Race course nixed by bureaucratic snafu

David L'Heureux

Miscommunication about the actual course layout for the Eagle Spring Classic mountain bike race forced the Bureau of Land Management to tell race organizers that their new and improved route would not be allowed for this year.

Dorothy Morgan of the Bureau of Land Management said that the original course map she received and approved was identical to last year’s with regard to what federal land it crossed.”Two weeks before the race we got a map that was identical to last year,” said Morgan. “Monday, we got a letter saying that there was a new route that went outside of what we had initially approved.”Area racers had asked Spring Classic organizers to lay out a course with more challenging ‘singletrack’ riding on it to make for a better race. Course designer John Bailey said that he knew of an existing trail connecting the second and third gulch areas that would be ideal for racing with only a few minor improvements. That trail, which sees frequent usage by bikers and trail runners, is the one that has come into question.Further confusion came, said Morgan, when Bailey contacted her to ask about ‘trimming of brush’ along the course. She thought he meant the old course, and he thought she meant the new course, which as far as he knew had been approved.”We thought we went through the proper channels and we still got shut down,” said Bailey, who has designed numerous trails, including courses used at World Cup events in Vail. “It’s frustrating, because it happened at the eleventh hour.”The bottom line is that the course race organizers intended to use was, quite simply, not the one that was approved by the town of Eagle or the Bureau of Land Management. The process of approving a new route for use in something like a race can take “three to six months,” Morgan said.

Bailey, and other local riders, said Eagle Open Space Coordinator Bill Heicher is responsible for getting the new race course shut down. Heicher said the situation is the result of a miscommunication compounded by a general lack of communication between mountain bikers, the Bureau of Land Management and the town.”The whole thing here is that people have to talk to each other,” said Heicher. “We are trying to make everyone happy here, keeping in mind that it is our mission to conserve and maintain the natural values of that habitat, while also providing some opportunities for recreation. This land has to be preserved for future generations as well.”

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