Oshkosh is the very definition of flat, other than the bridges and garbage hill. So the last thing you might ever expect to find in it is about a mile of mountain bike trail sharing a parking lot with Aurora Hospital, Aurora Alley. If you go out to the trail today you will find something that is not only surprising, but impressive. What started as a small patch of trees has evolved into a well thought out trail with features that are on par with many I’ve seen around the state if not better than some. They even have a seesaw out there, which becomes more of a ramp of your move fast enough.
This was all accomplished in the short time between now and the Fall of 2014, about a year at this point. It wasn’t all accomplished this quickly simply because the trail is on the short side. Ben Rennert, the owner of Winnebago Bicycle, and Jeremy Walworth, a local rider and the mind behind quite a bit of the trail, have collectively spent on the near side of 500 hours out there (if not a bit more than that). They have had help from quite a few others, many of them being the people that enjoy the trail, but this gives you a better idea of how much effort has been put into it all.
Some trails become overgrown over the Summer due to a lack of maintenance or riding, but Aurora Alley continues to look better each time I visit it. Jeremy and Ben say that there is some weekly maintenance required, but constant riding keeps it clean for the most part. Every Thursday 20 or so people meet up at the trail and ride in the evening. And though it’s been built and the riders have come, the trail is not done yet.
They are currently working on adding a pump track in one section as well as a new, more advanced line on the northern end of the property. When all is said and done in a few years, they expect the trail to reach a total of 1.5 miles. And though it is flat out there, Walworth said that their goal is to create a trail that offers more flow (less braking) and at the same time has something to offer for beginners as well as more advanced riders. The trail already seems to offer that to an extent, thanks to a mixture of careful tinkering and the terrain itself.
“I’d say we’ve struck a good balance of planning vs winging it,” said Walworth. “We borrow from other trail systems we’ve ridden, or sometimes the property just provides.”
As both Walworth and Rennert said, the trails and features are built, tried and fixed (it does seem doubtful that the “fixing” will ever completely stop). They, and many others that are proud of the small trail, have put in plenty of work and riding to get the trail to a point where it is now. In other words I recommend you go and check it out and reap the benefits. You can meet everyone else on Thursday evenings or go whenever you have time.
Either way there are some things to keep in mind if you visit the trail, you could even call them rules. On even days ride in a counter clockwise direction and on odd days go clockwise, don’t attempt to make the trail more awesome without supervision and always be sure to wear a helmet when riding out there.
There are also some people you should thank if you ever run into them while riding. Ben and Jeremy to start, thanks to their dedication and hard work, we have a trail in town. There were many more people involved that Ben also wanted to thank. This includes Loren Potter, who gave Aurora the push it needed to let construction begin out there, the many volunteers and a second thanks to Jeremy for making the flat trail, as Ben put it, energetic. In case you’re wondering, Jeremy is the guy in the top photo.
Photos By/Provided By – Alex Beld and Jeremy Walworth (second photo/right side)