Mountain bikers out for a day of fresh air, exercise and adventure. (Photo courtesy Houston Mountain Bike Association)

Mountain bikers out for a day of fresh air, exercise and adventure. (Photo courtesy Houston Mountain Bike Association)

Club buys mountain bikes for community use

Exercise and club growth are twin goals

There’s going to be an increased opportunity to try out mountain biking here thanks to a successful grant application made by the Houston Mountain Bike Association.

It’s receiving $5,000 from the Northern Health Authority to buy four or five adult mountain bikes, two youth mountain bikes and two mountain bikes for toddlers, says club president Miake Elliott.

They’ll then be loaned out at no charge.

The intent is to offer people another way of getting exercise and because there’ll be no charge, cost won’t be a barrier, Elliott added.

She described the bikes to be purchased as having the right “geometry” for mountain trail riding in that they are designed so that when a rider is poised above a decline for a descent, most of the bike is in front of you.

“The more of a bike that’s in front of you, the more you feel secure as a rider,” Elliott said.

She herself began mountain biking on a bike not designed for the sport and when she acquired a mountain bike, she said the difference was startling.

Mountain biking is known for trails which offer adventuresome descents and advanced trails often have grades of 15 per cent.

But a beginner trail may have grades of a very manageable 5 per cent and that’s what the club has to offer those who will try out the bikes or new riders who have purchased their own.

It’s called the Padawan trail and is located at the base of Mount Harry Davis.

It can be cycled as a loop, making it a great experience that can be enjoyed over a lunch hour, Elliott added.

Now three years old, the Houston Mountain Bike Association has approximately 50 members, including young riders, and it hopes the loan program will result in people taking on the sport and becoming members.

Its members help maintain trails as well as promoting the sport in a responsible fashion.

“We just have a fantastic volunteer board,” Elliott said.

One of the benefits of membership is a reduced-price shuttle service to the various trails the club uses.

Elliott said this was the first time the club had applied to the Northern Health Authority’s Imagine grant program and was very pleased to have it accepted.

Andrew Steele, the Northern Health official in charge of the Imagine grant program, said the club’s application fit its criteria in being provided the maximum grant amount of $5,000.

“We’re looking to fund things to keep people healthy and keep them from acquiring health services and physical activity is key to that,” he said.

Grant application evaluators also look at groups or programs in the early stages of their development with an eye to providing the financing to move them forward.

“They’re working on their infrastructure,” Steele said. “And mountain biking is a fast growing sport in the north.”

The club’s intent to make the mountain bikes available at no charge, thus removing cost as a barrier to participation, was also a key consideration in the Imagine grant being approved, he said.