Cycling team adopts backcountry trail

HRCA hopes volunteer program takes off

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The Highlands Ranch Composite Mountain Bike Team may just be in year two of existence, but the area’s lone high school cycling team is already busy making a difference in the community.

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association-sanctioned team — made up of riders from three of four Highlands Ranch public schools and area home-schooled and private-school students — recently became the first group to adopt a trail in the Highlands Ranch Backcountry Wilderness Area.

Laying claim to the 1.3-mile Rocky Gulch Trail, cyclists from Mountain Vista, Rock Canyon and ThunderRidge, along with a few parents and head coach Mike DeGroot, met up with backcountry supervisor Mark Giebel this past week to get a lesson in basic trail maintenance.

“This is where we train, where we hold our practices,” DeGroot said. “This summer some of us did the Highlands Ranch race series and I asked Mark what we could do to help the community. I think it is great that the kids are able to give back and also maintaining, and putting back in, what they are getting out of the dirt.”

The group, according to Giebel, will perform basic maintenance to promote the longevity and quality of the trails and ensure that water can easily drain off the trails.

“One thing that is really great about trail building is that not only are you helping out others and making their experience more fun, but you also make your own experience better,” said ThunderRidge sophomore Cam Eng, one of 13 students on the team. “It feels really good to be able to ride on what you build.”

About half a dozen cyclists whizzed through the freshly reconditioned trail while the team spent their first hour on site, and shouts of “Fresh tracks” came from a few riders, while one man walking his dog stopped to ask about the team, which DeGroot expects to grow with each passing year.

The team plans to have 20 volunteers head out to the trail about twice a month, working on the trail for roughly five hours at a time. There will be extensive work to be done following the winter months and more routine maintenance in the summer.

“This is the first group to do this, and with signs that will be placed on the trail, and more awareness, I think and hope more groups will come forward,” Giebel said. “It helps us a great deal by freeing up time for us to do other things. As we’ve grown it’s been tough to keep up with maintenance needs, so having volunteers to help is huge.”

For more information on the mountain bike team, search for “Highlands Ranch Composite Mountain Bike” on Facebook. For more information on adopting a trail, please contact Giebel at mark.giebel@hrcaonline.org or 303-471-8885. 

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