Posted May 11th, 2009
If you’re like me, you probably have some sort of miles logged on your bike already, and are looking forward to the upcoming mountain bike season. The Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) has been busy getting ready for Summer 2009, and there is much to tell.
Vermont State Lands
The biggest news is the creation of a Vermont Ride Center in Stowe and Waterbury, and the first step is the connection of Little River State Park in Waterbury and Cotton Brook in Stowe. A Ride Center is an International Mountain Bike Association creation, and there are only five others in the country. The objective is to create pods of trail networks that can be connected together and that offer a wide variety of riding experiences for the destination mountain biker.
VMBA and its Stowe chapter, the Stowe Mountain Bike Club, are working together on developing the Vermont Ride Center, and the most significant progress towards that goal is the opening of the approximately two-mile connector trail between Little River State Park in Waterbury and Cotton Brook in Stowe. Two miles may seem short, but this piece is both locally important and symbolic of a much greater development. Vermont–Forests, Parks and Recreation (VT-FPR) is considering six miles of trail in Little River State Park and eight miles in Cotton Brook. There is also the potential for reawakening the Honey Hollow area in Duxbury and Huntington, with a possible route through to Fayston’s Phen Basin.
VMBA executive director Patrick Kell is leading the effort because this project has links to several networks and chapters, including the Stowe Mountain Bike Club in Lamoille County, the Mad River Riders in Washington County, and the Fellowship of the Wheel in Chittenden County. Work will be shared by the chapters and once completed and approved, the trail will be open to use and two parks will be reunited with a multi-use path.
Imagine starting in Stowe and riding to Warren, mainly on trails. Or picture descending from high atop Sugarbush or from Trapp’s alpine meadows and ending at nearly sea level on Lake Champlain. These truly epic linkages and loops over and through the Green Mountains are no longer faraway dreams. Vermont is truly becoming a mountain bike-friendly state.
Want more evidence of this, uh, shift?
VMBA’s STAB chapter is working on plans for Ascutney State Park, and the Rutland chapter is proposing trails in Bomoseen State Park. In addition, one of the finest and most heavily ridden trails in the state is getting upgraded this summer, with support from a $10,000 trail maintenance grant from VT-FPR. The Burning Spear trail, in Waterbury’s CC Putnam State Forest, will see a massive armoring effort to reduce on-going maintenance work and protect against erosion and traffic challenges. “We want to fix the persistent issues and maintain the black diamond challenge, to make it the best downhill bike trail in the state,” says Kell.
Green Mountain National Forest
Access in the Green Mountain National Forest continues to improve, with the Middlebury chapter leading the way this season. Both the Oak Ridge and Chandler Ridge trails in the Moosalamoo area are being opened to bikes, after work is accomplished this spring and summer. They’ve got $35,000 in grant support for the work, with $26,000 from the National Forest Fund and $9,000 from Bikes Belong. Kell says, “The Chandler Ridge and Oak Ridge trails are 10 miles of the nicest backcountry biking I’ve seen in Vermont. It’s just beautiful.”
The IMBA Trail Care crew will also be visiting Moosalamoo later this summer for a trail building seminar at Blueberry Hill. Check www.imba.com or www.vmba.org for more details on the conference.
The Pittsfield chapter is working on getting trails opened in the Michigan Brook area of the National Forest. These trails have already been designated as bike routes, pending necessary maintenance and upgrades. Look for more word on when this network is cleared to ride.
With so much momentum, new chapters keep springing up, too, most recently in Putney, Northfield, and Mount Snow. Existing chapters also have many significant projects on town and private lands—way too numerous to cover in a single column.
Next on the spring calendar is the VMBA Bike Conference May 7-8 at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, put on by Gravity Logic, the guys behind Whistler’s incredible bike park successes. And to kick the riding season off right, VMBA is hosting its second annual bike movie festival on May 16, at 6 and 9 p.m. New World Disorder 09 will be the feature presentation at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center on the Waterfront in
Please join and support your local VMBA chapter, commit to help with trail maintenance, and try to ride as often as possible. Green Mountain biking is finally coming into its own. Enjoy the fun with knowledge, responsibility, and respect.
See you at the trailhead!
John Atkinson lives in Moretown, VT, where he writes, rides, and works. He can be reached at email@example.com.