Relay Month!!

Resolution No. 103.

A resolution to declare July 2012 as Tree Farm Relay Month.

Whereas, the Motor City Mountain Biking Association, Dark Horse Racing, and Team Tree Farm hosts a benefit race in July; and

Whereas, MCMBA mountain bike races are a vibrant affirmation and expression of Michigan’s finest traditions, operating as volunteer-based events and raising funding for developing and maintaining Michigan trails; and

Whereas, mountain bikers are some of the coolest people around; and

Whereas, we have it on the highest authority that July 28th is going to have perfect weather this year; and

Whereas, the Allies have again consented to provide a post-race acoustical metal interlude for the enjoyment of the citizenry; and

Whereas, the excellent, professional firm of Race Services has again been retained to provide RFID based timing services for the event; and

Whereas, it’s just so cool that your loved ones can see your results on their iPhones seconds after you cross the finish line, even if they are escaping the heat in northern Alaska; and

Whereas, some of the past costumes worn by Tree Farm Relay participants have been highly creative and memorialized in both facebook photos and in our nightmares; and

Whereas, we can’t wait to see what people come up with this year; and

Whereas, mountain bikers support business by purchasing hops, grains, yeast, and bicycle parts in significant quantities; and

Whereas, the Relay racing format promotes a high level of competition as well as time for food, drink and social interaction during the day; and

Whereas, beautiful Lakeshore Park in Novi provides an excellent venue for this event, with interesting singletrack and fast passing zones, children play areas, a nice sandy beach, a cheerful, helpful park staff, rest rooms, and ample space for participant tents and staging areas; and

Whereas, there is a high probability of finding a tiki bar out on the race course; and

Whereas, in partial compensation for the cuts, scrapes, bruises, mosquito bites, poison ivy and a host of other less than desirable maladies resulting from sweat equity in May, June and early July trail maintenance activities, Team Tree Farm shall allow for a reasonable level of responsible debauchery during the Tree Farm Relay; and

Whereas, Motor City Mountain Biking Association members are vested in the future, health, and welfare of our trails as providing a diverse set of quality experiences to promote fitness and develop mountain biking skills of a broad range of riders; and

Whereas, mountain bike benefit races are one of the primary funding sources for the chapter; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Motor City Mountain Biking Association, an IMBA chapter, That the members of this body declare July 2012 as Tree Farm Relay Month in the state of Michigan. We recognize the contributions that the MCMBA, Dark Horse Racing, and Team Tree Farm have made to the communities and economy of this area.

The question being on the adoption of the resolution,

The resolution was adopted.


Join the fun! Register today at: http://www.active.com/cycling/novi-mi/tree-farm-relay-race-2012

Ongoing Training...

Recently, we hosted a Stihl Chainsaw Safety and Maintenance course at Maybury State Park for our trail coordinators and interested volunteers. Our thanks to Fred Rinke at Bryan Equipment Sales and the staff at Maybury State Park for making this possible.

In the coming months we hope to be able to resurrect the MMBA "Trail School" with our CRAMBA neighbors to further support our trail coordinators and help ensure that we're building the best trails out there. These classes will be open to all, and are a great opportunity to take it to the next level of volunteering! More details as plans firm up.

 

Trail Trimming Time

It's a common refrain this time of year...

"Trail was awesome yesterday but lots of face slappers and blind inside corners at speed."

"The trail was great, but the over growth was getting out of hand."

"Just like every other trail out there - there are way to many face slappers."

Warm weather, sun, rain all conspire to make plants grow like, well, weeds and turns our beloved tight singletrack into a gauntlet of poison ivy, raspberry thorns, and face slappers. It's not the fault of the trail coordinators. We have a lot of trail and it's just too big a job.

You can do something about it. All of the land managers that we work with on our chapter trails allow (and encourage!) our members to trim back growth on our trails using loppers and trimmers. You don't need permission, you can do it on your own whenever it's convenient, and here's how to do it...

Proper Equipment

You can accomplish a great deal with simple pruning shears, like this:

These are inexpensive, fit nicely in a pocket and can easily be carried on a casual 'trimming' ride, allowing you to ride and stop from time to time to remove offending branches you encounter. For larger branches, or for reaching deep under a large briar bush, loppers may be necessary:

These are great tools, but challenging to carry on a bike. Some backpacks can accommodate them, but they are best used during a hike. In between these two options are short handled loppers, like these:

Seemingly designed for trail trimming, with a 12 inch handle they slide easily into a camelback for ready access and still have plenty of power for snipping through any branches you're likely to find.

 

A word on Poison Ivy...

