Pedaling progress; Volunteers work to complete mountain biking trail on time

Jacob Burkhart and volunteers clear away a portion of land for the bike racing trail out near Todd Park. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Jacob Burkhart and volunteers clear away a portion of land for the bike racing trail out near Todd Park. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Volunteers are pedaling full speed ahead on the construction of a mountain biking trail set to host a state meet this September.

“It’s progressing really well,” said Gareth Hataye, one of the planning coordinators.

Earlier this year, Austin was chosen by the National Interscholastic Cycling League to host one of five state meets for this coming season. Because there’s no course in Austin for the competition, a three and a half mile trail is being built west of the softball diamonds at Todd Park.

About 700 high school bikers will compete on it Sept. 20.

Volunteers have worked on the trail for about a month so far. They’ve cleared out vegetation, bushes, and even broken out the chainsaws to get the job done.

“It looks great so far,” Hataye said.

Gareth Hataye, center, organizes volunteers helping to clear out brush for the new mountain mike trail near Todd Park. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Gareth Hataye, center, organizes volunteers helping to clear out brush for the new mountain mike trail near Todd Park. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Honoring Dick Schindler

The meet will also honor Dick Schindler, an avid supporter and helper of the mountain biking team. Schindler died last October from a biking accident while he was on his way to clear bike trails near Riverland. He pushed for Austin to host a state meet within the next couple years, but unfortunately passed away before that could happen.

Schindler

Schindler

“Dick was so instrumental in getting the team started,” said Dick’s wife Belita Schindler. “They sort of scheduled it in his honor.”

Spencer Salmon, head coach of the cycling team, believes the meet will embody a lot of Dick’s passions.

“[The meet] is a huge testament to his personality and the memory of him,” Salmon said.

 A rush to get it done

With three weeks left until their deadline, project coordinators are feeling a push to get the trail done on time.

“It’s a big pressure,” Hataye said.

Luckily, there has been a good turnout of volunteers to help. The number varies from eight to a dozen on normal days, with one work day having a high of 20 volunteers.

“We’ve had good numbers,” Hataye said.

Some of the volunteers are students who will compete with the Austin Cycling Team in September. Once the course is complete, the students will be able to practice on it for a month prior to the competition. According to Hataye, they see the trail as their own.

“They’ve had a lot invested in it,” he said.

Volunteers talk about their next course of action while clearing out a trail for a new mountain biking course near Todd Park. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Volunteers talk about their next course of action while clearing out a trail for a new mountain biking course near Todd Park. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

According to Salmon, the new course will provide a much better place for the team to practice.

“It’ll provide better training,” said Salmon. “We’ll have an actual track to train on.”

So far, only minor issues have arose with the project, but Hataye thinks that’s expected with any large project. Some portions of the trail have been relocated from where they were originally planned and the starting line has been moved around.

“There’s always things that come up in a project of this magnitude,” he said.

Overall, Hataye believes the trail will be a good addition to Austin.

“Hopefully it’ll bring more mountain bikers and diversity to the cyclists that come to Austin,” Hataye said. “It’s good for the community by offering more [opportunities] and just for the local economy as well.”

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