CAMBC Membership Update – August 2020

It’s been a while since we’ve last communicated with you.  We blame it on Covid as we practice social distancing, doing our part to reduce spread.  Several updates on ongoing projects, trail systems, and our accomplishments are below.

Riding in the time of Covid

The Covid epidemic has impacted our club’s organized events.  We miss riding with and seeing all of you.  While we wait this out, we are aware that our local trail systems have experienced a considerable increase in usage, both with hikers/runners and new riders.  Here are some encouragements on how to be leaders and responsible riders to increase the perception that mountain bikers are cooperative trail users and advocates:

  1. Practice good trail etiquette and COVID safety.  Yield to hikers and runners.  Stop, move off the trail and let them pass.  Keep at least 6 ft distance.  Give a friendly greeting.  If you see folks failing to yield or be considerate, please remind them of this need, and that we’re all ambassadors for our sport.
  2. Get a bell if you are riding locally.  We’ve sold out of ours, but highly recommend you invest in one (local bike shops carry them) and USE IT on busy trails as a warning when approaching other trail users.  Avoid startling other trail users.
  3. Help with trail upkeep.  Nick wet spots, pickup/move branches, and obstructions.  Pack a saw/clippers and keep the trail corridors clear.  Notify CAMBCs Board of any large downed trees that need clearing.  CAMBC works with City and County staff and RTF volunteers to clear downed trees.
  4. Don’t ride on wet or muddy trails.  Don’t skid.  Don’t ride at crazy speeds on crowded trails. Don’t use or create shortcuts.  Stay on the trails.
  5. Have fun, and stay safe.

Project Updates

Pump Track

CAMBC has offered the City to fund the design, materials, and construction of a pump track in the city to promote biking and to provide a place for kids and adults to work on bike skills.  Our proposal included help with the maintenance of the pump track in partnership with the City’s Parks and Rec team.  We hoped this would be our primary 2020  effort, and we had planned to do fundraising for the track, and solicit membership support for the construction and maintenance.

Before the onset of Covid, we met with City Parks and Rec leadership to propose several locations in McIntire Park.  Several weeks later, they responded saying our proposed sites were not approved and did not show much interest in continuing the conversation.  We’re disappointed in this response (or lack of).

Our town needs a pump track that is accessible to everyone.  We believe it should be located in McIntire Park for proximity to the skatepark and the Triangle Trails behind the YMCA, and, is a central location in the City.  We are pursuing some options that may involve something more organic vs. a formal approach.  If you are so motivated, please reach out to your City Council and the head of Parks & Rec with your advocacy for a pump track in McIntire Park.  And stay tuned as our Board continues to advocate for this much-needed pump track.

Trails Updates and Advocacy

Some updates on our local trail systems and advocacy opportunities are below.  Because of the Covid situation, funding has dried up for many initiatives. The focus of local governments on bike/ped activities has been distracted, as have we on keeping the pressure up.

Triangle Trails

Kyle Rodland, CAMBC member and the City’s head of Safe Routes To School program, created and installed maps and a user-friendly trail marking system for the trails behind the YMCA in McIntire Park.  CAMBC helped pay for the maps and signage, which encourages beginners and first-time users to easily identify safe and fun routes.  There are several miles of trails. All are friendly for beginners.  Spread the word, especially for new riders or anyone looking to get a ride in the City.  There’s convenient parking in McIntire and at CHS, and Triangle Trails are easy to access from the Rivanna Trail.

Ragged Mountain

Good news and bad news.  We’ll start with the bad.  Our understanding is the mediation effort between the City and County failed, and future permission to ride bicycles at Ragged is now back in line for a court hearing.  We’re not aware of any court dates, and don’t expect much as courts are very backed up due to Covid.  This means there is no clear direction for what is or isn’t allowed on the trails. The City allows biking. The County claims their “no bikes” code applies.  There are currently no signs posted to indicate whether biking is or isn’t allowed, and there’s no movement to define the formal hiking-only trails vs. the shared-use trails.  The common practice is to ride there but be mindful that some folks may still be opposed to that.  Practice good trail etiquette if you decide to ride there.

