Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mountain Biking? In Waukesha??

I seem to have developed a pattern. About the only time I drive lately is on my days off. The routine is, load up the knobby-tired bike, get a coffee and snack from downtown and then head out of town. During the summer, its usually Southwest about 30mins to the Southern Kettle Moraine where you can easily ride 2-3 hours without touching the same trail twice. Trail blazer Dave and the dedicated crew down there have created a great one-day epic of a system over the past several years.

Now with hunting season heading into full swing, I've been enjoying something even closer. A short 18min drive East, to ride a good 15 miles (~2 hrs.) of singletrack. Where is this gem of off road bliss? Wauwatosa. Yes, lately I've been driving into the "city" to ride my mountain bike. In fact Milwaukee County has almost 30 miles total of legal off road trail open to bikes, and there's more in the works. How did this happen? It didn't just happen and it didn't happen over night. Metro Milwaukee Mountain Bikers are the group behind the urban trail access in Milwaukee. They're a volunteer group that builds and maintains the trails in Milwaukee County including Crystal Ridge, where the Alterra WORS race is held each year.

So where does Waukesha stand? Currently, we only have 4 miles of legal mountain bike trails in our entire county, at Lapham Peak State Park, and they're not much to write home about. I think we have a lot of opportunity in Waukesha. We have a great park system and a great mix of urban, suburban and rural areas in our county. If cities like New York, Seattle, Minneapolis and Milwaukee have found ways to create mountain bike access, I don't see why we couldn't.

Downtown 'Tosa, why not here?

The Beginning? Yesterday I attended the County Parks and Land Use Commitee meeting along with Marty Weigel from Metro Mountain Bikers to pitch the idea of opening some of the parks up to mountain biking. There was some good discussion and overall I think the board was receptive of the idea. I have to thank County Supervisor Steven Wimmer for setting us up in the meeting and the board for listening to our ideas. Nothing is a done deal yet. We merely have a foot in the door and there is plenty of work to do with the parks people to make this a possibility, but I'm optimistic we'll be able to make progress. I also have to thank Marty for taking the time to come out and offering the support of Metro MMB to help with the project in the future. A key point here is that people in Milwaukee and other areas want to come mountain bike here. And I think that's a good thing!

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