Tuesday, August 17, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 33 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“The Crowsnest Pass is like nothing else I’ve been in.”
- Daniel Scott  
- on community mountain   
bike trail project   


Over 1000m of trail nearly complete, master plan in progress
The community mountain bike trail and skills park project, overseen by Community Futures Crowsnest Pass, is rumbling along at a good pace as over 1000m of trail is nearing completion just east of the ski hill. A master plan, being created by a consultant from the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), is well underway, and will lay out plans for a full 100km-plus looping mountain bike trail system in the Pass, including a prestigious IMBA Epic trail, of which only three currently exist in Canada.
While the overall plan is grand, the current focus is the creation of approximately 18 to 20 kilometres of mountain bike trail before March of 2012. This portion has begun with more than a kilometre of trail near the ski hill, being constructed by summer students and local volunteers who have been trained in trail construction.
Dave Whitten, Field Supervisor for the project, says that as many as 18 people at a time have come out to learn and help with the project, many of them members of the new local group, the United Riders Of Crowsnest (UROC).
Whitten says that the trail so far has been a good challenge, going through varying terrain including rocks. Currently the trail, which is already being used by local mountain bikers, is mostly at an intermediate riding level with a few advanced sections. Work is continuing to smooth out some sections of the existing trail, which winds its way up a hillside immediately east of the ski hill area in Blairmore.
John Przeczek, who is overseeing the project for Community Futures, says that a major goal is to make the trails sustainable, so that future generations can continue to maintain and enjoy them.
The section of the trail being built this summer already contains numerous natural features, including rocks and roots, along with one section where rocks are laid across the path to keep bikes from riding in a softer drainage area.
Daniel Scott is a consultant with the IMBA who has is developing the master plan for the Pass. The plan is scheduled for completion in late November of this year, and will outline more than 100km of trail that could be built within a five to ten year period depending on funding.
Scott says that the overall system will be developed for riders of all skill groups, with stacking loops such that more advanced riders can take longer and more challenging routes.
He says that he is choosing trail routes with an eye for sight lines, safety, environmental responsibility, and a sense of fun and play.
As much as possible, he says, the trails use natural features and offer multiple riding lines, such that more advanced riders can choose to take more difficult paths along the trail, going over rocks and roots instead of between them.
"We're providing as many different opportunities for as many different skill levels as possible," says Scott. "Something for every skill level."
Przeczek adds that the master plan will be an invaluable document. Part of the master plan process will include working with all landowners and stakeholders where the proposed trails cross, and ensuring that all approvals are in place before the overall grand project gets underway.
"That's the power of the master plan," he says. "Agreements will be in place. No further approvals will be required." Work would be able to go forward as funding became available.
The master plan will also incorporate the ski hill's master plan, which is also currently being developed. Many of the mountain bike trails will co-exist with the ski hill around the same area.
Przeczek says that while a majority of the current 20km phase will be done by professional paid builders, the local volunteer portion is great for the community. He says that it helps build a team feeling among local riders, and grants them a sense of ownership in the trail system.
As part of the overall master plan, Scott says that he intends to design an IMBA Epic trail, which if completed would be a prestigious addition to the community.
"An IMBA Epic showcases the best that an area has to offer in terms of landscape," says Scott, though he is not yet saying where he plans to map out this unique trail. "It's a select group of trails in the world that constitute and IMBA Epic."
Currently there are only three IMBA Epic trails in Canada –– the Ganaraska Forest in central Ontario, Comfortably Numb in Whistler, B.C., and Seven Summits in Rossland, B.C.
Scott says that an IMBA Epic would be an enormous marketing tool for an area, and that the Pass fits the bill for creating one. "The Crowsnest Pass is like nothing else I've been in," he says, noting the extensive diversity of landscape that exists in the area. "The different styles of riding that can come from that is extensive."
Once the master plan is in place and with the continued support of the local community, the trail system is set to grow into something that could be as big, as exciting, and as important for the future of Crowsnest Pass as anything seen in recent times.
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   Volume 80 - Issue 33 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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