Many reasons can be explained for mountain biking. As a means of staying fit, about getting a great aerobic exercise that will get you places, or about getting out of the urban jungle into the wilderness and mountains, having fun, and acquiring fresh air during the weekends.
Patrick Kell, Southwest Region Director in Prescott, Ariz. for the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) spoke to Lincoln County Commissioners at their regular meeting Aug. 5 about a proposed network of bike trails being built in the mountains around Caliente and northern Lincoln County.
During the past year Kell said he has discussed with local BLM and City of Caliente officials the possibilities of what mountain biking could do for local residents and for mountain bike tourists.
He said the vision IMBA has for Caliente includes mountain bike trails that would start in the town and use the existing infrastructure and expand to building new trails in the area as well as involving the several state parks in the northern part of the county.
“It’s very easy access here from Las Vegas,” he said. “We would see that a trail network would be focused on keeping people on Main Street for parking, then access public lands directly from there.”
Another reason for starting on Main Street, Kell explained, would be to capture the revenue from people coming to stay at the local motels, eating at the local restaurants, and buying gas at local stations.
“We are not looking for a bike path that starts 20 miles away from town.”
Kell said IMBA is very interested in developing trails for mountain bikers of all abilities: beginners, intermediate, and advanced. “It’s not an extremely difficult sport, as some often think. It’s kind of like skiing where you find trails for different levels of experience and ability. 80 percent of bike riders are the moms and dads and intermediates.”
Trails in Lincoln County, Kell said, could also be developed to bring riders to some scenic viewpoints and vistas, or places of cultural heritage, and phenomenal landscape and geology. “Really make it a destination worth traveling to, a real remote back country experience. Caliente is a blank canvas right now, where we really could design and build state-of-the-art trails from scratch.”
Developing trails that are professionally designed and constructed is of major importance to IMBA, Kell noted. “We would see that high quality maps and signage would be provided to make it easy for riders to find their way, and not get lost. Trails are built in a loop, to bring you right back to where you started.”
He said Fruita, Colo., for example, is an area similar in landscape to Caliente, and mountain biking brings in $25 million a year, which represents 15 percent of the revenue income for Mesa County. Moab, Utah, is another popular place for mountain biking.
Kell said industry figures show the average mountain biker spends $97 per day when visiting a given area. An overnight visitor spends on the average, $207 for food, lodging, etc. The average age of bikers is 37, with an annual average income around $70,000.
“Mountain bikers,” Kell said, “are usually known to be peaceful and very respectful of the community and the land.”
Commissioners Kevin Phillips and Dr. Adam Katschke, both Caliente residents, were appointed to be the Commission representatives to work with Kell and members of the Caliente City Council on ways to develop and seek grant or private funding for the mountain bike trail network.
IMBA will begin with $5,000 of their own money and wants to raise $25,000 additional money to have their planners and conceptual specialists come to Caliente and spend several weeks to survey and plan where trails might be located.
Victoria Barr, BLM Field Manager, Ely District, Caliente office, said BLM is also very supportive of the local mountain bike trail idea. “If successful,” she said, “there’s no reason the network cannot expand beyond Caliente in the future.”