Erie cycling enthusiasts hope to build 2 miles of singletrack Saturday
The 37-year-old software engineering manager and zealous mountain biker wants to build the longest segment of trail (two miles), in the least amount of time (three hours), with the largest number of volunteers (300). He has even contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to see about getting a listing.
But even if the making of Erie’s first singletrack trail never lands on the pages of Guinness, Saturday’s epic trail-building effort could well rank as the most ambitious project in Xcel Energy’s statewide Day of Service program this year.
“I just wanted to go out and dig some trails, and it turned into this possible world-record project,” Haid said. “All the stars aligned for everyone who was involved in this.”
This, of course, being Erie’s first stretch of singletrack, a narrow mountain biking trail designed to challenge cyclists with tougher terrain and more challenging features than can be found on Boulder County’s ubiquitous paved or graded bike paths. The first 10,000 feet are planned for a parcel of town-owned open space between the Vista Pointe neighborhood to the south and the Grandview neighborhood to the north.
Haid first approached the town in April, hoping to enlist its help in getting something built. It just so happened that Erie had made a purchase of open space — a 51-acre parcel on the east side of town called Sunset Open Space — months earlier.
“We looked through our whole open space inventory,” Erie Parks and Recreation Director Jill Wait said. “We looked at it from an environmental standpoint, and we narrowed it down to this tract of land.”
The next step was figuring out how to build the trail. Haid, a member of the group Erie Singletrack Advocates, applied for funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and oil and gas giant Encana Corp. At the same time, the town applied to be one of Xcel’s Day of Service projects.
Wait said the timing of the project day was “a stroke of luck.”
“There will be $10,000 worth of labor done, and that will all be from volunteers,” she said.
Erie will provide water, Gatorade and tools while Xcel will provide water and volunteers. The project will run from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
“It’s absolutely going to fill a need, and perhaps a need that had not been expressed until some people came before the Board of Trustees,” Wait said, referring to efforts by Haid and others to move the project along. “And it connects directly into the Coal Creek Trail.”
That makes it possible for cyclists in Broomfield and eastern Boulder County to get a taste of singletrack cycling much more easily than having to drive to Boulder, Haid said. Just last month, the Coal Creek Trail was punched under Colo. 7 from Erie into Lafayette, completing a 27-mile trail network, known as the Coal Creek/Rock Creek Trail system, which stretches from Eldorado Springs to Erie. Broomfield also has a connection to the trail system.
“I want to ride in my neighborhood,” Haid said. “I don’t want to drive 30 minutes to ride.”
Haid said Saturday’s work is just the start of Erie’s singletrack trail network. Further west in Sunset Open Space, there are plans to grub out another three miles of track, with room for a flow zone and a kids’ loop. Obstacles may be added to parts of the singletrack to give people more of a challenge while riding.
“Things to test your skills and get you off the ground, make you a little nervous,” he said. “It will be kind of a playground at the east end of Coal Creek Trail.”
Jerome Davis, regional vice president of Xcel, said this is the third year the company has held its Day of Service event. Erie’s trail building effort is one of nine projects done in coordination with parks and recreation departments in Colorado and one of more than 40 projects done in concert with nonprofit organizations.
Boulder also hosts a Day of Service project at Jewel Mountain, where volunteers will be asked to collect native seed to be used on Boulder County open spaces to help strengthen native local habitat for wildlife species.
Davis said the projects are held in early September as a way of honoring the victims and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Erie’s project, he said, is emblematic of Colorado’s values of healthy living and outdoor recreation.
“They are what drives us to be the healthiest state in the nation,” he said. “It lifts up the community as a whole.”