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July 6, 2006

USNWC and the Catawba Trails

Frank Pietras, Neal Boyd and I met this past Friday morning with Mike Kafsky, the High Adventure Program Manager of the USNWC. In addition to all programs of a climbing nature (indoor/outdoor walls, high ropes course, etc.) management of the mountain bike trails also fall under Mike’s list of responsibilities. We visited the site to get Mike acquainted with the layout of the trails, talk about sustainability and discuss some of the options that we had before us (while Mike is a mountain biker, unfortunately, we did not ride). Frank presented Mike with a proposed budget for the trail reconnect that included labor, mechanical equipment costs, and materials.

Shortly thereafter, we were joined by Jeff Wise. Jeff (as is Mike) is very excited about getting the trail reconnect underway (the main hold up seems to be the ongoing construction inspections by county engineering types) - and of course, the heat and humidity of summer. Jeff is in the process of arranging for an on-sight contractor to assist in the construction of the trail head, leaving from the southeastern corner of the new parking area, within the UNSWC, proper. The trail will be constructed to allow riders to pass in each direction, as the trail to/from the parking area will be two-way (approximately ¼ mile). This will take a major load off of our resources. Jeff and Mike will be pursuing additional assistance in the form of labor (under our guidance) to help with the reconnect that will cover some 1.5 miles.

From all indications, it looks as if the USNWC will be opening for business (a rather “quiet” opening) in mid July, with the official “Grand Opening” in September. At that point in time, Jeff and Company are hopeful of having the reconnect completed and the entire trail opened to bike traffic.

As always, if you are interested in being a part of the re-connect team, please contact me at:


May 18, 2006


With Bike! Charlotte fading into memory (I hope that each and every one of you took time to enjoy many of the festivities), we have several great projects currently underway and several on the horizon. But first off, congrats to Neal Boyd for all of his efforts to make Bike! Charlotte the success that it was. Somehow Neal sandwiched the event between getting married and the honeymoon that he’s now enjoying in Mexico, with his beautiful bride Janet. Thanks as always Neal for your contributions to the cycling scene in the Metro-Charlotte area.

In Neal’s absence, tireless volunteers Paul Bellin and Doug Satterwhite took the reins of last night’s first stop at North Meck Park for the Summer Race Series. Over 140 riders participated, and accord to Paul, that sets a record for attendance at any of the races! The frog in a blender effect was definitely there, but other that a few isolated incidents, having 140+ racers on the 3.5 mile course came off really well. Thanks for the patience of all! Next week is an off week, before moving on to Catawba on May 31.

Good things are happening at the USNWC (Catawba) as we are on the verge of starting to move dirt and get the re-connect started. Trail Coordinator Frankie Pietras has spent countless hours and has the blessing of Jeff Wise on the new corridors. Look for more info soon.

Jerry Adams has been spending time at our newest park, Sherman Branch in southeastern Mecklenburg County. Jerry and his crew are hopeful of opening at least an initial section of the trail in the not too distant future. With over 200 cares, we should have a cool playground in the offing.

Our Recreation Trails Program (RTP) grant for construction of trails at Mount Holly has cleared the first major hurdle and we’re hopeful of hearing more about the funds in the near future. Former Trailblazer President Jeff Smith and Bryan Hines have been spearheading this effort and deserve much appreciation for the time spent on this important project.

The Meck Co P&R Committee will be voting on a proposed trail system at Jetton Park at their June 13th meeting. The Jetton property (19 acres in Cornelius) could prove to be the first handicapped accessible mountain bike trails in the area or anywhere for that matter!

In closing, I encourage any of you readers that may be on the fence to join the Trailblazers, Dirt Divas or PASA, as together as clubs we are much stronger and can continue to request access for additional parks land for our favorite sport. Each member is vital to the cause, your support is appreciated!

May 8, 2006

USNWC Trail Coordinator Update

From the desk of Frankie Pietras, Trail Coorinator and club Treasurer:

I just want to repeat the words of Jeff W.: There is no plan to charge for access to the trails at USNWC, now or in the future. There will be a pro shop with bike parts for sale, a store/machines at which one can buy drinks and snacks, and a restaurant. With those facilities, the USNWC expects to be able to get income from trail users by providing products and services that would otherwise not be available without driving several miles.

Since last post here on April 11th, I have put in about 20 hours of ground time in laying out the reconnection trails in a manner that is consistent with the existing trails at the park. The plan is to meet with Michael and Jeff this Tuesday to show them the work and get their approval on the trail corridors. Work has been done to clear the existing trails of debris in anticipation of the Charlotte Mountain Bike Series.

I personally have a tremendous amount of time invested in the trails at USNWC over the last 15 years and I see the task of reconnecting the trails as an opportunity to further improve one of the finest trail systems in the region. In fact, it is conceivable that the new loop, once completed, will be even more challenging and enjoyable than before. I think it will be much like Beatty Park where we were all suprised to end up with a better trail system after the construction was done.

Get ready folks. We will have a large task on our hands once we get the go-ahead to get started. There are sections that will be much like the New Point Trail with dramatic side slopes and huge Beech trees. I'm glad that we will have the opportunity to build these trails ourselves as true single-track and not have to follow the course of a D-9 that someone drove through the woods.

Tarheel Trailblazers | 182 Saddle Road | Mooresville, NC 28115
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