Blue Ridge Mountain Bike Mecca

By on December 1, 2015

Outdoor Adventure Editor Greg Dunn Gets the Scoop on Two Young Rising Stars in the Local MTB Scene

There is no doubt that one of the main reasons my wife and I moved to Blue Ridge six years ago was for the mountain biking. Opportunities abound for people who love bikes but after living here for a while and getting to know folks who grew up here, I realized that there weren’t many local kids getting into mountain bike racing. Well my friend, times they are a-changin! Meet Chase And River Key.

I met these two– along with their parents Tim and Pam Key– a little over a year ago as they were transitioning from motocross (another passion of mine) to mountain bikes. I rode with Chase for the first time just a few months after they started getting into mountain biking and his motocross background was obvious. A natural on the bike for sure, but when he stayed on my wheel the whole way up Green Mountain I realized that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Not long after that ride I met Chase’s younger brother River as he rode one handed wheelies through the pit area of the high school race I was helping with. The kid is one of the best bike handlers I’ve ever seen and he’s only 13 years old!

These two mountain bike phenoms have strong roots in southern Appalachia. Their parents, Tim and Pam grew up in the area, and own a successful appraisal business (Georgia Mountain Appraisals and Self Storage) in Blue Ridge. They both share the same passion for these mountains so it is no surprise that the entire family is obsessed with the sport of mountain biking.

Being the racing family that they are, Tim and Pam asked if I would be interested in helping them out with training and racing strategies and the rest is history. Tim is now the head coach for the Fannin County Composite MTB Racing Team, and team consists of riders from Fannin and Union Counties.They compete in the Georgia High School Mountain Bike League which has seen huge growth in just two seasons. Many of the riders on the Fannin County team are as new to the sport as the Key brothers, but you wouldn’t know it if you saw them in action. As a team they took third in the state, with many individual podium appearances including a Varsity win for Chase in the second round of the series!

There are many reasons for the boy’s rapid success including loving, supportive mountain biking parents, however I think that they have a bit of an advantage living in one of the best areas for mountain biking in the USA. I asked them their opinions and here’s what they had to say:

Do you think living in Blue Ridge gives you an advantage over your competition?
Chase: Yeah, I think it does because our trails are steeper, rougher, and more challenging
River: A little bit because of the technicality of the trails

What is your favorite local trail and why?
Chase: Green Mountain has the best flow
River: Green Mountain because it’s fast and rooty

You guys love motocross, but you sold your motos for mountain bikes. Whats up with that?
Chase: It’s easier to practice and you can ride more during the week
River: It’s easier to get in more rides on the mountain bike ACLM

Greg Dunn is a retired professional mountain bike competitor who now resides in Blue Ridge with his wife Carrie Paisley and their son, Finn.