Hundreds of mountain bikers from all over the U.S. and Canada will take to the trails of Brown County and beyond this weekend.
The Brown County Breakdown is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, raising $65,000 for the trail building and advocacy group over the past six years. The money has helped build dozens of miles of trails in Brown County State Park – where the ride and related festivities kick off – and throughout the state. Although Sunday's ride is the major attraction, there's plenty to keep riders occupied when they're not in the saddle.
With routes ranging from 25 miles up to 100 miles, there's a ride for all ability levels, said race promoter Jonathan Juillerat. Organizers are quick to point out the event isn't a race, although plenty of friends will be competing against one another for bragging rights for a year.
"Doing 100 miles on a mountain bike is nothing casual; in fact, it's incredibly hard," Juillerat said. "The finishing rate for the 100-mile route over the past six years hovers around 5 percent. I might not have the elevation that (famous mountain bike race) Leadville has, but I bet it's just as hard."
But for every rider looking for a challenge, there are dozens of others looking to have fun on their bike, catch up with old friends and drink a lot of free beer.
The beer starts flowing Friday night with a complimentary tasting courtesy of Big Woods Brewery, followed by an Upland tasting Saturday night. Beer from Flat12 Brewery will be poured during Sunday's post-ride hog roast.
Riders can also test ride the latest models from Trek, Giant and Felt from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. A free family fun ride is slated for 2 p.m. Saturday as well.
Befitting an event named after the title of one of Bill Monroe's best-known songs, the weekend's entertainment will be heavy on the bluegrass. Local favorites New Old Calvary will play Saturday evening, followed by national recording artist Danny Barnes. Barnes, described by Juillerat as "the only banjo player you'll see on stage wearing a Melvins T-shirt," is a cutting-edge bluegrass performer who's shared stages with the Dave Matthews Band and country troubadour Robbie Fulks in the past.
White Lightning Boys will perform Sunday afternoon. Musicians will be scattered through the course during Sunday's ride as well, with Weed Patch Music Company playing at the well-known hidden-cabin stop.
"This is the first year the Breakdown is exactly how we originally envisioned it – it's really a music festival with weekend camping and an epic bike ride," Juillerat said. "We already have these great trails that are on par with the best the country has to offer. Every year we add more activities to the weekend and get more people. It makes me proud when someone tells me they drove 10 hours or more to get here."