Local routes designer making Manitoba a mountain-biking location

NEEPAWA– As I pull into the website, I see an enormous hole in the ground with a number of bulldozers at work. I likewise see Alex Man standing at the back of the dirt roadway. It’s the 2nd time I have actually met Alex– the very first time was on a bike trip near Dauphin, and now for a trip of his newest earth-moving job.

What I have actually found out in between the 2 trips is Manitoba is seeing a substantial boom in mountain bicycle routes being constructed, and Alex is the male leading much of that development.

On this day, he has actually simply returned from a conference with Parks Canada about a task in Riding Mountain, and when I bring up he is offering an instruction to Neepawa mayor Blake McCutcheon and Economic Development Officer Marilyn Crewe on the in-progress mountain cycling park because neighborhood.

Alex Man at the Neepawa site where there will be six kilometres of trails. .


AlexMan at the Neepawa website where there will be 6 kilometres of routes.

The40- acre website that will have 6 kilometres of routes is remediating a hole in the ground that was developed when 100,000 cubic metres of clay were collected as part of the town’s drain lagoon job– made needed by the town’s population spurt over the last 5 years, from 3,400 to 6,000 individuals. Most of the beginners are from the Philippines, concerning operate at the town’s HyLife pork processing plant.

A local leisure research study by the town found 2 of the important things the beginners desired more than anything else was enhanced routes and totally free leisure. The town supervisor, Denis Saquet, created the concept of a bike park, and go into Alex Man.

Family experience

Man’s finger prints are on many mountain bicycle parks in the province. Most especially, the 2017 Canada Summer Games place at Fort Whyte (BisonButte), Granite Groove near Pinawa, Blue Highway near Caddy Lake, Dauphin Northgate and Asessippi AdventurePark Neepawa is under building and is anticipated to be open in the fall, while Riding Mountain, Minnedosa and Rossburn remain in the style phase.

Man is likewise assisting style kids bike parks in West Broadway and Arthur E. Wright School.

A mountain bicycle racer in his more youthful days– leaving Winnipeg at 18 to contend in B.C.– Man, now 49, had actually more just recently been training kids in the city and offering his time assisting to style and develop routes in the province while working as a geological engineer for Atomic Energy of Canada in Pinawa when serendipity struck.

Alex Man makes his way around a berm at Bison Butte in 2016, a course he helped design. .


AlexMan makes his method around a berm at Bison Butte in 2016, a course he assisted style.

“I was coaching a Kids in Mud mountain biking program and called Fort Whyte one day about a hill they had out back in their field,”Man remembers as we sit talking over a drink at the Neepawa website. The hill was a stack of dirt that was collected from the structure of IKEA. (It’s now the peak at Bison Butte).

“I asked if they would mind if the kids rode on it and I’d build them some trails if they wanted. Have a little bit of a park for hiking, biking, running, whatever. There was a lack of topography for kids to ride in the city. Birds Hill was the closest.”

Shortly after getting the consent from Fort Whyte, the folks at the Manitoba Cycling Association discovered what was taking place, and when Winnipeg was granted the 2017 Canada Summer Games the host committee employed Man to develop them a proper place at Fort Whyte.

“He really had a vision for that land and what it could be,” remembers Twilia Cruickshank, executive director of the Manitoba Cycling Association.

Clayton Swantontackles one of the wooden berms at Northgate. .


ClaytonSwantontackles among the wood berms at Northgate.

While specific numbers are difficult to come by, Cruikshank states anecdotally the folks at the MCA understand mountain cycling involvement has actually revealed a constant development over the last couple of years. The Kids in Mud program is loaded with 500 registrants.

“We know that most kids, their first bike is a mountain bike,” statedCruikshank “What we in fact require now is more coaches.

“The increase in trails for people to mountain bike is a big part of the growth. Alex has done so much for our community. He has a long history of loving the sport, and we are so lucky to have him.”

It was throughout the Games job that Man collaborate with the landscape architecture company of Scatliff+Miller+Murray, which was likewise doing work for Fort Whyte.

” An excellent way through the job my present employer calls me up and states ‘I like what you’ ve been making with routes. Would you think about doing that expertly?’ It was type of a dream become a reality,” states Man.

You may state it was a match made in mountain cycling paradise.

A black diamond trail at Asessippi, one of 15 trails at the park. .


A black diamond path at Asessippi, among 15 routes at the park.

Now expertly used as a path designer, Man began beating the bushes to see who may wish to make some routes. An intro to some folks with the Dauphin Derailleurs Cycle Club at a leisure director conference was the seed that has actually grown a mountain cycling capital in Manitoba’s Parklands area– the 2 most significant locations at the minute being the Northgate routes system simply south of Dauphin and the mountain cycling park at Asessippi Ski Resort.

Planned and created by Man and constructed by Sustainable Trails and a team of volunteers, Northgate is a 26- km system of stacked loop, multi-use routes including areas for mountain cyclists, treking and path running. The primary trailhead is on the border of the national forest, 7 minutes south ofDauphin Trails are of differing and increasing problem. The routes are set on a mix of personal and city land, consisting of the Selo Ukraina Heritage Site that hosts Dauphin’s Countryfest and Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival.

The path system likewise winds its method through the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, supplying varied surroundings with limitless plants and animals, winding streams and shale rock developments. It was partially moneyed by strategies to host the 2020 Manitoba Games that were cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and will now happen in Dauphin from July 11-17, 2021.

