I was there last year working the event and highly recommend checking it out - both Kingdom Trails and NEMBA fest... good times!
  • 3 0
 First off SAVE SIDEWINDER!, Second - what an awesome festival for riders of all ages and skill. I got to kill it on a group ride and my wife (beginner) got to ride and learn in the woman's clinic. We had a blast!
  • 1 0
 Are they planning on getting rid of it? It was probably my favorite trail from the one time i've made the trek out there, kitchel would take the cake but a taco'd wheel has left me with mixed feelings towards it. Why would they want to cut it anyways?
  • 1 0
 The land owner wants to sell the land that a large portion of the trails are on. Sindwinder being one of them. I heard the plan is to make condos or housing of some nature for the ski area. They are trying to raise 300k to buy the land from the owner and keep that section of trail.
  • 4 1
 I have two trail passes sitting at home collecting dust because I have a back issue going on. This article may just make me say " f*ck it" and take the trip up.
  • 10 0
 SAVE SIDEWINDER!!!
  • 2 0
 @RatHunter83 All the flowy trails at KT are actually good for back injuries - it's just like aquatherapy.

*I'm not a doctor, but I play one on the interwebz
  • 4 0
 Mega points for the mid article Robert Frost quote. Vermont's poet laureate no less.
  • 2 0
 Such a fantastic weekend! Thanks to all the organizers.
I had a blast with my 10 years old who insisted on riding Moose Alley... and demoing a $6k Santa Cruz 5010!
  • 4 0
 FEST you say! Oh. Yeah, that looks like fun.
  • 2 0
 Hey, that's me in the wheelie contest (black shirt)! Sadly, I did not win. Great time at NEMBA Fest, can't wait to get back to the KT!
  • 2 0
 I thought all "epics" will be posted in that massive photo size? That worked really well in past articles.
  • 3 0
 Nice work, Brice. This piece really captures the event.
  • 3 0
 Best town I've come across so far. So effin fun
  • 1 0
 I have not missed Massachusetts since moving to Cali....but i do miss KT. sigh Frown
  • 1 2
 Love those awesome KTs! But, you'll never convince me to go if there's 2000 other bikers there. Part of the draw to KTs is that you're in beautiful VT, away from the noise and crowds of other possible venues
  • 2 1
 BEASTCOASTERS rule. Check them out! vimeo.com/beastcoasters
  • 9 8
 NEMBA or NAMBLA?
  • 3 9
flag unrooted (Jul 9, 2015 at 9:13) (Below Threshold)
 No difference.
  • 7 8
 Dude said: "look, 29ers everywhere, look what we've come to" and Jesus was like, "yea whatever"
  • 1 2
 so copious. much abundance.
  • 4 5
 Am I the only one who thinks half the photos could use more lighting?
  • 9 0
 Ehhh, it's dark in there and I wanted to capture that...better for stories, not great if it was a commercial shoot
  • 6 0
 you try riding with an extra 30lbs of lighting gear on you all day, its dark in that canopy. well done brice, getting creative with shutter drag came out really cool.
  • 1 0
 Probably. As a fellow photographer, I noticed some of them were kinda dark, but then I recalled as a fellow bike rider that it is pretty dark in there. Well done and I'd aspire to shoot that well.

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