Tyler Area Mountain Bikers Enjoy a Variety of Trail Systems


  With cooler temps comes opportunities to enjoy some of the outdoor activities East Texas has to offer – like mountain biking.  Thanks to the hard work of our local cycling community, there are now four mountain bike trail systems nearby.  UT Tyler is the closest to our campus.  Tyler State Park has been around the longest.  The other two came about through a partnership between the City of Tyler and members of the Tyler Bicycle Club.


  The newest and least-known mountain bike trail runs through 130 wooded acres of Lindsey Park on Spur 364 west of town.  The 9-mile trail begins across the park road from the parking lot of the lower softball fields.  Tyler Bicycle Club volunteers, along with Smith County jail trustees and folks doing community service for court-ordered probation, cut the Nevada Thomason-designed trail through thick forest for more than a year.  Opening ceremonies are set to take place in early 2013, but the trail is open now and ready to ride.  “Lindsey differs from the Faulkner Park trail quite a lot,” notes Judge Floyd Getz, one of the builders of the trail.  “It’s much more open and flowing with the trees cleared farther back away from the trail. The vertical changes at Lindsey provide a great workout with several long climbs and ripping-fast fun descents.  It seems like one full lap at Lindsey, doing loops A through D, is more of an aerobic experience than two laps at Faulkner.”  “If someone wants an introduction to mountain biking, Lindsey is a great place to begin,” explained Getz.  “It’s set up in connected loops so that you can ride just a short portion of Loop A to get started, adding more and more trail as you improve.  There are also some features out there for more advanced riders.  David Hartmann, one of the “trail stewards” at Lindsey, added some very challenging expert sections as optional runs off of the main trail. Lindsey is also an excellent choice if you want to get into night riding on a mountain bike.  There are now super-bright LED bike lights available powered by rechargeable lithium battery packs. Riding the trail in the dark with those lights is a neat experience.


  Faulkner Park, on South Broadway, is familiar to many because of its baseball fields, tennis complex and splash park, but tucked back in the woods across from the lake lies a walking trail plus seven miles of well-established bike trails that winds its way in and out of the woods.  “Folks who enjoy the challenge of twisting and turning around trees really enjoy this trail,” stated Michael Ware, the chief trail steward at Faulkner. “The design of the trail takes advantage of the natural terrain of the park and the abundance of mature hardwoods there.  It’s not as hilly as some trails, so we made it tight in many spots so that a rider has to correctly judge the gaps between the trees and use good cornering skills.”  Ware emphasized that, while cyclists are encouraged to clear any fallen dead branches and debris from the trail, cutting of live trees is not allowed at all and violates city ordinance. “We’ve had some issues lately with unauthorized cutting down of live trees to make certain corners easier. A bunch of the regular trail riders are now on the lookout to stop anyone from doing that. We want as many folks as possible to come out and enjoy the interesting design of this trail and want to keep it the way it is.”


  There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you want to go out and tackle these trails on a bike. A helmet is an absolute must. Dr. Justin McInnes, another of the primary trail builders at Lindsey, explained, “Trees and rocks are unforgiving if you hit them at biking speeds.  Most other injuries heal up with time and treatment, but a head injury can last a lifetime.  A decent helmet is cheap insurance.” Another rule of mountain biking is to leave nothing behind but tire tracks. Take empty drink bottles and other trash with you. 

  To get started with the right gear, check out one of the two bike shops in Tyler – Simpson’s Fitness & Adventure Sports on Highway 110 South (simpsonsports.com) or Elite Bicycles on Shelly Drive behind Chili’s (elitebicycles.net).  To get involved with other cyclists in Tyler, visit tylerbicycleclub.com.

by  Floyd Gets