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By   /   September 21, 2013  /   Comments

Special to the Journal

group of cyclists from the Albany area has formed a bike club to specifically address trail building in south Georgia. The newly formed group is the Flint River Mountain Bike Association (FRMBA) and will be an IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) chapter as Flint River SORBA (Southern Off-road Bicycle Association). The mission will be to promote land access, trail preservation, and new trail development in Dougherty County and surrounding areas. FRMBA will need 50 members with an annual fee of $30 to establish the chapter.

The trail will be professionally developed by an IMBA certified company to ensure the sustainability of the trail for years to come. The trailhead will begin at the Albany Civic Center and run along the Flint river south and terminate at the old Boy Scout camp. It will be a 20-30 mile stack loop system over the 300-500 acres and will get progressively harder the farther south. It will have a color-coded rating system similar to a ski slope. (i.e. Green-easy, blue-intermediate, black-expert) Green space, city and county land will be used. The trail corridor will be a hard-packed natural surface and be 8-10 feet wide and 12 feet high. The trail will be a multi-functional trail for biking, hiking, birding, walking and running.

There is a preliminary trail in place to show the possibility, but will be re-aligned by the professional trail crew. Funding will need to be acquired through public, private, corporate, and grant programs. The maintenance will be done through FRMBA.

The eco-tourism/outdoor enthusiasts pump an estimated $700 billion into the US economy each year. Albany can capitalize on this trade and enhance the health and well being of our population. This will be the only river trail in Georgia that would feature an IMBA certified trail. This could transform Albany into a biking destination. Mountain bike racing events and cross-country events would bring participants from the southeastern US and beyond. There will be a primitive campground at the south end of the trail and eventually connect to Chehaw Park to access their camping and facilities north of the trail.

With funding in place, the construction would take roughly two years to complete. The First-Tee property could be converted to a bike skills track and pump track.

There would be gates at the trail head to designate times of operation, usually sunrise to sunset. The benefits would include health, educational opportunities (i.e. field trips), no economic barriers, hosting events, tourism, and new businesses would establish a downtown presence.

Albany has a unique opportunity with its river corridor. With minimal expense compared to the impact it could have, the mountain bike river trail is the right thing to do to re-energize this community.

To get involved check out our facebook page: Flint River Mountain Bike Association or email lpflepsen@gmail.com

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