By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
If you’re looking for a slightly different flavor of bicycling experience, you may want to check out the Rangeline Nature Preserve.
RNP, an Anderson city park, is home to an extensive mountain bike trail system. There are six miles of trails with three different loops to follow, based on abilities.
“It gets used all year round,” said Jeff Carter, who was instrumental in the establishment of the RNP trail system. He worked with the city beginning in 2005, and continues to organize volunteers to support the trails with the city’s blessing.
“It’s one of the most well-liked trails in Indiana,” said Carter.
In fact, with almost 30 mountain bike trails in the state, Carter said that RNP’s are the third most popular. “We cater to kids, expert cross country riders, as well as free riders ... from the beginner to the expert.” Carter estimated that there were about 300 riders out on the RNP trails last weekend.
Carter said that the mountain biking label doesn’t accurately describe the sport anymore.
“What you really see now is cross-country riding,” said Carter. It covers the broad range of trail terrain. Cross-country bikes are equipped for that terrain with wider tires and, often, more suspension. They need that suspension to buttress against the bumps and thumps of trailway cycling.
“It’s fun. It’s one of the funnest things I’ve ever done,” said Carter, noting it’s something that can be done solo or in a group. Carter described the experience of cycling the trails alone as “good mind cleaning time.”
“Ride the loops and the world does not exist,” said Carter.
RNP trails are well-marked for novice, intermediate and expert riders with green, blue and black arrow posts through the 180-acre site.
Break in on the novice route where it’s all trail, but no obstacles. The intermediate loop is a little bit tougher, with a couple of log crossings, and a small ‘rock garden’ to cross. Carter says the expert loop has a lot of features, including free ride obstacles and even a gap jump that spans four feet between take-off and landing. There are route-arounds for those who aren’t willing or able to tackle the various obstacles.
The trails at RNP are maintained by a core group of about five volunteers supported by about 30 other volunteers who pitch in for various efforts. It’s a happy collaboration with the city.
“The trails are absolutely important to the city of Anderson and the mayor’s initiative,” said city spokeswoman Charlee Turner. She noted that Mayor Kevin Smith has given focus to developing those and other trails that would allow citizens to get anywhere in Anderson by bicycle. “The mayor is very vested in quality of life projects.”
Last week, volunteers went to collect a donation of wooden obstacles to be installed on the trail. Carter and the other RNP volunteers also work closely with the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association to ensure good trails.
RNP hosts riders for an annual event, the Rangeline Rampage, this year set for July 13. The time trial event raises funds to support trail maintenance.