Biking experts gather in Augusta to discuss sport

Bicyclists tear through a mountain bike trail near River Watch Parkway and the Augusta Canal.

In many ways, mountain biking is more than a pastime.


It is a national movement -- and this week, its epicenter will be in Augusta.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association's 2010 World Summit will bring about 350 visitors this week.

Although riding local trails is part of the program, the participants will focus much of their time on their sport, its impact on the nation's recreation industry and the best ways to blend trails with the environment.

"We'll be providing 55 volunteers who are helping support the event," said Paul Farrow, the president of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association's Central Savannah River Area chapter, an IMBA affiliate. "We'll be transporting bikes for the visitors, bringing water coolers, things like that."

The conference headquarters is at the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites, where a Mountain Bike Expo will be set up from 1 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, featuring vendors, club booths and equipment.

The summit isn't a bike race -- but an opportunity for experts from across the nation to discuss topics important to cycling groups, said IMBA communications director Mark Eller.

Speakers will address IMBA's public lands initiatives to blend sustainable wilderness planning with bicycle access; funding options for new trails; the environmental impact of mountain biking; youth cycling programs; design tactics for sustainable trails; building public-private partnerships and more than a dozen other topics.

Where to ride around Augusta

FORKS AREA TRAIL SYSTEM (FATS): A series of six loops with more than 35 miles of trails. It has been recognized by IMBA as an Epic Ride and is in Clarks Hill, S.C. Take South Carolina Exit 1 off Interstate 20 and head north on South Carolina Highway 230 for about five miles, then turn left on Woodlawn Road. Continue four miles. The trailhead parking area is on the left.

KEG CREEK: A nine-mile trail recognized for a variety of riding conditions and obstacles (roots, rocks, logs, bridges) and great views. Trailhead is off the far side of the Keg Creek Bridge on Washington Road, on the left.

LICK FORK: A six-mile loop with much in the way of obstacles, but known for steep climbs. Take I-20 to Exit 1 in South Carolina and bear left. Continue for approximately 10 miles. The Lick Fork entrance is on the right. Continue on the park road until it appears to end. Turn right. Continue down to the lake and park on the far side. The trail starts at the spillway.

WINE AND TURKEY CREEK: Two linked trails totaling 12 miles. Minimal climbs and substantial single-track riding. Take Furys Ferry Road to South Carolina. Go approximately 15 miles to Modoc. Turn right onto Highway 23 and go about six miles. Turn left onto Key Road and go five miles to the steel bridge. Park on the other side of the bridge. The trailhead is to the right.

BARTRAM TRAIL: A 10-mile out-and-back single track suitable for both the novice and experienced rider. Take Washington Road to Pollards Corner. Turn right toward the lake and proceed six miles to the West Dam picnic area. Turn left into the park. The trailhead is on the left.

AUGUSTA CANAL PUMPING STATION TRAIL: Approximately four miles, suitable for beginners. The trail starts at the pumping station on the Augusta Canal.