GoBikeIN Offers Free Beginner Mountain Bike Instruction at Brown County State Park
It only takes one adventure in the outdoors to inspire a future conservationist. Thanks to the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation’s Give Adventure grant, exciting recreational opportunities are providing Hoosiers access to new adventures, like the GoBikeIN program at Brown County State Park.
The cost of a mountain bike, safety gear, and the fear of getting hurt can hold people back from trying mountain biking. GoBikeIN removes those barriers. The program provides beginners with professional instruction and all the equipment needed to try the sport—for free.
The first GoBikeIN workshops recently took place, led by certified instructor Patrick Haulter, who is the park’s interpretive naturalist and a former BMX biker. Haulter taught the course along with fellow certified instructors Amy Marisavljevic, trails section chief for the Division of State Parks, and Daniel Moberly, a volunteer with the Friends of Brown County State Park. The three completed the Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP) together. The certification course was created by BICP president Shaums March, who is the technical skills coach for the USA Cycling National and Olympic teams.
Greg Reece of Bloomington participated in one of the GoBikeIN workshops. He and his wife, Angel, enjoyed it so much they were inspired to continue riding trails on their own.
“It was great to pick up some skills and gain confidence on the bike,” Reece said. “Best of all, my wife was hooked, and we ordered the same model Trek bike (that she used in the workshop) for her at Bicycle Garage in Bloomington.”
The first portion of the workshops focuses on technical skills. Riders learn how to position their body on their bike to maximize safety while traversing trails. They practice maneuvers on flat ground using cones as obstacles while the instructors offer personalized tips for improvement. After the instructors see that the participants have had sufficient practice to show confidence on their bikes, they head out on a beginner-level trail.
People of all ages and levels of experience are welcome to try the workshops. The first attendees included beginners as well as individuals who had some biking experience. They all learned new and important skills to ride safely, and by the end of the course they had all improved. They also had fun in the process.
“Biking is an amazing recreational activity because it’s a super fun experience, and it’s a great way to get some exercise,” Haulter said. “I love watching as folks learn new skills that make them more confident and allow them to enjoy this amazing activity.”
The Give Adventure grant made Haulter’s vision to offer free mountain biking lessons at Brown County State Park a reality. The grant helps DNR introduce people of all ages to the exploration of Indiana’s natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities. It encourages events and programs that emphasize learning outdoor skills and sustainable conservation practices, which made beginner mountain biking workshops the perfect match to receive funding.
“It’s awesome to support DNR’s staff and help provide funds to acquire the tools to engage Hoosiers in new and exciting ways,” said Jody Kress, executive director for the INRF. “Offering people the opportunity to try mountain biking with certified guides on Indiana’s premier mountain biking trails is really cool, and it’s another great reason to visit Brown County State Park.”
A program like GoBikeIN is also possible because of the public lands Indiana offers. DNR manages our state parks, state forests, Fish & Wildlife areas, nature preserves, reservoirs, and motorized riding areas. These destinations offer Hoosiers many opportunities for outdoor adventures just waiting to be enjoyed. Find an one of your own at the Rec Finder link below.
The future of Indiana’s natural lands depends on those who enjoy them, recognize their importance, and wish to continue protecting them for future generations. Help make a difference by donating to the INRF to support programs like the Give Adventure grant.