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Happy trails to you...LAMBAT to host back-to-back mountain biking events this weekend

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Have you ever wanted to try out the sport of mountain biking? Is it something you think your kids — or your neighbors' kids — might enjoy too? Then this weekend is tailor-made for you, as the volunteers of the Lakes Area Mountain Bike Alliance and Trails (LAMBAT) have organized not just one, but two special events to promote and support the sport of mountain biking in the lakes area: Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day and the Happy Trails Ball.

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day

First, head on over to Detroit Mountain Recreation Area this Saturday, Oct. 7, for Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day (TAKMBD). Between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, families can enjoy special bike rental deals — including free kids' bike rentals while supplies last! — as well as a free picnic lunch, group trail rides, and "buy one, get one free" scenic lift rides to the top of Detroit Mountain itself.

Experienced mountain bikers will be on hand to help new riders young and old get started in the skills park and there will also be a guided group trail ride on the singletrack trails. New riders are encouraged to spend time developing their bike-handling skills in the skills park before hitting the trails. The short track features a variety of man-made and natural features that are found out on the singletrack trails.

"It's a great way for kids to learn how to handle a bike and gain confidence," says Matthew Davis, LAMBAT's vice president. "My kids love riding on the skills park, and they really became better bikers because of it."

Those planning to attend are encouraged to sign up in advance, as those who pre-register via the website at www.detroitmountain.com will get a free "swag bag" of goodies, Davis added.

Happy Trails Ball

Then on Sunday, Oct. 8, come out to the Speak Easy in Detroit Lakes to support LAMBAT at its inaugural Happy Trails Ball. From 5 to 9 p.m., ticket holders can enjoy a spaghetti dinner with salad bar, live music by local entertainer Matt Aakre, door prize drawings, raffle drawings and a silent auction featuring some unique items donated by local businesses.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for kids under 17. Adult tickets include entry into the raffle for a Cannondale Cujo 3 mountain bike (valued at $1,000) which was donated by Paramount Sports of Fargo; ticket holders need not be present to win.

Tickets may be purchased at the Speak Easy, the DL Chamber, Paramount Sports, or Detroit Mountain. They can also be purchased directly from LAMBAT Board members (email lambat@lambat.org) or online via Eventbrite at www.lambat.org.

"The goal of this event is to raise funds for purchasing tools and equipment, conducting master planning, supporting volunteer trail building days, and covering other start-up costs (such as purchasing insurance)," says Davis, adding that the group's initial target is to raise $30,000.

"We're really starting from scratch on this," he explained, adding that a master plan will need to be developed in order to maximize access to any state and federal funding that might be available for building up the area's trail systems.

"We know there's a demand for this... we just want to ensure that the trails that will be built are high quality," Davis said.

The public's input is also being sought on what they would like to see happen with regard to development of the area's trail systems — most of which will be multi-purpose, and can be used for hiking, cross country skiing, etc., as well.

"We want the public's input into this plan," said Davis. "Anyone can email us with their thoughts at lambat@lambat.org."

LAMBAT's ultimate vision

LAMBAT is a non-profit group of bicyclists, horseback riders, hikers and outdoor recreationists who are interested in growing recreational opportunities for families throughout Becker County and the entire lakes area.

"In July our group was integrated into the chapter program of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), giving us 501(c)3 status," says Davis.

Ultimately, LAMBAT's vision is to develop not just Detroit Mountain, but its surrounding trail systems (Mountain View, Dunton Locks, Maplelag, etc.) into a regional mountain biking destination — and eventually, an international one as well, he noted

"Currently our 35-plus members are building 1.5 miles more trail at Mountain View Recreational Area, just east of Detroit Lakes," Davis added. "The group has an ambitious goal of having 100 miles of multi-use trails in Becker County in order to achieve IMBA Ride Center designation."

"This would put us on the international map as a mountain biking destination," says LAMBAT President Blakely Larson, adding, "We have already started seeing evidence of people traveling here from far away to sample our area's trails."

LAMBAT is also working on a master plan for future trail systems in the area, and this plan will hopefully help steer grant dollars to the area to help develop these trails, Davis noted, adding, "We hope that folks will get as excited as we are about growing the mountain biking scene here in the DL area," says Mary Safgren, LAMBAT's treasurer. "It's just one of the great outdoor activities that we're blessed to enjoy living here and we want to bring more visitors to the area to enjoy nature and contribute to our economy" she added. "Other places in Minnesota like Cuyuna and Duluth are seeing the benefits that mountain biking can bring."

For more information about LAMBAT, please visit the website at www.lambat.org.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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