North Bend State Park: WV Interscholastic Cycling League Race Course

An emergency contract found us in an almost impossible situation: building over 2 miles of trail within a month, to be used just a few weeks after that for the WVICL’s final race venue. I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending, we got the course done just in time. I’m a small builder, and that is an immense amount of trail for my resources. So I called in reinforcements and had Community Trail Designs come in and help with a half mile of really fun, tighter single track that has been described by league staff as “Colorado Alpine in West Virginia”. So with a core group of hardy volunteers stepping in for corridor and finish work as needed, we fired up all of the Appalachian Dirt machine fleet and dug our heels in.

An extremely rainy September (with two hurricanes sending rain up our way) did its best to slow us down, but with a couple special build techniques and some luck in soil conditions we were able to build all but one day of the month. This race course gave us several distinctly different trail sections: one long wide flowing trail set in an old pasture area with thick growth of autumn olive, one tight piece of single track nestled in some pines perched along the steep hillsides of the lake, and some open trail in the grassy infield area. Add in some existing farm roads, and we have the makings of an accessible race course with great passing opportunities. Time will tell how much fun it is, as the WV high school and middle school racing league is preparing to race on it this coming weekend. Good luck racers!

Subcontracting: Deep Creek Lake State Park

I was very grateful for the opportunity to work on a project just a couple ridges away, completing two goals for this year: building some gnarly rocky single track and to subcontract with IMBA Trail Solutions. A project at near-by at Deep Creek Lake State Park provided that opportunity. With a small amount of time available, my efforts were focused on a connector trail about 1400 feet long. Just enough trail to keep me busy for two weeks in that terrain. I enjoyed working with the IMBA crew and was proud of the funky flow that was uncovered in the glacial deposits we were working in. I think this project is a great step forward for the trail industry: mixing conventional building knowledge with an old school single track attitude. This project is going to be rocky and natural, and I’m really glad I got to work on it.

Heart of the Highlands Trail: Blackwater View Trail Maintenance

A large thank you goes to the Heart of the Highlands Trail for continuing to ensure a high level of quality on their trail build projects, by laying out years of maintenance ahead of time on all their new construction builds. Maintenance is a crucial part of trails staying in the best shape possible. The build on the Blackwater View Trail was wrapped up in 2016, but it continues to be a priority for the organization. Kudos to their foresight, and thank you for the work.

Green Flow: Final Build on Dales Trail

Our long ongoing local project, #greenflow, has been wrapped up and opened for use this year. A hybrid project combining machine rough in with volunteer finish work, was conceived on a phone call in the fall of 2016. The goal was to create a quality trail experience with a lower barrier for entry than other trails in the area were providing. Through creative fund raising strategies and a volunteer based finish strategy, seed funding for the project was achieved, and a redesign of the Thomas City Park Trails’ interior system was selected and started.

2017 saw construction start on the segments closest to the trail head, some signage and trail head changes, and a short loop from the trail head, optimized for strider bikes and short strolls through the woods.

2018 saw the project wrapped up with a total of 1.8 miles of trail constructed through beautiful and rugged terrain with over 200 feet of boardwalk bridging to complete the trail. It was opened in its entirety for use in September.

Back Yard Bike Park

 

This spring saw Appalachian Dirt working on phase 1 of a local back yard bike park. A private bike park is a good option for the yards and properties of outdoor recreators, especially those with kids. After all, why put in a pool when you can build a pumptrack?

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Phase 1 of this particular project saw the construction of a main track, consisting of 200+ feet of a timber track/pump track hybrid. A base foundation was leveled out and hard-scaped for ease of maintenance before installing wooden constructed rollers and berm-like corner structures. Progressive balance lines were also installed.IMG_0114[1]IMG_0034[1]

 

The future of this back yard bike park will see a boulder causeway transition line in the track, an elevated perimeter trail, progressive drops, and log-over area.

Mountwood Flow Trail

I had the pleasure of spending this past winter working on a project called the Mountwood Flow Trail, located in Mountwood Park just east of Parkersburg, WV on Route 50. Mountwood Park typically has narrow winding singletrack with lots of up and down undulation in them. Perfect XC spot! They wanted a more downward optimized trail out of this new project. Keywords were blended with the parks typical trail characteristics, ride-able for most users, bi-directional, and flowing. When the bid document says “we just want to best trail possible”, you know its going to be a good project.

The location would be spurring off of Gary’s Grind (which now creates a great start to this trail), wrapping around the face of the hill, and ending up at the bottom of the hill near a parking lot and pavillions. The site had great micro-topography and some really stellar positive control points: like historical oil casks and views of  large boulder cascades.

