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Undoing the Damage that has been done

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For many in the Valley the trails at Thunder Hill have become a top pick of their favourite cycling spots.
Thanks to the dedication of volunteers – such as Randy Schenk who has spent the last 26 years building and maintaining the trails – countless residents have experienced the off-roading beauty so close to home.
However, on the morning of Aug. 10, that oasis was in jeopardy – all in part to the destruction of careless riders.
“Destruction has been happening for some time on this trail,” said Schenk after discovering the state of the trail that morning. “There’s damage to all bridges and trail structure.”
The North Manitoba Bike Trail took the most damage with bridges being taken out, beer cans and garbage laying around, signage removed, countless trees knocked down and so forth.
“No one can safely ride this trail now,” said Schenk.
Since the discovery, Schenk has spent many hours working to fix the trails and less time enjoying them.
“I’ve been building trails at Thunder Hill since 1993 and it’s not easy work,” he said. “Most of this has been by myself with basic hand tools so it’s kind of a punch in the head to have to fix things that could’ve been avoided.
“It’s taking away my fun of being on the trails and exercising due to having this extra work. I have a hard time riding and having fun when so much work is needed.
“I’ve worked two weekends already on this trail and will probably take till snowfall to finish it if not longer.”
Based on the track marks found at the trail, it is believed that the destruction was cause by ATVs travelling in spaces they do not fit on.
“Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being on a quad as much as anyone else but I don’t go where I shouldn’t,” said Schenk. “The places these people went and the damage that was done could have seriously injured them.”
While Schenk has taken the brunt of the work on himself to repair the trails he is appreciative of any help he can receive so many can continue their use including the Tread The Thunder Bike Club with many of our youth enjoying their rides.
“Many hands make light work,” he said. “I can’t do it all myself anymore. It’s been a good amount of my money used to keep these trails looking great.
“Maintenence is a monthly ordeal and almost every time you ride as the winds tend to drop trees constantly.”
Cycling and off-roading are great outdoor activities in the summer months with very few rules to follow to ensure everyone can enjoy the pastime.
Rules of the trail:
• Ride on open trails only,
• Leave no trace,
• Control your bicycle,
• Yield to others,
• Never scare animals,
• Plan ahead.
Trails can be kept open for all to enjoy by those setting an example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling.
“I think all the groups that want to use the trails should come together and discuss so further problems may be avoided,” concluded Schenk. “Or soon there may be nothing for any of us.”

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Jakki Lumax
REPORTER
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