The good news?  The City did fund local trail builder AAMPL to rough in the CAMBC-flagged sustainable re-route from the east end of the floating bridge to the top of the hill, and a section to bypass the steep switchbacks, offering sustainable grade options that avoid the current extremely steep climbs and the muddy switchbacks.  The roughing in is completed.  What is needed now is the hand “finishing.”  CAMBC has set up some tools on that trail for individuals to help finish it as they have time.  If you’re an experienced trail builder and you have time, please pitch in while you’re out there.  What is needed is to cut the exposed roots, smooth the rough machined surface and assure good drainage for water, shape some berms, and reduce the exposed dirt by lightly spreading leaves to create a more natural trail appearance.

The City also recently acquired 140 acres of land adjacent to Ragged Mountain, which they call the Hayward Community Forest preserve.  The City hopes to put in several miles of shared-use trails on this new property.  We have already partnered with them to flag and help volunteers build the first trail in the system, which connects the lower parking lot at Ragged to the Dam And upper parking, bypassing the steep unsustainable climb out of the lower lot.  Trails in this area are not in the scope of the pending litigation between the City and County, so we expect to see some good progress on a trail plan and building.  This is a lovely bit of land, within riding distance of the city, that will expand the already amazing network of local singletrack trails in our area.  CAMBC has offered to contribute funding that will accelerate new trail building out there, and we are partnering with the City to flag new trails.  

Our position:

  • Biking should be allowed at Ragged Mountain.  It does not pose any threat to the water supply (as stated by RWSA).  
  • We support the City plan to have both shared use and hiking-only trails at Ragged.  
  • If you ride there, be considerate of the situation, practice good trail etiquette.

Actions needed for Ragged + Hayward

  • Help finish the roughed in trail section down to the bridge.  See above.
  • Be respectful of hikers and runners.  USE A BELL!  We need to reduce conflict and demonstrate that bikers are responsible users of these trails.
  • Help clear the trail of branches, blowdowns, etc.  Be role models.
  • During Covid, maintain 6 ft distance.

Biscuit Run

The County is still at the drawing board with a plan for a formal parking lot at the Avon Extended and Rt. 20 junction.  They still need VDOT approval.  There does not seem to be much momentum, and we’re not aware of any advocates putting pressure on the County to speed things up.  Meanwhile, negotiations with the HOA’s to get formal access approval to use the Wegman’s connector appear to have stalled.  We’re not sure why, and who has the ball.  We will continue to work with the county to be included in the Park trails planning.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the trails there are being used.  They are lovely.  We want more. We’re willing to help flag, build, and maintain shared-use trails.

Action Items:

  • Don’t park in the Neighborhoods to access the Biscuit trails unless you have permission from a local resident.  Park at Wegmans, or Hickory St.
  • Don’t build new trails and get the County upset.  Let’s work with them.
  • Put pressure on the County to get things moving.  Ask during the Supervisor meetings.  Write emails to bos@albemarle.org.

Our position:

  • Allocate funding needed for a Soft Opening (which requires a minimal public access location, and allows the use of existing trails).  We want it opened now.  We don’t want to wait for years until a huge parking lot is built.
  • Allow parking on Hickory street.  Put in a trail that crosses biscuit run on temporary stepping stones that connects to the existing trail system.
  • Open the park as a “trail park” like Preddy, then incrementally add in the other features per the Master Plan as funding becomes available.
  • Have the County work with us in trail planning, building, and maintenance.

Walnut Creek

Trails are clear, and it is as challenging as ever.  Beach is closed.  The trail CAMBC put in on the Dam Loop last year is riding GREAT!

Preddy Creek

The new Rooster Trail has been completed, and it flows!  The park is incredibly popular these days, so please use a bell when you ride there.

Rivanna Trail

CAMBC continues working closely with the RTF, and we’ve contributed significantly recently to trail work and re-routes.  Some recent news:

  • The Woolen Mills development has put in the bridge across Moore’s creek.  It is amazing.  However, it recently closed until permitting approvals are complete.  It has brought a lot more attention to the section between Woolen Mills and Rt. 20, which is now clear to ride.  There is a lot of discussion on the best way to improve the rock rip-rap section to be easier (aka dumbed down) and more friendly to foot/bike users.
  • The bridge across Meadow Creek just below Locust Ave. is in place to connect to future trails to Penn Park, but apparently needs more work on the footings to strengthen them against future flooding and erosion. No updates to give you on this one.
  • RTF north around Belvedere is about to have a section closed for construction.  There are alternative options to get past Belvedere, and we’re hoping there will be signs to show where to go.
  • CAMBC members participated with trail work and brushing activities to keep the RT trails open this summer.  As far as we are concerned, the RT is in the best shape it ever has been.  Thanks for your support and participation.
  • Consider becoming a member of the RTF if you use the https://www.rivannatrails.org.

