September 5, 2010

Energy boost

Volunteers and riders build trails and form clubs as a passion for mountain biking spreads in Maine

By Deirdre Fleming
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Brian Danz of the Greater Portland chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association rides with beginning mountain bikers at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal last Saturday.

Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

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Keith McMullan of South Portland adjusts the seat for his daughter, Lydia, 11, right, as sister Izzy, 9, watches on Saturday before a ride for mountain bike beginners at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal.

Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


Maine's chapters of the New England Mountain Bike Association:

Carrabassett Region,

Central Maine,

Greater Portland,

Midcoast Maine,


WHERE: Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal

WHEN: Sept. 18

WHO: Riders racing solo and on relays over a roughly 9-mile course, sometimes in costumes.


WHAT ELSE: The event includes a barbecue and live band in the afternoon

OF NOTE: Due to the large number of riders, parking will be limited in the park.


It's a story being played out across Maine.


In the western mountains, David Hughes and Joshua Tauses only wanted to work with the town of Carrabassett Valley to build mountain bike trails there.

But when they inquired about interest within their community in June, they heard back from riders throughout the region.

"When you have people from Kingfield and Farmington showing up to a scoping meeting, well, my idea for what the club would be transformed into a regional thing. If people are stepping up and putting their shoulder into it, you pull them in and hold them tight," said Hughes, now the president of the club, which already has 72 members.

The club was voted into NEMBA by its board of trustees immediately. It was given $5,000 in funds from the town of Carrabassett Valley to help build trails. And on its first official trail day two weeks ago it finished a day-long project for the Maine Huts and Trails system by 11 a.m.

The fast start illustrates the club's momentum.

"What is unique about the Carrabassett chapter is it all came together very quickly," Keyes said. "They have very motivated mountain bikers who really want to put the sweat into building trails. Carrabassett is really the first one with the mission to help the region. That's pretty unusual."

However, it is the kind of riding the region can offer that makes it truly distinctive, riders say.

Tauses, the trail director, said the "big country riding" done in the region across 30 and 40 miles of mountainous single track and logging roads is unlike anything in New England.

"It's a different type of riding. We have loops where you may not see another rider all day, and may not see paved road, if we can obtain landowner permission to open them," Tauses said.

That could be easy, if the work done by mountain bike riders elsewhere in Maine is any indication.


After the Central Maine club formed three years ago, it went to work building trails through the urban areas in Augusta, Hallowell and Waterville. The build-it-and-they'll-come phenomenon there was instant.

"When we came into existence, we quickly had a lot of interest from volunteers. And we have on our Wednesday night rides. Our biggest was two weeks ago -- we had 23 riders. It's kind of funny, when we started, many times I rode by myself," said club founder Brian Alexander.

Meanwhile in Bangor, Presque Isle and Camden, trails are being built and opened in short order.

The town-owned Camden Snow Bowl is eyeing mountain biking as the next cool sport, thanks to the Midcoast NEMBA chapter formed there in 2007.

Camden Snow Bowl general manager Jeff Kuller, the town's recreation director, said it hasn't stopped building trails and working to open more.

"The first thing they did is get a grant from (the International Mountain Bike Association) to build a pump track. There were a ton of volunteers," Kuller said.


Where mountain biking in Maine will go from here is unknown. Chapter presidents have hope, but they have no blueprint.

However, all one has to do (and Maine riders do) is look to Vermont and the wildly popular Kingdom Trails network there, where 110 miles of mountain bike trails draws riders from several states and provinces.

"If you're there at the trail head on a weekend, there are cars from all over the Northeast. That's kind of what I think we can do here," said Tauses in Carrabassett Valley.

One thing is certain: The image mountain biking once had as a rogue sport has changed, and even state officials are looking to the activity as green, low-impact and popular.

"I think mountain biking will increase around several of our parks, including at Camden Hills State Park and Aroostook State Park. Places like that are just waiting for those kinds of things to happen," said Harris with the Bureau of Parks and Lands.

And if the Bradbury-12 is any indication, mountain biking events in Maine will draw devoted riders, and even turn others away.

"I think people come for the challenge, and also because it is the one day they can see all the people they know who ride in one spot," Hackleman said. 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Volunteers with the Carrabassett Region chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association work on a trail on Aug. 21. Mountain biking clubs in Maine have been busy building and opening trails.

Courtesy Carrabassett Region NEMBA chapter

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Pat Hackleman, founder and director of the Bradbury-12.

Courtesy photo


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