Ever heard of a BHAG? It’s a vision, a dream, an idea that seems a little bit beyond reality. It’s a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. In the sport of mountain biking and the world of advocacy, it’s the kind of thing that can transform a community.
After leaving central Wisconsin we headed north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and another fantastic place to ride in the Midwest. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Marquette is an outdoor mecca; the kind of place that feels very familiar to us. In addition to water sports like surfing, paddling, and kite boarding, this town is home to a pretty extensive trail network. We were very excited to spend a few days with them working in their exciting vision.
The NTN Singletrack Trail Campaign: Your Community Trail System. 100 Miles of Singletrack by 2020. Just minutes to run, ride, or hike from your backdoor. “Help us establish Marquette County as the Midwest’s premier place to live and ride.”
Over the course of the weekend we had the pleasure of helping NTN (Noquemanon Trail Network) get one step further toward their goal. After starting with a stand-up paddle session on the lake, we got down to the business of teaching and demonstrating the importance of building sustainable trails. The crew was ‘all-in’ from the beginning and by lunchtime Saturday we had a beautiful re-route on the Blue Trail (Mt Marquette Loop). Some waxed nostalgic about the old route, but realized that the future depends on the quality and durability of their trails. What we appreciated most of all was the willingness of the group to take a step back, look at what they have, and then proceed with a modern approach. And this goes beyond their trails; they understand the value of building their community and their club in a way to support their vision.
On Sunday afternoon, as we pointed the car towards Duluth, we took a moment to reflect on a few other locations that have their own giant dreams. In Alabama, we heard about plans to make their state the mountain bike destination in the Southeast by 2020. The Vermont towns of Waterbury and Stowe are currently working on a five-year plan to develop a world-class trail system. And by sometime next year you’ll be able to ride a 60+ mile, epic backcountry route north of Phoenix. What all of these places have in common goes beyond the idea of just having more trails. Whether they realize it or not, they’re efforts will boost the quality of life for everyone in the community. The idea of live, work, play becomes the rule rather than the exception.
BIG Thanks to the NTN Singletrack Crew for rolling out the red carpet! Thanks also to the volunteers and the community of Marquette for their hard work during the visit.
Photos from the weekend: