Advocacy & Stewardship
Why we started the club
Back in the early 90s, life for dirt bikers in Northumberland County held an undeniable allure. The advent of a single-track trail system in the Ganaraska Forest, masterminded by motorcyclists under the guidance of the Ganaraska Regional Conservation Authority, marked a golden era. The Ontario Federation of Trail Riders (OFTR), a provincial trail riding organization, was born, ushering in the novel concept of organized trail riding. Ontario's motorcycle clubs and riders warmly embraced this non-competitive pursuit.
A group of enthusiasts, instrumental in crafting a 70-kilometer single-track trail in the Ganaraska Forest, envisioned a similar venture in the Northumberland Forest. With the blessing of the OFTR, they presented a well-crafted proposal to Northumberland County, gaining approval from the council on September 22, 1997.
The ambitious endeavor required the formation of a region-specific non-competitive motorcycle club. Spearheading this initiative was Brad Bell, a charismatic figure from Grafton and an active member of the Northumberland Forest Users Committee. Despite Brad's color blindness and less-than-stellar sense of direction, he, along with a crucial crew, meticulously identified and marked what would evolve into an 80-kilometer single-track system.
Formally established on July 02, 1998, the Northumberland Trail Riders (NTR) boasted founding signatories Brad Bell, Jenifer (Grey) Denis, and Julien Denis.
The creation of trails in the Northumberland Forest faced challenges, primarily stemming from a modest local rider base (21 members in 1998) and competition from the closer Ganaraska Forest. Nevertheless, bit by bit, trails were established, hosting events such as the Oshawa Competition Motorcycle Club's Mini Pine Enduro.
In 2004, an adjacent parcel of land became available for purchase. At a pivotal NTR club meeting on November 17, 2004, members voted to attempt the acquisition, set a spending limit, and secure a mortgage. The club successfully purchased the land, and it is now mortgage-free, featuring 12 kilometers of single-track trail, a 'kids course,' picnic area, gazebo shelter, sea-can container with a barbecue, and a riding lawnmower.
Over the years, the NTR organized successful spring trail rides and introduced the innovative concept of 'Meg's Ride' in 1998, exclusively for the female riding community. This charity event, dedicated to Meg Thorburn battling cancer, raised over $35,000 for the Northumberland Chemo Cancer Clinic.
However, in 2009, politics and opposition to motorcycling led to the expropriation of 95% of the single-track trail. Presently, the NTR-owned 100-acre property offers 12 kilometers of trail, while the vast 6000-acre Northumberland Forest provides only 8 kilometers, sparking lingering bitterness among older members who dedicated 12 years to the original trail system.
Despite setbacks, the NTR adapted, organizing cross-country races and annual trail rides in the Bancroft area after losing the 2009 trail. The club remained committed to supporting Northumberland County through donations to local food banks, purchasing a defibrillator for Centerton town hall, and conducting roadside garbage clean-ups. Trail stewardship days were also a consistent effort to foster responsible trail riding.
From its humble beginnings with two dozen members, the NTR has steadily grown to a robust club of over 450 members, a testament to its enduring spirit.
Warren Thaxter, Charter Member
Founding Members, 1998