Monday, July 24, 2006

Finally, some good press.

I had this article in the Portland Press Herald pointed out to me by Kevin today. Its about time land managers realize that having mountain bikes on your property can actually be profitable. The rangers at the park work year round on new trails and improving existing trails and now on any given day there seems to be more mountain bikers on the trails than hikers. Here is the article.

Bradbury welcomes mountain bikers, so they help the park

WHAT: Bradbury Mountain Enduro
WHEN: July 30
WHERE: Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal
COST: $35 for the race; $20 for the touring class
MORE: Race or tour around a single 30-mile loop. All proceeds go to Bradbury Mountain State Park and local bicycle charities. Call 773-1700 for details.

Bradbury Mountain State Park is between Portland and Lewiston. But despite the nearby urban locations, for many years it didn't draw as many visitors as coastal parks such as Camden Hills or Reid State Park in Georgetown, locals say.
"Bradbury Mountain did pretty well during the fall. Other than that, it was one of the state parks that was kind of dead. Now, it is a Maine mountain-biking mecca," said Jamie Wright, owner of Gorham Bike and Ski in Portland. "The park works really hard to make these trails so mountain bikers can come feed off each other."
The park now attracts 30,000 visitors a year, many of them mountain bikers, said park manager Mick Rogers. That number has doubled in the last eight years, since the cyclists were welcomed in, said Rogers.
"It gives the park good exposure," he said.
It helps the park in other ways as well.
Gorham Bike and Ski sponsors an annual mountain-bike race at the park that donates proceeds to help the park accomplish different goals. For example, the Portland bike shop paid the Pownal Land Trust's legal fees when it wanted to donate land to the state park.
Next weekend, the eighth annual mountain-bike race,the longest yet, will take place at the park. The Bradbury Mountain Enduro race will cover a 30-mile loop.
The race, along with the park, has grown.
In the past eight years, the race has gone from an 8-miler to the more than 20, and now 30. In that time, the park has grown from 600 acres to 1,000.
There is a direct relationship between the two, Rogers said.
The park has allowed mountain bikers to use its trails since 1997, Rogers said. At first, bikers came to the park without going through the gate, and they didn't pay the $3 fee.
"There were hundreds of them that did that," Rogers said. "Now, it doesn't happen much. They really support the park. They do damage on rainy days, they come back (to fix it). We'll get 100 mountain-bike volunteers."
The relationship between the park and its biking patrons is productive for both.
The bikers are happy to help develop a place they can ride, Wright said.
"The problem with the state, there are very few legal places to ride," Wright said. "A lot of (trails) are considered poached. Bradbury is nice. It's legal. It's one of the few."
The riders' interest in the mountain park also makes it unique, Rogers said.
"There are not many that allow mountain bikes. Mount Blue and Camden. But Mount Blue has nowhere near (the number of riders)," Rogers said.
It was Rogers who approached Tim Corcoran, the manager at Gorham Bike and Ski, to suggest the mountain-bike race eight years ago. Since then, the Portland bike shop has worked to change the race each year and make it more appealing.
This year, the race not only will feature a single loop, it will offer a "touring" class, for those who are not riding for time or place but want to cover the long woodland route.
With the help of park rangers, local riders have crafted a course that is one large loop over single and double track.
This race is about stump jumping, holding tight, leaning back and maybe falling off.
Outdoor types who enjoy extreme activities where adrenaline mixes with fresh air crave this type of backwoods fun, where winning is second to the thrill.
"Mountain-bike racing numbers have been down for a number of years. But numbers are up for more adventurous types of racing, such as triathlon," Wright said.
The race is modeled after the Vermont 50 in Brownsville, Vt., that is capped at 650 mountain bikers each fall and has to turn many away.
But, the scenic Vermont race is through farmland, and at least a portion of it is over logging roads.
Wright wanted Maine's enduro race to be a true rugged mountain-bike experience.
Early last week, there were about 100 preregistered for the Bradbury Mountain Enduro, and, most were from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, Wright said.
The hope is to add a 50-mile loop next year, Corcoran said.
But even if the enduro race's growth slows, the mountain-biking scene at Bradbury is certain to climb, bikers say.
"Before, you'd see the occasional person. Now, you go up there any evening, the parking lot is busy. It's good," Corcoran said.
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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