The gears are turning on a new mountain biking trail project in Williams Lake.
Now in its third week of construction after years of planning, initiated by Williams Lake Indian Band councillor Willie Sellars and local mountain biking advocate Mark Savard, trail work is underway above the Chief Will-Yum Campsite south of the lakecity.
The finished project, called the William Trail Network, is expected to wrap up by 2016, and includes a cross country connector built last year from Fox Mountain to Asahal Lake near the campsite.
Currently, four members of the WLIB — Ben Michel, Sam Sellars, Curtis Sellars and Billy-Joe Moody — have been trained on site by First Journey Trails Project Manager Thomas Schoen. The crew is currently working on building a climbing line with work on a downhill trail scheduled to begin in mid-May.
The project is being funded by the Northern Development Initiative Trust and the WLIB, and includes a partnership between the WLIB, the Williams Lake Cycling Club and the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium.
The initiative is a win-win venture for everyone involved, designed to generate business for the campsite and the city while augmenting existing mountain biking trail networks for riders free of charge, Schoen said.
Willie, the WLIB project co-ordinator, said he’s excited about the continued expansion of the city’s mountain biking trail network.
“Thomas, along with our trail crew, has been working hard putting together an amazing product and the pictures show the hard work being done,” Willie said. “Williams Lake is dubbed ‘The Shangri-La of Mountain Biking’ and if you look at the networks and the talented mountain bikers coming from this community you can see why. It’s really amazing.
“When Thomas and Mark brought the idea of building a new network we were stoked and in full support.”
He said the WLIB contributed to the project to help bolster tourism and to support its ongoing economic development initiatives throughout the corridor.
The WLCC has also committed to the construction of five technical trail features and has recruited five local, master trailbuilders, who will each be building a unique feature on the downhill trail.
This phase of the project, Schoen said, is expected to take three months and be ready for the Provincial Mountain Bike Tourism Symposium coming up in Williams Lake in October.
“The climbing trail is [rated] easy,” Schoen said. “[It will be] great for beginners or just a fun, flowy downhill trail.”
He noted economic impact is the ultimate goal for the new trails, allowing visiting bikers to stay at the campsite and ride across the connector to the Fox Mountain Trail Network.