Sitting at the Summit Park on-ramp we had a choice to make: Try to merge onto a gridlocked I-80 or drive the extra 30 miles over Guardsman Pass to get home to Millcreek.

Neither option appealed to us but ultimately, we opted for Guardsman and an hour and half later we were home while Google was still showing 80 as a dark maroon. All we could do was laugh about the fact that our “quick” bike ride had turned into an epic.

As an avid mountain biker, I drive a lot. Three to five times a week you can find me driving to hit the trails in either Draper or Park City. On weekends, I may go further: Kamas, Eagle Mountain and Moab. I try to carpool as much as possible but more often than not schedules and stars just don’t align and I end up driving and biking alone.

I like to bike, I don’t like to drive, so I was cautiously stoked when I began to hear rumors about the construction of a trail system close to home. I knew better than to get excited. I know how these things go, especially since I come from a place with almost zero public land/access/facilities. I knew better, but the brain does a lousy job sharing that information with the heart.

In addition to my personal riding, I also volunteer. I am a mentor with Little Bellas, a rad non-profit that coaches 7- to 13-year-old girls in mountain biking. As a mentor, I help introduce them to a life-long sport, share with them my passion and inspire them to become strong and adventurous young women. I also volunteer as a ride leader and board member for WomenMTB, another local non-profit that works to encourage women and girls in the sport. We hold weekly rides, skills clinics, a women-only race and community dig days. We are working hard to support an incredible community of lady bikers of all ages and skill levels.

The Little Bellas clinics are currently based in Park City, but this season we had a waitlist of more than 40 girls and we are always being asked when Salt Lake is going to get its own chapter. Unfortunately, there isn’t an appropriate trail system for us to use in the valley.

Part of me had hoped the proposed Olympus Hills park would be our answer. Part of me knew it wouldn’t.

We hold WomenMTB group rides and clinics at Round Valley, Corner Canyon, Park City, Summit Park, Jeremy Ranch, Bountiful, Kamas and Herriman. But the Salt Lake Valley, where most of our members live, is noticeably absent. We have a few local trails we can hit up, but nothing like some of the other towns.

Part of me had hoped the proposed Olympus Hills park would be our answer. Part of me knew it wouldn’t.

It was with this background that I allowed myself to become excited and then subsequently disappointed with the announcement and cancellation of the proposed trail system.

Mountain biking has saved my life. It got me off the couch and gave me a reason to get active. It has given me a sense of community, stewardship and involvement. In an increasingly virtual world, it is important to make group activities accessible and encourage human interaction.

With obesity declared an epidemic, sports and outdoor recreation should be priority. In a city battling air pollution, developing local infrastructure should be a key weapon. I sincerely hope the county and municipalities will keep trying.

Maybe the heart will prove the brain wrong this time.

Sarah Weippert lives in Millcreek, likes to ride bikes on dirt and, when she is not riding, you can usually find her trying to convince anyone who will listen to come ride bikes on dirt with her.