The fat-bike event that drew hundreds of racers to the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area also helped in fundraising for trail expansion.
This month the 45NRTH Whiteout winter fat-bike event attracted 300 racers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Michigan and Nebraska, as well as Canada to the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.
Nearly perfect conditions and scores of dedicated volunteers contributed to the success of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association annual winter event, the group reported.
Race proceeds and raffle ticket sales contributed to raise $12,000 to be added to the #ForCuyuna trail fundraising campaign. This $12,000 was raised from Whiteout racers and Crew partners from across the country, and even Switzerland. Whiteout race proceeds will be added to the previously donated #ForCuyuna funds that are dedicated to construct a one-way, singletrack connecting trail from the Yawkey unit to the city of Cuyuna pumptrack.
Following the Whiteout, an additional donation of $15,000 was graciously added to the #ForCuyuna fundraising campaign by the Cuyuna Lakes Trails Association. The CLTA maintains a vision of connecting all regional Cuyuna towns together through trails, a vision that goes back to the CLTA’s inception following a Blandin Leadership Program in 1998.
“It was our distinct privilege and honor to provide the final investment needed to ensure the city of Cuyuna is connected to our mountain bike and paved cycling trails,” said Jenny Smith, chair of the CLTA, in a news release. “We look forward to seeing the residents, visitors, and children of our region having the opportunity to safely ride their bicycle from the City of Cuyuna to Crosby, Ironton, Riverton, and soon, Deerwood.”
The trails association’s investment completes the Crew’s first goal of raising $132,000, which is then matched 100 percent by the Hallett Trusts matching grant. A total of $264,000 will be earmarked for the design and construction of the purpose-built singletrack connector trail as outlined within the Crew’s Master Vision for Trails as created by IMBA Trail Solutions in partnership with the Crew, IMBA, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Crow Wing County.
“Without the generosity of the Hallett Trusts matching grant and the generosity of so many individuals and businesses this opportunity would not have been possible. It’s an amazing process to watch $264,000 come together one investment at a time,” said Aaron Hautala, volunteer president of the Crew. “From large to small investments, it was amazing to watch how our Cuyuna mountain bike fever has now taken root worldwide. We tip our red dirt hats to our local communities, our Cuyuna cyclists from around the world, and local, regional, and international companies making this fundraising goal possible.”
These funds will complement the Legislative request for $4.2 million in bonding to complete the Master Vision.
“It is meaningful to the Legislature to show this type of local support,” said Judy Erickson, government relations consultant to the Crew. “It shows local commitment as well as how important the project is to the community.”
Moving forward, the planning work will soon begin for Yawkey-Cuyuna trail construction. The Crew will begin the process of collaborating with the Minnesota DNR, additional land managers, and will start to collect the required permissions and permits. This process ensures the new sustainable, purpose-built trail does not displace existing trails and when/if they do cross; they will cross with safe sight lines.
However, the Crew reported it isn’t resting for long as the next chapter of fundraising efforts includes raising another $132,000 ($260,000 with Hallett Trust matching grant) to build an additional one-way 10 mile backcountry adventure mountain bike trail extending from the city of Cuyuna into the Cuyuna Hills section of Crow Wing County designated recreation land. This section of trail will be planned and developed by the city of Cuyuna and Crow Wing County with assistance by the Crew. As always, the planning of sustainable trails includes working around existing trails, creating high visibility crossing points, and working within and around future forestry management plans.
Go to www.ForCuyuna.com to learn more about the #ForCuyuna fundraising campaign visit.
The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew is a group of local volunteers who give back to the trails and community by hosting events, conducting trail maintenance, fundraising and promoting trail advocacy. The Crew’s vision is to become an international, year-round, family cycling destination. Go to www.CuyunaLakesMTB.com to learn more about the Crew.