Down East Cyclists pushes forward, hosts first race in three years

17 Mar 2013 | Lance Cpl. Justin A. Rodriguez

A local cyclist had a mission to build a mountain-bike trail, but more importantly, he wanted to create a place where families can go spend time together and have fun.

Jeff LeBlanc, a retired master gunnery sergeant and president of Down East Cyclists, did something he’s been waiting three years to do, host a mountain-bike race.

LeBlanc officially opened the mountain-bike trail and hosted two races, one including a children’s race after a three year wait at Henderson Pond Recreation Area aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, March 17.

The new trail plans started in 2010, when the old bike trail closed due to new base construction. By May 2011, a memorandum established an agreement between Down East Cyclists and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

“The trail and surrounding area is already designated as the Henderson Pond Recreation Area,” said LeBlanc. “We want to make this a very exciting part of the base.”

The trail is owned by the base commander of Camp Lejeune. It’s Down East Cyclists’ responsibility to build and maintain the Henderson Pond Recreation Area trail and MCCS’s responsibility to supervise the process.

The trail brings more than just a bike trail for Camp Lejeune. Families can go to have picnics or just explore nature.

There are bigger plans for the trail; Marine Corps Community Services is slated to build picnic areas and a kayaking area in the Henderson Pond Recreation Area.

Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Gorry, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, shared his excitement for the family-friendly trail.

The 6.5-mile trail is split into different sections, one of them being a mile long. The children raced through the mile-long section. After the children received their awards, the trail officially opened and the adults raced the full length.

“We love the kids,” said LeBlanc. “This is why we did their race first. Kids are the future. They’re going to carry on the mountain-bike tradition.”

LeBlanc said when hee raced with the competitors; it didn’t feel like a race. “It felt like a family day,” he continued. 

There is more in the works for the Henderson Pond Recreation Area but for now LeBlanc is planning more renovations and adjustments for the trail.

For more information, contact Jeff LeBlanc at 252-723-3298.