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Fans Roll Up for Mountain Biking

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RALEIGH — Mountain biking is one of the fastest-growing sports in North Carolina. Around here, bikers are running out of places to ride, as development swallows up green space in the Triangle. But there is a new spot for nature lovers on two wheels.

Patrick Lundergan unwinds by cycling. "It's a nice break from day-to-day stress," he says.

But there are not many places for weekend warriors to ride when they grab their bikes and head for the woods.

"They aren't making any more land. It's being bought up for commercial property and nobody wants to donate land for mountain bike trails when it's a non-revenue item," Lundergan said.

The county and state maintain about 20 miles of bike trails in Wake County. But mountain bikers have more room to ride now, thanks to the Wildlife Resources Commission. They let cyclists carve out 15 miles of trails in the woods near Falls Lake.

"It's just nice to have a place to go that's legal," said mountain biker Elizabeth Exum. "There are a lot of places we go where within six months it's developed. It just breaks my heart."

Word spread fast about the "New Light" trails, and they quickly became a popular spot. Until this weekend, cyclists could only ride here on Sundays. Now that hunting season is over, it is open seven days a week.

"I heard they were going to take this and connect it with the Beaver Creek Recreation Area, which will provide a constant strand of trails for 20 or 30 miles, which would be great," said biker Scott Yelton.

Mountain bikers lost one of their favorite spots last year, when a developer closed some illegal trails off Dunn Road.

At a time when green space is hard to come by, this turf is theirs to keep.

The New Light trails are in western Wake County, north of Falls Lake. They are open every day until hunting season starts again in September.