Ochs gives trail report
by Olivia Lueckemeyer
To celebrate another season of building and maintaining trails, the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) will hold its annual kickoff party and another trail workday this weekend in accordance with the June 4 National Trails Day.
Executive director Dave Ochs says the mission of the workday—dubbed the Strand Hill Revival—is to work on 14 sections of the Strand network where major leaks, seeps and wet areas have affected user experience and overall quality of the trails.
“We are not affecting the character or integrity of the Strand downhill by any means; we all love it and it rides great,” Ochs explained. “But it’s one of our earliest trails to open, so if it was properly and sustainably maintained, then you could go for a ride and not come home a muddy mess.”
Unlike other trail workdays, the Strand Hill Revival will involve less building and more repairing, Ochs explains. Attendees can expect to help with rock armoring and shagging, raising the tread, and working with wheelbarrows and shovels. He encourages those with creative minds and a penchant for engineering to join the fun, since much of the work will involve improving the drainage and creating hard surfaces to encourage more sustainable trail.
“It’s really fun work and people can get creative,” he said.
A workday party will follow with prizes courtesy of CBMBA sponsors, as well as pizza provided by the Brick Oven and New Belgium beer.
To learn more about the workday and what CBMBA has planned for the future, the organization will hold its annual kickoff party and pig roast on Friday, June 3 at the Yelenick Pavilion behind the Center for the Arts. The party will begin with a group ride of local trails at 3 p.m. (all levels and all abilities welcome), followed by free New Belgium beer and food at 5 p.m. for the first 100 people to attend. Ochs encourages community members to come sign up or renew their annual memberships or sponsorships. CBMBA will also be introducing its updated long-term plan and will be soliciting feedback.
“We’d love to get comments and feedback from our membership as to what they would like to see from CBMBA in the future and their ideas about stewardship, advocacy, more trails, et cetera, “ Ochs said.
Those interested in attending the workday can meet Ochs and the CBMBA crew at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 4 at Canal Trail on Brush Creek Road. Work could continue as late as 6 p.m., and for those who cannot attend due to a scheduling conflict with Crested Butte Community School graduation, the workday will resume at the same time and place on Sunday morning. Alpine Express will provide a shuttle to and from the Four-way Stop to the trailhead starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday only. If possible, please carpool or ride to the trailhead. Whether it’s for an hour or all day, CBMBA urges the community to join in the fun.
Trail Report: What’s open, what to expect and what to avoid
Early-season biking is in full swing, but many trails are still too wet to ride. Open trails include Snodgrass, Stand Hill and the Lupine Trail, and Ochs reports the 409 and Deer Creek should be the next spots to become accessible.
When it comes to choosing where you recreate, Ochs advises mountain bikers to use their best judgment. A good rule of thumb is to look for tire marks.
“If your tire is leaving an imprint, you probably shouldn’t be riding there,” he said. “It’s about future resource damage, because it takes a while for that stuff to heal. Do the right thing and wait for stuff to open.”
Ochs also encourages users to respect the local ranching community by keeping gates closed and not trespassing. Many of the trails are situated on permitted lands where livestock graze and mountain bikers are considered guests, so Ochs advises users to keep that in mind.
“Make sure from a mountain bike point of view that we are a positive impact on our public lands and with our neighbors and other users,” he said.
When it comes to fellow users, mountain bikers are expected to yield to hikers and horses. However, sometimes it makes more sense for hikers to clear the path first, so once again Ochs encourages employing best judgment.
“For the most part bikers should know the hierarchy, but if everyone can respect each other, that’s the best policy,” he said.
CBMBA has received a grant from the Forest Service to begin work on the Crystal Peak Trail/#583. According to Ochs, the trail will require a sustainable, responsible reroute before it is ready to ride in late June or July.
“It takes time to get that stuff up high, and there’s some good dark timber areas that hold snow,” Ochs said. “If we can put in more sustainable track it should be more user-friendly, and that is the goal.”
The organization is also planning a potential reroute of the left end of Deer Creek, but that may not be possible until later in the year. It is also hoping to begin work on Baxter’s Gulch Trail, the 401, and the Happy Hour Trail.
“Our ultimate goal is a paid trail crew for the whole season, but that’s in the future,” Ochs said.
For up-to-date trail information, visit www.cbmba.org.