July 31, 2013

France Park restoring trails after races

Biking organization reconsiders relationship with park

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — The superintendent of France Park is saying the state of the trails used for last weekend’s all-terrain vehicle and off-road motorcycle races will not only be brought back to normal, but improved after cleanup is finished, an assurance that will test the park’s relationship with a mountain biking organization that has held events at the park for the last two decades and assisted with its trail system.

“With it being a motorized event, it was inevitable that dirt was thrown and trails were disturbed,” writes France Park Superintendent Lucas Beach in a statement.

Beach said in an interview these disturbances consisted of ruts through the trails and that park staff along with AMA MAXC, the company that organized the races, would be leveling out the trails over the remainder of the week. He said much of the job would consist of going through the trails with rollers and rakes to smooth everything out before compacting it down.

The park has had longstanding affiliations with cycling organizations Do Indiana Off-road, or DINO, along with The Hoosier Mountain Bike Association.

Brian Holzhausen, director of DINO, said the organization has been involved with mountain bike races at the park for about the last 20 years and its volunteers started assisting with the construction of new trails at the park last fall.

Holzhausen said he has yet to see the effects the races have had on the trails firsthand, but has received photos from Beach and has gotten several reports from cyclists planning to participate in mountain bike races DINO is holding at the park Aug. 10 and 11.

“I’m concerned it might affect our future relationship with the park,” Holzhausen said, going on to question why the ATV and dirt bike races were held two weeks before the mountain biking events. “The timing was terrible.”

Beach said next year’s likely return of the ATV and dirt bike races would be scheduled after the mountain bike races.

Holzhausen said one of his main concerns are France Park’s single-track mountain biking trails, what he calls the “staple of a mountain biker’s ride,” as they are just wide enough for one biker to cycle through and follow the contours of the surrounding woods with many twists and turns.

Beach said these trails were not used in the ATV and dirt bike races and that all trails would be ready for the upcoming mountain bike events.

Not only would they be ready for the races, but better, he continued, as the paths created and modified for the ATV and dirt bike races led to the removal of a substantial amount of invasive Asian Bush Honeysuckle and allowed for the paths themselves to be fine-tuned.

Holzhausen said if the park can restore the trails to DINO’s satisfaction and assure the scheduling of any future ATV and dirt bike races would not conflict with mountain biking events, that the organization would consider holding future events there.

Holzhausen added he plans to visit the park in the next few days to further assess the state of the trails.

Beach said he is committed to ensuring the restoration of the trails, adding that he runs or bikes on them just about every day.

Holzhausen said he appreciated Beach’s efforts.

“To his credit, he has put many back-breaking hours into building the trails. I don’t think he has any intent to harm what’s been done.”