COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN
Riders are off during a Manitoba Cycling Association sanctioned race on Sunday afternoon at the new mountain biking trail on Hanbury Hill near the Sportsplex. The trail’s official opening coincided with a race that attracted riders from across Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Mountain bike racers in the Hanbury Hills MTB Cup hid in the shade as dignitaries gave speeches and declared the Hanbury Bike-and-Hike Trail officially open on Sunday afternoon.
Riders compete Sunday afternoon at the new mountain biking trail on Hanbury Hill near the Sportsplex.
(COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN)
Aaron Check and his wife Sam hold up signs prior to a Manitoba Cycling Association sanctioned race, Sunday afternoon at the new mountain biking trail on Hanbury Hill near the Sportsplex.
(COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN)
The Manitoba Cycle Association, which sanctioned the race, decided to shorten the course because of the heat — the Manitoba Government issued heat advisories over the weekend.
The trail is in the same location as the bike course used at the 1997 Canada Summer Games, but it has been almost completely redesigned.
Bryce Wilson, Manager of Recreation for the City of Brandon, was helping out with the grand opening ceremony.
"We were approached by A&L and Healthy Brandon about a year ago about the possibility of putting this track together. Their man power and brilliance developed the track and we just assisted," Wilson said.
Cam Wirch, owner of A&L, said the city has been great to work with on the project, giving the mountain bike enthusiasts the freedom to develop a high quality mountain bike race course within city limits.
"They pretty much gave us free rein in designing the course. We had to work together in a couple areas like, for instance, where the dog park is going in. But they let us come up with a design and then approved it all and they also lent us some equipment. So they have been really good to work with," Wirch said
Wirch said Craig Metruk designed and then did at least 80 per cent of the manual work on the course, including mowing it in early February.
The current trail only utilizes about five per cent of the previous track that was used for the 1997 Canada Summer Games, Metruk said.
The course is 6.35 kilometers long and has 154 metre elevation climb per lap.
Metruk said he volunteered to work on the course because he wanted Brandon to have a high quality trail that everyone could enjoy.
"People can bike from their house and do a quick lap and then bike home without having to go too far out of their way to get a good ride in; and anyone can use it — it’s not just a bike track," Metruk said.
Healthy Brandon helped pay for the some of the signs on the course. Vanessa Hamilton, Chair of Healthy Brandon, said the volunteer work Metruk put in is exactly the type of community involvement their organization promotes.
"Craig used his passion to help out the community. When people use their passions to help out the community, look what can happen. Now we have this beautiful trail here that will last for years," Hamilton said. "Health living is about more than just going to the doctor. It’s about opportunities in the community such as arts and culture, educational opportunities, job opportunities and recreational opportunities such as accessing this trail."
Ron Kaulins of Winnipeg races between 15 to 25 times a year and he said he was impressed with the quality of the course.
"The previous trail was built before Walmart and many of these houses were built. But these guys really used the available space efficiently and the track is much better then the previous track," Kaulins said.
Andy Romanovych, 52, is the vice-president of the Manitoba Cycling Association and he was also impressed with the trail.
"It’s interesting that they have a nice venue right in the city limits where kids can come out and actually get a difficult mountain bike ride in. It’s a great facility for the city to have," Romanovych said.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said the new track will help Brandon’s bid for the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
The city sent in their bid to Ottawa for the games on Friday.
The trail exists "because of a passionate group of folks who could really see the potential, who understand the we needed to have this kind of a facility in our city — so a huge thank you," Decter Hirst said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 30, 2012