Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On-Trail: Fix a Flat

Check out the latest from Sarah in Women's Adventure Magazine and learn how to fix a flat tire on your next mountain bike outing. This is the first installment of a series of on-trail fixes. These tips apply to road bikes as well!

Read  the first installment, How to Fix Your Flat Tire, here.

Ride On: Support VMBA and Get a Chance to Win an Ibis Bike

Vermont has some stellar riding, and it’s only getting better.

A new statewide membership program managed by the Vermont Mountain Bike Association (www.vmba.org) aims to increase rider membership, thereby leading to more trails. To sweeten the deal, VMBA has partnered with Ibis to offer a chance to win the bike of your dreams in exchange for every $5 donation. Whether you’re a resident rider living in Vermont, a visitor, general supporter or just plain lover of new bikes, $5 is easy to part with to support more trails and for a shot at that new ride. Every $5 donated gets you a chance to win.

VMBA is the umbrella non-profit organization serving 15 mountain clubs around the state of Vermont. VMBA coordinates state level land-use agreements and landowner liability policy and provides insurance and trail grants programs, all of which directly benefit the chapters working on the ground to build more trails. When VMBA is strong, there are more resources for all of us, and that just means more riding.

Head over to VMBA (https://vmba.org/civicrm/event/register?id=17&reset=1) to make that donation and get a chance to win the bike of your dreams – you choose the model, size, color – everything! For only $5, what do you have to lose? Every $5 donated increases your odds. And even if you don’t win the bike, you get more trails, and that’s always winning.

The folks at Ibis are excited to partner with VMBA on this raffle along with RockShox, SRAM, and MTBVT. For more information about Ibis check out this recent article on Pink Bike: The Ibis Story.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Trails for the Future: VMBA Trail Building Workshop, Day One

Our local mountain bike club joined other clubs from all around the state this past weekend to attend the annual Vermont Mountain Bike Association sustainable trail building workshop. Attendance at the workshop is one of the many benefits offered to clubs that join VMBA.

The workshop was held at American Flatbread in Waitsfield, host to one end of the new Mad River Riders' Revolution Trail. We spent the morning in a classroom setting, getting to know each other and learning from some of the best: Brooke Scatchard and Mariah Keagy of Sinuosity, a local mountain bike trail design/build company.

We learned how to build trails that are environmentally sustainable and that last into the future. We took our new skills to the Revolution Trail to work on some problem spots. 

For more on sustainable mountain bike construction, you can check out the book "Trail Solutions: IMBA's Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack" and visit the International Mountain Bike Association website, where they host a variety of resources related to trail design, construction and sustainability.

Also, stay tuned for an upcoming article from me on sustainable hiking and biking trail construction in the Active Vermont section of the Sunday Rutland Herald / Times Argus on July 26, 2014.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Trail to Connect Two Towns

A fall view from the CVT in Groton State Forest.
The Cross Vermont Trail connect communities along the Winooski and Wells Rivers, from Burlington to Ryegate. At times sharing the route with roads and at times traveling its own path through forests and fields, this four-season trail allows hikers, bikers, skiers, and commuters to connect coordinates on the map.

Being in Washington County, we frequent the portions of the trail that connect Plainfield and Marshfield. This is a particularly beautiful section, especially through Groton State Forest.
The CVT entering Groton State Forest.

Here are some ways to take advantage of the CVT on your bike: 
Here are some ways to support the CVT:
  • Ride the Central Vermont Cycling Tour June 22 with easy, moderate, and advanced options
  • Support the Keystone Project, which is the completion of a critical section of trail that gets trail users off of Route 2, by contacting your local representatives in favor of providing transportation funds to the project
    A bridge crossing Nasmith Brook in Marshfield.
    The CVT between Plainfield and Groton is double track with an easy 1-3% grade.
    A fall view of Marshfield Mountain from the CVT in Groton State Forest.
    The trail east from Nasmith Brook Road in Marshfield.

     

Friday, May 2, 2014

Don't Ride Closed or Wet Trails (Or a Kitten. ... No, no kittens will be hurt)



You’ve by now probably seen the New England Mountain Bike Association PSA, “Don’t Ride Muddy Trails or a Kitten Gets It,” or something like that. While no kittens are actually harmed in the making or riding of singletrack, it is really not cool to ride it wet. 

“What’s the big deal?” you say. “I’m the only one out here, I’m not doing any harm.” Well, if we all thought that way, our trails would be a world of hurt and our clubs would go bankrupt trying to keep up on the maintenance. 

I talked with local trailbuilder Kevin Jacques, lead trail builder at Millstone Hill Touring Center, a little place you may have heard of over in Graniteville. (It’s basically awesome.) I asked him about spring opening dates for local mountain bike trails, to include in a recent article on the topic. We didn’t talk in time for the article so I couldn’t quote him there, but I wanted to share what he had to say.

