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New England Mountain Biking Hits PayDirt
Tue Jul 15, 2003

The Eastern Fat Tire Association (EFTA) is adding a new element to its race itinerary for the 2003 season. It's not another race. It's not a mountain bike festival with bands and hot tubs and trials shows. It's the PayDirt program--a way for racers to earn points toward the New England Championship Series (NECS) by volunteering for approved trail maintenance projects.

The program will work in conjunction with the EFTA's NECS, and EFTA President Denis Laliberte is pumped about it.

"As a local grass roots organization, we feel it is important to show support for the trails we all enjoy," Laliberte said in a press release. "We are very pleased to have the support from racers and trail advocates to make this program possible."

Participants in the PayDirt Program must enter at least three races and volunteer for a minimum of one trail maintenance session to qualify for the points. Racers competing in the NECS participate in 11 events spread out among five states.

EFTA PayDirt organizer Len Earnshaw said that the program, which modeled after a similar project done in New Jersey, is something that will offer something to all groups involved with mountain biking.

"The whole idea is we hope it benefits everybody," Earnshaw said. "It benefits the racers by getting points, but also helps the parks with trail maintenance. And land managers see that their property is appreciated."

Earnshaw said he talked to dozens of racers on the topic and that, for the most part, their reactions have been positive toward the newly designed points system. He said that some of the upper-level racers initially questioned the project but after an explanation of its objectives they understood.

"I explained to them that if we don't put back into the trails, then there won't be any trails for us to ride," Earnshaw said.

Currently, Earnshaw is working on corporate sponsorship for the project. He said that fundraising currently comes out of the EFTA's pocket, but he is confident some form of sponsorship will arise.

If you are interested in finding out more on the PayDirt Program, the New England Championship series or the Eastern Fat Tire Association, log onto www.efta.com

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