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Radcliff resident Vince Carman has cleared the path, literally and figuratively, for those who share his enjoyment of mountain biking.
Carman, 40, designed the mountain bike trails at the annex ofSaunders Springs Nature Preserve in Radcliff. The trails are part of the park expansion which resulted from a lease agreement with Fort Knox.
“We are probably 70 percent complete,” Carman said.
The trails, at this point, amount to about six miles, he said. His involvement in developing the trails stems from a long personal history.
“I always rode bikes as a kid kickin’ around in the panhandle,” Carman said, referring to growing up in Sunray, Texas.
When he was about 20, Carman began riding mountain bikes and he carried that passion to Kentucky when he arrived in 2008.
Among other things, he is a member of the Kentucky Mountain Bike Association, Louisville Chapter, and has served on state mountain biking boards.
Carman, who was appointed to the Radcliff Forestry and Conservation Board in July, said the preserve is about midway into the five-year lease with Fort Knox. The plan is to complete another two miles of trails at the annex.
Work on the trails, including clearing paths, creating burms, installing rock gardens and constructing other features, is largely done by volunteers such as Eagle Scout candidates, Fort Knox soldiers and mountain bikers.
“It wouldn’t have happened without volunteers,” Carman said. “I’m a volunteer.”
One of those volunteers Carman cited as “a champion for the trails” is Adrian Bambini, chairman of the Radcliff Forestry and Conservation Board.
When it came to designing joint use trails, for hiking and biking, Bambini said the board was at a loss because all the trails previously built were for hikers. He said Carman became an active member of the annex developmental team about the same time that the 73 acres were leased from Fort Knox almost three years ago.
“Vince personally designed the entire four-mile-long Perimeter Trail to make it usable by both hikers and bikers with not a single step or stair needed along its entire path,” Bambini said.
Additionally, Bambini noted the Carman suggested the development of areas in the annex exclusively for mountain bikers including three areas named Coffeepot, Starcluster and Wild Goose. Bambini credits Carman with overseeing construction of the mountain biking skills training area.
“Over the past 12 to 18 months, Vince has provided sage advice to the Forestry Board on enhancements to the annex area trail system,” Bambini said.
Carman said he puts in what time he can helping maintain the trails, when he’s not working at his job as support for Reserve aviation at Fort Knox or at his part-time job at a bike shop in Radcliff.
“I’m out here normally once a week,” he said.
With such a passion for mountain biking, it might have been inevitable Carman would bring his family along for the ride.
“I got my wife into it over the last couple of years,” he said.
While developing the trails, Carman enlisted help from his 9-year-old son, Jeremy, who helped map the trails.
The trails have a mix of beginner and intermediate/expert features, Carman said. The skills training area allows mountain bikers to become comfortable with certain terrain, such as rocks and burms.
“We try to give folks an example of everything you’re gonna see,” he said.
In addition to his work with the Radcliff preserve, Carman has worked with Greenspace on the Greenbelt trails in Elizabethtown. He’d like one day to see trails connected from Radcliff to Elizabethtown. Although he said the trails at the preserve are pretty good, they would be even better as a part of a larger system.
Bambini praised Carman’s foresight in that respect.
“Vince seems to have a clear vision of what a coordinated series of linked walking, hiking, running and biking trails extending from Fort Knox to Radcliff to Elizabethtown and beyond could mean for the citizens of this area,” Bambini said. “He really is quite a visionary when it comes to trails design.”
Additionally, Bambini called Carman a “joy to work with and a tremendous asset to the city of Radcliff.”
While the lease with Fort Knox is good for two and a half more years, Carman already had thought ahead about the future of the annex lease.
“My goal is to make it too awesome for Fort Knox not to renew,” he said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE ABOUT VINCE CARMAN
City of birth: Stratford, New Jersey
Family: Wife, Christine, and son, Jeremy, 9.
Favorite music: Alternative rock and modern Christian
Favorite TV shows: “Geeky stuff,” including “The Big Bang Theory”
Favorite movies: The “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” series
Favorite author: Tom Clancy
Favorite bike: A Trek Slash. “I can ride it anywhere.”