Groups join forces to extend Chehaw mountain bike trail

Pecan City Pedalers Bicycle Club and Chehaw Parks are working together to extend the mountain bike trail at Chehaw by two miles.

Pecan City Pedalers Bicycle Club and Chehaw Parks are working together to extend the mountain bike trail at Chehaw by two miles.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Participants in the sport of mountain biking, which is growing in popularity here, will soon have an expanded venue in which to practice their skills.

Activities are planned Thursday through Saturday which will result in the addition of about two miles to the existing seven-mile mountain bike trail at Chehaw Parks.

Ed Hudson, president of the 122-member Pecan City Pedalers Bicycle Club, said his club was formed initially as a road bike club, but many of the members are also spending time on the mountain bike trail.

"The mountain bike thing has gotten strong for many reasons," Hudson said. "Some people just do not like to ride on the road because of the traffic.

Hudson said Chehaw has an existing mountain bike trial that showcases the natural beauty of the land at the park. The club has adopted the trail as one of its projects and has four volunteer trail crews that rotate throughout the year keeping the trail clean and safe.

Hudson said it is not unusual to find 30 to 40 riders at Chehaw on a Sunday afternoon riding the trail.

"They go out about 2 p.m. and ride the trail," he said. "They'll go to the campground and cook and eat and socialize."

Because of the growing interest exhibited by the club members, Chehaw agreed to allocate enough land to add about two miles to the trail.

After Chehaw agreed to provide the space, members of the Pecan City Pedalers contacted the International Mountain Biking Association, seeking its support in expanding the bike route.

If the IMBA agrees to assist local groups in building or expanding trails, it usually takes about 24 months from the time of the request until IMBA officials arrive at the site.

In Albany's case, the gap has been just three months. Hudson credits Chehaw's willingness to participate, the immediate availability of the land and the number of volunteers for IMBA's quick response.

The IMBA trail crew has been involved in the building of trails in all 50 states and several countries.

The representatives from IMBA will teach local volunteers how to build a sustainable trail which requires minimal maintenance.

Several events are planned Thursday through Saturday in connection with the IMBA visit and the trail building project. The include:

-- Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at the Chehaw Educational Building. This social event is open to the public and will feature the screening of the movie "Petal Driven."

-- Friday, 6:30 p.m. at Chehaw Educational Building. Also open to the public, this event will feature the viewing of the movie "Better Living Through Trails."

-- Saturday 9 a.m.-noon, at Chehaw Educational Building. Pecan City Pedalers club members and members of the public wishing to volunteer should attend a session which provides instruction on how to build the mountain bike trail. Volunteers must attend the morning training session to be qualified to help build the trail extension.

-- Saturday, 1-5 p.m., Chehaw. This time is allocated for the actual trail build. Participants must wear closed toe shoes or boots. Also recommended are gloves, pants, hats, bug spray and sun block.

-- Sunday, 9 a.m. A fun run is planned at the newly-expanded Chehaw trail.

Hudson said the growing bike club welcomes assistance from the public Saturday.

He also said anyone interested in finding out more about the club should come to one of its gatherings. Club members meet each Saturday around 9 a.m. at Cycle World in the Village Green Shopping Center.

"We break off into several groups and go on rides based on speed and length," he said. "The rides generally are from 30 to 70 miles or more."