Wednesday, January 22

Sore Heels: Rake-N-Ride

I walked on MLK Day so someday we can all mountain bike.  I didn't work on MLK Day though I did give back.  Well, I hiked around the PMRP and took an inventory of the existing trail infrastructure and identified new infrastructure to be built.  I focused on Sore Heel Holler because I think it's the low hanging fruit.

I've taken over development of mountain biking trail development in the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) in Lee Countywhich is owned by the Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition (RRGCC).  Sore Heel is the largest drainage on Bald Rock Fork where climbing has been developed.  A few years ago climbers built a mountain bike trail up the main drainage during an annual trail day, and immediately afterward an oil company came in and bulldozed a portion of the trail to construct an access road.

Does not meet IMBA standards...yet

In the ensuing years better relationships between the surface owners and the holders of the mineral rights have been nurtured.  And while the climber/MTBers threw up their hands and abandoned the trail what remains is, in fact, a nearly rideable 1+ mile loop.  It's not quite a rake-n-ride situation, but it's not far from that either.

Realistically 10 bridges or wooden features need to be constructed.  There are three areas that need to be rerouted.  And some of the bench cut sections were constructed prior to any of the volunteers attending IMBA classes and need to be brought up to a slightly better standard.  That said, there are long stretches of trail that are rideable right now.

General area showing the PMRP.
Sore Heel Holler is the phallic drainage in the top half.

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but with only a little work there will be a really good start on a much bigger trail system really soon.  This isn’t exactly my back yard, but it’s only a block or two over in the broadest sense.  The PMRP is located primarily on Bald Rock Fork of Big Sinking Creek, but a satellite area is located in Big Sinking proper in Coalbank Hollow near Fixer.  My mom grew up near Fixer.  She actually grew up one holler over from Coalbank.  Her family lived there when she was young and my Papaw Lacy worked for Ashland Oil.  
Once the old trail is brought up to rideable conditions there will be about 2.5 miles of mostly singletrack in the Bald Rock parcel of PMRP.  That doesn't include the existing or abandoned access roads and any of the access trails to the climbing walls or the under-construction extension to the Flat Holler Trail.  Big things are afoot.
There WAS a trail under there!

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