Local bicyclists, as well as city and county officials, weathered the rain to cut the ribbon Wednesday on the McClellan Bike Trail.
Officially open to the public, the trail is the first in the state specifically designed for mountain biking that’s certified by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, according to McClellan Development Authority Chairman Phil Webb.
“From my heart and all the MDA and the city officials, but most important, the people that ride bikes of all ages, this is for you,” Webb said.
The cycling association holds competitions for middle and high school bike teams across the county.
Eighteen-year-old Jacob Graham, who rides with the Cheaha Mountain Biking team, said he is excited to have another trail in town, besides the ones already built on Coldwater Mountain.
“I feel very ecstatic about it,” Graham said. “It’s going to be amazing since it’s so close.”
Graham said he hopes to ride the trail at least twice a week now that it is open.
The trail is located on Stern Avenue, a road that borders the McClellan soccer complex but on the side opposite Summerall Gate Road.
Webb wants to see the community use the trail to create a positive work-life balance.
“The mountain terrain back here and all over McClellan lends itself to mountain-biking,” Webb said. “It lends itself to hiking, to horse trails, to outdoor recreation... That is the key to good living, to a balanced work life, to hopefully bring more people here and help our local economy and create some jobs here too.”
Patrick Wigley, owner of Wig’s Wheels on Noble Street, said the trail is perfect for beginners who are not looking to ride with experienced cyclists.
“We have a lot of cool mountain bike trails for experienced cyclists, but traditionally, they are difficult and it’s a turn-off and they scare people,” Wigley said. “This is the polar opposite. For experienced cyclists, it will still be fun with the speed and the challenges that come with that.”
Wigley said he’s been on the trail and that the views themselves are worth the trip. He said he hopes the new attraction will create activity on McClellan.
“Everybody knows it’s kind of dying on the vine,” he said. “Hopefully this will reinvigorate activity out here with the soccer fields and baseball fields.”
The McClellan Bike Trail has secured the second NICA race of the season for March 7-8. It will be the first major event held at the trail. Until then, the trail will be open to the public from dawn to dusk each day.