Thanks for your support

Thanks to all of you who ventured out to Lakeshore Park last weekend and joined us at the Tree Farm Relay ! The weather and trail conditions were perfect, and we had a great turnout. While the final accounting is still being tallied, it's safe to say that this was the most successful relay ever. That's great, because we have a lot of projects lining up that will need these funds, such as more kiosks and signs at our trails, new bridges, and investing in new trail development in Commerce, Northville, and more.

Finally, don't forget - our next benefit event, the Maybury CPS Time Trial, is scheduled for August 18th. See you there!

Tree Farm Relay Weekend

Well, it's finally here. The Tree Farm Relay is this Saturday, and it promises to be the biggest and best relay ever!

Over the years, this event has grown until it's become the chapter's largest fundraiser. They money is important - it's over 1/2 of our budget for the year - but what always touches me is how many people come together to make this weekend work. Even tonight, a few days before the race, several volunteers were out on the trail doing final touches on the trail. A little trimming here, a little armoring there - the trail was already perfect, but they are spending their evening making it more perfect. And behind the scenes, others are busy working on the parts that you don't see - making sure there's food and beverages, arranging for music and a stage rental, renting porta-potties, and seeing to the myriad of other details that make this weekend special.

We're delighted when people declare that this is their favorite race of the year. Whether you're in it for the competition or are just looking for a great ride in the park with friends and professional timing, there are a lot of people working hard to make it a great day for everyone. Even if you're not into racing, come out to Lakeshore Park on Saturday, introduce yourself, and see what all the fuss is about.

 

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!