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December 16, 2017

Cycling; Mountain bikers gaining support

State officials want to keep mountain bikers off the singletrack trails in the Ware River Watershed.

New England Mountain Bike Association members have been talking with state officials in an effort to gain access for mountain bikers on the restricted trails in the watershed, which stretches through Rutland, Oakham, Barre and Hubbardston.

Officials are also concerned about unauthorized trails that have been created in the 23,000-acre watershed, and they plan to dismantle the trails and enforce the ban on mountain bikes, NEMBA said.

“For the last 30 years, residents have been mountain biking on this trail network without realizing this activity has always been banned. Bicycling is only allowed on roads and rail trails. Hikers, on the other hand, are permitted to walk anywhere they choose throughout the Ware River Watershed regardless of the presence of a trail,” NEMBA said in a news release.

Members of the Wachusett Chapter of NEMBA have been leading the effort.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation website on the Ware River Watershed says the following: “The primary purpose of DCR water and surrounding lands is drinking water supply. Public access, therefore, is carefully regulated and controlled to protect over 2 million people’s source of drinking water.”

According to NEMBA, there are at least 20 miles of singletrack trails in the watershed. Only three of the trails are recognized by the Division of Water Supply Protection in the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, NEMBA said, and the three trails are the Midstate Trail and two trails dedicated to horseback riding.

State officials have expressed concerns over the presence of mountain bikers on these trails as well as the creation of additional unauthorized trails, NEMBA said.

The mountain bike group offered to provide solutions to curb unauthorized trail building and riding by working with the state agency to create a legitimate and sustainable trail system for mountain biking, hiking, trail running and cross-country skiing. However, the offer was declined.

NEMBA said that state officials plan to wipe out the trails and enforce the ban on mountain bikes.

“NEMBA feels that the best course of action here would be to recognize bicycles as a valid trail user and work with, rather than against, those aligned with the agency’s mission of maintaining the highest possible water quality,” NEMBA said.

The bicycling group contends that mountain biking and hiking have similar environmental impacts and should be managed together. According to NEMBA, there are many studies that say hiking and biking have similar impacts yet there are no studies indicating hiking has no impact or that hiking and mountain biking impacts are dramatically different.

“The recreational analysis done by DCR in the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Middlesex Fells Reservation states that ‘with respect to these two recreational impacts, these two recreational uses have similar impacts and should be evaluated similarly,’ ” NEMBA said.

According to NEMBA, providing access for mountain bikers on singletrack trails would be beneficial to area residents looking for recreational opportunities.

“The current policy unjustly excludes mountain biking on trails as a legitimate activity in the watershed, and the lack of authorized trails for hiking and mountain biking have created a recreational vacuum that is currently being fulfilled by creating unauthorized trails. We feel strongly that by working with NEMBA and our dedicated volunteer base, DWSP can actually improve Ware Watershed water quality further by fixing or closing current unsustainable trails and providing new trails that are properly designed and built away from sensitive areas,” NEMBA said.

According to NEMBA, the group met with state Rep. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, on Thursday, and she offered her full support for NEMBA’s effort to gain access for mountain bikers in the watershed.

Cross the line

The best cyclo-cross racers in the country will line up at Roger Williams Park in Providence on Sunday afternoon.

The KMC Cyclo-cross Festival wraps up the New England Holy Week of Cyclo-cross, which includes six races over 12 days.

Cyclo-cross stars scheduled to compete today include national champion Jeremy Powers, six-time national champion Tim Johnson, four-time national champ Jonathan Page, national champ Katie Compton, Ted King, Shawn Milne and many more. In addition to the United States, there will be top riders from Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

“I think it’s a foundation piece in North American ‘cross. I’ve seen it grow into such a great event, and for more than just the racers,” said Johnson, a member of Cannondale CyclocrossWorld.com team.

With more than 10,000 spectators and racers expected, the event is considered the biggest cyclo-cross event on the East Coast. The event — formerly known as the Providence Cyclo-Cross Festival — was first held in 2009, is internationally sanctioned by UCI and is on target to be the first American venue to host the World Cup in 2015.

Cyclo-cross is a 30- to 60-minute race on a bicycle similar to a road bike, but the tires are a little wider and have more tread for traction on the often-muddy terrain. The course usually has grass, gravel and asphalt sections, and includes barriers such as hurdles and steps that sometimes force a rider to dismount and carry the bike over the obstacles.

The racecourse at Roger Williams Park has quick elevation changes, with many sharp turns and switchbacks on short, steep hills — as well as a flyover, some hurdles and a fast finish on pavement.

