Trails in the Czech Republic

Transkript

Trails in the Czech Republic
Dirt Rag Magazine
Access Action
THE DIRT RAG ACCESS GURU IS:
PHILIP KEYES 700 MAIN ST.
ACTON, MA 01720 • 978.263.0459
[email protected]
PHOTOS BY MILOŠ LUBAS
Mountain Bike Advocacy in the Czech Republic
words by Mark Tierney photos by Miloš Lubas, www.singltrek.cz
n the northernmost regions of the Czech Republic, within spitting distance of both
Germany and Poland, lies the exceptional singletrack trail “Singltrek pod Smrkem.”
High in the Jizera Mountains, which span the border between the Czech Republic and
Poland, this winding trail cuts across the side of Smrk, which at 3687ft. is the highest peak on the Czech side of the mountain range. This trail is the first completed in an
intended group of three custom-designed mountain
bike loops to be implemented by a public/private
partnership that includes Česká Mountainbiková
Asociace (ČeMBA, or in English, the Czech Mountain
Bike Association).
ČeMBA is the Czech Republic’s equivalent of an
IMBA or an IMBA U.K., and in fact works closely
with these two mountain bike access organizations to
achieve its goal of, in the words of ČeMBA Executive
Director Tomáš Kvasnička, “Good trails for every citizen in the Czech Republic.” Established in 2007, the
group’s mission from its inception has been getting
the official recognition sought by the Czech mountain
biking community, while defending the interests of
mountain bikers, and at the same time introducing the
sport, or pastime, to those unfamiliar with the joys of
off-road cycling.
My personal introduction to ČeMBA began with my meeting with Tomáš in a Lázně
Libverda pub two hours north of the Czech capital city of Prague, not far from the single-
I
track trailhead. The Singltrek pod Smrkem project is
currently ČeMBA’s high-profile effort, and they have
teamed up with partners in two local municipalities,
Nové Město pod Smrkem and Lázně Libverda, and in the
nearby town of Frýdlant, as well as with the Czech forest management, Lesy ČR, to
make it happen.
Phase one of the project is
the loop referred to directly
as “Singltrek pod Smrkem,”
an intensive 20km loop with
12km of smooth, winding
intermediate-level singletrack as its main feature.
The trail winds through a
quiet pine forest in an area
formerly known as “The
Black Triangle.” This area
was once heavily damaged
by the consequences of a
Communist-era disregard
for the regulation of environmental pollution, but it
has been on the path to recovery since 1989 and the
fall of the Iron Curtain, and is now once again pristine
"THE BLACK
TrIANGLE"
.....HEAVILY DAMAGED
BY THE CONSEQUENCES OF A COMMUNISTErA DISREGArD FOR
THE rEGULATION OF
ENVIrONMENTAL POLLUTION
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Access Action
THErE
IS A BEEr
SHACK ON
THE TrAIL
AT JUST
ABOUT
THE HALFWAY POINT
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forest. The trail was designed by famed freelance trail designer and
Welshman Dafydd Davis and recently opened for riding. Davis has
been named an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in
the civil division for his contributions to U.K. forestry, and is known
for design of purpose-built mountain biking trails in the United
Kingdom that are both sustainable and accessible to riders of a broad
range of skills; this trail-building philosophy was applied to the
building of the Czech trails as well.
Close to the trailhead Tomáš and I used to enter the loop (there are
currently two main entrances) is a longish climb up a secluded paved
road. At the top is a long downhill singletrack with a gentle slope
broken up by intermittent sections of climbing. This is a winding and
fun singletrack that will please a wide scope of riders from beginner
to advanced, and that is its intention. The hope, in part, is to attract
state support for outdoor cycling, generally directed towards paved
bike routes and family-oriented touring, to a mountain bike trail by
re-perceiving this singletrack path as being for families—which it
most certainly is.
Beer lovers can rejoice, as not only can cold fresh Czech beer (not
to mention accommodations) be readily had in the local towns, but
there is a beer shack on the trail at just about the halfway point from
the trailhead we used. The other trailhead is further from the beer
shack and will require a bit more pedaling before beer time, as the
trail is a one-way directional trail.
The next two years will see the trail network extended on both
sides of the border, as an additional 20km of trails is planned for
each of the next two seasons. Although only the most jaded technical
riders will knock the current fun and flowing singletrack experience of Singltrek pod Smrkem, in recognition of riders who prefer a
higher degree of difficulty, phase two will up the ante and provide
approximately 10km of advanced-level trail just across the border in
Poland. For the inexperienced, 10km of the new trail on the Czech
side will be designed specifically for beginner and intermediate-level
riders. In the end, by 2012, there will be a three-loop network with
trailheads readily accessible from the Nové Město pod Smrkem and
Lázně Libverda areas.
Though the singletrack is the most visible of their projects, ČeMBA
engages daily in bringing mountain biking access and education
to Czechs in a sustainable and socially responsible fashion. To get
a rough idea of other ČeMBA activities, check out their website at
www.cemba.cz (although the site isn’t available in English). Further
info (also not yet in English) about the singletrack is available here:
www.singltrekpodsmrkem.cz.

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