By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — As a statewide bicycle event ends, a local bicycle opportunity is just getting started.
The grand opening for the Memorial Park Mountain Bike Trail will be 5 p.m. Tuesday at the picnic shelter near the water tower on Elm Street.
"The trail was designed to IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) standards," said Jim Langland, a cyclist who helped launch the plan, "and the trail was built with 100 percent volunteer labor."
It was designed by mountain bike enthusiasts to be fun and to be naturally sustainable.
"People are encouraged to come, bring their bicycles and ride the trail after the ceremony," said Tom Rodgers, city of Ottumwa spokesman. "This trail will offer a unique off-road biking experience."
People may think of "a trail" as a relatively flat, paved and even stretch of pavement, Rodgers said. This, he added, is not that kind of trail.
"It's different," he said. "It's in the woods, it goes up and down hillside [terrain]."
There are four miles of trails with plans to add two more miles. The grand opening celebrates more than 1,000 hours of volunteer labor that went into the project.
But first, organizers want the trail to get the polish it needs.
"We're having one more 'work day' before the grand opening," said Langland. "We'll meet in the parking lot [on Elm Street] in front of the cabin and work 9 to noon this Saturday."
During the colder months, he and other volunteers used chainsaws to cut the trail in the wooded portion of Memorial Park between Jefferson and Elm streets.
Anyone with an extra pickax or rake is asked to take it along to the work day. Langland said they'll be helping with a project meant to benefit the community.
"People who ride travel [to do so]; I know we do," said Langland. "I really believe this is going to bring people in from hours around."
Any questions, call Jim Langland at 777-3212.
— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark