The Cowichan Valley is emerging as a top destination for mountain bikers on Vancouver Island.

This weekend, Maple Mountain in North Cowichan will host Cycling BC’s second provincial team selection event of the year to choose the riders that will represent BC in the Canada Cup Cross-country Mountain Bike races in Quebec next month.

Cathy Robertson of Community Futures Cowichan says the grassroots trail system built by local mountain bikers over the years has become an important part of the valley’s tourism sector.

“Thanks to their trailblazing we now have an amazing recreational asset and we now have a tourism asset.”

She says mountain bikers of every variety and every capability are coming to ride in the Cowichan Valley.

Robertson says that within a few months, Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers is planning to open more trails, giving local riders new places to go, and attracting mountain bikers from elsewhere on the Island and as far away as Metro Vancouver.

She says the new trails are being developed under an agreement with Mosaic Forest Management that gives the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers access to one thousand hectares of land it controls.

According to Robertson, “Lake Cowichan is surrounded by some pretty amazing mountains and natural environment” and is hopeful the additional trails will bolster tourism and help stretch out the season for the community.

Robertson says mountain biking offers a considerable economic benefit to the valley as studies have shown the sport’s aficionados plan ahead, search out riding destinations, and tend to spend money during their visits.