Ever worked with a group of people who ‘own it’? We did recently when we visited the Chippewa Valley in east-central Wisconsin.
Working with CORBA (Chippewa Off-Road Bike Association), we spent the weekend building trails at Hickory Ridge, a large plot of public land with exciting potential. Located just a few hours south of Chequamegon, the folks in the Chippewa/Eau Claire area aren’t content with putting their bikes on the car and driving north; they’re working hard to have their own notable trail system. A few years ago they dedicated their efforts to develop Lowes Creek in Eau Claire. After building some important relationships and great trails, they’re turning their attention north.
With about 60 members, CORBA is faced with the classic scenario – working hard but trying to avoid burnout. This club is busy! They work, they race (can you say training?), and they build and maintain trails. Fortunately, they understand the concept of working smarter. The group recently purchased their own trail building machine (through fundraising efforts) and has entered the world of mechanized trail construction. This is no small undertaking; it requires a high level of commitment to planning and training. CORBA is definitely up to the task and has been working very hard to build some fun, sustainable singletrack.
Although (small) machines have been adapted to build trails, a vast amount of singletrack has been constructed by hand. Regardless of the method, the principles are still the same. It’s the core of the Trail Care Crew program and the focus of our Saturday session. Once again, were psyched to share the knowledge of sustainable trail design and construction. We did our first outdoor presentation of the year and everyone enjoyed the morning under the ‘Big Top’.
After lunch we got to the business of digging in the dirt. In a matter of an hour the group had transformed a portion of the wooded hillside into a sweet section of singletrack. It was an impressive effort in a short amount of time. With time left on the clock, we moved on to a different trail built with the mini-ex. There, we did some important finish work, pulling down the spoils from the lower edge, a key component in keeping water off the trail.
On Sunday we gathered in the (finally) cool morning air for the group ride. We rode the existing singletrack and then toured some outlying ski tracks to view the potential for the area. Hickory Ridge is certain to be the kind of place where you can have any kind of trail experience with a beautiful, backcountry feel.
Thanks to Spring Creek Sports, Joe’s Family Market, Shadick’s Price-Rite, Subway, Daily Brew Coffeehouse, Rock Lake Lodge and Campground, Bloomer Tent Rental, Subway, WORBA.
Thanks to all of the volunteers who participated in the Trailbuilding School – hard-working folks!
BIG thanks to CORBA (especially Noah and his family) for organizing our visit. We appreciate the effort!
Photos from the weekend: