Cycling has become a hugely popular activity in Greater Sudbury in recent years.
One good example is the popular Walden Mountain Bike Club (WMBC), which was first established as a result of Sudbury hosting the Ontario Summer Games in 2010.
WMBC president Rusty Hopper explained that having a formal club was one of the requirements for hosting the games, but the club has been active ever since.
While racing is still part of the activities, Hopper said recreational riding has become the mainstay for the Walden Mountain Bike Club.
He said racing can be a popular part of many sports, but it is not always competition that attracts new people.
"The ones that are looking for competition are maybe 10 per cent, maybe even less, than the people who pursue that sport as an activity. So for example, right now we have 42 people actively training to compete within the club, whereas last year we had 530 members in the club," Hopper said.
Hopper said although the roots of WMBC are in Walden and Naughton, actual club membership and the network of biking trails is throughout Sudbury. The club's Facebook page and website are active with notices about volunteers going to work on the trails to keep them fun and safe.
One notice for this week advised riders that the rain in recent days has made some trails less than ideal. Riders were asked to stay off some of the muddier routes until Friday.
"Yeah, we just let people know. Were trying to educate people to ride when the trails are dry, instead of when they're really muddy," Hopper said. “So yes, it's all part of our education process. That's less work for the trail builders. Because riding in wet weather, they add damage when the trails are soft.”
He added the club is fortunate to have several members who seem to enjoy the hard work and effort it takes to keep the local cycling trails clean and safe for all riders.
He said the sport is attracting more people because so many people like to get out and ride and just be with social and other like-minded riders. Hopper said some of the members like to do "extreme riding" and tackle some of the more challenging single-track trails whereas many others like to have a leisurely ride in nature settings.
Hopper said the sport is also affordable. Membership with WMBC is only $60 a year, he said, and it is even cheaper for children.
The price of a bicycle for mountain bike riding, can be expensive, ranging from a few hundred dollars to two or three thousand dollar or more, depending on individual commitment. Hopper equated it to golfing or skiing, saying the price of equipment is up to the user. Hopper said extreme riders will want to purchase the more expensive bikes that can withstand the tough conditions that extreme riders like.
He said one of the benefits of joining the club is learning that mountain biking can be extreme or it can be more recreational, depending on your taste. Hopper said that with experience, one learns that riding a mountain bike is not the same as riding a road bike.
He said many members find their niche group quickly and enjoy spending time on the trails with other riders. Hopper said he manages to get out often with different groups for social riding. He also mentioned there is the instance of a housewife who wants to get away from the children for a bit and hits the trail to pound out some extreme riding for a couple of hours.
There's something for everyone and it is a good fitness sport, said Hopper.
Those who are interested in learning more are invited to check out the WMBC website, said Hopper.
Len Gillis is a reporter at Sudbury.com. Bold is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.