Success breeds access. That is the theme at the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve, a enormous park purchased in 1982 for the purpose of natural resource protection and nature based recreation. Nowadays nothing is more nature based than Mountain Biking. The most successful trails in the Reserve as of late have been built by SCORR or the Sarasota County Off Road Riders.
A steady pattern has developed at parks across the country. Local riders assemble into a MTB group and then seek the right to build on State or Public lands. This can sometimes be a long, tiresome process but with good reason, the park managers need to know that the groups are sincere, responsible and capable. Often times the new trails attract a larger crowd, bringing new life to the park and economic growth to the neighboring towns and businesses.
Earlier this year SCORR was given permission to start building Mountain Bike specific trails in the Carlton Reserve (Read the Trail Building Story Here). These changes have turned a once modest destination into a riding area with flair. Exploring these first 4 miles of twisty singletrack has ignited the interest of a wider audience. Recent Tuesday group rides have brought in 20 riders per night with some variety.
With renewed interest in the Reserve, park managers have given SCORR permission to extend their trail crafting even further. They want to expand access to anyone who wishes to visit this beautiful spread of land.
SCORR immediately set about to raise money with their Halloween Scavenger Hunt Pub Ride on Venice Island (Read Pub Ride Story Here). With the money raised and equipment purchased, volunteers traversed the deep brush to mark out new paths. Tagging the bushes and trees with pink ribbons they marked a route that will start cyclists at the Carlton Parking lot and take them directly into the woods for a fun ride.
This Saturday volunteers gathered at the parking lot armed with clippers and ready to get dirty for the great cause of knobby tires. They pushed their way into the woods and started clearing the way.
Facing chest high palmetto bushes, thorns, vines, long grass, fallen branches and stubborn roots, the team labored hard through the morning. Chopping, raking, cutting and digging takes sweat and effort but no specific skills so anyone can be a part of this undertaking. On this occasion the weather stayed in their favor, the threat of rain maintained a blanket of clouds keeping the workers cool as they cleared a way for the future.
Four hours later they had chopped almost half a mile into the brush. A small gallery of their efforts, including before and after photos, can be seen on Facebook (See Gallery Here).
This is only the beginning of great things to come. More work is planned and more workers are needed to further the project and get these trails built. The start has been promising but now it is time for momentum. If you would like to help expand Mountain Biking in Southwest Florida, you can join SCORR on their trail work weekends. If you want to see what they have built already, tag along on a guided Tuesday night group ride (Read about Carlton Night Riding Here).
For more information and updates visit them on Facebook: