Laura Churchill Duke has one son who loves to bike the course while the other prefers to run it. No matter what, it’s a great place for adventure.
“That was scary!” said Daniel when he got to the bottom of Kentville’s newest addition – the 4X course.
Pronounced four-cross, this course is the biggest east of Montreal. And we are lucky to have it in our own backyard – and for us, that is almost literally. It is located on Burgher Hill next to the Agriculture Centre in Kentville. Don't worry, it's on the side of the hill and doesn't cut into the sledding hill at all.
Kentville's recreation director Rachel Bedingfield says 4X is a form of mountain bike racing that combines elements of BMX racing with mountain biking.
“A part of the x-games (extreme games), this style of racing is probably more familiar to those who watched the winter Olympics and saw the 4X ski and 4X snowboarding races,” she said. It's the same idea. Four racers start and race through the course and the first one to the bottom moves on to the next race until there is a final event of four and a winner is declared.
Kentville has been working to make the town a biking destination, so this fits right in. With the help of TrailFlow Outdoor Adventure’s Ryan Lindh, a course was designed using the natural contours of the land. Best of all, it’s free to use.
The beauty of this 4X course is anyone can ride it. “We consciously put together a course that can be as hard or as difficult as the rider chooses to make it,” says Bedingfield. Some of the more difficult jumps do have other options but all other obstacles vary in difficulty depending on the speed with which they are taken.
“My son, who is five,” she said, “spent two hours on the course the other day and didn't want to leave. He was on the course the same time as a biker with far more experience and both felt challenged.”
Celine Hambling, Wolfville, takes her children, Coltrane, six, and Ellington, seven, to Kentville’s 4X course. “Coltrane loves the courses because he loves the challenge of the jumps and obstacles and the excitement of it all!” said Hambling. “He gets better and better with every visit. I have seen improvements with every trip.”
At the top of the hill, there is a big sign outlining the rules (such as wearing a helmet) but better yet, there are tips too. ‘Never ride outside your means’ and ‘keep your body loose when you ride’ are two important ones.
Hambling recommends bringing lots of water and taking breaks. Make sure children wear their helmets. “I like to put them in long sleeves and jeans in case they fall. I'm also going to invest in elbow and knee pads,” she said. Hambling carries a first-aid kit with alcohol wipes and bandages.
The town and TrailFlow often offer clinics for youth and adults to get some tips on the course. And, when you’re ready, there are also races to compete in, including one in September. For those who need to borrow a bike or a helmet, call the town office at 679-2540.
Even though Daniel, eight, said his first trip down was a bit scary, he proceeded to go down again, and again, and again. He said each time was exhilarating but a bit scary and he was so proud of himself, and so was I.
Kentville’s 4X trail is definitely worth checking out.