Have you ever sat around having a beer with friends, after a big ride, soaking in the glory, and wondered if you could give back to the wonderful place you live and ride in. Maybe you thought about creating and building a new trail, that one missing link that would be perfect for your new carbon, long travel rig. Or maybe what you had in mind is a place that you can hang out with your kids, teach them a few things, and watch their riding progress. Maybe you were thinking of a sweet new pump track and jump park. Well maybe you’re reading this but don’t know how to move forward. Or you already have started the sometimes long process of planning, but now you need that extra little kick in the pants with some much needed funds.
The Bell Built Grant might be what you’re looking for. Bell’s program awards $100,000 (yes, that’s right, $100K) split between three well deserving winners for the design and construction of a flow or downhill trail, or a jump park. After an intense application period, followed by public voting amongst finalists on Facebook, money is put into the dirt. Trails, jumps, and features are built.
Flow trail: CJ Scott, Kingdom Trails Association, Burke, VT:
Downhill trail: Aaron Rogers, President/Trails Coordinator, Copper Harbor Trails Club, Copper Harbor, MI:
One of 2013’s winners was the group from Steamboat Springs, CO, part of the “Bike Town USA” project. Steamboat Springs, already an incredible x-country mt bike destination, noticed it was missing out on certain aspects of a bigger picture. Namely, an awesome dirt jump park. Eric Meyer headed up the effort, and his group was rewarded with one of the three awards from Bell. As I talked with Eric, I could hear the sounds of a young child, possibly being held in his arms. I could tell he was excited as he told me he couldn’t wait to ride at the jump park in a few years with his infant son. Proud papa for sure. And that’s exactly what the folks behind the grant money are hoping for, families riding on dirt together.
Bell and IMBA are pretty loud and clear on their website about how to apply, and how the money can be used. IMBA’s Trail Solutions, the planning and construction wing of the advocacy group, must be used during construction of trails. Flowline Trail Design, out of Denver, CO was also used for their trail building expertise, in Steamboat. This way, everyone is assured of proper design of sustainable and durable trails. Creating fun places to ride for years to come is the goal, not something that needs to be expensively maintained year after year.
All the information can be found here. Some words of advice from Eric. Plan, and plan some more. Have permits and permissions in place from the town, county, state and whoever else you might need them from. This isn’t a spur of the moment thing. Have other funding lined up. While $33,000 sounds like a ton of money, (and is) if you really want to do it right, the project will take more than that. Have volunteers ready to go. And have the community on board with you. Incredible things can happen when the community is behind the project.
Words: Daniel Dunn Photos: