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In Its Fourth Season, Mountain Bike Trail Advocacy and Accessibility Program Continues at Vermont Adaptive

August 16, 2023 | News, Programs: Summer

Major partners in the initiative include the Vermont Mountain Bike Association and Kelly Brush Foundation

Vermont is known as one of the mountain biking capitals in the country. Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, in conjunction with the Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) and Kelly Brush Foundation (KBF), continues to lead the way toward creating a more unified mountain bike community where all abilities have access to trails and terrain.

For the fourth season, the nationally recognized nonprofit continues with its mountain bike trail advocacy and accessibility program to ensure existing trails are adjusted and new trails are built with adaptive and modified mountain bike equipment in mind so that anyone can have access to trail networks regardless of their ability.

Vermont Adaptive was one of the first organizations to offer aMTB in the East, launching its program in 2017. Today, Vermont Adaptive owns a fleet of more than 40 mountain bikes including (30) two-wheeled mountain bikes, and more than (10) 3- and 4- wheeled adaptive mountain bikes. The organization also is the only adaptive program in New England to offer multiple Bowhead bikes for participant use.

“With the advances in mountain bike equipment for those in the adaptive mountain biking (aMTB) community, more and more athletes are able to access trail networks like never before,” said Felicia Fowler, program manager at Vermont Adaptive. “These adjustments to existing trails are fairly simple but are an important improvement to create access for these bikes. We work with experienced adaptive riders to determine what’s needed. Is it a wider trail? A rebuild of a bridge? Changing the angle of a berm? Small tweaks go a long way by simply analyzing gentle grades, more room for turning radius and wider trails. We walk and ride through existing trails to access, then provide recommendations to trail builders to improve the terrain. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

What softly began in late Summer/Fall of 2020 with trail assessments at Slate Valley Trails and Stowe Trail Partnership’s Cady Hill Trails has developed into a full assessment program lead by VMBA and supported in part with grant funding from KBF. It is an ongoing effort to expand aMTB opportunities and infrastructure on multiple trail networks in Vermont. Vermont Adaptive programmers and athletes are part of the assessment and provide critical details and information for what is needed for trail work and adjustments.

“Stowe Trails Partnership works hard to increase opportunities for recreation on our trails,” said Carolyn Lawrence, executive director. “We specifically wanted to make Cady Hill rideable for those who use adaptive mountain bikes, and the Trail Assessment from Vermont Adaptive and KBF was essential to this work. Representatives from both organizations joined us on the trails and pointed out big and small changes we could make to make the trails both passable and enjoyable for adaptive riders. We are thrilled to have implemented the changes to allow more people to enjoy the trails and all they have to offer.”

Assessments and ongoing trail work continue at VMBA Chapters and with other groups including Slate Valley Trails, Millstone Trails Association, Pine Hill Park, Killington Mountain Bike Club, Ridgeline Outdoor Collective, Kingdom Trails, Brewster River Mountain Bike Club, Addison County Bike Club, Fellowship of the Wheel, Stowe Trails Partnership, and Mad River Riders.

“VMBA has taken the lead on Accessible Trails Advocacy so now it’s a collaborative effort where we review trails with KBF for accessibility throughout the state, which in turn will become a guide on the VMBA website for adaptive mountain bikers,” said Jeff Alexander, director of strategic partnerships at Vermont Adaptive. “In addition, the Community Builders partnership with VMBA helps raise money and adds support to the organization. The funds from Vermont Adaptive “Add-ons” are split in half, with half going toward maintaining our massive fleet of bikes and the other half is used to add to the KBF grant funding to VMBA Chapters to implement trail upgrades. It’s great for everyone.”

The organization offers and provides programs to anyone with a disability, regardless of ability to pay. Programs are offered throughout the state on a daily basis, from the Northeast Kingdom, Catamount Outdoor Family Center and Blueberry Lake/Mad River Valley, to Killington Resort, Castleton & Lamoille Valley Rail Trails, multiple VMBA Days in locations like Stratton Mountain, Burke Mountain, Bolton Valley and other VMBA trail networks. Other partners include Velomont Trail, Vermont Huts Association and the U.S. Forest Service.

“Addison County Bike Club did an assessment on July 27 with VMBA and Vermont Adaptive, and we got the report the next day,” said George Lawrence, president of the Club. “The opportunity to go into the woods is so important, the Japanese have a term for it: forest bathing or shinrin-yoku. Addison County Bike Club believes everyone should be able to forest bathe while on wheels, so we are working to improve access in Battell Woods near downtown Middlebury. The support from Vermont Adaptive and VMBA has been great.”

Vermont Adaptive also is the producer of the FOX US Open of Mountain Biking Adaptive Downhill Race at Killington Resort for the third year. This is the only adaptive downhill race held East of the Mississippi River. The event is Sunday, Sept. 24. Athletes and volunteers are needed.

For more information about the Adaptive Mountain Bike Program, where to join programs or how to volunteer, visit


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