Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bike Race in Crothers' Woods

Race route, approximately 5 km S=Start, F=Finish

On Sunday July 1st, a mountain bike race will be held on the trails in Crothers' Woods. The race is being sponsored by Ziggy Martuzalski, a local bike shop owner and race promoter. The event is called ZM MTB Crank Cracker. There will be three distances of 10, 20, and 30 km which will consist of 2, 4, and 6 laps respectively. The race is sponsored by the Ontario Cycling Association.

I spoke with Ziggy last week and he informed me that he has a permit to use the trails from 8 AM to 1 PM (I confirmed this with the NECP folks). He will have race marshalls stationed at access points to keep hikers and other bikers off the trails for the race duration. Ziggy is an experienced race promoter and has held races in the Kitchener area where he comes from. He said it's hard to estimate numbers since he's never held a race in Toronto but he said he would be happy with 100 riders. Entry fees are $20-30 and there are $2000 of prizes to be won. He has promised to inject some money back into trail maintenance from race revenues.

Mountain bikers are enthusiastic about the event but the environmentalists are not as happy. The people I have talked to are wary about overuse of the trails and the impact that this will have on the natural areas. Personally, I am cautiously optimistic. While there are legitimate concerns about impacts on the trails, most of the course uses trails that are not very sensitive, especially where it skirts the snow dump and Sun Valley. Most of the rest of the course has been undergoing extensive maintenance to improve trail sustainability. The event should raise the profile of the Don Valley and at the minimum should serve to educate people about the Don.

I plan to do an informal study of the trails to monitor any impacts with before and after inspections. I also encourage other groups to attend the race as observers. If anything does go wrong, at least we can document it and take any appropriate action.

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