By Polly Lynn Mikula
PLYMOUTH—This Saturday, Aug. 25, about 50 people are expected to race across Woodward Reservoir in Plymouth for the second annual Make A Wave paddleboard race. Paddleboards are provided at no additional cost for those that need them. The family-friendly 1 mile race is easy enough for a beginner to complete, according to event organizers.
Event organizer Randy Elles of First Stop Board Barn said ,“One hundred percent of the proceeds from this event will benefit the planning and development of a new multi-purpose bike path. The goal is to eventually connect the towns of Killington, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Ludlow, Woodstock, Quechee and beyond, but we’re in the very beginning stages.”
A safe, car-free multi-purpose bike path is much needed, he said. “We are often asked by our customers where to ride. If you don’t have a specialized bike for trails and you don’t feel safe on the roads, there are very limited options currently. The closest is the probably the Rail Trail in Castleton,” he said. “The goal is to create a multi-purpose year-round path where people can walk, run, push a stroller or bike (without having to have a super specialized bike) where they feel safe without vehicular traffic.”
Elles envisions the project starting small, maybe 1.5 to 3 miles long, he suggested, possibly along the Killington Flats from River Road to Mission Farm Road. River Road is already designated a bike-friendly roadway from the Johnson Recreation Center to Route 4, Elles said. Mission Farm Road could pretty easily be designated a bike-friendly road as well, he suggested. Connecting them will be the challenge and the opportunity.
Ideally, the path would be off Route 4, either alongside it but separated or, possibly, on the other side of the river, Elles said. “We’ll have to speak with the landowners and businesses along that corridor to see what our options are. So far, many have expressed interest in such a plan, but we’ll have to see.”
Elles grew up in Killington and Bridgwater, graduating from Woodstock High School. He then lived in New York City before moving back to the area. His experience in the city and subsequent trips across the northeast have given him some perspective on the need for a multi-purpose path.
“I’ve been riding trail systems all over and, so far, the most inspiring is the Eastern Trail in Maine,” Elles said. “They started with barely 2 miles of trail then expanded from there with each town building more each year and eventually connecting them, using some existing roadways… Now you can basically ride from Portland to Kennebunkport [28 miles south], but it took them 20 years to build it.”
Funding will likely be a limiting factor in any path plan, Elles acknowledged.
Last year, the Make A Wave paddleboard race raised $1,000 for the bike path fund. “I thought that was pretty good for the first year,” Elles said, but he hopes the event will raise even more this year.
In addition to the paddleboard race, Elles is hoping to organize another fundraiser or two for the bike path fund this fall, possibly a cross-country mountain bike ride on the new Sherburne Trails or a golf scramble, he said. He hopes that money could then be leveraged for a matching grant from Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC), which supports building new recreational tourism opportunities.
Eventually, Elles would like to see more routes developed and then connect to each other between the towns of Killington, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Ludlow, Woodstock and Quechee.
The bike path fund and Make A Wave paddleboard race is currently supported by First Stop Board Barn and Killington Yoga as well as Farm and Wilderness with fresh local food for this year’s barbecue provided by Hinderland Farm and Mountain Creamery.
Anyone interested in participating should meet at the Farm & Wilderness Barn Day Camp Beach on Woodward Reservoir in Plymouth. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the race starts at 10 a.m. At 12-noon, the party moves to First Stop Board Barn for a barbecue, awards, live music, a silent auction, and 50/50 raffle.
Pre-registration for the paddleboard race and barbecue is $30 for kids (17 and under) and $40 for adults. barbecue-only tickets are $20 in advance. Same day registration is $30 for the race and barbecue or barbecue-only tickets.
For more information, email email@example.com.
Photos courtesy First Stop Board Barn
Paddlers race across Woodward Reservoir in Plymouth last year during the first Make A Wave benefit event, which starts at Farm & Wilderness.