Mountain bikers share the word about secret trail system
Riders have spent a decade building network in White Hills area
Mountain bike riders in St. John's are finally ready to share one of the city's best-kept secrets.
A small group of riders has spent a decade building an extensive trail network, but you had to be a skilled biker in order to find it.
Now, they've launched a new website so everyone can share the ride.
Bike shop owner Chris Jarrett saw the potential of what was just a footpath in the White Hills a decade ago.
"At first it was really hard to recruit people, because most people thought it was probably too much of an ambitious plan," he said.
Jarrett started cutting stumps, moving rocks, pouring dirt and building a network of bike trails.
At first, he was alone. But it wasn't long before he had help.
"As time went on, we started getting five people, 10 people... now we get upwards of 30 people to come out on a work day and clear some of the trail," Jarrett recalled.
Local riders have been enjoying the trails for years. But most people didn't know they existed — or if they did, had no way to find them.
Chris Boyce moved back to St. John's last year.
"I went into Freeride on Water Street and met Chris, bought a bike off him, and asked where to go riding," Chris Boyce told CBC News.
"He had this really bad, kind of photocopied map that he'd drawn on with a pen, trying to explain to me where this trail was."
Suddenly, Boyce saw potential too.
A mapping analyst by trade, Boyce spent the past winter making GPS maps of the local trails and building a website (mountainbikestjohns.com).
The site is now online, but still a work in progress. More maps and more trails are being added soon.
Some of the trails are works in progress too.
Challenging terrain producing top riders
The challenging terrain is producing some incredible local riders.
Last year, St. John's native Matt Beer won the Canadian Downhill Mountain Biking Championship.
He learned to ride right here.
Through the website, word of the trails is already starting to spread.
"We've had people contacting us through the site from Calgary, from Ontario, from Quebec," Boyce said.
"They're all coming to visit this summer. They want to bring their bikes with them … I think there's going to be a really big impact with tourism eventually."
Jerrett hopes the website, and all his work on these trails, will have the biggest impact on the local scene.
"There's lots of other recreational development in Newfoundland," he said.
"But the sport of mountain biking, which is really large, I would say is not very organized … Maybe this could be the starting point of something like that."