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Off-road bikers seek out enthusiasts for Dahlonega group
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By day, Nancy Dalman teaches biology at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.

By night, literally, she goes mountain biking.

The sport's fever also has touched other Lumpkin residents, who are trying to form a Lumpkin County chapter of the Gainesville-based Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association.

About 20 cyclists already have expressed interest, said Dalman, who is helping organize the group.

"We met ... probably in August, and people were enthusiastic about the idea," she said.

Dalman had hoped to push the effort harder this fall, but her fall semester at the college "has been much busier than I anticipated," she said in an interview Wednesday morning.

"Last night, I was out riding with a friend and we were talking ... (that) even if we could just get five or six people initially to get it going, I think (the group) would be feasible," Dalman said.

"I don't anticipate (the spring semester) being as busy, so I'm kinda planning on really getting going with it at that time."

Talk about forming the chapter began about 1« years ago among Dalman and other riders, including her husband, Jon Dalman, who owns a bike shop, Dahlonega Wheelworks. They were familiar with the Gainesville bicycling group and its 27 chapters throughout the Southeast.

"We were kind of surprised that there was no chapter in this area given that Dahlonega really is a destination for cyclists," Dalman said.

The group believed a chapter could "be really proactive and maintain (bike) trails and just get people up here riding."

She said she spent "a lot of time this summer mapping all the local trails and putting together a trail guide that I'm hoping to get published (through the university). ... That would be nice to do as a collaborative effort with SORBA."

To get rolling officially, the chapter needs to elect officers, said Tom Sauret, the association's executive director.

The biking group's board of directors meets Nov. 22 in Gainesville.

"If they get organized by then, it could be voted on (at that meeting)," said Sauret, who retired in May from Gainesville State College, where he taught English and film.

He said he believes there's plenty of biking interest in Lumpkin.

"Dahlonega is a cycling center with the Six Gap (Century) race every year and the Nimblewill Mountain Bike Festival that SORBA hosts every year," he said. "... And it looks to be now that there's enough interest among cyclists to organize and create an advocacy organization for (Lumpkin)."

The biking group was formed in 1988 in response to a trail closure at Kennesaw Mountain in Cobb County, Sauret said.

"Mountain bikers in the Atlanta area realized they needed an advocacy group at that point to voice the concerns and ideas that mountain bikers had about access and where to ride," he said.