Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ripon College gets single-track mountain bike trail

IMBA Trail Specialist Jill Van Winkle checks her GPS as she plots the trail corridor for a new singletrack mountain bike trail within the woods of Ripon College's Ceresco Prairie Conservacy. Photo by Ric Damm.
Our guest blogger today is Ric Damm, head of the Ripon College Cycling Team and a Bike Fed board member. We asked him to tell us about the new mountain bike trail that will be built on the Ripon College campus thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Each month, the Pepsi Refresh Project puts charitable projects up for public vote on its website, and the top vote-getters receive grants. Ripon College is in Ripon, Wis., about 20 miles west of Fond du Lac.

We're starting to move forward on the Ripon College mountain bike trail that's been made possible by a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant that we won in August.

Earlier this month, Jill Van Winkle, a trail specialist with International Mountain Bicycling Association's (IMBA's) Trail Solutions team, came to Ripon College to help us piece together an initial design for the trail. The trail, which we plan to have ready by fall 2011, will be used by our mountain bike team as well as by casual riders from the college and Ripon community.

The trail will be located in the wooded sections of the college's Ceresco Prairie Conservancy, which comprises 130 acres of native prairie, oak savanna and wetland habitat. The area is part of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Glacial Habitat Restoration Program, a partnership between the DNR and the college.

Minimizing the potential for erosion and other impacts of the new trail is clearly a priority for us. IMBA will design and build the trail, drawing on its expertise to ensure the integrity and longevity of the trail, as well as the prairie and woodland habitat.

The trail will be a great boon to the Ripon College mountain bike team, which has flourished since its inception in 2008. The team has won the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference Division 2 team mountain bike championship and qualified multiple students for national competition in each of the past two years. Still, the nearest mountain biking trail is more than 20 miles from Ripon.

I also want this trail to be a gateway for others who are curious about the sport of mountain biking. The trail will be built with some challenges in mind for more advanced riders, but will not be so intimidating as to scare off would-be newcomers. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Ripon community at large all supported this project and voted online to help us secure the grant. This trail will be built for all of them, and everyone is welcome to use it.

We're also grateful to the greater Wisconsin bicycling community, including the Bike Fed, for supporting our Pepsi Refresh Project grant request and getting out the vote through Facebook, Twitter and email.

The Pepsi Refresh Project began in 2010 as a means to help "refresh" communities. People submit ideas on the Pepsi Refresh Web site in tiers of $5,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $250,000 grants. Each month, Pepsi awards $1.3 million. According to Melisa Tezanos, communications director for Pepsi, the company is using the money it saved by not advertising during the 2010 Super Bowl.

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