Vote Today for the Holiday Valley Mountain Biking Trail!

By Jann Wiswall

Ellicottville is “Epic,” according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). And you can make it even better simply by voting for the Holiday Valley Ski Resort Trail in the Bell Helmets “Bell Built” trail competition.

The IMBA’s “Epic® designation is no small feat. To be considered Epic, a region must offer “demanding, singletrack mountain biking adventures in a natural setting … that are technically and physically challenging, more than 80 percent singletrack and at least 20 miles in length.” The IMBA goes on to assert that its Epic sites “should go on your short list of riding destinations. These are the trails worth traveling to, the best places to introduce someone to the sport we all love and are the facilities builders and advocates should look to for inspiration.”

Ellicottville’s network of mountain-biking trails more than meets this definition.

Dennis Baldwin, Ellicottville’s own mountain biking ambassador who owns Ellicottville Bike and Bean and has been an active member of the Western New York Mountain Bicycling Association (WNYMBA) for many years, points to more than 30 miles of trails looping through the expansive state forest system behind Holiday Valley and HoliMont and south to Allegany State Park.

“This makes Ellicottville a great destination for a solid one, two, or three-day ride for avid riders,” he said.

Whether you’re a rider or not, you can help Ellicottville boost its reputation as a mountain biking mecca and make it even better.

WNYMBA recently submitted a “killer application” to enter the 2014 national “Bell Built” contest sponsored by Bell Helmets and is now one of four finalists for the Eastern Region award. The proposal calls for building a two-mile “flow trail” at Holiday Valley — a newer-style trail that Baldwin describes as a “twisty, windy singletrack trail with big berms, rollers and bridges” that is manageable for novices, but still challenging and fun for intermediate and expert riders.

The trail would start at the summit of the ski area and end at the lodge near Sky High Adventure Park. It’s intended as the first phase of a longer-term project to develop more trails and better access to complement the existing cross-country ski and bike trail network in the adjacent state forest.

If Ellicottville beats out the other three East Coast contestants, Bell Helmets will provide $33,000 to construct the trail using a professional trail contractor.

This funding is critical, said Baldwin. WNYMBA has designed and built most of the area’s 30-plus miles of trails, but all WNYMBA trail building is a volunteer effort.

“It takes longer to get things done when you rely only on volunteers,” said Baldwin, who can’t say enough good things about the many volunteers who donate their time to help on trail construction days.

Still, “we can get the flow trail done much faster with a professional trail builder behind it, plus Holiday Valley will kick in some matching funds if we win,” he said.

“This is so important to Ellicottville,” Baldwin said. “While we are known for our more advanced trails, we only have about 5 miles of easier trails for beginners and novices.” The flow trail will add more miles, provide gentler terrain and will start with a shorter climb up to the trail — whether you want to ride up or walk it.

Said Baldwin, “There’s no shame in walking the bike up.”

Ellicottville has been very fortunate that WMYBMA has spent so much time and effort in our area, Baldwin said, and it has paid off in many ways. National Geographic Explorer calls Ellicottville one of “America’s Best Adventure Towns” for its mountain biking opportunities, and suggests you make a weekend of the trails, dining, lodging and entertainment offerings. Bike Magazine, New York Magazine, the Buffalo News and many other media outlets have given the area rave reviews, too.

As a result, the area is seeing more and more cyclists visit for long weekends — both mountain bikers and road bikers.

And, there’s potential for even more growth here, said Baldwin, who notes that the addition of the proposed Ellicottville-Great Valley Recreational Trail would be another huge draw for families and bike clubs.

So, whether you’re a bicycling enthusiast, an Ellicottville enthusiast or both, you can make a difference by VOTING today to make the Holiday Valley Ski Resort Trail a reality.

Voting for the East Coast proposals began on Monday, May 5, and runs through Monday, May 18. The winner will be announced on May 19.

The winner will be selected by popular vote only, so your vote counts RIGHT NOW! And, voting is live, so you can keep track of the status of the competition until the very last minute.

The West Coast and Central Region winners have been announced. Ft. Tuthill, Flagstaff, Az., was the West Coast winner with just over 8,000 votes and Cottage Grove, Minn., won the Central Region competition with more than 12,300 votes. As of this writing, Ellicottville was ahead of the East Coast pack, but only by a margin of nine votes!

C’mon folks! Vote today! Pass it on!

Visit www.bellhelmets.com/bellbuilt and follow the easy instructions.

You can also find more information about the proposed trail and view a great video of Dennis Baldwin at www.wnymba.org.