The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival is Taking Over the World

Sedona MTB Festival Organizer

Starting as a fun weekend with friends, riding and hanging out, The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival is now a major cohesive force in bringing the riding community together. With a massive fundraising effort for the local trails, which continue to expand and offer more variety we wanted to dig in and see how this festival has gotten to be so popular.  Now in its fifth year, the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival is the premier mountain bike festival in the world!

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Sedona is amazingly beautiful and the riding is like no place on earth!

Offering demos, a huge expo, shuttles, group rides, tech clinics, food trucks, beer, bands, a movie night and multiple skills clinics the festival has something for everyone. Here is the full schedule that is being updated as we speak!

Want to shred your face off and try out all the sick new rides? You’ll need to get the full festival pass. These are limited to make sure folks can demo the bikes they came to ride.  A three-day pass goes for $100 and a single day is a mere $50. Online pre-sale of tickets are sold out, but you can still get them day-of on site.  There are camping add-ons that include food, thanks to Hermosa Tours and clinic options that are also extra and well worth the price.

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Owner of OTE and festival director/owner, Mike Raney. PHOTO: OTE

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Lauren, Mike’s better half- helps him stay sane during the festival.

Michael Raney and Jason First owners of Over the Edge Bike Shop in Sedona started the festival in 2015. This festival has grown to one of the most successful in the industry.  Could it be the Vortex’s stunning red rock scenery or proximity of amazingly handcrafted technical single track?  We’re not sure, but from the very first year, the Sedona festival has been our favorite and it’s been really cool to see it grow.

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The first 2/4 phases of the Sedona Bike Park are built and ready to ride. Donations to The Red Rock Trail Fund and VVCC will help complete the rest of the park, so be sure to buy raffle tickets, support the vendors and drink plenty of beer while you are there.

The accessibility of an amazing variety of trails and a venue that sits high above Sedona offering 360-degree views, a bike skills park and beautiful amphitheater make The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival a tough one to beat. Low prices, happy vendors and demo drivers (who wouldn’t want this gig in Sedona in spring?) and a super organized festival crew add to the top-notch event.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mike and his wife Lauren a couple of weeks before the festival this year to ask them some questions before shit got real.

Here is what we found out.

Crankjoy (CJ): How/why did you start this thing in 2015? Did you model it off other events you had been to? What are some of your favorites? 

Mike Raney (MR): We all ride solo most of the time. We thought it would be FUN and help the local community to build a festival highlighting our amazing trails, with demos, music, beer and shuttles. I can’t believe how much it’s grown. Jason and I have both drove demo trucks in the past (me for Commencal and Firsty with Crankbrothers) so I wanted to make it super well-organized and easy for vendors and fun for participants without being too expensive.  Some of my favorite events are Epic Rides, Sea Otter, BC Bike Race and The Fruita Fat Tire Festival, but I really want to check out some others (Outerbike.)

(CJ): Were you surprised by the initial interest and growth?

(MR): Yes! The first year I drew the entire venue out on graph paper to make sure everyone would fit.  The venue at the time was Tlaquepaque and it was quite small. We just called friends we knew in the industry to fill vendor spots. Now the venue is much larger at The Posse Grounds Park. (Used to be used as staging grounds for the Sherrif Posse.)  I now use 3-D cad software and build in buffer zones to accommodate more vendors.  This year we are sold out with 90 vendors and have about 40 on the waitlist.

(CJ): How much work is this thing? When do you start planning for next year?  Do you have staff dedicated to the festival alone?

(MR): A ton! We already have permits and are planning for 2020, it’s scary. We work on this year round, but pretty much it’s a full-time job starting November before the festival the following March. One fulltime paid staff works on the festival year round and a handful more near the final planning stages.  Volunteers really help out, so we are making sure we treat them right!

(CJ): How many volunteer hours does it take to run the festival smoothly?

(MR): This year we have about 50-55 total volunteers working one or more 3-6 hour shifts.  They are getting a great swag bag stuffed full from our vendors, a full 3-day festival pass, food and drink tickets. 

(CJ): How many vendors and participants did you have the first year? What are your growth numbers?  Will you max out/ ever get too big? 

(MR): The first year seemed big at the time with 20 vendors and about 350 participants. This year we are full with 90 vendors (around 1000 vendor workers will be attending) and festival passes will be capped at 1500 to make sure everyone gets what they are promised.  The festival and demo grounds with expo and contests, music etc is free to attend and we expect over 4000 total folks each day at The Posse Grounds.

(CJ): What do the locals and city officials think of the festival?  Has this changed over the past 5 years?

(MR): Well I actually am a local and ride my bike to the event every day each year. I think that’s awesome and I know what we do for this community.  Overall the community sees the benefit for the city and I think that remains positive from year to year.  The spotlight the festival brings to Sedona is cool and we see riders from all over the country and world travelling to ride here.

(CJ): How does the festival give back to the local riding scene/community?

(MR): This is really important to us. Myself and many of the vendors are directly contributing to the trail efforts here. This year there is a movie night, raffle, bike build donations and beer garden proceeds that will be giving back to our local trail organizations. (The Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund and VVCC.) We are talking with more vendors every day that want to give back in other ways as well.

The cool thing is the way the Forest Service supports the festival with a Ranger-led group ride. Rumor has it, one year Forrest (that’s his real name) took a group of riders on Hangover! 

(CJ): What is on the horizon for the festival, where do you see it going?  Other locations, product launches, media event?

(MR): I only see this event getting better. It’s kind of building its own ecosystem. Each year the vendor numbers get bigger and bigger and the crew they bring gets larger.  The industry folks come early and stay late knowing how good the riding is here. The time of year helps too as some companies are launching and highlighting new products for the first time to real consumers. 

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Tricycle Races!!! Photo: Devon Balet

(CJ): Here’s a question for Lauren- When will you guys offer racing? 

(LB): There are competitions here, including a tricycle race that my team got beat by a bunch of 4-year-olds. This will make a return this year along with the foot-down and bunny hop competitions.  They will be fun to watch!

There will not be a traditional race scene here, says Mike.  It just doesn’t fit the vibe of the festival. We want to keep it focused on community, fun and hanging out.


We hope to see you here for the 5th Annual Sedona Mountain Bike Festival.  With a week to go until the Festival, we are sitting in a massive snow storm. Watching the weather, it could not be shaping up any better for the festival weekend, with warmer temps, minimal moisture and some nice tacky red desert dirt. #shredthered

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If you’ve ridden in Sedona before, you know what this feels like and the mere sight of this makes you excited! #redvelvet
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