Bell Helmets and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) are teaming up to award $100,000 in trail building grants to the common man. Three grants of up to $33,000 each will go toward technical assistance for the projects which will be planned, designed, and build by IMBA’s Trail Solutions team with help from local volunteers. The money will go to three separate entities: a pump track or bike park, a flow trail, and a downhill trail. The application is open to anyone, nationwide, and twelve finalist will be selected and voted on by the general public. There are fairly stringent guidelines for the projects – which can be read here – most of which deal with land management, local support, and accessibility. All applications are due by Feb. 8th.
Needless to say, $100K is a lot of dough to be tossing around, especially in the context of building mountain biking trails. This is a very cool project and having the mountain biking public vote on the winners adds an extra layer of excitement to the proceedings. Mountain biking, and outdoor sports in general, seem to be gravitating toward the more extreme end of the spectrum, and this grant process is another example of the way things are going. Once limited to the North Shore of British Columbia, gravity oriented riding is taking off in the Blue Ridge in recent years with ski resorts fostering a four season revenue stream by utilizing their lifts to cater to downhillers. Pump tracks and bike parks are popping up everywhere and North Carolina’s Beech Mountain Resort will even host the National Downhill Championships this year. Advances in technology allow riders to push the limits – see this trailer for Red Bull’s upcoming film “Where the Trail Ends” to see exactly how far (spoiler alert: it’s really far) – and this makes downhill riding more and more accessible to the average rider. Which is great, if you are into that sort of thing. Personally, it looks like the scariest thing a person could ever do short of riding a great white shark over Victoria Falls while trying to wrestle a Rambo knife away from Man BearPig. But that’s just me, I guess.
If you want to get your hands on the grants, check out the application and guidelines here.
Do you have spot you think is primed for the project? Let us know in the comments if you are sending in an application.