You can find poison ivy on all our trails, either as ground cover or woody vines. Sensitivity develops over time, and it's best to avoid exposure whenever possible. Gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants are highly recommended when doing any trail trimming. Keep an eye out for plants with three leaves in clusters and irregular lobes, like this:

Feel free to remove any poison ivy that you encounter. Carefully. Or just give it a wide berth and move on.

Maintaining the trail character

Each of our trails as it's own unique character. Where Island Lake may be fast, flowy, and wide, Lakeshore might be tight and twisty and narrow. As we trim, try to consider and preserve this character. We're maintaining the trails, not changing the trails. In general, you're safe removing any branches growing into the trail corridor but not trees themselves. Love it or hate it, but we've been able to keep this tight chicane at Lakeshore for years by focusing on removing the encroaching branches and preserving the trees:

Removing rocks and roots is never part of trimming, and should only be done after consulting with the trail coordinator.

Trimming Branches

The typical case for a face slapper is a branch growing horizontally into the trail from a nearby tree. Trails are really attractive places for plant growth - lots of light, lots of space, and no competition, so these branches grow fast and strong. Trimming inches from a branch does nothing, as some plants can easily grow a foot a year. In most cases, it's better for the trail and the tree to remove the branch entirely back to the trunk, like this:

This encourages the tree to concentrate its energy in other branches that we won't need to trim in years to come.

Trimming Slow Growth

Some trees grow very slowly. Pine branches, for instance, may only grow an inch or so each year. In cases where it's not necessary (or desirable) to remove a branch entirely you can trim years of growth by trimming at a branch juncture, like this:

 

Whenever you trim a portion of branch like this it's important not to leave "punji sticks", sharp branches which can injure riders who venture too close.

Trimming invasive and pests

Our Michigan trails are host to many species of plants that are considered 'undesirable' or 'invasive'. Here's a really good guide to invasive plants in Michigan forests that can be printed and carried as a reference. In many cases, invasive plants should be removed entirely rather than trimming growth. (If you're not sure, just leave it for others. Many a young Black Walnut have been mistaken for a Tree Of Heaven.)

Other plants, such as wild raspberries, grow many feet a year and require continual maintenance. Raspberries love the clear open areas that our trails present, and apparently feed on the blood of passing bikers. These plants may be removed entirely when encroaching on the trail. When removing these plants, cut them at the base of the plant next to ground level, like this:

It's important to not leave sharp, short 'punji sticks' from these cut offs that create a fall hazard for bikers, or a tripping hazard for hikers.

Discarding trimmings

While it's very tempting to move from branch to branch trimming, please take the time to remove any cuttings and discard them into the woods well away from the trail. Not only are discarded branches on the trail unsightly, the may have thorns or briars that can cause flats.

Reporting hours

Reporting and tracking the time that you contribute to a trail is one of the most important things you can do to help us build and maintain great relationships with land managers.

Please report your time using the form available here. If you'd like to share your efforts on the MMBA forums and bask in the accolades of your fellow riders, feel free. You deserve it!

Let's Ride!

This Spring has seen a lot of successful work on our trails. We've held 3 formal trail days and have already logged over 600 hours of trail work by 57 volunteers, and it's only May! There's more to do, and we'll get back to that, but for now...

It's time to ride!

If competition is your thing, Michigan has a wealth of mountain bike races to choose from. The most comprehensive list that we know of is maintained by Laura at Cross Country Cycles - click here. Our chapter hosts two of these races - the Tree Farm Relay and the Maybury Time Trial. Both of these are important fund raisers for us - over 3/4 of our operating revenue come from these events.

Please feel free to join us on group rides. The most consistent group ride in our chapter is Novi Nights, now in it's 10th year at 6:30 on Tuesday evenings at Lakeshore Park. Bike shops, teams, and other organizations also host rides from time to time. Check the Ride Announcements forum for a ride near you.

Want something more? Then it's the Milford Challenge on June 2nd, a day of fun and friends in Milford. Bikers pick their own course and trails: Milford, Highland, Proud Lake, Hickory Glen, Island Lake, Kensington... all easily reachable from Milford with a minimum of road riding. This is a really great way to discover and enjoy your chapter trails and meet new friends. You can tailor this anywhere from a fun trail ride to an all-day 90 miler epic! Enjoy $1.50 beers and music at the Milford House between trails, camping 3 miles away at Proud Lake, and bask in the satisfaction knowing that you're supporting your local trails!

See you there!

It's trail day season!

Along with our fellow chapters, the MCMBA is hosting a series of trail days at our area trails. These trail days are a great time to clean up winter deadfall, work on special projects, and generally get the trails ready for the peak riding season.

Working on a trail you love to ride can be very rewarding. If you haven't participated in a trail day before, we have a small FAQ with helpful tips.

Our traildays are announced in Facebook group and our Michigan Mountain Biking Association forum. Please join us if you can.