“It’s a beautiful course,” Johnson said Friday. “It’s fast, it’s challenging. Riders feel like they’re getting something they can’t get anywhere else.”

The bowl-like landscape at Roger Williams Park, which hosted the Cyclo-Cross National Championships in 2005 and 2006, not only offers a great course layout, but also spectacular sight lines for watching the races.

The amateur racing begins at 8 a.m., the elite women race for 40 minutes beginning at 3:45 p.m., and the elite men race for 60 minutes starting at 5.

To get to Roger Williams Park in Providence, take Interstate 95 south to Rhode Island exit 17. At the bottom of the exit ramp, turn left onto Route 1/Elmwood Avenue. Proceed on Elmwood for ⅓ mile, then turn left into the park’s second entrance. Follow Cross Fest and “Temple to Music” signs in the park.

Calendar
Today — Major Taylor Century, with ride options of 25, 62 and 100 miles, presented by Seven Hills Wheelmen and 10th Gear/Venture Crew 1010. Starts at River Bend Farm (Visitors Center for Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park), 287 Oak St., Uxbridge. Information: (508) 831-0301, www.sevenhillswheelmen.org

Today — Kona Bicycles Mountain Bike Adventure Series, Bear Brook State Park, Allenstown, New Hampshire. Presented by New England Mountain Bike Association. Information: www.nemba.org

9:30 a.m. Saturday — Seven Hills Wheelmen 45- or 65-mile road ride. Meet on School Street, Montague. The long route has a lunch stop in Shelburne Falls. Information: (508) 831-0301, www.sevenhillswheelmen.org

Saturday — Mansfield Hollow Cyclo-cross race, Mansfield Hollow State Park, Mansfield, Connecticut. Presented by Thread City Cyclers. Information: www.bikereg.com

Oct. 12 — Minuteman Road Club Cyclocross race, the Fairgrounds at Lancaster. Amateur races start at 8:30 a.m.; elite women at 11:30 and elite men at 1:15 p.m. Information: www.minutemanroadclub.com

10 a.m. Oct. 12 — Seven Hills Wheelmen road ride. Meet at at Robert E. Melican Middle School, 145 Lincoln St., Northboro. Ride options of 43, 63 or 84 miles with the Seven Hills Wheelmen, Charles River Wheelmen and Nashoba Valley Pedalers. Information: (508) 831-0301, www.sevenhillswheelmen.org

Oct. 12 — Great River Ride Century/Berkshire Brevet RUSA 170K Populaire, Sons of Erin, 22 Williams St., Westfield. Presented by New Horizons Bikes. Information: http://newhorizonsbikes.com

9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 19 — Quiet Corner NEMBA Fun Ride, Old Furnace State Park, Killingly, Conn. Presented by Quiet Corner chapter of New England Mountain Bike Association. Information: www.nemba.org

Oct. 25 — 13th annual Canton Cup Cyclo-Cross race, Massachusetts Hospital School, 3 Randolph St., Canton. Presented by North American Velo. Information: www.northatlanticvelo.org

Oct. 26 — Wicked Ride of the East, Kona Bicycles Mountain Bike Adventure Series, Harold Parker State Fores, North Andover. Presented by New England Mountain Bike Association. Information: www.nemba.org.

7 p.m. every Wednesday — NBX “Under the Lights” Cyclo-cross Training Series. Old Mountain Field, 831 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown, R.I. Registration at 6:30 p.m. Presented by NBX/Narragansett Beer Cycling Team and Apex Tech Group. Information: http://nbxbikes.com

6 p.m. every Friday — Seven Hills Wheelmen 30-mile road ride. Meet at Southbridge Bicycles, 100 Central St., Southbridge. Information: call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org

Selected Saturdays and Sundays — Seven Hills Wheelmen Easy C Rider road rides. Moderately paced bicycle rides, typically 15 to 35 miles, on relatively gentle terrain, on selected Saturdays and Sundays in the Worcester area. Starting times and locations are posted each week at www.easycrider.com.For more information, call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.

9 a.m. every Saturday — Southbridge Bicycles road ride. Meet at Southbridge Bicycles, 100 Central St., Southbridge. Information: call (508) 764-3657 or visit www.southbridgebicycles.net

Submit bike listings to mark.conti@telegram.com; Mark Conti, Telegram & Gazette, P.O. Box 15012, Worcester, MA 01615-0012; or fax attention to Mark Conti at (508) 793-9363.

Source: 

Cycling; Mountain bikers gaining support