By Realm Beck
On Sept. 20-22 Caliente held its first annual Mountain Bike Festival. The event encompassed the Barnes Canyon and Kershaw-Ryan State Park single-track trail networks as well as the Caliente Super Park flow trails, dirt jumps and pump track.
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Around 200 individuals attended the free event, considered the soft opening of the new trail network still under construction around Caliente. Around 30 miles of trails have been completed. That number will be up to 40 miles by next year. The event was a culmination of collaborative work done by local, state and federal organizations, along with a variety of volunteers.
Former Caliente Cooperative Extension Educator Holly Gatzke was part of that group and returned from Reno to take part in the event. She said it was the soft run of a five-year dream that started with former Caliente mayor Stana Hurlbert seeing the potential in Lincoln County.
Gatzke helped form the Trail Cats committee (a subcommittee of the Lincoln County Authority of Tourism), which led the organization of the festival. Committee member Beverly Peterson stated, “We got our first grant funding [to build the trails] four or five years ago when it first started. It has just taken us this long to get the trails built.”
With the funding now in place for a connection between Kershaw-Ryan State Park and Barnes Canyon, Peterson said they expect it to be done next year.
Trail Cats is spearheading efforts to promote the trails and keep them in good condition. “The biggest devil we have to fight is clearing the trails of the puncture vines before they first come in,” Peterson said.
With that challenge in mind, Trail Cats co-chair Christine Harrington got Shifting Gears Mobile Bike Repair Shop to help out. Volunteer groups have also spent time on trail maintenance work over the last several months.
There were many community vendors by the Super Park in Caliente Sept. 21 including Life Café, S&M Margarita Bar, Shamrock Pub and the Taco Truck. Shuttle drivers volunteered on Sept. 21-22 to take riders to the trails. Escape Adventures, which is owned by Jared Fisher, donated a van for the weekend, as did many locals in the community.
Peterson noted that at the eventual grand opening they hope to have more things for people to do, not just mountain biking, for children and health enthusiasts.
“It’s a great way to get the community together,” Harrington said, adding that keeping it sustainable requires “the community [to be] involved even if they’re not bikers.”
Festivities started Sept. 20 with a 6 p.m. barbecue at Kershaw-Ryan State Park followed by a mountainbiking-themed movie at 7:30.
Sept. 21 included a full day of riding with shuttles taking mountain bikers to the Barnes Canyon Trails and riders trying out the trails at Kershaw-Ryan, city trails, dirt jumps and pump track. A “Taste of Lincoln County” dinner was held at 6 p.m. with food provided by local restaurants. Drinks, music and raffles went on until 10 p.m. The night continued on at the Side Car Speakeasy from 10 p.m. until late.
Shuttles were in service until 3:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and riders enjoyed the trails throughout the day.
Trail Cats called the weekend a big success, with positive feedback from attendees rolling in. Those involved see it as a positive step in the growing mountain biking movement in Lincoln County