2018-04-11 / Front Page

The future of biking in CV

By Dee Menear Irregular Staff Writer

CARRABASSETT VALLEY — The Carrabassett Valley Trails Committee recently released its Mountain Bike Trail System Development Plan, which shows the power of the unique collaborative efforts of four different entities. The organizations represented on the committee are the Town of Carrabassett Valley, Carrabassett Region Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, Maine Huts & Trails, and Sugarloaf Mountain.

While the collaboration has been in place for a while now, the plan was developed over the winter when the committee decided to put something on paper. “We wanted something of a larger context. What are we trying to do; what is our end goal,” explained CRNEMA President Ed Gervais.

Dave Cota, Town Manager and committee facilitator, said the trail development program was in its eighth year and still growing.

That growth is reflected in the plan, which lays out a goal to double the size of the trail system in the next five to 10 years. Currently the system boasts 74 miles of trails for all abilities.

Gervais said the trail system is noted for having some of the best beginner terrain in the state, if not in all of New England. “That was a conscious effort of the committee to draw new people into the sport. There is a great progression of trails in terms of difficulty and terrain. It’s kind of like skiing,” he explained.

In fact, Gervais said there were a lot of skiing analogies that went with mountain biking. “Not too long ago, the sport of mountain biking was in the 60s of skiing and no one wanted to spend any money doing it. Now, I’d say we are in the 80s of skiing with more families and kids involved,” stated Gervais.

Gervais said it would not be long before people started looking for destinations for mountain bike vacations, much like the “ski vacations” of the 90s and beyond.

With that in mind, the committee’s plan to double rideable terrain is not an arbitrary number, said Gervais. A larger trail system would support a mountain biker for a week and would attract bike-vacationers from away. “It would mean there were enough trails so that riders would want to come back and do other things while they were here,” he noted.

The plan also lists challenges faced by the committee. With so many access points, there is no way to know how many riders utilize the system. The committee plans to address ways to have a better understanding of just how many riders are attracted to the system.

While all four CVTC partners have contributed financially to the trail system, at this point, funding for mountain bike specific trail construction has come primarily form the town and CRNEMBA. MH&T has also contributed significantly by the addition of its adjoining complementary trail network and Sugarloaf has provided land access.

Regardless, the future plan will require significantly greater resources to implement. However, the committee has laid the groundwork by prioritizing actions to work on securing the necessary funding.

Once trail building begins, the plan is to build a 1.25-mile trail which Gervais said will connect to Stratton Brook Hut and make a “nice loop option” by connecting Oak Knoll and Esker Trail.

“We are really lucky at the moment. Leadership among the partners is unemotional and non-territorial. This is a unique, rare and remarkable cooperation,” noted Gervais.

For more information about CRNEMBA, including membership and volunteer trail work dates, visit carrabassettnemba.org. A copy of the trail plan can also be found at the CRNEMA website.

For more information about the Town of Carrabassett, visit carrabassettvalley.org. Information about MH&T can be found at mainehuts.org and information about Sugarloaf Mountain can be found by visiting sugarloaf.com.

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