The mountain bikers, runners and swimmers tackling the trails and swimming lake for two events at France Park this weekend will have the chance to evaluate the park’s restoration efforts following a dirt bike and ATV race that sparked concerns over the trail system’s future.
A triathlon will be held starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the park and a mountain biking race will start at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Do Indiana Off-road, or DINO, and the Hoosier Mountain Biking Association, or HMBA, have been working with the park to organize these events since the early 1990s.
Brian Holzhausen, director of DINO, said Saturday’s triathlon will be made up of a half-mile swim, an eight-mile mountain bike race and a four-mile trail run.
The course for Sunday’s mountain bike race is eight miles, with advanced cyclists doing multiple laps. Holzhausen said he is expecting about 130 to 150 participants for the triathlon and about 200 for the mountain bike race.
Paul Arlinghaus, president of the HMBA, said France Park stands out among mountain biking venues in the area.
“That terrain offers something unique,” Arlinghaus said. “A lot of northern Indiana is very flat without a lot of terrain for more technical mountain bike trails.”
On-site registration for the triathlon will be available from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the park and the morning of the race Saturday. Pre-race registration for the mountain bike race will be available Sunday morning at the park as well. Full details regarding specific start times for race divisions as well as pricing for various age groups can be found at dinoseries.com.
Holzhausen had expressed concerns over how the off-road motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle race that was organized by AMA MAXC at the park July 27 would affect the trails. He said after visiting the park last Thursday, when AMA MAXC employees and park staff were working to repair the trails, that much of his confidence had been restored.
“What they had finished, I was very pleased with,” Holzhausen said. “They had done a good job of turning it back into a trail that can be used successfully for the race. It won’t be a problem. They should have everything done in time with the rate they’re going.”
France Park Superintendent Lucas Beach said despite a few soft spots caused by recent rains, the trails are looking good for the events this weekend.
“What’s been really nice is on some of the spots with the ATV race allowed for some of the limestone to get uncovered,” Beach said. “It definitely gets for a more interesting and more desirable mountain biking trail than what it’s been in the past.”
Arlinghaus said the moisture Beach spoke of should ultimately help the trails by allowing the loose dirt used to fill in ruts left by the dirt bikes and ATVs to compress.
Beach said he is planning to hold the dirt bike and ATV races after the DINO and HMBA races next year so as to avoid having to restore trails just weeks before mountain biking events.
“That will help tremendously,” Holzhausen said. “Having it later will make a huge difference.”
Arlinghaus said a learning curve should be expected when holding an event like the ATV and dirt bike race for the first time.
“As you build trails and hold events, every time you do that, you learn things and learn what you can do better next year,” Arlinghaus said.
Holzhausen said the events this weekend will likely play a factor in determining cyclists’ future involvement with the park.
“It depends somewhat on how our racers take it,” Holzhausen said. “There’s a lot of speculation going on with people posting on Internet forums and Facebook groups of how it’s all torn up, so I think once they see it, they’ll make their own decision.”
If you go: • WHAT: Triathlon and mountain bike race • WHEN: Triathlon 9 a.m. Saturday, mountain bike race 9 a.m. Sunday • WHERE: France Park, 4505 U.S. 24, Logansport • INFO: Registration for triathlon will be available from 6 to 8 p.m. at the park Friday and before the race Saturday. Registration for mountain bike race available Sunday morning at the park as well. For full details, visit dinoseries.com.