Three months ago, David Morgan, a Soldier with the 75th Ranger Regiment, knew Fort Benning didn’t have a mountain bike trail for civilians and Soldiers to use. He decided to create one.
“We really wanted a mountain bike trail on post,” Morgan said. “If we wanted to do physical training at lunchtime we could do a solid hour of PT and go right back to work.”
Morgan, who has eight years of mountain biking experience, only needed a little more than a month to transform an area inside the Fort Benning Fitness Trail overrun with brier patches, down timber and vines into a five-mile mountain bike trail.
But what began as a simple idea for Soldiers who mountain bike to use the course for their own PT, grew quickly into an opportunity for the trail to be used Saturday for the first Fort Benning Mountain Bike Race. “It hasn’t been ridden and this is a great opportunity to get it exposed,” race coordinator Joanne Cain said.Morgan designed the course to be friendly to beginning mountain bikers, but at the same time challenging to intermediate-level bikers.
With the trail being four feet wide and consisting of some technical aspects, Cain hesitated to call it beginner-friendly, but she said beginners could get through it.
Morgan said one of the technical challenges of the course was the decision to leave some of the down timber on the course, forcing riders to ride over them on a ladder bridge.
“I think it turned out really close to what we visualized,” Morgan said. “We had to make adjustments to where things were going.”
The event will consist of two separate races: a beginner’s race and a sport race, which will feature competition between experienced bikers. The bikers in the beginner’s race will ride one lap around the course while those in the sport race will ride two laps.
Morgan said he consulted websites such as trails.com and trailbuilders.com for inspiration as he designed the course. The challenge of maintaining its pristine condition, he said, will be consistent maintenance on the course to protect it from being overrun with grass and weeds.
For serious mountain bikers who compete in major races annually, Morgan said the Fort Benning Mountain Bike Race will be a perfect opportunity to not only challenge bikers but also prepare for future races. “This trail is technical enough and it has enough climbs that it will definitely prepare your cardio and your tech skills,” Morgan said.
The race will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Fitness Trail on Main Post. Registration is ongoing and ends on the day of the race. The top three male and female finishers will receive prizes. For more information, e-mail Joanne Cain at firstname.lastname@example.org.