This past weekend I elected to forego racing, and instead chose a long weekend of learning about MTB advocacy and trail building. Yeah, and there was some riding and beer drinking thrown in there also.
I left work Thursday evening, and made the trek over to Grand Rapids. After setting up my tent, I made my way over to the welcome reception. Dinner was a (very tasty) pig roast, and tasty Founders beer was on tap.
Friday held seminars on various advocacy topics. The first one I attended was about how to organize and maintain a successful advocacy club. This was hosted by Kelly and Collins Bishop, one of the IMBA trail care crews. Next, I learned about how to write a grant request. Finally, there was a classroom session on trail building. Here I learned many of the guidelines on how to build a sustainable trail for multiple user groups.
After the advocacy session, I made my way over to the Cannonsburg Ski Area, where myself and a couple others were given a guided tour by Rick Plite (a member of the local chapter of the MMBA). He actually laid out a significant portion of the trail, and rides it regularily, which made it "fun" to keep up with him.
The night was capped off with a late dinner followed by beers around the fire.
Saturday morning was spent putting my new trail building knowledge to the test. We went over to the Cannonsburg State Game Area, where we practiced laying out a stretch of trail.
Afterwards, a group of us decided to ride a lap of the Ski Area trail. Trek had their demo trailer there, so I decided to try out a Top Fuel (their 4" travel XC race bike). This was my first time ever riding a full suspension bike on singletrack, and it made for an interesting experience. The bike rode very nicely, but I could tell that I was tentitive in the corners. This was due to a combination of the 26" wheels, straight bars, different tires, and the effects of the suspension (i.e. drastically different than my bike. All-in-all a nice bike, but I'm definately wanting to stick to singlespeed.
Over the log pile on the Fuel. The blur makes it look like I'm going fast. (Actually I was going pretty fast)
Photo courtesy of Diane Ursu
Afterwards, a couple dozen of us headed over for a guided lap of Luton Park. This is a new trail in a new county park. The Western Chapter of the MMBA did a great job laying this trail out. Nothing steep, but still a fair bit of climbing in a couple of the loops. Very nice flow. A few technical spots, and a number of fast spots.
After the group lap, a few of us stuck around to do a second lap.
Riding the Luton Trail
Photo courtesy of Diane Ursu
Saturday evening was spent at Founders Brewery, where we watched the Wings beat up on the Penguins.
Sunday morning we met at the Cannonsburg State Game Area for the final group ride. I was put into the "fast" group, with Tim from the Founders MTB team, Steve (the owner of Ada Bikes), and another guy who's name I don't remember. As luck would have it, we were all riding singlespeeds. We rode part of the game area, then ducked out and headed on the roads over to Luton. After a lap of Luton, more roads took us to a paved path, which had a few rolling hills. This took us to the ski area where we rode a lap. Finally it was back to the game area where we finished the lap there. It ended up being a 40 mile loop.
Good trails, good people, good beer, and good MTB related information. All this made for a great weekend.