Thanks to the efforts of Blood Sweat Gears Cycle and Skate Shop owner Keith Isenberg, and the community outreach of Denver Baptist Church, a three-mile hiking and biking trail is available for use by the greater Denver community.
Located on a portion of the 60-acre parcel just off N.C.16 purchased from R-Anell Modular Housing by Denver Baptist Church in 2008, the switchback trail was laid out and developed by Isenberg, 33, together with a few fellow bike enthusiasts, including John Cloninger, Wayne Lewis and Mike Stamey.
Isenberg and friends worked on the trail mainly on Sundays, when his bike shop, next to Harris Teeter at Waterside Crossing, is closed. Their labors entailed 400 hours over four months.
"We walked the property to determine the layout of the trail, flagged it, cut it and rode it to see what worked," said Isenberg. "What didn't work, we re-did."
Making church-owned property available for use by the community is one of the outreach efforts of Denver Baptist Church.
"We want to be good citizens of the community and stewards of the property that God has given us," said Dave Sexton, associate Pastor for administration and missions.
"We don't mind if they are church members or not," he added. "We only ask that they respect our property and use it."
Isenberg's connection with Denver Baptist actually began shortly after the church acquired the land. The former youth pastor contacted him to help with the design and development of an indoor youth skate park in an unused building on the property.
In addition to offering advice and donating some materials for the skate park, Isenberg sold helmets at cost, and arranged for pro skateboarders from Charlotte to help with the design of the ramps. While working on this project, Isenberg inquired about the feasibility of developing the hiking and biking trail on the property.
The skate park has proved popular, with 50 to 100 kids routinely taking advantage of the facility when it is open. Isenberg's passion for biking extends back to his youth in Carlisle, Pa. "I was a serious biker by the time I was 12," he recalls. "I was already into half-pipes and dirt jumps. I also ran a bike shop while I was in college."
After moving to Denver five years ago, he decided to combine his passion for biking with a business opportunity. He opened for business as Blood Sweat Gears Cycle & Skate. Within three months, the shop had become a going concern. "It was better than I ever anticipated," Isenberg said.
"There are very few bike shops where the owner actually rides or races bikes and is active in the community," he adds. "I do two charity rides a year, one in April for a summer camp scholarship at Sally's Y, and a second ride in August for a local needy child."
He is also organizing a team in training for the MS Ride, which will take place in September.
Not content to rest on his laurels, Isenberg and friends have been working on a new trail at the recently opened Sally's Y facility. Currently extending two and a half miles, the trail will eventually cover seven miles. He describes this trail as "...beginner and kid-friendly, a level, 4-foot wide corridor."
Does he have any other plans for trail development in the greater Denver area? Not surprisingly, the answer is yes.
"I'm not a political person - I don't have time for that - but there is a shortage of park space and recreational facilities in the East Lincoln County area," Isenberg observes.
"I would like to see a thread trail running from Sally's Y to the proposed Rock Springs Park. County commissioners have to be persuaded that this is something the community wants. The folks in this community have to make their desires known."
If Keith Isenberg has anything to do with it, the shortage of recreational facilities in the East Lincoln County area may one day be a thing of the past. In the meantime, Keith's advice is simple: Get on your bike, go for a ride on the Denver Baptist Church or Sally's Y trail, or go take a hike.