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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Sunglasses drop from the nose of Klay Templeton, 4, as he bikes Saturday June 2 2018 along the new trail near Pea Ridge High School. Dozens of bike riders, mostly team members in tne National Interscholastic Cycling Association, formed the trail by riding the route over and over to create a dirt path.

The city's first multiuse, single-track trail will provide the local youth mountain biking team with a place to practice. It will also provide an outdoor recreational amenity for the larger community.

Arkansas chapter of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the Pea Ridge Blackhawk Cycling team and Ozark Off Road Cyclists have partnered to build a quarter-mile, single-track trail in an area called The Grove. The area sits just west of Weston Street between the Primary, Middle and High schools.

Next event

The next trail building day is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon June 30. Participants will meet at The Grove on the south side of Pea Ridge High School at the intersection of Weston Street and Dodge Street.

There is no experience needed for volunteers.

Source: Staff report

The space was formerly an under-used outdoor classroom, said Anya Bruhin, coach of the Blackhawk Cycling team. The 17-member team, which consists of Middle and High school students, doesn't have an authentic mountain biking space to ride and practices drills in a grassy field.

Building a trail on the site will provide the team a place to practice without having to pack up and drive to trails in other cities. Other community members could use it as a walking or cross country running tail, Bruhin said. The trail will be closed to the public during school hours.

Bike advocates and volunteers worked the first of two trail building days Saturday. Participants worked from 9 a.m. to noon learning about trail construction and maintenance.

Eli Wiggins, a member of the Blackhawk team, was one of nearly 50 volunteers from across the region that helped create the trail.

He's experienced in maintaining trails, but this was the first trail he helped build.

"It's a lot harder than you think it is," Wiggins said, explaining everyone packed down the trail path then labored to remove the grass with various tools. "It makes you want to take care of the trails more."

The trail will be valuable to cycling team, Wiggins said, but also others.

"There's lots of kids that ride who are not part of the team that would love to have this trail," he said.

The project will consist of two trail paths. One that is green, or easy, and another that includes more opportunities for mountain biking skill progression, Bruhin said.

Benton and Washington counties have 219 miles of natural-surface trails. Other and sometimes larger trail systems have recently been in the spotlight such as the Back 40 in Bella Vista, the eventual 16-mile Coler Mountain Bike Preserve in Bentonville, the unknown amount of miles hoped for at Millsaps Mountain in Fayetteville and the 3-acre skills park that breaks ground Tuesday in Springdale.

Smaller trails such as the one being built in Pea Ridge have a role to play in the region's system, mountain biking leaders said.

"The smaller trail systems are important because they offer a controlled environment opportunity for kids and beginners to learn in a safe setting," Bruhin said.

Smaller trails help provide experience and build confidence in young and new riders, said Brannon Pack, executive director of Ozark Off Road Cyclists.

Volunteers will construct the trail using International Mountain Biking Association guidelines.

The trail will help build the Schools District's mountain biking team and allow the district to offer diverse activities for its students, said Mark Laster, district communications director.

Volunteers have been building trails in northwest Arkansas since 1997. Constructing trails can provide a sense of ownership for those who work on them, which offers motivation to help maintain them, Pack said.

"These kids are going to have ownership in that trail for years to come," he said. "It's going to impact generations."

Community on 06/06/2018

Print Headline: Volunteers building bike trail

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