Local cyclists may have a new trail to try as the Exchequer Mountain Bike Park at Lake McClure is one of three national finalists for a $100,000 grant furnished by Bell brand helmets.
Initially, Exchequer was vying for the title of West Coast finalist by competing against two other western bike parks: Sky Tavern Bike Park in Nevada and Chutes and Ladders, or Alsea Falls, in Oregon.
“If we get this grant it’s just going to put us that much more on the map,” said Grant Parker, president of the Exchequer Riders Club in April.
After drumming up the most votes online, Exchequer took the title of West Coast finalist but the challenge isn’t over. Now the local park is in competition with the Mid West and East Coast finalists in Minnesota and Tennessee. The park that earns the most votes online wins.
If Exchequer receives the grant money it will be able to bring a downhill route and more diversified cycling to the immediate area. The grant would allow the bike park to add a trail to its 700 acre mountain bike park that currently has roughly 16 miles of trails. Presently the trails are reserved for intermediate to advanced riders, but Exchequer has plans to expand to include ones conducive to youth, beginner, and paraplegic riders as well.
For the past three years Bell has given away $100,000 for trail building. The first year included administering ten $10,000 grants, the second year was three $30,000 grants and this year marks the first time the company is giving away the full amount to one winner. However, Bell doesn’t just write a check – they bring in a professional crew to design and construct the trail for the winner.
“It’s even better this way,” said Parker.
Cycle Masters co-owner and Exchequer Riders Club member John Morris said the course will eventually come to fruition whether the bike park receives the grant or not, but the additional funds “would help immensely as far as bringing in man-power, tools and equipment.”
It would also expedite the building process which would prove beneficial to riders craving more local cycling options.
Fellow Cycle Masters owner Dan Woodall, who has been frequenting Exchequer since it opened roughly two years ago, said the addition to the park would be instrumental for local cyclists.
“It’s the only place we really have to go that’s within an hour time frame,” said Woodall, a former competitive mountain biker who now belongs to the Exchequer Riders Club.
The club is composed of cyclists from Modesto, Turlock, Merced, and surrounding communities eager to ride their bikes at trails that are reasonably close to their hometown.
“The guys that race downhill around here don’t have anywhere to go other than those ski resorts and you’re looking at a three to four hour trip,” said Woodall.
Many cyclists head to ski resorts in the off season to ride the ski lifts up the mountain and cycle downhill.
Long term goals for Exchequer Mountain Bike Park also include capitalizing on the resources near Lake McClure to begin an adventure race which would include kayaking, running, and cycling.
As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Exchequer stood in second place with 826 votes. The Urban Wilderness Gravity Trail in Knoxville, Tennessee took the lead with 886 votes and Spirit Mountain Bike Park in Duluth, Minnesota trailed with 593 votes.
To vote for Exchequer Mountain Bike Park access http://www.bellhelmets.com/bell-built/ now through June 4. Voting requires participants to submit their email and then confirm their vote in their email inbox for it to count.