GUNNISON—The Manti Trail Builders is putting the finishing touches on a new 5.8 mile race course near the Gunnison Reservoir in preparation of holding a large statewide mountain bike race this fall.
The course is 99 percent complete and final approval of the site by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association is expected on June 18, said Dallas Cox, a board member of the Manti Trail Builders.
The race has been slated for Oct. 9 and over 600 high-school aged mountain bike racers and their support teams, along with friends, families and spectators, are expected to descend into southern Sanpete Valley at that time.
These races can be very profitable economic events and provide a lot of benefit to the community, Cox said. Studies have shown that a bike race will typically bring in about $250,000 to a community in one weekend, he said. “They are very profitable and a big deal,” he said.
Several other communities such as Sevier County and St. George have seen great benefits from these races, and some are even beginning to subsidize the events, Cox said.
Cox and his friend Andy Adamson, the president of the Manti Trail Builders, appeared before the Sanpete County Commission on May 18 to ask for $120,000 in funding to improve the parking area and pit zone at the race site.
Cox told the commissioners, “The important thing is to put our best foot forward right off the start.”
Adamson said, “If we do a good job, we hope to make this an annual event.”
Cox suggested there is a chance that Gunnison will host two races next year.
The $120,000 is needed to provide road base (or gravel) to the parking area and pit zone because the site would certainly become a muddy bog if it rains. The pit zone is a designated area where racing teams set up their tents and congregate, Adamson said.
With volunteers working on the course, this area has already become a dust bowl and it would turn into a “bottomless pit of mud” if it rains, he said.
Commission Chair Scott Bartholomew told the two men that all the county funds are allocated for the year. But they should come back during the regular budget cycle, which starts in September.
In the meantime, the county road superintendent Tom Seely, said he would do all that he could to help improve the road to the race site. “I think we can get the roads in,” Seely said. “I don’t think we’ll be able to do the parking lot.”
Adamson and Cox will be working with volunteers throughout the summer to get ready for the race.
Members of the Manti Mountain Bike Team are thrilled about hosting a race on their own course, said advisor Monica Nielson. The kids will have a chance to get a lot of practice in.
“I don’t think a lot of members of the community realize how big this race is going to be,” she said.
She mentioned that a gravel road and a gravel parking area would certainly help make sure that people don’t get stuck coming in and out of the race.
The course was developed in 2019 on land near the north end of Gunnison Reservoir. It started out as 4.6 loop on land owned by the Gunnison Irrigation Company and the BLM.
Thousands of volunteer hours, orchestrated by the Manti Trail Builders, have been employed to carve out the course. The Manti Trail Builders is a non-profit organization that evolved from the Manti Mountain Bike Association.
The local fire department joined with volunteers this Saturday to spray water on the course to reduce the dust and smooth out the surface.
Most of the volunteers on hand were satisfied with the work they were doing.
“This isn’t really how I wanted to spend my Saturday morning at first,” said mountain bike rider Riley Jeffs. “But now that I have been out here for a couple hours and seen all the hard work it takes to keep the trails really up for our use, I am happy to be helping. I didn’t realize anyone ever really worked on them, I just thought we were out here to ride.”
Fellow trail worker Brandon Rogers said, “It’s nice to see so many people showing up to help take care of the trails that they enjoy to ride, especially on a Saturday.”
Jade Jackson, a mountain bike rider from Park City, came over to help out with the trail maintenance. “I come ride these trails every summer, because I love it down here,” Jackson said. “When I heard they were working on the trails I wanted to give back. Andy did a great job getting people and youth here to make these trails accessible and better than they are. It’s great to see all the community young and old here!”
The Manti Trail Builders have been responsible for building and maintaining trails for biking and walking all over Sanpete County. They have finished a beautiful trail loop in Palisade State Park and they are working with the Forest Service to build a trail system in Ephraim Canyon.