Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay mountain bikers working with city to bring dollars, races

The BlackSheep Mountain Bike Club is working on a memorandum of understanding that will formalize its relationship with the City of Thunder Bay. The goal is to build the city's trail network and attract national races.

The BlackSheep Mountain Bike Club is working on a memorandum of understanding with the City of Thunder Bay

Paul Inkila of the BlackSheep Mountain Bike Club hopes that formalizing the club's relationship with the city will lead to work that could attract national bike races to the city. (supplied)
The BlackSheep Mountain Bike club is working to formalize its relationship with the City of Thunder Bay in hopes of bringing grant money and larger competitions to town.

Club president Paul Inkila says he anticipates having a memorandum of understanding in place with the city by the end of the year. 

The BlackSheep already works with the city on trail development, Inkila said, but the city would benefit from a formal agreement, because the club can access grants to develop trails on city property.

"We could get some grants for example for having a consultant come in who's really an expert in trail development ... and they could develop a shorter term or a longer term plan for the city and for the BlackSheep to work towards," Inkila said. 

The BlackSheep would also benefit from an agreement with the city because it would bring the club under the city's insurance policy, he added.   

Currently, the club has insurance coverage for official events through the Ontario Cycling Association, but the city's policy would provide blanket coverage for members working on trails, he said. 

Inkila said the group's long-term goal is to host national events in the area in approximately five years' time.

"The Ontario coach was in Thunder Bay a few years ago to do some coaching clinics, and he was saying that the type of terrain that we have in the Centennial Park area is just perfect for a national level mountain bike event," Inkila said.

The BlackSheep Mountain Bike Club was launched 17 years ago by a group of high school students, he said. 

It currently has approximately 125 members and hosts a series of 10 cross-country races through the spring, summer and fall.  

It also holds a series of downhill races at Loch Lomond.  

The club builds and maintains trails on city property in the Centennial Park and Trowbridge Falls area.  

It participates in a committee with city parks staff to plan its work, Inkila said. 

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