“The biggest reason for adhering to open/closed dates is mostly due to rain and the spring thaw. Water doesn't only soften the soil; it also can become a rushing torrent following mountain bike tracks downhill during a rainstorm. What took Mother Nature moments to destroy took trail builders hours or even days to build. We love to ride trails to, maybe even more so than most, this is why we build trail. We don't want to spend our time repairing damage from folks that ride when trails are posted. Just imagine how much more time we would have to build NEW trail if we didn't have to spend time repairing.”

Want to know more about trail building? Jacques encourages every mountain biker to put in at least one work day a year at their favorite trail or club. “With all the riders in this state, imagine what that would do!”

We all can't wait to get out there! But first, check in with your local club for trail openings and closures, and stay off the trails after a rain event.

Happy Trails
~Sarah 

Giving Back: Twinfield Bike Rodeo

Four members of our local mountain bike club headed down to the local school this morning to help kids get on bikes. The morning started with parents dropping their kids off with bikes, helmets, and school supplies, and the bikes were organized by classroom. We set up a bike skills course and safety check station (helmets, brakes, air in the tires, chain oiled up - check!) and the kids came out one classroom at a time. Student volunteers were set up to support the younger cyclists throughout, with games of red light-green light, obstacles, traffic simulations, and a winding serpentine to practice bike handling skills. The kids had a blast, and so did we!


 Oh, and after the safety course, the kids cruised around on their bikes. Who went off-roading? The girls. No big deal, we're pretty awesome.

Happy Trails!
~Sarah 



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mountain Bike Religion


For those of us who have been waiting for the snow to melt and the singletrack to dry, this past Easter Sunday was a personal holiday: Pine Hill Park in Rutland opened some of its trails to mountain bikers. The trails were dry and in excellent shape, and the weather could not have been better.

Pine Hill Park is the best example I have seen of multi-use trails. Riders will encounter dog walkers, hikers, picnic-ers, birders, and other lovers of the woods and trails. Kids, adults, families, grown-up kids- they're all there. But everyone is exceptionally courteous and respectful, and user conflicts are minimized if not entirely absent.

The park is just outside of the business district in Rutland. There is ample parking, a giant kiosk with a map at the trailhead, and folded paper maps to bring with on your ride.

For more information, maps, trail work days, and trail updates, see their website: www.pinehillpark.org. Happy trails!

 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Changing MTB Scene: New Rider Membership Program Will Benefit All Riders

Members participate in a VMBA trail-building workshop at Perry Hill.
There's a new deal on trails this spring. Riders in Vermont are joining the Vermont Mountain Bike Association and selecting a local chapter to support in the process, rather than the old method of directly joining local chapters. It organizes all riders under one roof, supports the state-wide mtb scene, and gives chapters access to thousands of riders.

When you join VMBA, you affiliate with a local chapter, which you choose from a drop-down list when you join VMBA. The money gets split 50/50 with VMBA and the local club of your choice. This arrangement takes the place of clubs paying dues to VMBA, which they've always done in the past in exchange for insurance, nonprofit status, and many other benefits. So it doesn't necessarily change the volume of cash flow, just the direction of it. And the benefits to a club from VMBA (insurance is a biggy) are tremendous, so its a good deal for you, and a good deal for the club. It means we now have a statewide membership program, through which you also support your local club, and you can support additional clubs for $24.50 each if you want.

A strong statewide membership allows VMBA to leverage more resources for all of us.VMBA coordinates state level land-use agreements, landowner liability policy and insurance, and trail grants programs, all of which directly benefit the chapters working on the ground (see a feature article on VMBA past and present). With this new membership structure, riders directly support that state-level advocacy. Then, by selecting a chapter to join, 50% of membership dues go to the local chapter's coffers, to be used for trail building projects and events. As founders of the Plainfield-Marshfield Mountain Bike Club (stay tuned for a much more fabulous name in the near future), Tristan and I are really excited about this new structure.

We encourage everyone to check out the membership benefits (including a digital subscrip to Dirt Rag magazine and over 80 coupons for places riders go - seriously, the list is long, check it out). Let us know if you have questions - we'd be happy to talk about the new membership program.


Happy trails,
S. & T. 

See this recent post on VMBA.org on what the organization has been up to. (Hint: it's all about strengthening chapters, securing access, and building long-term partnerships so we can build more trail!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Circling the Camel: Skiing an Iconic Vermont Peak



The CHC crosses many high-elevation wetlands, perfect for snack breaks.

