MOUNTAIN biking is growing in New England and the sport is about to receive a massive boost thanks to a grant from Armidale council’s Stronger Community Fund.
Construction for a $72,200 facility dedicated to all levels of the sport is underway at Armidale’s University of New England. The trails at SportUNE are being built by track specialists Dirt Art with the help of local earthmoving company Ducats. Previously, trails in the area have been predominantly aimed at more advanced cyclists, with New England being home to a number of current Australian champions.
New England Mountain Bikers’ president Peter Hosking said the new tracks will include a beginner’s course with more than two kilometres of trails to provide newcomers to the sport an easy transition.
"The key part of this project is we are trying to get more grassroots people into the sport,” he said.
"Typically, in the past, we have gone and trails and we tend to lift the grade straight away because we are all mountain bikers and we are used to mountain biking and we like racing. "But when you get someone that is new to the sport, they can ride a bike on a flat path but they aren't used to rocks on the path.
"The idea is to put an easy, green track in. We grade it as green and it allows them to have an entry into the sport.”
Hosking said there will be plenty of diversity on the track for the advanced riders which will test their skill levels and fitness.
"The project is called A Trail for Everyone because on the other end of the spectrum we are going to hold national rounds and we have to have a bit more technical components,” he said.
“It proves your skills. The key thing here is we are building these tracks up here next to the uni because the facilities are gold. "No matter what you do, whether it is training or an event, a club race, it doesn't matter what it is, having facilities next to the course is quite unique in Australia.”
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall can’t wait to try out the new tracks and said it is great for the region to have the facility.
"It means that we will have an international standard facility here which we will be able to not only further develop our own and grow our own world-class standard mountain bike riders, but also the ability to attract some of those national series events and make this a real training base facility for mountain biking in the New England and North West region,” he said.
"Good for the grassroots, good for the development at an elite level, a great facility for people to come out and have a bit of fun as part of fitness and to try and grow the sport.”
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