The Methow Valley Mountain Bike Team is in the final push to raise funds for the construction of a multi-purpose trail on the Liberty Bell High School campus.
“It’s pretty unique,” said coach Hanz Scholz, noting that the project may be the first on-campus mountain bike trail in the country. “I don’t think most schools have a campus that would allow you to do this. The school has been incredibly supportive.”
The proposed trail will be 4.5 miles long, with around 700 feet of elevation gain, as it winds its way up and along the ridgeline to the south of the high school, and eventually encircles about three-fourths of the campus. It will provide easier after-school access for mountain bike team members. The trail will also serve as a training ground for the school’s cross-country and track teams, as well as be available for the public to use.
It will be built by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance Methow Chapter. Construction will begin this summer if enough money is raised. The goal is $35,000.
“It’s going to allow for a lot of kids to be introduced to mountain biking,” said Scholz. “It provides amazing access, especially for kids who might not otherwise have access.”
The project has served as a learning platform for the 20 or so team members who took part in its planning, including creation and presentation of the proposal for the trail to the Methow Valley School District board.
“The kids were really involved,” said Scholz, who added that the planning and creation of the trail may turn into a senior project for some students.
The team has been fundraising since this spring, but has seen a couple of setbacks related to the coronavirus. Plans for in-person fundraising days, like group rides and volunteer work parties, have been put on hold. And a $10,000 grant, secured by the team from the Santa Cruz mountain bike company, was pulled as Santa Cruz redirected grant money into making and distributing masks. (Scholz hopes to work with Santa Cruz down the line to create a sponsorship that would provide the team with mountain bikes; with plans to make the bikes available to students who don’t have them but would like to be on the team.)
The mountain bike team is something akin to a club team. It’s not part of the high school athletics department, and has competed in an independent league for the past two years.
The team practices three days a week during the training season, with an optional weekend ride if there is not a race. Practice involves students piling into parents’ cars and heading to the Sun Mountain trail systems, where team members work on their pedaling, cornering and bike handling.
The league which the team competes in has canceled all races for the upcoming season due to COVID-19, so planning for the trail has become the focal point for team members.
“We’re hoping to get support from people in the valley, who can see the value in having a more level playing field for kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity,” said Scholz. “We’d like everyone to participate, and we think we can pull that together.”
The deadline for the team’s fundraising campaign is Sunday (July 19). Donations can be made through the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s website, via http://www.evergreenmtb.org/donatetomethow.