Trailwork

Trailwork is an important part of what we do as a club and helps establish our reputation as trail advocates and trail stewards.  CAMBC is now considered a resource for trail design expertise by the local land managers.  We had established a monthly trail work schedule, on the third weekend of every month.  It will resume post-covid.

We had several trail workdays pre-covid. Thank you to all of you who have participated.  Since our last update in November

  • January – OHill mud hole, put in a gravel surface.
  • February – Preddy Creek advanced loop maintenance.

Trail worker volunteer of the spring?  Dave Stackhouse! Dave has helped flag trails at Ragged and Hayward and put in several re-routes around downed trees on O-Hill.

Trail Champions

We are looking to find people who are willing to be the formal “trail monitors” for our area trail systems.  Our hope is that these monitors can act as liaisons between CAMBC and the trail system land managers, as well as keeping an eye on the trails, reporting issues, recommending work, and leading workdays.

  • Jenny Whedbee is our Champion for Walnut Creek
  • Bob Newman is our Champion for Preddy Creek

Your Dues at Work

List of accomplishments since November.  We’ve been so busy we’ve probably missed some!

  1. New clothing order.  Due to arrive early September.  Raised $~500 for CAMBC
  2. New CAMBC brochures, distributed to kiosks at all the local parks and ride areas, and to local bike stores.  The new brochures are informative and promote folks to join our thriving mtb community.
  3. Representing mountain biking and trail building at multiple community boards and government committees.
  4. Renewed our Insurance coverage for CAMBC sponsored events and trail work days (if they ever resume)…
  5. Funded the building of a Kiosk at the Blue Ridge School parking lot.
  6. Funded trail signs for the triangle trails at McIntire park
  7. Purchased new tools for the CAMBC shed.  This included 60 new rogue hoes, 10 sets of loppers, a new larger chain saw, and, most recently, a new string trimmer.  Contact a Board member if you need to borrow tools to help maintain trails in your neighborhood.

Upcoming Events

Socials & Rides – 

On hold until Covid gets resolved, and we can be safe with each other in groups.

ABOUT CAMBC

Mission

A reminder of our Club’s mission: Our purpose is to educate the public with encouragement to live healthier lives through trail use and stewardship.  Our goal is to promote sustainable multi-use public trail systems within Charlottesville and surrounding counties. We emphasize responsible trail use and bicycle safety. We strive to foster positive relationships with other trail users, clubs, and municipal and federal land managers. We also ride bikes!

Who We Are

CAMBC is a community of mountain bikers and trail advocates.  We are a Chapter of IMBA, an international trail advocacy non-profit that helps manage our membership renewals.  CAMBC has MOU agreements with UVA, the City, RTF,  Albermarle and Fluvanna Counties, and Virginia DCR to help build and maintain trails.  We provide trail maintenance assistance on approximately 100 miles of trails in Central Virginia.  The club currently comprises 200-225 paid members.  Our main club mailing list has about 600 subscribers who can post bike-related messages that reach all subscribers, a great way to meet people, find rides, learn about trails or trail work.  We have a shed located at Meadowcreek Park with a variety of trail building tools that we use for trail building and maintenance efforts.  

Leadership

Our board of directors currently comprises the following biking and trail advocates:

  • John Lewis – President
  • David Stackhouse – Treasurer
  • Sam Lindblom – Vice President
  • Annette Dusenbury – Secretary
  • Shawn Tevendale
  • Bobby Casteen
  • Eric Magrum
  • Jip Palakawongs
  • Will Sanford

We meet every other month to vote on club decisions and provide updates on ongoing projects. 

We always want to hear from you, and we encourage involvement from all our members, friends, and fellow trail users.  Let us know if you’d like to join our Board or if you have ideas and initiatives to help CAMBC serve our community.  You can email us at board@cambc.org.

Pictures thanks to Annette Dusenbury and John Lewis

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