Mountain Biking Team Raises $45,000 In Grants For New Trails - West Virginia Daily News
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Mountain Biking Team Raises $45,000 In Grants For New Trails

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Local mountain biking projects are $45,000 closer to becoming a reality.

Local biking coach, and Lewisburg Councilmember, Sarah Elkins guides the Greenbrier Valley Hellbenders Youth Mountain Bike Team, named for the Hellbender salamander. In August, Elkins explained to The West Virginia Daily News that her and the team had applied for thousands of dollars worth of grants. As of November 22, Elkins was thrilled to learn they would be receiving many of the dollars applied for.

“It’s so exciting,” Elkins said. “It feels like we might actually start putting local mountain biking on the map. The rest of the world knows that West Virginia has the best mountain biking. The World Cup has been here for three years, up at Snowshoe, but West Virginia doesn’t know that they have the best mountain biking in the world. We’re slowly getting the word out about what great terrain we have for mountain biking. People come from all over the world to compete here.”

The funds come from a variety of sources, with three big grants providing over $10,000.

The first grant comes from the West Virginia Community Development Hub, which offers funds through the Communities of Achievement Program (HubCAP). Specifically, they “are focusing our efforts on supporting communities that are building recreational tourism-focused economies.”

“The Bike Skills Park is gonna go in White Sulphur Springs, and that came to us through the West Virginia HUB program,” Elkins said. “They’re granting $12,500 of it. … We are matching that ourselves with $2,500. … In total, that $15,000 will go to design and plan a skills park for White Sulphur Springs. It’ll be right next to the existing park where they’ve just announced the fitness center going in.”

This park would provide locals an easier place to learn how to mountain bike than West Virginia’s natural trails.

“The real challenge that we run into here is [that] there are not easy trails,” Elkins explained. “With our team, our kids who are between sixth grade and 12th grade, we lose a lot of kids, just because you have to. It’s hard. There’s they’re not beginner trails. So the kids who stay are really, they have a huge learning curve. Our plan is to build more accessible trails that get more people out on them. We’re not our goal is not to make them harder.”

The second and third grants begin with $15,000 from International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). The WVU ASCEND program, looking to promote population growth in West Virginia through recruitment, is matching IMBA with another $15,000.

That is for a comprehensive trail plan for Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs. Elkins explained there are several places in Greenbrier County between the two municipalities that are ripe for mountain biking trails, such as state forests, the fairgrounds, or Lewisburg’s newly acquired 34 acres for parks.

“We would love to have the towns connected,” Elkins explained. “[With IMBA], that’s really one of their main goals, connectivity, so that people can get to the trails from their doorstep. I think there would be some big challenges. There’s private landowners between Lewisburg and White Sulphur that I don’t know that we’ll be able to negotiate with. But we’re getting closer to a plan that would connect the two towns.”

Elkins hopes to make the fun and intense activity more accessible for Greenbrier Valley families.

“What ends up happening is the parents all end up riding with us,” Elkins said. “Even the kids who are too young for the team come out and ride, so the whole family is out there.”

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