Thomas City Park Trails: Pavillion Connection

Thanks to New Historic Thomas, I was able to continue accessible trail improvements in the Thomas City Park this Spring. The goal of this project was to provide a lower grade access from the upper parking lot to the pavillion at the bottom of the park. The corridor of the existing trail was utilized and expanded on with two new switchbacks to achieve an easier gradient. Like the Riverside Trail project last fall, this trail was topped off with a compacted aggregate surface.

Connecting Trails: Blackwater View Project

One of the most interesting and rewarding parts of working with Heart of the Highlands Trail the last three years has been making connections. When it comes to work on the ground (my role), so much effort has already been made and so much work has been invested that the sweat and dirt is the easy part.

Many partners become a link in a chain that only grows stronger as the process unfolds.  It starts with an idea that gathers feedback. That transitions into a plan being developed. That plan requires in depth participation from land managers, planners, and regulatory oversight. Public feedback is gathered, and details start taking form. A detailed flagline is placed, materials gathered, and a work force assembled. Then a trail is finally shaped from the earth. It’s a dynamic and evolving process. That makes each connection with land managers, board members, staff, volunteers, trail users, and the public part of the succes.

One particular project we took on this year (one of more than a few), struck a major chord for me because it makes a major multi-use (yes bikes are important to me) connection from one side of the Blackwater River to the other in the interior of Canaan Valley. A complex project with multiple phases. That means two isolated trail systems will now be connected with sustainable trail. The Blackwater View Trail project we undertook this year has many components to achieve connectivity: use change designation, sustainable upgrades on existing trail, environmental assessments, recreational easements on private property, major bridge construction, and new trail construction.

This year, we were able to follow through with planning and implement use designation and sustainable upgrades on existing trail as well as the first phase in new trail construction. We completed the first half of the new construction component during the fall, with 539′ of road to trail conversion, 958′ of new trail construction, and 224′ of rolling elevated boardwalk getting us closer to making this connection. A similar amount of road to trail conversion and new construction remains to be finished this coming year, as well as placing a major pedestrian bridge across the Blackwater River.

You can contribute, get involved, and follow along with the process by following Heart of the Highlands Trail on the web, receiving the newsletter, and liking their facebook page.



Planning Ahead: Olson Tower Area Development

In October and November, I had the opportunity to write up a development plan to help direct some specific sustainable work on the trails around the Olson Tower Area. This work was hosted by the Friends of the Blackwater and funded by the National Forest Foundation grant. That grant will also be providing funding for work on those trails and on the sectinos of the Rail Trail from Douglass to Thomas. Coordination between the Friends of the Blackwater, the USFS, the Allegheny Trail Club, and other local agencies is making this part of the project possible. Volunteer hours is a large part of this grant, so if you are interested in learning more about volunteering or about the plan in place, contact the Friends of the Blackwater at

What a wonderful place to live! #olsentower #canaan

A photo posted by Zachary Adams (@appalachiandirt) on Oct 26, 2015 at 5:22pm PDT


It’s pretty awesome to be writing a trail log for this epic 4 miles of singletrack. #appalachiandirt

A photo posted by Zachary Adams (@appalachiandirt) on Nov 2, 2015 at 5:56am PST

Construction Wrap up in Thomas

I’m a little late to the party with an update on construction. Building activities were wrapped up in early September, and the rest of the foot bridge work was completed in October. Hopefully you are one of the many folks that have been able to get out and enjoy the completed trail!

This trail, as noted during the last update is part of the Thomas Riverfront Development Plan. Stay updated and get involved with New Historic Thomas to see that plan realized. Next up is to complete Phase I of the plan.









New Construction in Thomas, WV

We have started construction on a new section of trail for New Historic Thomas as part of phase 1 in the Thomas Riverfront Development Plan for the City of Thomas, WV. Trail users have caution. I know this is a popular location, partially on an existing alignment, for dog walking, running, and biking. We will be mid construction from July 25 through August 20. For information about the Riverfront Development plan or about New Historic Thomas, use the following links:

Now the cool part. Construction. I am very grateful for the opportunity to build this trail. This is partially on a route locals use already to access the gem of a trail system at the Thomas City Park. The development plan calls for this trail to be as accessible as possible for folks with a handicap. While friends like Eric Thompson are quite mobile and still doing some pretty rad adventures, “ADA” or “Accessible” trails is an extremly broad term. I’d rather say how accessible this trail is and let the user decide. It is a standard 48″ wide tread with an average running grade of 5% with no more than 6.8%. I’ll give a full report at the end, but that tells you a lot about it. It will have curves for days, and some really cool positive control points like a couple heritage trees with greater than 40″ diameter. Here’s a couple pictures of current construction to get you going:

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It's shaping up! #thomascityparktrails #appalachiandirt

A post shared by Zachary Adams (@appalachiandirt) on

The Mountain Institute and Appalachian Dirt to Host Bicycle Race – July 10 thru 12

The Mountain Institute and Appalachian Dirt to Host Bicycle Race – July 10 thru 12

Circleville, WV—The Spruce Knob Gravel Stage Race will be held at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center from July 10th through the 12th. The race will take its two-wheeled bicycle warriors around the highest point of West Virginia at 4,800 ft. in elevation, across gnarled terrain and up grueling climbs, showcasing the stark beauty of the Appalachians.

The race will consist of one stage per day, for three days covering a total distance of over 140 miles. Riders can register under any of the solo competition categories for $160 or tailor their race by registering under The Spruce Experience for $50 per stage. Food packages and dormitory lodging are available for purchase, while camping at the venue is free.

Participation in The Spruce Knob Gravel Stage Race supports The Mountain Institute’s Appalachian Program, which offers experiential education programs to foster sustaining skills and stewardship within communities. If the daunting course doesn’t take your breath away—the landscapes will. Riders will navigate the stunning highlands, forests, and streams The Mountain Institute actively protects and conserves.

Registration closes Wednesday, July 8th. Visit to secure your spot!

For more information visit or email Zachary Adams from

Appalachian Dirt  at

Since 1972, The Mountain Institute (TMI) has worked hand-in-hand with the people who know mountains best — those who live there — to help them identify and implement solutions to improve their livelihoods and the health of their environments. The Mountain Institute currently works in the highest, longest and oldest mountains in the world – the Himalayas, Andes and Appalachians. Our programs now reach more than half a million people each year. For more info, go to . To learn about the Institute’s Appalachian Program, check out

Race updates will be featured on TMI’s Facebook page:

Michaux MTB School was a chilly blast

What a cool group a folks.

We’ve got a group of photo’s up on our facebook site, and you can also search #MichauxMTBSchool on facebook or instagram to find photos from other campers/instructors.

Next years MTB School will be April 1-3, 2016.

If you attended and have not let us know how your stay was, please take a couple minutes and fill this survey out:

I’d love to have more offerings for everyone. It’s going to take some time to plan out exactly what and how much we can offer, but I will be sure to let you all know when we come up with a plan.

We also want to remind you that our skills instructors are available for private lessons all year. If you want to work more on some areas of concern, or learn some more advanced skills, be sure to get in touch with Harlan ( or Sue (

Also, the portable skills obstacles are available. I’ve been working on dialing in designs on a variety of portable skills obstacles like what we had out. They are available in quite a few configurations, sizes, materials, and colors. I’m still working on dialing in the exact templates, and am offering considerable discounts for anyone wanting them right now. If you liked the pump and berm sections out in the field, or anything else, just shoot me an email.

Until next year, practice practice practice!

Michaux ORW Post Race Report

See the full story from Jess and Joel Nankman:

Thanks so much for making the trip out despite the last blast of winter (lets hope its the last). What a shocking way to shake out the cobwebs. Both days it turned out pretty darn nice considering….although Saturday was much warmer than Sunday, if not way muddier too. You guys and gals are the best though, and I couldn’t be happier than to have you all out to race.

Good work to all our winners this weekend: Tatjana, Daniel, Jocelyn, Leland, Rhett, Brandon, Paul, Harry, and especially to Mike Montalbano for working his way up to the front on a Single Speed and taking the overall win on Sunday. Hell of a good race everyone!

Here’s the SuperD results:

Here’s the XC Marathon Results:

My photos are here:

If you have your own photos from the weekend, tag them with #MichauxORW so that we can all search and view them on facebook and instagram. I only got a few pictures and they aren’t all that great, but the cold was really hard on batteries this weekend.

I hope to see you all back for round number three of the MASS series over in Tuscarora. I’ve got another killer weekend on tap. HARD. RAW. CLASSIC PENNSYLVANIA. Come camp for the weekend, get in on the 5 stage, all day, super fun enduro and cap it off with a big loop of the forest in a 50k endurance race. Info on that at:

If you like this style of racing/riding, that’s kind of my chosen flavor. I’ve got some other races you might like too. Check out the full line up of what I’ve got going on at

Until next time, ride hard and have some fun.

Product: Duro Switch 29″x2.35″

Time for some fresh rubber on my mountain bike. Duro Tire came on board as a sponsor or sorts this year, so I’m giving their line-up a go. It’s not the kind of sponsor I won’t be biased about them, and if their product is good I will tell you. If it sucks, I’ll tell you.  When I was checking out their web presence, one of the big hurdles I noticed was a lack of information and lack of reviews on their tires.

duro logo vector

Their product catalogue was here:

photo 2 (1)

Duro Switch

The tread is similar to a Kenda Nevegal, with a directional tread pattern, wide spacing, and super aggressive side knobs. The sidewalls feel thick enough to handle rough terrain. They mounted up fairly easily. A quick run around the bead to pre-seat it, and they seated with a floor pump. There was minimal sealant leakage to make it seal well too, and no dimpling through any pores in the sidewall. All of those are good signs that this tire is designed as a tubeless tire…..something that is not abundantly clear from their specs. (tubeless technology is noted on their catalogue overview, but there is no mention of it after that) The tread compound feels relatively firm, but that is a totally subjective measure. If it is a harder compound, that will serve well for tire wear. Time will tell.

photo 3 (1)

It’s not Tubeless if it isn’t Stans. At least I don’t need to look any further. Don’t be skimpy when mounting up new tires, pour it in! I’ve hear all kinds of things like adding glitter into the mix, or buying bulk latex and making your own sealant. Why? It’s so easy to get a hold of these sample bottles that store well, are incredibly portable, and convenient to boot. I always have a couple stuffed in my trucks side panels, just in case. But don’t forget your tire plugs, just in case its a huge hole you need to fix on the trail.



photo 1 (1)


Note in the picture above, the comparison between a new Duro Switch to a used Shwalbe Hans Dampf, one of my favorite tires. Aside from tread pattern, one big difference is about 60 bucks.


On the first ride with them, the tires preformed as well as you would hope enduro tread would perform. Massive amounts of traction, good grip while leaning the bike into corners, they jump well (not subject to tire performance though), grip rocks well, are stable, etc, etc. etc. I have high hopes for these being a great tire choice, considering the combination of thick sidewall and performance so far. So stay tuned while I see how they hold up, and get riding!