I was there to provide help in design and the machine work to get this trail started. All the hard work will be done by the local volunteers: lopping, raking, compacting, re-naturalizing, and of course, flow testing. I implemented a new bucket into the project to help create some sections with a more natural feeling bench cut, and a technique to leave more roots intact. I focused on blending sections of more conventional earthen features with natural trail tread while undulating the trails rhythm to match that building style and the terrain. There is a feeling I get while riding the lower bits of the last descent (north end) on the North Fork Mountain Trail, and that’s what I was trying to find for this trail. It’s a feeling of carving edges of single track like butter. Flow in the curves, with lots of lateral bike body separation. From the preliminary testing, I think it worked! But I’ll have to let you be the judge of that for yourself. Finish work should be wrapped up this spring and riding by summer. Go try it out.

And remember, Flow is a feeling not a type of trail. 

2018 Mountain State Fat Bike Champs

My dirt journey started with racing my mountain bike. Quickly after the bug bit me, I got involved in promoting races. A lot of races. I’m still at a pretty young age, and I already have over 10 years of event experience under my belt, ranging from 20 person grass-root cyclocross races to 400+ person UltraCX events and small 5k running races to 80 person resident MTB Skill Instruction Camps. I don’t do many events anymore, but it remains a part of my lifestyle: building trail, teaching people how to ride it, and enabling group recreation opportunities in the community. I put on the Michaux MTB School, one of the few MTB Trials events I know of during the Canaan MTB Festival, and the Mountain State Fat Bike Champs. The latter was this past weekend.

27459391_1524052027707907_3994194109429144016_nThe Mountain State Fat Bike Champs is my effort to pump up fat biking in the central Appalachians. The Potomac Highlands to be specific. Here in Canaan Valley/Davis/Thomas area, we get a lot of snow and mixed snow conditions. Fat Biking makes sense here, allowing for increased comfort and an extended season in some pretty ridiculous conditions. No longer are the days where I think it’s too cold to ride…..hitting -20 degrees some days. Marginal conditions? No problem, I’m not trashing my rock ski’s, I’m fat biking. But the real joy, and why I push this so hard, is the moments that I get to ride groomed trail. The opportunities for that specific arena are still pretty limited, but this race is one of the big opportunities to get some groomed goodness.

27540068_10214378106863201_3529657200375347562_n (1).jpgThe Mountain State Fat Bike Champs are hosted at Whitegrass Ski Touring Center at the eastern end of our valley.  This is the second official year we have had the race, and we stayed low on the mountain. We don’t get the grin-enducing two-wheel drifting descents that way, but it does make for a more consistent racing course. This year 59 racers toed the line, about the same as last year. All proceeds go towards local trail projects. Last year and this year, the benefit is for our local #greenflow project. This is a new trail project focused on increasing trail accessibility while retaining a single track experience. We don’t have a lot of green level or easier trail opportunities around here, and this project is aimed at creating more of just that. It is administered by New Historic Thomas, and is located at the Thomas City Park Trails. 

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As always, events are where community comes together. And as Sue says,” it takes a mountain village.” Thats what we have here, and thats what really made this weekend cool. I work at Whitegrass, and putting on the race made me miss some shifts. It added extra strain to the rental staff on a big weekend and on the cafe staff during a busy dinner. Not to mention stress on the groomers all week and weekend long. Through in all the local helpers who made it out on course to hand out beer, cheer, and maybe a bit of direction, as well as all the local sponsors who kick ass in their support of local endeavors, and it really does take a village! It takes our whole damn mountain town. Thanks ya’ll. Thanks.

You can read some of the race reports and coverage here:

  1. Race Report: https://d36gb93zszu20a.cloudfront.net/BR/inc/content/images/files/1497/Fat%20Bike%20Champs%20Race%20Report.pdf

2. Highland Outdoors: https://www.highland-outdoors.com/plump-it-up-2nd-annual-fat-bike-race-a-success/

3. Another Highland Outdoors: https://www.highland-outdoors.com/fat-happy-mountain-state-fat-bike-champs/

4. XXC Winner Rob May’s Report: https://www.facebook.com/robert.may.73744/posts/10208358259314544?comment_id=10208364242264114&notif_id=1517976438131305&notif_t=mentions_comment&ref=notif

 

27459876_10157051445398572_9023510479638487581_n.jpgI’ll leave it on this note: next year I’m hoping to groom regular fat bike routes and keep building the fatty stoke. So come try it out. There’s plenty of time left in the season to be curious. Rob will set you up with bikes and beta at Blackwater Bikes.

Local Press for our #greenflow Project in Thomas

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Local Television Station

http://w3.cdn.anvato.net/player/prod/v3/anvload.html?key=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%3D%3D

Thomas City Park Trails: Dales Trail 2017 Season

For the 2017 season, Thomas City Park Trails have been getting a system redesign with a multi part project, focusing on the creation of a new green level MTB trail. The season started with the project design, corridor clearing, and 1500 feet of fast and flowy trail being completed. Project construction resumed in the fall with a 1200′ surfaced portion of the trail, creating a close and accessible loop from the main trail head. A new trail head with kiosk, additional signage, and general maintenance on other system trails were also completed. Work will resume in 2018, pending additional project funding. Learn more about this project and donate at http://www.newhistoricthomas.com/bike-trail/

Look it up on Instagram with #greenflow