Published Date Written by Marty BaschThe new section of the Mountain Division Trail is finished.
"We are pretty much 100 percent done at this point," said R.J. Grondin and Sons of Gorham, Maine project co-manager Hannes Schneider. "We have it done on time and within budget. That was nice."
The new 2.5-mile section is between Porter and Airport Roads. Officially, the smooth trail next to the railroad track will be open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. on Porter Road by the beginning of the new section of trail.
Now, local riders have four miles of sweet pavement from the New Hampshire border to Airport Road with the goal of continuing it all the way to Portland. Some seven miles are done in Windham and Standish. The trail has been spearheaded by the non-profit Mountain Division Alliance, and championed locally by Fryeburg's Dave Kinsman.
The project was done within the state's $1.1 million budget, according to Schneider of Denmark, Maine, also an avid mountain biker and skier.
All of the fencing, both wooden and metal, is up. There are two informational kiosks at Porter Road and near Airport Road where the state can put up maps and more information for the myriad of trail users including skateboarders, in-line skaters, runners, joggers and more.
There are also gates that have been installed and according to Schneider will be able to open for snowmobilers.
"We did find out that snowmobiles will be able to use the trail in the winter," he said. "The gates will be able to be opened to allow grooming machines for the snowmobile club."
Erosion control was considered for the new segment of trail. Bark mulch was put down instead of grass.
"That is more maintenance friendly for the trail maintenance people," Schneider said.
Schneider's been in the construction and engineering business for some 30 years. He was taken by the positive comments he and his crew heard while working the railroad.
"There were a lot of people out there, both on and off hours," he said. "We heard from a lot of people thinking this was really wonderful. I thought it was interesting to hear from people coming from Conway and North Conway. They couldn't believe Conway didn't have something like this and they had to come to Fryeburg to do it."
As with any trail, paved or not, there comes local lore. A pre-official inspection found a couple of so-called rock art boulders where members of the public had put glass bottles on huge rocks while another boulder had a mini-cairn complete with toy soldier on it. Who knows if they'll stay.
During construction, there were lots of deer sightings.
"We saw tons of deer," said Schneider. "They were almost domesticated. They would stand on the railroad tracks and kind of watch us work at times."
Also there were bugs.
"In my my 30 years of doing this I never experienced a job with worse mosquitoes in my life," he said. "I've never seen anything like it. Tell people to bring bug spray."
Initially, a crosswalk was considered for Porter Road between the existing and new section of the trail. Schneider said that wasn't necessary.
"The project was about what we expected," he said. "I think we enjoyed good relations with neighbors and local contractors. We're interested in continuing the project wherever it shows up. We learned a lot and we can be even more aggressive on future phases."
Of other bicycle related interest, the POC Eastern Cup downhill mountain biking series comes to Attitash Sunday, Sept. 16 for the New Hampshire State Championship.
"With a newly built jump feature and finish area within view of our main base lodge, the weekend event will be an exciting race for spectators to watch and a fun weekend for riders," said Attitash Mountain Bike Programs Coordinator Nate Waterhouse.
The event will feature riders competing in a single run format taking the best times in age and rider level categories. The course is a mix of descending open trails and singletrack sections through the woods on Attitash Mountain. Riders will be practicing Saturday and racing Sunday.
Feeling crazy? Sign up for the wickedly wild World Championship Tricycle Race at Jackson's Black Mountain Sept. 22. The race benefits the Dewey Mark/Red Parka Pub Scholarship. Registration is noon race day, followed by a 1 p.m. Get the skinny by calling 383-4344.