They say good things come to those who wait. Maybe they should change it to - Good things come to those who stay focused and determined with a single goal in mind. That's what it took for final approval of the suggested mountain bike specific trails to be added to the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve in Venice, Florida.
SCORR (Sarasota County Off Road Riders) is the group who initiated the plans. They mapped the trail routes and sat through several meetings all while establishing a solid relationship with Sarasota County. After 18 months of fundraising, planning and participation - the waiting is over and the building has begun.
For the past two weekends, volunteers have gathered at the park to craft MTB trails. Armed with a trailer full of tools, these intrepid riders braved the bugs and heat to dig, cut and rake out the first 2 miles of singletrack. They adjusted the trail towards any small inclines that would make them more challenging while staying true to the flow of the intended course.
The result of their hard work was apparent almost immediately. The first weekend revealed 1.4 miles of winding trails which are now rideable. Across the fire road is the start of another half mile section. The intended plan is to clear, craft and maintain 4 miles of singletrack.
My wife and I attended the Sunday trail party and did our part to cut a path through the woods. There are few things more rewarding than being able to say you helped build something that will someday bring joy to a great many people. What's better is that you are working with the very people who also ride alongside you.
While there, I got the chance to ride the new trails. The first one is technical with some tight switchbacks but further maintenance will smooth out the rough spots. The second is much faster and allows for speed through sweeping corners. Both give the rider the feeling that they are deep in the woods despite being only a few yards from a major path.
This effort is far from finished as many more weekend work parties are being planned. Anyone is welcome to help out so long as they are willing to put in a couple hours of sweating in the hot sun. Be sure to bring sun block and bug spray.
Want a guided tour? Riders can also try out the new trails by riding with the people who built them. Just come by the North Sleeping Turtle Preserve on Tuesday night at 5:45pm for a group ride. Updates on new trails and group rides can be found at: