Mountain Bike Club Tackles Outdoor Rec Needs

The great outdoors

The Weatherford Mountain Bike Club was established as a non-profit in 2015 and since that time has created natural trails throughout the county to address the outdoor recreational needs of the public.

“I was president of the Fort Worth Mountain Bikers Association and I led that club for seven years and learned how everything worked running a non-profit. I wanted to start something where I lived because I was working in downtown Fort Worth but living here in Weatherford, so I asked the city of Weatherford if I could have a meeting with them to discuss the potential of starting a non-profit mountain bike club,” WMBC President Larry Colvin said. “It took us a little while, but we finally met in 2015 and ultimately signed an agreement and did all the necessary paperwork to start the club.”

The club’s first trail was created around Lake Weatherford, the Quanah Hill Bike Trail.

“We started building in January of 2016. Our first year we built nearly four miles of trail — all volunteer effort. We had a big grand opening and a bunch of people turned out to ride the trail and I think we made a really great first impression with the city,” Colvin said. “That first year was very successful with people using the trail and it wasn’t just mountain biking, it was hiking, trail running and people getting ready for backpacking trips — people that wanted to be outdoors.”

Colvin said the city then put in electricity and water, and then eventually constructed bathroom facilities for the trail.

“That second year we ended up adding two more miles of trail to the park and we put a gate counter there and had nearly 12,000 vehicles that drove through the gate,” Colvin said. “That kind of justified and validated what we were doing.”

While they were adding those two miles to Quanah Hill, a relationship was being built with the developer of the Parks of Aledo subdivision.

“It was financed and constructed by the developer and the mountain bike club started stewarding the trail and teaching people who use it how to take care of it, and that’s been very successful,” Colvin said. “The Parks of Aledo trail is super popular. That trail is six miles and there’s going to be another three miles added a year from now, and then ultimately this trail system will be around 11 to 12 miles.”

WMBC member Aaron Garmon is one of four trail stewards of the Parks of Aledo trail.

“I’m a relatively new addition to the club. I had ridden bikes my whole life and just loved it, and I have a family that I look after, so I wasn’t able to ride a lot in recent years. Then probably three or four years ago I was able to have a little more free time as my kids got older and I realized how much I loved it and continued to just enjoy the sport, and then, of course, found our local trails here,” Garmon, who joined the club in June of 2019, said. “Just within the past two years we now have a trail in my backyard, Parks of Aledo, and I had heard of its inception, I started riding while they were building it, and I wanted to be a part of it. That’s basically how I ended up joining the club and volunteering to help keep up the trail because somebody’s got to do it.”

In October of 2019, Parks of Aledo developer James R. Harris Partners, LLC, announced to the Aledo City Council that they would be developing two more sections of the subdivision project and leaving more than a third of the land as open space for bike trails and public parks.

“In the largest portions of that open space, there are about 60 acres of continuous open space, we’ve developed a soft surface, multi-use mountain bike trail and it gets quite a bit of use out there. All of the maintenance of that trail is done by volunteers,” Justin Welborn, a partner with James R. Harris, said at the council meeting. “[The Weatherford Mountain Bike Club] are trail stewards for two trails, Quanah Hill and this one and then probably more to come in the future. They have events out here where they’ll do trail cleanups, trail maintenance, and so that land — even though it’s private land — the trails can be used by the general public and they get maintained by volunteers.”

Garmon said the biggest thing he does as a trail steward is spread awareness about it and make sure people know how to use it.

“We mow the trail, we repair the trail when it gets rutted, we do rock work on the trail in places that refuse to dry — we usually put down rocks, it’s called rock armoring — we put up fences and barricades and we pick up a ton of trash, and of course all of that so we can ride it. If somebody doesn’t mow it and keep it picked up then nobody can ride it. We just want to use it and I have kids and I want them to use it and enjoy it,” Garmon said. “I would say the biggest thing we do is we actually interact with the public. We see people all the time and encourage people in their use of the trail and the Parks of Aledo trail is particularly difficult because it’s a neighborhood, so we just want to make sure people don’t get hurt and make them aware of how to use to trail because it’s a multi-use trail.”

Right now, the WMBC has about 100 active members and has almost 2,900 that follow the club on social media.

“Collectively in the Metroplex, the mountain bike community is about 20,000 people — that’s generally all three clubs — and then, of course, these trails attract different recreational groups,” Colvin said. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these three non-profits are addressing the outdoor recreational needs of 50,000 to 60,000 avid outdoors people. These are people that go out and use these trails on a regular basis and it’s pretty amazing to think they’re all run by non-profits.”

Garmon said mountain biking reminds him of his childhood.

“It reminds me of being a kid, it makes me feel relatively useful and it’s obviously good exercise,” Garmon said. “What I do for a living I’m with people all day long and talking and so it’s just nice to not do that and get outside into the woods. That’s just my childhood in a nutshell, I love it.”

Colvin said there are discussions in the works for additional trails in Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, and has a passion for biking and creating something for the benefit of the community.

“I think part of it is because of my enthusiasm for the sport and then also what I do for a living, I work in the consulting engineering business and have been a designer for close to 35 years. I understood the relationship that needed to be forged between a non-profit mountain bike club and municipality because here in Texas we have no public land and 97 percent of Texas is privately owned, so the only way you can do something outdoors is if you do it yourself,” Colvin said. “It’s really up to people like myself, citizens, to work with municipalities, find out what properties they have and what kind of opportunities you have to build these types of trails. In my opinion, it’s the perfect definition of ‘We the People,’ it’s something that my parents instilled in me in giving something back to your community.”

For more information about the Weatherford Mountain Bike Club visit www.wmbctx.com or follow them on Facebook.

 

https://www.weatherforddemocrat.com/news/local_news/mountain-bike-club-tackles-outdoor-rec-needs/article_75594f70-7aec-576c-89ce-6b142fc3dd64.html

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