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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville could be the home of the world's first underground mountain bike park, thanks to the Louisville Mega Caverns and some local enthusiasts.
"We are seeing huge growth around here with mountain biking," says the President of the Kentucky Mountain Bike Association, Matt Harris.
Harris talked with WDRB News on Monday in Cherokee Park, one of several metro parks that has trails for mountain biking. He says it all comes down to the popularity of biking in Louisville and a big project at the Parklands.
Harris says the additions to the Parklands at Floyds Fork Park includes the construction of a major biking course. "It's a huge project that will really put Louisville on the map as an urban ride destination."
Mountain biking has enjoyed a boom in Louisville due to the popularity of trails in Cherokee Park, Seneca Park and Waverly Park, and Harris says the urban setting for these courses is attracting riders from all over the country.
"So many of the trails and facilities that are available for mountain biking in this region are in rural areas," he says, "so not only will this put Louisville on the map for mountain biking, but also make it a more attractive city."
Harris says the convenience of an urban ride center and the option to ride year-round in an indoor park could be a huge asset to the already-thriving mountain biking scene in Louisville. "Young talent wants quality of life and this contributes to that," he says. "Indoor bike facilities are a relatively new thing, but they are popping up all over the world."
As Mega Caverns owner Jim Lowry says, "we just kind of bumped into the idea." He says, like many of the other attractions in the Mega Caverns, they just learned about the idea and jumped on board.
"We are in the investigation stage." Lowry says, "We are trying to come up with a good plan on how we would install a great bike park underground. We think it is a natural addition to what we have here at the mega cavern as far as attractions."
Lowry says the cave is always between 58 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit, making for comfortable biking conditions any time of year. "We are being told that Louisville will be a mecca of mountain bike parks in the United States," adds Lowry, "there will be nowhere else in the country where a hundred miles of bike park trails will be located.
According to Harris, all of the bike trails together in one community will be good for economic growth, attracting young people to a city with such amenities."Things like the Parklands, and the opportunity at the mega caverns, that is going to attract businesses, it's going to attract tourism, it's going to be great for our city," says Harris.
Lowry says the new underground bike park could open in a year if the studies underway now turn out the way he thinks they will.