Another Midwest Mountain Bike Festival has come and gone. Hands down, this one gets the crown for best beer, with a choice of fine brews from Founders, Arcadia and Bell's. The welcome party got started Thursday night with the roasting of a 137 lb pig, and some other very nice food, complemented by a keg of Founders Double Trouble and another of their Pale Ale. Very nice indeed.
Friday morning, the Advocacy portion began bright and early at 9am, at least for those who had not indulged too much in the Double Trouble! I attended talks from the IMBA Trail Care Crew, and a very interesting one from a representative of a philanthropic foundation that awards grants to worthy causes. There was some very interesting stuff about dealing with club dynamics, and things to be aware of when searching out prospective sources of grant money.
After lunch Ryan from IMBA gave a talk about one of their newest programs- Gateway Parks, which are accessible trails located in urban areas that allow riding opportunities for beginner and advanced riders alike-- something we hope to implement at Creve Coeur Park.
That afternoon we traveled to a trail called Yankee Springs, which was further away than the 3 parks which were the main focus of the Festival, and enjoyed a nice 13 mile ride on some twisty, sandy singletrack that traversed a lot of different types of terrain, from swamp to pine forest, to a hollowed out glacial depression called the Devil's Soup Bowl (in which bikes weren't permitted).
For us, Saturday got started with Mike Dunston leading an armoring workshop in which we armored a section that had been a problem area for the WMMBA. It was especially interesting because it was a drop that was going to be used in the downhill race that was going to be held that afternoon, and the riders wanted to practice before it. This left us working under a bit of a deadline, but we managed to get it done so they had about 90 minutes to check it out. We were happy with the result, but it may have been a little too smooth for the liking of some of the racers.
After that we rode the 3 parks that were the main ones for the Fest: Cannonsburg Ski Area (5.5 miles), C-burg State Game Area (7.2 miles), and Luton Park (6.5 miles). All 3 trails were pretty different with the ski area trails winding back and forth up on the hills, the SGA being pretty much flat where you could rocket around the curvy trail which had lots of blind corners because of thick vegetation, and Luton being sort of a cross between them with very tight trail and a little more elevation change. All were good fun. The ski area was also home to a Skills Park that was the real deal. I can't venture to say how high the largest drop was, but well over 10' for sure. There were a lot of wooden structures, and it was interesting to talk to Jason, the Skills Area Coordinator, to hear about what what went into their construction.
We skipped the epic ride on Sunday since it was over the same 3 trails and instead rode at another park called Edwards Creek. This proved to be my favorite trail out of everything I rode there, consisting of 7.5 miles of trail densely packed into a very small area in which the trail was constantly doubling, and even tripling back on itself. There were many wooden structures, stream crossings, logs, culverts, teeters, berms, and lots of alternate lines constructed with material that they seem to have found laying around the site. This was something that we don't have around here, but hopefully we will be able to do somewhere soon.
All in all, it was a very good time, and the WMMBA clearly put a lot of hard work into the Festival. If you didn't attend this year and have an interest in seeing how another club makes use of the terrain and resources they have available to them, riding good trails, drinking great beer, and perhaps even jumping your bike off or over stuff, you should consider going next year, because it will be in Grand Rapids for another year. Lots of photos are here.