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Bike trail's competition loop nearing completion


With the professional trail building company, Sustainable Trails, on site for less than two weeks, the competition bike loop at Selo Ukraina is already about 80 per cent completed.
The company has been implementing the plan and design set out by Alex Man of Scatliff, Miller and Murray Urban Design, on the most northwest part of the trail system.
Sustainable Trails owner and operator Richard Goulding attributes a great part of that quick work to the volunteer support, prior to his arrival.
Goulding explained the use of volunteer labour has occurred in other communities, which helps reduce costs for bike clubs and has other advantages, as well.
“It seems it puts in a lot of better ownership for the trail, because if people just get on it when it’s done, they don’t really care as much, as when they put their blood, sweat and tears into it. It really, really works,” he said, noting the number of riders will increase, as a result.
After a walking tour of the two-km section of trail to the west of the river, behind the Selo Ukrainian Heritage Village, Goulding is pleased with what he has seen.
“This first trail was a little bit exciting, but I’m super excited and stoked about the one I was shown this afternoon. I can see it being really a great trail,” he said.
“In fact I said to Clayton (Swanton) and Alex (Man) today, that we did the Canada Games course in Winnipeg and I said, ‘Alex you’re making a mistake, because everybody is going to be coming here now, instead of going to Winnipeg.’ It beats it hands down.”
Swanton, Dauphin Derailleurs Cycling Club infrastructure committee chair and 2020 Manitoba Games powered by Manitoba Hydro co-chair, explained Goulding is referring to the flow trail between the upper and lower campground at the Selo site.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but when it’s done, it’s going to be gorgeous. And you won’t be able to wipe the smiles off the biker’s faces,” Goulding added.
Once the trails were designed by Man, then marked and cleared by volunteers, Goulding explained, his company’s job was to manipulate the dirt into a flow line, using the proper dirt, to ensure the trail will remain, preferably sustainably.
“But since this is a downhill course, there’s going to be skidding and marking and stuff that will erode it and these gentlemen will have to take care of it. But on a normal hiking trail, I’d say 95 percent of the time, people never have to do any work to it, unless they aren’t using it, because the grass grows in,” he said.
Usually there is little issue of erosion, unless there is a huge flood, Goulding said, adding maintained trails can remain for centuries.
Sustainable Trails moved clay on the bike trails to make the tread surface ridable and sustain more life than what was there, he said, as the material previously on it would get soft and would not last.
“And Clayton’s expecting hundreds of riders here. And if you get hundreds of riders on what was there, it’s going to wear quick. What will happen, it’ll start cupping on the old stuff and water carries there. With this clay on there, with hardening up, that should shed off there well,” Goulding said.
“We’ve tried to keep it fast and it’s sloped a little bit, so the water runs off the trail. But here we’re going to see lots of undulations. Alex has put it in, and we’ll spice it up, too, to make sure it really works well.”
The company is not hauling any material in, he said, as they dig what are called borrow pits, which, so far, has supplied lots of clay and helped create berms.
While he is not dismissing the work of volunteers, Goulding calculated it would have taken them ages to complete the job by hand and the end result would not have been as good.
“And then it wouldn’t be the draw for the people to come. It’s better for your economic development and everything to have someone like us come in. It draws more people and that’s what you need,” he said.
Swanton agreed, adding he is pleased to be working with Sustainable Trails.
“To still get our volunteers engaged and doing work that is going to finish the trail. And then as soon as you’re done in your section it’s a nice ridable trail. So we encourage people to keep coming out Thursdays at 6:30 and check it out,” he said.
Sustainable Trails is based in Ontario, but has worked around the world.
Goulding started the business with his brother and assumed it would remain small, but he has worked in Canada in the summer and abroad in the winter, doing trails in Portugal, Mexico and Jamaica.
Goulding believes bike trail infrastructure development is on the verge of exploding in Canada, noting Parks Canada has budgeted millions of dollars for trails across the country.
Sustainable Trails has already done almost $5 million in work for Parks Canada and had to delay its arrival to Dauphin, as a result.
The company will be in Dauphin for several more months, Swanton said, to continue its work.

M. A. Nyquist