By: Caleb Magoon
Biking should be a fun, healthy activity that anyone can do, right? Well, it is…but there are limitations. Whether you like to mountain bike, road bike or just cruise around with the kids, riding can be intimidating. Finding safe and accessible terrain can be a challenge for the young, old and novices. Our paved roads are crowded and often quite hilly. Our mountain bike trails are second to none, though they are mostly intermediate or expert level with very few true beginner trails. Although our assets for biking around Lamoille County are great, we’ve historically had limited options for people who aren’t hard-core enthusiasts.
I am happy to say that this is changing. Clubs and organizations have recognized the need for terrain, trails and pathways more suitable for the young, old, novices, and first timers. One huge development will be the completion of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. I don’t know of any other surface in the state that is equal in length, flat, and free of motorized traffic.
Such a project represents the democratization of biking. It will be a place where anyone can ride comfortably, easily, and safely. Whether you ride for fun, exercise, commuting, or all three, LVRT will open up a lot of terrain for use during all four seasons. It will also connect our communities in a new way, linking together many existing recreation assets.
Another new development is the new mountain bike trails being built on Cricket Hill in Hyde Park. Cricket Hill has been a fantastic free community resource for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking for over a decade. Now they’re poised to add mountain biking to the repertoire. Mello Velo is one of the newest mountain bike clubs to spring out of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association. For their first project, Mellow Velo wanted to focus on trails for novice riders. Cricket Hill was a great location already possessing parking, a trailhead and some double track trails. The group wrote a state recreation trails grant for $30,000 to make the project happen. These trails will be fun for anyone, but will be especially great for kids and adults new to the sport. Completion is expected this summer.
Creating recreation for “non-expert” riders can sometimes be challenging since novices don’t always speak out or advocate as strongly as sports enthusiasts. But as these biking assets have become available, I have realized the importance of providing biking to all. I’ve heard countless stories of kids finding their first groove on a mountain bike or older folks getting back into riding late in life because they have a safe place to do it. Providing resources to everyone is an important part of growing any sport. It’s good to see things moving in that direction for the health and benefit of Lamoille County residents.
Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.