Huncity president Steve Law doing some work on the bike trails this month at the Lower Climb and Punishment trail. (Photo submitted)

Riders seeking climb and punishment

A move to repurpose 99 Mile into a mountain biking mecca and a recreational corridor is paying off.

A move to repurpose 99 Mile into a mountain biking mecca and a recreational corridor is paying off.

More than 1,000 riders visited the new mountain bike trails up there last month, Huncity president Steve Law said. Trail counters showed 1,659 riders hit the Hustle and Flow trail, 1,006 on Climb and Punishment and 97 on the skills trail or low mobility.

On a recent sunny Wednesday, 15 newcomers also came out to join the Huncity Mountain Bike club on its weekly ride.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Law said. “We’re over 100 members – that’s 10 times what we had in the previous years.”

Law credits the rise to a number of factors, mainly a push to promote 100 Mile’s mountain bike assets – including its new jump trail and other recently built trails – through social media, including a website, Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as mentions of popular trails Trail Forks. COVID-19 is also credited with increasing interest in the sport as people are looking for more things to do outside.

READ MORE: Female riders climb to new heights

“The world kind of revolves around social media,” Law said. “Way more people know what’s going on here than they did before. All these communities [in the Cariboo] are starting to build bike trails so (visitors) are stopping and riding.”

Law, who has been riding the local trails for 20 years said the trails are full of “all kinds of people who I’ve never seen before.” Although the core group of riders tend to be older, a lot of kids are also hitting the trails. “It’s sort of a weird time,” he said. “It’s all over the map. I’ve seen families from North Van up there.”

The interest is good news to the Huncity Mountain Bike Club, which would like to bring 100 Mile on par with the likes of Williams Lake, which is among the top five destinations for riders. Law said the group has had significant help from the province, with $130,000 from Red Site and Trails over the past two years and $30,000 from the District of 100 Mile last year to create demonstration forest and low mobility trails.

The club is in the midst of finishing off a kids’ loop at the site. The District of 100 Mile has also refocused and repurposed trail activity in 99 Mile to allow for dirt bikes as well as accessible trails.

Beth Holden, economic development officer at the Cariboo Regional District, noted municipalities and regional and provincial governments are also contributing to new trails, while the Western Canada Tourism Association is promoting the sport, with the focus this year on women and families.

Although it’s hard to quantify the economic benefits, she said new flow trails are having an effect: an advanced rider can catch big air while a new rider can “flow” down the route.

“We’re seeing an increase in the tourism aspect of it,” she said. “They’re all seeing what a benefit outdoor recreation generally is and they’re putting money into it.”

Law agreed. Huncity is part of the Ride the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium with Williams Lake and Quesnel, which is working together to promote mountain biking across the region.

“Everyone can see what’s going on with mountain biking,” he said, noting 20 years ago single track riding didn’t really exist in this area. “It’s definitely being pushed all over now.”

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