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Two-, three- or four wheels: River Falls offers routes for them

River Falls has been nationally recognized as “bike friendly community” by the League of American Bicyclists.

The declaration reflects on how the city and biking groups encourage citizens to bike through support from law enforcement to make the streets safe for bicyclists and careful planning to provide trails and opportunities to bike.

“For being such a small town, I don’t know any other town that has the quite the biking experience we have or the options,” said Isaac Curtis, owner of Crank Worx Bike Shop in River Falls. One of these options it to join We Bike River Falls (WBRF) on its monthly bicycle rides. This group formed two years ago on the UW-River Falls campus and is one of these groups.

“It’s just getting people out, being active,” said Ian Johnson, the UWRF campus sustainability coordinator, “It gives then alternative option other than sitting around and watching tv” The group was formed by university students, faculty and staff. They wanted to raise awareness to how bicycle assessable River Falls is and the healthy benefits of riding bicycles.

Since its creation, WBRF has been supported by the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development and the UWRF Office of Student Life. The goal: Promote bicycle friendly transportation and local recreation options. This “healthy transportation alternative,” Johnson said, could help reduce vehicle emissions if people choose to bike to work to school instead of driving.

On the third Friday of each month, May through October, the group meets at 5:30 p.m. in Veteran’s Park. Participants go on five-mile bicycle ride, typically lasting about an hour. All ages are invited to participate in the bike ride, along with anyone who wants to come. There is no group membership. Events and bikes rides and free and open to the community. “That’s more family-oriented,” said Curtis, “once a month, casual, around town kind of riding.” There are also options for “hard core adults,” said Curtis. Kinnickinnic Off Road Cyclists (KORC) is one of these. KORC formed with the goal of creating quality terrain for mountain bikers.

The difference in terrain from street riding, or what We Bike River Falls members would ride on, is that the paths are rougher with steeper hills, uneven terrain and “close encounters to trees,” says Truman Purdy, a member of KORC. The group formed seven years ago when a group of mountain bikers in River Falls came to the conclusion that the trails they had been using in Glen Park had become too dangerous and should build a new course. Together, they formed the non-profit KORC.

After meeting with the city and planning a new trail, the group began the construction project on the six-mile Whitetail Ridge Trail, located by the Whitetail Ridge industrial park. The KORC website describes it as a “tight, twisty single track, rock sections, steel climbs, fast downhill” trail. The trail is also used by KORC to host races at 6 p.m. on Tuesday nights. Participation requires a helmet and registration.

“That brings a lot of people from other areas like Hudson and over in the cities,” Curtis said.

Whitetail Ridge Trail is also available to walkers and runners, even though it was created initially as a mountain biking path. During the winter, it is open to snowshoeing too. Other trails that can be used for mountain biking are in the sandy-trailed Glen Park and the gravel-trailed Hoffman Park.

A new bike rental option will also be available to the community through UWRF Recreation and Sports Facilities’ Kinni Outdoor Adventures (KOA).

This department, located in Hunt Arena on the UWRF campus, has rented outdoor equipment, ranging from snow shoes to sleeping bags for camping, to students and the community, but bicycles will be added to that list in early July.

KOA will have six mountain bikes and six mountain bikes available for to rent for a day, weekend, or seven-day week.

For more information about bike or equipment rental, click the Kinni Outdoor Adventures link on the Recreation and Sports Facilities’ website:

“Everybody has an opportunity to ride no matter which style you do,” said Curtis.