As 2021 winds down and the winter sets in, I find myself reflecting with a lot of pride over what the MCMBA accomplished over the last year. You may (or may not) recall that the board had approached 2021 as “The Year of Trails”.
This year we pumped more than $25,000 into the trails. That, combined with over 3,200 hours in volunteer work, means that the trails have seen significant work this year:
- New kids loop at Settlers Park – In addition to the typical excellent work volunteers do to keep the trail trimmed, the berms bermmed, and the water drained, a big new project was a signature kids loop added to the trail. This has mini-features, including a now iconic stagecoach for kids to ride through. This has received a lot of accolades from Hartland and our TCs were honored recently by the Chamber of Commerce..
- Volunteers saved Hickory Glen after devastating storm damage. Hickory Glen trail has forever been changed by storms that hit the park on July 22. The tree damage was so bad the trail was closed for more than a week. It took an entire weekend just to get access to the trail to assess the damage. We had a huge response from volunteers to get the trail open and pretty much rideable in an astonishing two weeks. The damage is still evident and many parts of the trail that were in woods before, look like a lumberman’s worksite now. But, “The Hick” is back!
- New one-way sections and new rock gardens added in Hines. Volunteers continue to put in Herculean efforts to add new features and split the two way sections of trail. Overall, about a mile and a half of new one-way trail was added in 2021 and volunteers were at it even last weekend.
- Lots of new stuff at Lakeshore Park. Most recently volunteers completed a new bridge to the crater loop, replacing a bridge that was slowly subsiding into the creekbed. The new bridge is now big enough to allow emergency gators and trail equipment to approach from the front of the park. Significant work went into the trail earlier in the year as well adding the new foundation loop, refreshing the crater after some bandit changes, and shoring up features at the Little Sapling kids loop.
- New armoring in Maybury may not sound like that much of an update, but this armoring is massive! It helps resolve an erosion problem that has been plaguing one of the hills for some time. Volunteers were nearly stretched to the breaking point trying to move the massive sandstone slabs used for the armoring. Of course, this was on top of berm building and other regular maintenance that happened to keep the trail rideable.
- Ongoing work in our other trails to keep trails open and dry. That’s not to dismiss the work at other trails! The sheer number of miles at Island Lake and Highland, mean that the team maintaining good drainage, clearing downed trees and maintaining features, kept volunteers hopping all summer at those parks too. Rouge volunteers completed a huge spring trail day that included massive clearing of invasives, clearing a section of a new kids loop, and more armoring and drainage. Volunteers at Legacy Park trails did armoring and drainage improvements with a big trail day.
Events were back BIG time this year – perhaps because of pandemic pent up demand, but our two marquee events (Milford Bike Festival and Tree Farm Relay) were both huge successes (and oh, the costumes this year!). In the fall, we added a Take A Kid Mountain Biking event which drew a lot of young people out onto the trails. Speaking of youth, MiSCA held a race at Milford this year, which had hundreds of kids, not only racing, but also helping prepare the trail with some basic maintenance. All these events drew a lot of great participation and smiles for miles.
Finally, this year has seen a significant upshift in new trail development conversations, which will set the stage for future good news. Most of these conversations are with land managers and are happening behind the scenes. But these conversations are core to the mission of MCMBA to advocate for mountain biking trails.
Looking ahead to 2022, the board met in December and set some pretty aggressive goals for the year. We’ll provide more info on the goals and work ahead, but they broadly fit into four primary categories: Strengthening the Organization; Trail Development; Strengthening our Fundraising; and new goals for our Events. More details will come shortly, and be on the lookout for opportunities to volunteer with some new (or rather re-instated) committees.
Thanks to all our volunteers for such a great 2021. Happy New Year and ride on!
– Dave Hurst, MCMBA Board President