Many opportunities for mountain biking, trail deteriorating

Nick Vernon, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

Berry is known for its 26,000 acres of beautiful land; the campus attracts runners, joggers, hikers, cyclists, rock climbers and horseback riders from the Rome area and beyond.

One activity students can participate in is mountain biking.

The vast majority of the biking trails are located on mountain campus. However, students living on main campus can access these trails on their bicycles fairly easily via the Viking Trail.

From the most intense trails that scale Lavender Mountain all the way up to the House of Dreams, to flatter trails like those by the Old Mill, Berry’s campus offers mountain biking trails and roads for riders of all levels.

Each semester, mountain biking courses that count towards kinesiology credits are offered to students. In order to participate, students must have a bike that can handle difficult terrain, a helmet and a spare bike tube. Faculty members who are experienced with mountain biking and are eager to help students learn how to properly take part in the outdoor activity lead the courses.

One of the mountain biking course instructors is Ruth Ference, chair and associate professor of teacher education. Ference is an experienced biker.

 “I’ve been riding for probably 20 years,” Ference said. “I’ve been riding the trails at Berry for 15 years.”

Ference has developed a knowledge of both proper biking skills and safe trail conditions, both of which she educates her class about.

To teach basic biking skills, Ference begins with smaller hills. To teach students how to make sharp turns on hills, for example, Ference said she takes her class to the Clara Bowl by the Ford Complex and sets up cones.

All students are encouraged to sign up if they wish, whether or not they have previous experience mountain biking. Ference said the classes have “all different levels, beginners through advanced.”

Students are required to own a mountain bike because many trails, particularly those coming from the House of Dreams, “are in poor condition, with many rocks, and often fallen trees.”

“I know many students who have gotten hurt,” Ference said. “It’s steep and you can fall on the loose rocks because the trails are not maintained.”

The reason for this is because the trails at Berry are not sustainable, meaning they will wash away over time and lose their good condition. Ference explained a possible solution to this problem.

“If you build the trail [the right way], all it takes is a little bit of maintaining,” Ference said. “The current trails are not being maintained.”

For example, “a tree will fall on a trail, and it will take a month before someone will remove the tree,” Ference said.

Ference said the college “could use a group of students who could potentially do this maintenance, maybe in the form of student work.”

Ference and many other bikers are hoping for more sustainable trails because students and visitors would greatly benefit from having a safer trail system on campus.

Although the current trails are not technically sustainable, many bikers have taken to voluntarily caring for the trails to ensure they can continue to be used.

So, while you may encounter a few logs in your path, at least for now, the trails are still in good enough shape to be ridden on.

A map of mountain biking trails on campus is available on Berry’s website.

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