Our local bike shops know us better than anybody. They know what we need, but more importantly they know what we want – usually before we do. So we asked them for their best gift ideas for mountain bikers and here’s what they think should be on our wishlists this year.
For the Seasonally Unaffected Rider
NiteRider Lumina OLED 950 Boost Head Light, $109.99
As lights get better, short winter days grow weaker! Stop by SkiRack and become a nocturnal ninja with this new light from NiteRider featuring a digital display showing battery percentage and blasting out nearly 1,000 lumens of day-making light.
For the Recreational Rider
King Kage Mud Flask, $35
It’s always 5 o’clock underneath your saddle when you’re packing this Colorado made, stainless steel flask. The folks at Old Spokes Home have what you need to be the life of the trail party.
For the Very Well-Behaved Rider
Borealis Fat Bikes, $1799-$6400
When your list is feeling a bit light, fatten it up with a visit to Earl’s Cyclery to demo a Borealis Fat Bike. You’d better have been nice to deserve one of these, but Earl’s will help you maintain some cred with a bad-as custom build.
For the Perpetually Pumped Rider
Topeak Mt Mini Morph Frame Pump, $39.95
This packable pump features a pull-out foot platform and long, flexible hose so you’ll spend less time airing up, and more time airing it out. It makes a great upgrade to your current kit, or gift for the rider who’s still assembling one. Pick it up at OGE and grab a tube for good measure.
For the Rider Who Supports The Trails
2018 FOTWheel and VMBA Gift Membership, $50.41
Start the season by supporting your local trails and enjoy the perks of membership all year long. Riders will be notified via email of their gifted membership after January 1st and will receive their welcome packet in April. Literally the gift that keeps on giving, and gives back!
Email Allison at VMBA for details on gift memberships.
How does one pass the horizon? The horizon is always out ahead of you, just at the edge of your vision. As you approach it, it moves farther away, like a dog chasing its tail.
What kind of name is this for a mountain bike trail?!?!
We had to ask Hans Jenny, Fellowship founder and Passing the Horizon trail builder, how this HTF classic got its name.
“Passing the Horizon is the name of a self-defense technique from my years of studying Kempo Karate,” said Hans. “I thought it described the trail perfectly at the time.”
How exactly this Karate technique applies to a mountain bike trail, we’re not sure. So the next time you see Hans out on the trail or at a Fellowship event, ask him to demonstrate the technique to you and maybe it’ll all make sense.
If you want to learn how to do it yourself, below is a video demonstrating this technique.
Ever wonder where your favorite trails got their names? There certainly are some peculiar ones out there that can leave your imagination wandering. In this series, we talk to the trail builders themselves to get the skinny on some of the stranger trail names from around the Fellowship’s network.
#1 – Wolf Tree
Situated on the border of the Hinesburg Town Forest near the Carse property lies the expert trail Wolf Tree. This short but stacked trail features some of the area’s gnarlier features and it just received some love from our Pro Trail Crew. Riders have guessed that the trail was named after a single tree resembling a wolf. Others thought maybe there was a tree along the trail hosting a family of wolves in its hollowed-out trunk. While the more dendrology-savvy readers out there, or those with a penchant for New England history, may already know where the name Wolf Tree came from.
We turned to Hans Jenny, one of the trail’s original builders to get the 411. According to Hans, “Wolf Trees are trees that are left to mark a boundary line. Shortly after Wolf Tree leaves Dragon’s Tail it goes by a couple of these giant old trees. If one stops one can see these old growth trees in a line that were never cut! Awesome trees!”
Years ago, much of Vermont was clearcut for farming. These “Wolf Trees” were the few trees left standing, so they naturally grew wider and thicker than trees that grow in densely packed areas. Since they stood alone, the trees would often get struck by lightning causing them to split off in many directions. This gives them that kind of weeping, short, thick, frayed appearance. Sometimes you see them along rock walls marking property boundaries or in the middle of open fields, throwing shade for a herd of grazing cows.
So now you know.
You can read more about Wolf Trees here.
Good news for all those Care Hills fans out there, especially the clergy of The Preacher. On Wednesday, 6/6, the FOTW Pro Trail Crew went up Preacher and weed whacked the Vast trail and logging roads for easier climbing to the top of Preacher. We replaced a 30” bridge that was tipping over and added a reroute to it near the bottom of Preacher above Crucible in a very consistently wet area. The new reroute flows better and keeps you dry heading into the rocky features on Crucible.
After that, the Pro Trail Crew moved up Preacher and reshaped, rebuilt, and created more smooth-turning berms from the top of Preacher to Crucible. Much like the revamped berms of Voodoo Child that were constructed last week. Normally these berms take anywhere from 4 -8 hours to build. The Pros did 5 in one day. Way to go trail crew! Become a member so you can access the network map (you’ll need it) and plan a big ride out here soon (conditions permitting, of course).
Thanks to those who support the FOTW through their membership, especially those who purchase our 5-pack deal or above. That type of support allows this highly skilled crew to get out there and get that type of work done in one day. Spread the word to donate and support the trail crew for continued high-end construction. Thanks!
