Mountain bikers gearing up for new season

But even outside, precautionary COVID-19 rules are in place

Mountain biking may be an outdoor sport but cyclists using the Morice Mountain Bike Association’s trails are being asked to respect guidance issued because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riders working their way downhill from two-way trails on Mount Harry Davis encountering riders coming up are being asked to give two-metres of distance.

And those parking in the lot must give additional space between their vehicles and those of others.

The riding guidance speaks to the physical distancing guidelines in place province-wide and the parking lot guidance speaks to group limitations.

“We just don’t want opportunities for people to gather,” says Miake Elliott from the mountain bike association of the vehicle parking guidance.

With the snow gone and some trail sections in need of work to prepare for the new riding season, the pandemic has eliminated what would be groups of volunteers gathering.

But what is possible is for individuals, families and people who live together to assist, said Elliott.

And that can be done by people picking specific trail sections in need of rehabilitation from the winter.

“What they need to do is contact me so we know exactly where they might want to work,” said Elliott.

As of late April, the association posted a list of its trails and their readiness for riding:

– Twisted Metal – Open

– Sticks and Stones – Open below Twisted Metal

– Padawan – Open (Still wet)

– Stones Throw – Open (Still wet)

– Broken Spokes – Closed

– Chutes and Roots – Closed

Last year the association was successful in securing a Northern Health grant of $5,000 to purchase adult and youth mountain bikes as well as two for toddlers, all to be available at no charge for community use.

That worked well last year but with the pandemic, the lending plan for this year is so far on hold, said Elliott.

“We know there are people who want to get out, looking to ride for exercise but so far, that’s just not possible.”

Also on hold for the time being is a plan to erect a kiosk with a secure deposit box for riders who don’t belong to the association to make a donation each time they use the trails.

And the association is also awaiting word on a grant proposal of $10,000 to connect a bottom beginner or ‘green’ trail with another ‘green’ trail further up.

Like other non-profit groups who have applied for grants, the arrival of the pandemic has affected application date deadlines and approvals and Elliott is waiting to hear of the progress of this application.

“The one at the top is 1.7km and the one at the botttom is 1.7km and the one in the middle would be 1.7km,” said Elliott of the trail the associatioin wants to build. “When it is built, for all three, it would be 30 minutes from the top to the bottom.”

This new section would also provide more defined access to more challenging ‘blue’ and ‘black’ trails also maintained by the association.

The pandemic did disrupt the association’s annual general meeting plans but it does offer adult, youth and family memberships.

More information on volunteering for trail maintenance work and other activities is available on the association’s Facebook page.

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