Miramichi, NB - Changing minds, one ride at a time

Mountain bike clubs always ask us, “How can I convince my land manager/municipality that mountain biking is a good thing and that we should not be simply tolerated but accepted?” Once you enter into the world of mountain biking it's easy to understand why so many people love it. So how do you convert the non-believers?

The Miramichi Mountain Bike Club (MMBC) has taken the first steps in converting the nay-sayers. In the past few months they have welcomed two city representatives into their club and have taken them out on the trails at French Fort Cove. Embracing new cyclists and developing trails that they can enjoy goes a long way towards increasing membership and gaining support in your community. After only a few group rides with MMBC, one of the city representatives is now taking other new riders out on the trail in his spare time. The other recently purchased a better bike and they are both cheerleaders for mountain biking at city meetings.

Communication between your land manager and your club is key. Many of the challenges clubs encounter are due to misunderstandings about what the group wants. For example, the MMBC stated to us during the Club Care Workshop that they do not wish to expand the trail system at this time because they can only manage the trails that they currently have. The French Fort Cove Commission, which MMBC must report to, were fearful of uncontrolled expansion of the network and so imposed strict rules regarding trail work. A misunderstanding like this can take years to clear up. If you present the land manager with a detailed trail plan then there are no mysteries about your intentions. You can read more about what goes into a trail plan in IMBA's Trail Solutions book.

While in Miramichi we were treated to some amazing, flowy singletrack that brought us to many view points and through several types of forest. They use the term “speed technical” to describe their more advanced trails since less skill is required to ride them at a slower pace. Still, faster riders find more of the challenge they are looking for. Blessed with phenomenal drainage, these trails tend to be the driest in the province, and even after 5 days of heavy rains we were still able to get out to ride. We've been told by MMBC that the best time of year to ride is definitely in the fall when the entire valley is changing colour. We were blown away by the beauty and history of French Fort Cove and are looking forward to seeing it mature into an incredible trail system.

Thanks to the MMBC, Incline Sports, the City of Miramichi and French Fort Cove for inviting us into their community.