Man on one of the trails at Northgate which is a 26-km system of stacked loop, multi-use trails featuring sections for mountain bikers, hiking and trail running. .


Man on among the routes at Northgate which is a 26- km system of stacked loop, multi-use routes including areas for mountain cyclists, treking and path running.

“We just had a thought that we could do something special with the land,”Derailleurs board member Clayton Swanton informed me following a current trip atNorthgate “But, not something that was simply for theGames We wished to develop a location for generations to come and a financial chauffeur for the neighborhood of Dauphin.

“Meeting Alex was key. He was an integral piece of the puzzle at an integral time. He had a vision for the whole area. We would not be anywhere near where we are if he hadn’t joined us and helped us.”

Asessippi is a distinct location to the province and main Canada– the only chairlift gain access to mountain cycling track in between Calgary and Collingwood,Ont It has a range of downhill circulation tracks varying from newbie to professional, an abilities area and cross-country climbs up.

Mountain cyclists long for routes with excellent circulation. Flow is referred to as one turn leading into the next and every descent leading into the next increase, developing an enjoyable rhythm that riders of any ages and capabilities look for. Asessippi has some fantastic circulation, folks.

Man did some early style and flagging for Asessippi in 2018, however ever since another Alex– Misanchuk– has actually taken the baton and keep up it.

You can find some great spots on the trails at Riding Mountain.</p> .


You can discover some fantastic areas on the routes at Riding Mountain.

“We want to be an adventure resort and we want to grow the sport. That’s been the cool part for me,” states Misanchuk, quickly after taking me down a number of his most-loved routes– Fanta- sy and Monster Slide.

Owned by the exact same individuals who own the Russell Inn and Conference Centre (who brought snowboarding to the location 17 years ago), the Asessippi bike park opened with 3 routes in July of 2019 and now has15 Approximately 60,000 individuals check out the ski resort each winter season and they’re hoping they can draw a comparable variety of individuals in the summer season. Despite a string of storms in the location and the COVID-19 pandemic, Asessippi has actually been pleased with company this year– 1,000 brand-new folks signing waivers to ride the routes.

For the remainder of the 2020 season– the park is open Friday-Sunday– the folks at Asessippi are having Loony Lift Days, where you can take pleasure in a day on their routes for a dollar. You can bring your own bike, or you can lease among their full-suspension bikes for $109

“It’s something people might consider, but going way out west to try it, is way more of a commitment,”Misanchuk states. “You’re not going to want to go buy a bike just to try it. You can come here, rent a bike and try the sport to see if it’s something you might wanna invest time and money in.”

Asessippi,Dauphin and now Neepawa are all part of a larger vision Man et al have for the Parklands/Westman area– to make the location an International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) trip centre.

Swanton (left), Dauphin tourism co-ordinator Melissa Stefinew and Man at Northgate flow trail.</p> .


Swanton(left), Dauphin tourist co-ordinator Melissa Stefinew and Man at Northgate circulation path.

“IMBA has led the way in trail building — techniques and sustainability — and then they advocate centres that are built around using their principals,”Man describes.

“When mountain cyclists search for excellent routes, they seek to see what IMBA states is excellent. Where do I remain? Where’s the bike store? Where’s the excellent coffee? Where’s the excellent lunch? And, where’s the beer after trip and a good supper? It’s not simply the routes, it’s the entire experience. That can be a great financial increase to these neighborhoods.

“I see the focal point being the national park and I see all these towns that are actually ahead of them in trail building as beneficiaries of what’s going to happen. The park is key because it is gorgeous, stunning. But all these little towns clearly get it and they understand the tourism draw.”

The closest IMBA centre to Manitoba is Cuyuna in Ironton, Minn.– about 6 hours southeast of Winnipeg, near toBrainerd Millions of dollars have actually been put into a task that saw old iron mines and disrupted premises transformed into numerous kilometres of mountain bicycle routes. It has actually ended up being a big traveler draw and turned dead towns into locations.

“We hope to market our area to a worldwide audience,” statesSwanton “Have riders come to Winnipeg, see the museum and then use the park or Dauphin or Asessippi as a hub for all the great tracks in the area. We’re very excited about the possibilities in the future.”

Man was employed last fall by Parks Canada to come up with a path idea prepare for the north end of the park. He has actually provided them with a 50- km stacked system that would connect with Northgate.

“I presented it to senior management and they are all over it. Really receptive,”Man stated. “I think the momentum is there and it’s just a matter of time.”

The $1.5- to $2-million job might be performed in one season if the funding existed, however Man sees it most likely to be shelled out in portions and tried it.

The style truly supports social distancing, because you would have one-way traffic instead of the out and back two-way Crawford path that is presently rather popular. The style would have riders climb up one method and after that filter down in numerous web-like routes.

“Imagine the Crawford trail as the stem of a leaf,” statesMan “I would have individuals increasing it, like an escalator to the top of the hill and various veins of the leaf to come pull back. If you’re a beginner, you climb up a little and after that return down. If you’re advanced, you go to the top. It would accommodate numerous levels of capability and physical fitness.

“I think mountain biking in general is growing. Back in the day when I raced it was more of an extreme sport and just a small demographic did it. Now, it’s just exploded. Young kids are doing it and lots of women. Getting women into it was a huge moment — now, it’s families coming up to the area to spend the day riding as a family.”

Steve Lyons


As a young kid in the 1960 s, Steve would plead with his mom to let him see Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights. And CFL football. And baseball. And PGA golf. And … well, you understand.

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