GUYTON — The Georgia Hi-Lo Trail’s Kids Bike League stopped at Pineora Ball Park on June 20-24 for a summer camp. The event was designed to use mountain biking as a tool to develop confidence and curiosity in children.
Youths 3-16 received hands-on instruction while learning to navigate a nature trail. Bikes and helmets were provided for those who didn’t have their own.
Sandersville resident Mary Charles Howard attended the event, made possible thanks to a grant from the Chestnut Family Foundation, with her three young children. She is an ardent supporter of the Georgia Hi-Lo Trail, a proposed 211-mile paved bicycle path that would pass through small towns from Union Point to Savannah. The Hi-Lo Trail, which would connect to the 39-mile Firefly Trail that starts in Athens, would include a 26-mile rail corridor in Effingham County.
The Georgia Hi-Lo Trail’s other counties are Greene, Hancock, Washington, Johnson, Emanuel, Bulloch and Chatham. Its cities include Greensboro, Sparta, Sandersville, Tennille, Wrightsville, Swainsboro, Twin City, Statesboro, Brooklet, Guyton and Savannah.
Howard has worked diligently to build a public-private partnership to fund a master plan for the project. The trail is expected to take 30 years and $500 million to complete but she is confident it will be worth the wait and cost.
She said, “There are hardly any sidewalks if kids wanted to ride their bike on sidewalks, which you’re not really supposed to do. There are just no spaces for kids to ride a bike if they don’t have a big yard or if their parents don’t encourage them.
“The idea for Kids Bike League Summer Camp is that we would build mountain bike trails in the eight counties that the Georgia Hi-Lo Trail is supposed to go through. Now if those counties already had trails, we would just use the trails that were there, of course, because we were on a really rushed time line to get this done.”
Unlike most stops on the Kids Bike League Summer Camp circuit, Pineora Ball Park has existing trails. They are sandy and devoid of elevation changes, however.
“Our hope is that — with all these trails coming up in these eight counties that are really deserts for the sport of mountain biking — by growing up these children in a mountain biking sport we can create youth mountain biking teams in high school and middle school to compete with other cities like Atlanta, August and Milledgeville that have those teams.”
Lead summer camp instructor Phillip Wu of the Bike Ride Across Georgia Dream Team said the 19 children who showed up at Pineora have talent. He said the league will return to the park in December.
“We focus on being safe and having fun,” Wu said.
Visit https://georgiahilo.com/kids for more information.