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Charlotte’s Tarheel Trailblazers Are in Full Swing!

ImageAs the
Trailblazers patiently await the finishing touches to be placed on their
official affiliation with IMBA-SORBA, the club is moving full steam ahead on a
4.5 mile expansion of the Laurel Loop at Lake Norman State Park.  Completion of the loop will up the mileage at the park to approximately 22, with the promise (through a 2009 RTP grant of
$75K and an REI grant of $10K) to add yet another 8 to 9 miles.  The club mantra is 30 in ‘13–30 miles by the end of 2013! 

After teaming
with IMBA-SORBA to secure funding and resurrect the dream of an IMBA Ride
Center in the Uwharrie National Forest, 30 miles east of Charlotte, the
Trailblazers have taken on a leadership role to bring the first phase to
fruition.  In 2008, IMBA-SORBA
received an RTP grant of $74,000 to expand and revitalize this trail. IMBA-SORBA
and the Trailblazers have received major support from the local business
community to meet the matching funds portion of this grant. 1.5 miles of
connector trail is now complete, and approximately 4 new miles of trail work is
nearing the bid phase. The proposed completion date for the new trail is in
2011. The next phase will be to create a master plan for the Center.

Fresh ideas
abound and the ‘Blazers are in the formative stages of reaching out to local
governmental and business leaders to promote an urban bike park facility based
on the concept of Seattle I-5 Colonnade project.  The hope is to bring a more skills-oriented type of riding
to augment the 100 miles of cross-country trails in the region.  The club currently has 2 proposals to
expand the 15 miles of trail at the US National Whitewater Center  \to two different adjacent land
holdings and a third proposal to add a Skills Gravity Area. 

Hot on the heels
of a recent re-tooling of their website, the ‘Blazers are preparing to roll out
high-quality trail maps that will be available for download on the club’s
website (www.tarheeltrailblazers.com) and poster-sized renderings to be placed
on the kiosks at any one of 12 Trailblazer built and / or maintained trails in
the Metro-Charlotte region. 

Club racers are
abuzz with the start of the upcoming Summer Mountain Bike Race Series, a 16-race
series that revolves between 5 different locations through the heat and
humidity of the Charlotte summer. 
The brainchild of local cycling promoter Neal Boyd, the grassroots
summer series will be celebrating its 11th year, attracting an average of 125
racers per Wednesday night event. 

Bike! Charlotte,
a 17-day celebration of the love of the bicycle, kicks off April 29 and runs
through the 15th of May.  Starting
with the ceremonial Mayor’s Ride (a 2-mile ride Friday morning of 500+ cyclists
through uptown Charlotte with the City’s mayor and a host of politicians),
Bike! Charlotte will provide everything from a 25-mile urban ride through many
of Charlotte’s finest neighborhoods, to bicycle racing, skills clinics and kids
rodeos.  The Trailblazers will be
sponsoring a mountain bike picnic at Col. Francis Beatty Park on May 15th.  The club invites new, beginner and advanced
level riders to attend the hot dog and hamburger feast, with show-and-go rides
throughout the day.