My skis glide onto the edge of an alpine wetland. A dark rocky cliff face looms high above and a layer of spruce trees cuts into the grey sky. I’m about halfway in to my 13-mile ski tour, and the boulder at the opposite end of this frozen water looks to be the perfect spot to rip open my Snickers bar. In those first few bites, I’m rewarded with the sweet taste of chocolate peanuts and cold-hardened caramel, and the sweet feeling of being self-propelled over great distances of Vermont’s backcountry.

I’m skiing the Camel’s Hump Challenge (CHC), a tour that circumnavigates the summit of Camel’s Hump by traveling through both private and State forest. A knee injury left my partner at the halfway point, where some nice folks will walk out with her and give her a ride back to our car. I'm on my own on a long tour, on a big mountain. And it's pretty cool.

So happy to see each other.
The CHC route affords access to established birch glades, fragrant spruce-fir forests, and strings of upland wetlands not typically visited by hikers or skiers. It’s beautiful, but it’s earned. With many miles of climbing, dotted by sections of smooth tracking and fast dips in elevation, this route is both challenging and rewarding.The forests I've seen today flash in my head. Birch glades out of a story book; spruce forests that hang heavy with the scent of pine. It's all been so beautiful.

There's a greater cause bringing me out here today. As CHC board member Bruce Beeken puts it, “The purpose of this event is to enjoy this extraordinary ski tour and to raise money for a good cause.” In order to be here, we each raised $125 or more in donations from friends and family to support education and family support programs at the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.I don't know this during my ski, but I will later learn that together all skiers raised $22,000 - a new record. 

Later in the day I will ascend and descend Wind Gap (a feat I am still amazed I did on my own) and then beautiful Bald Hill - a ripping fast descent that had me grinning ear to ear the whole long way down. And I will ski up to my friends. My dog will run out and greet me, hugs will come from all directions, and beer will taste better than it ever has. For now, I taste the melting chocolate again, and savor the fresh air, my health and vitality, and every minute of this beautiful backcountry. 

Happy trails.
- S. 

Also, for a look into behind-the-scenes preparation for the CHC, see:
- Clearing the Way

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Dirt In Vermont

Time To Ride 2013

As I sit here listening to the rain fall, I think about the year 2013.  The last few years have been full to say the least but when I think about this past Spring, into Summer and then into Fall, I start to feel something  and I smile....

Last winter, while out skiing, I started thinking about the upcoming riding season. I decided I would ride and photographically capture, edit and share the entire riding season, then go out on a limb, put it all together and raise money for our local MTB clubs. Now when I think back on this I can honestly say I had no idea what I was really getting myself into.  I am by no means a professional photographer, I simply like the feel of a camera in my hand and like to share what I see. I also like to ride *a lot*.

In the end we raised over $800 for our local mountain bike chapters. This helps pay for tools, advocacy, legislation, beer....(after trail work of course), and helps chapters reach out to new avenues. I cannot thank all the folks enough who rode with me, spoke with me, laughed, let me share their moments on a bike with me. Thanks also to all the sponsors who supported the show with raffle prizes, who did not even hesitate to support my project and donated their products and time so that we could make TTR (Time To Ride) positively the best time we possibly could. Here's to VMBA (Vermont Mountain Bike Association), Vermont Peanut Butter (Chris Kaiser), Darn Tough socks, Forsake shoes, Vasque, MTBVT crew, The Alchemist, the good folks at Jackson's Lodge (Mark, Gloria, and Lu) who took us in, Onion River Sports, Muscles Not Motors, Dirt Rag Magazine, Cannondale, Specialized,, SRAM and the Savoy Theater.  You all made a night possible where you could literally feel the energy and spirit of the VT MTB community.

When we moved here we knew we wanted to live in the mountains with mountain people. In Vermont mountain biking has come along way, from riding class four roads, VAST snowmobile trails in the Summer on private land, illegal or hand shake stashes of single-track, that either got discovered and destroyed or legitimized and solidified a community. As double-track turned into single-track, techy met flow, you could feel there was something there, it was good, REALLY good! It was the mountain bike culture in VT. That was over eight years ago and MTB'ing in VT  hasn't looked back.  I could ramble on and name names but you all know who you are, we all know who you are and if you don't, I only have two words for you: get involved. I like to joke that some folks think single track just simply grows on trees....well it doesn't.  It takes blood, sweat, some elbow grease, a couple of shovels, and a community, and yeah sometimes tears..wait I think I meant beers...But in the end its the people and together with those shovels, a smile, advocacy and some time we can make mountain biking in Vermont even stronger. I like to quote a good friend of mine: "you have to pay to play" and this doesn't  necessarily mean money but of yourself. So get out there and get involved.

Now stop listening to the rain, wax some skis and get outside...the snow is coming


 I promise....so is the singletrack. 

T.