Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? Riding a bike was freedom! It was exhilaration! It was the first time you could go fast and far on your own strength. You felt especially powerful when you had all your neighborhood friends with you racing around the block. The thought of it being exercise didn?t even cross your mind, it was too much fun. Fortunately for the residents of Franklin County, there is a group of individuals who still ride bikes, purely for the love of it. The Franklin County Mountain Bike Club (FCMTBC) is an all inclusive club; welcoming people of all ages, sizes and abilities. They came together for the pure joy of riding and hope to find others who share the love.

Mountain biking clubs often conjure up the image of muscle bound men, sucking down power gels, leaping over rocks on their expensive bikes, all clad in the latest high tech gear. FCMTBC leaves that image for other clubs to cater to. Club president, Stephen Bernard, is quick to say that he does not consider himself an athlete. He says, ?I was 31 or 32 before I started doing any outdoor recreation. Before that I was more likely to be found on a bar stool. But, I do have a love of the outdoors. Mountain biking is another mode of transportation to be outside, just like hiking, skiing or kayaking. I am definitely more driven by my love of being outdoors than competition.?

Starting in June, the club will resume weekly rides at Hard’Ack. June allows enough time for the trails to dry out so that the bikes do not cause damage and erosion to the trails. This year some members may head down to Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston to participate in the weekly races offered there. Bernard hopes that some of the younger club members may enjoy the opportunity to race with other kids in their age group. He hopes to keep the emphasis on fun, feeling the joy of being around other riders, but not worrying about the outcome.

The club enjoys a great partnership with Hard’Ack Inc., often teaming up on clean up and trail maintenance days. In 2012, Hard’Ack Inc. funded the construction of a pump track, which is located next to the sledding hill. It was built by Sinuosity, based in Morristown, Vermont. If you are unfamiliar with a pump track, it?s a dirt loop of berms and mounds that a rider circuits without pedaling. The cyclist uses the momentum of pumping their lower and upper bodies up and down as they loop around the track to keep the bike moving. It is a hidden gem right here in St. Albans and completely family friendly.

Check out the club at http://www.fcmtbc.org/ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Franklin-County-Mountain-Bike-Club/146793322110581?sk=timeline