The future of mountain biking in Wisconsin just keeps getting brighter. The more I travel around our state the more I can see we are seeing a big resurgence in the Mountain Bike trail scene! A few weeks back I was fortunate enough to travel to Wausau and be apart of CWOCC (Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition) unveiling of their master-plan to build a better mountain biking community in central Wisconsin.
Thank you to all that have put in countless hours, planning and preparing, to cease this incredible opportunity. Here is more of what is in store, told by Wausau resident and Mountain Bike Journalist Mr. Mark Parman.
If things work out, Wausau, WI. could become the Midwest’s next IMBA Ride Center and Wisconsin’s first. Currently, there are 11 ride centers worldwide, including one in Copper Harbor, Michigan and one in Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota. They don’t give out this designation to any old trail system – it is a big deal – and Wausau must meet IMBA’s rigorous evaluation criteria.
On Aug. 9, IMBA’s Lori and Jesse Livingston and CWOCC (the Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition) presented the plan to the Wausau community, including the mayor, community foundation directors, Parks & Rec. staff as well as interested citizens. Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple attended because he knows a ride center would improve the city’s quality of life and attract tourists, young professionals and potential new businesses to the area.
IMBA Ride Centers appeal to mountain bikers of all skills and types and must feature diverse trails and experiences all within 30-minutes of traveling time – long, technical singletrack loops, gravity trails, pump tracks and bike parks. Wausau has a good start at this list with the dozen or so miles of singletrack at Nine Mile County Forest, as well as great potential for downhill, lift-assisted trails at Granite Peak on Rib Mountain. Wausau also sits at the intersection of I-39 and Highway 29 and features rolling Northwoods terrain ideal for mountain biking.
Gary Barden, president of CWOOC, and board member Matt Blok are spearheading the local effort. Block secured a local foundation grant to bring to Nine Mile this September legendary trail builder Aaron Rogers, who’s responsible for much of the beautiful, flowing trail in Copper Harbor and CAMBA. Rogers will help CWOOC develop a master plan for Nine Mile, reconstructing existing trail and linking much of it into a single loop.
On Aug. 10, the day after the ride center presentation, CWOOC members under the Livingstons’ guidance, rerouted about 1000 feet of unsustainable trail on one of Nine Mile’s steepest hills. See imba.com/blog/jesse-and-lori/wausau-working-hard for more details of the reconstruction.
An IMBA Ride Center in Wausau would benefit everyone who rides a mountain bike in Wisconsin, and attract visitors from out of state. If the next generation trails in the tiny, out-of-the-way town of Copper Harbor, MI can attract 20,000 visitors a year, think what these trails in centrally located Wausau my do for tourism.
Although it’s just in the planning phase and will take years to develop, the dedication of CWOOC, the enthusiasm of the mountain bike community and the backing of local foundations might just give Wisconsin its first IMBA Ride Center.
Click on the image below to download the full plan developed by CWOOC to get a better idea of why we are all so excited about this opportunity.