FOTW Volunteer Trail Day at Carse Hills
Where: Parking on Lincoln Hill Rd (Please drive 30mph and no dogs please)
When: 9 am – 12 noon
Why: Work On Henry’s Highlands to repair damage from logging operations
RSVP on Facebook
This Saturday from 9-12 the FOTW Pro Trail Crew and volunteers will be doing trail improvements to Henry’s Highlands. One group will start up the trail and improve knick outs and erosion areas for water to escape the trail. Then they will join the group up top on the ridge to finish connecting the trail.
The second group will hike to the ridge and begin working where the trail crew installed a bridge at the beginning of the area that was logged last season. Several areas will be rerouted to move the trail off the existing logging road that was created.
Please be prepared for bugs, sun and some hard work. FOTW will supply tools for mostly benching, clearing and creating run-off areas for water. Please bring sunscreen (no more trees so it’s very sunny at the top), bug spray, gloves,water and a snack. We think we can get the entire trail done by the time we leave. Then we can open the entire Carse network!
The entire network has had the leaves blown off, drainage opened up, bridges fixed on Preacher, 28 trees removed and trail pruning taken care of. The only area that needs some TLC is Crucible which we will get to in the next two weeks. Some of the ramps and landings need replacing.
This past week the FOTW Pro Trail Crew had 40 South Burlington Freshman students work for a half day improving trail tread, pruning and carrying all the wood for the bridge to the top of the ridge. Thanks SBHS
FOTW will supply snacks and beverages after we are done. We look forward to seeing you there. Please bring a friend who may ride the area and who is not a member so they can see how much goes in to your trails. Thanks everyone and look forward to seeing you.
A few notes about Parking at Carse Hills:
Our popular high end mountain bike network at Carse Hills bridges two roads; from the north Lincoln Hill and the south Hollow Road. If riding up Henry Highlands, you will be on Lincoln Hill road, please park well off to the side near the logging road entrance but DO NOT block the entrance in case a large truck needs to remove the existing logs at the platform. There is an entrance sign there that allows you to know if the network is open or closed. Also best if everyone could park facing west. Be aware of cars, trucks and walkers up and down the road. Be responsible as always and try to get into the field as soon as possible as opposed to hanging in the road.
On the Hollow road side parking is a challenge. There is no parking at the gate entrance to the trails, no parking in that large lot below the gate and no parking east on Hollow road where the water outtake is for fire engines. Also the bump-out area on the Big Hollow Road where it intersects Hollow Road is also not a designated parking area. The preferred and only legal area is 1.9 miles past the entrance headed east towards 116 on the right side. There are now signs an it is a grassy flat area with gravel in the lot.
We are in discussion to open some of these areas up in the near future, so adhering to these guidelines will assist us greatly in this process.
Thank you for your help and as always be responsible and polite.
This past Saturday, 5/16, the Fellowship of the Wheel Professional Trail Crew led our first Volunteer Trail Day with 13 members and newcomers showing up. The Pro Trail Crew has removed a number of very large trees that were down and prepared the trails for riding weeks ago and will be revamping most of the Tri-Boro bridges due to old construction shortly.
The volunteer’s task was to start installing a new trail that has been roughed in over the years that spurs off of the Blueberry Loop to the west and passes a small water area and circles behind the cable company’s building. This will be another beginners trail and we will add some small features for those to prepare themselves for more difficult trails around the area. The FOTW is dedicating this new trail to Roger Frey, previous owner of Earl’s Cyclery and huge supporter of the biking community in the Chittenden County for over 30 years. More on this after the trail is finished!
The black flies and mosquitoes have arrived for our working pleasure. Volunteers are always reminded to bring a snack, water, bug repellant, sunscreen and appropriate clothing.
On Thursday evening, 5/21, from 5-7 pm, we will meet at the Mud Pond parking lot in Williston. A multitude of different tasks will need completing plus the clearing for a new trail to avoid the VAST Trail where it is very wet. Please prepare yourself the same as in the above list for your working and personal needs.
Finally, on Saturday May 30, from 9-12 am we will be having a Work Day at Carse Hills on Lincoln Hill Road. We plan on re-installing a part of Henry’s Highlands that was disturbed during a logging project this past season. There will be a big hike to the top of the plateau where we will be doing our work. Mostly turf removal, pruning, and benching. This is a big job so please come out and support this project. We especially know there is a strong local contingency that uses this network, so we are looking for a strong showing by all the expert riders in the area. Please mind the road’s speed limit and we will be there to assist in parking. And, please leave your canine friends at home for this one.
The crew has been working for almost two weeks now. We have cleared over 80 downed trees, removed debris and leaves from over 30 miles of trail and have opened almost all the major networks. Though they are not perfect, they are rideable. After everything is open we will be going back to take care of some of the problem areas.
Thanks to all the members, we appreciate your help and a big thank you to all who have done your share already out on the trails. It does not go unnoticed and we appreciate your efforts! The 5-Pack FOTW Membership or your donation allows the Pro Trail Crew to get all this work done. Our membership is low for this time of the year so seriously think about helping the crew by joing today.
Thank you so much and we look forward to working with you this month,
FOTW Trail Director
The trail crew and local stewards (15, 3 for each network) removed leaves, debris and down trees in HTF, Carse, Saxon, Sunny, Mud Pond and Sleepy Hollow in late April till mid May. It is quite the process to make sure that all the water-shedding installations are clear and a clean line of sight is opened on 100 plus mile of trails.
By mid May we had our other 6 networks cleaned up and we began to finish the last third of a mile on Maiden. Bridges over flowing water, armoring in seeps and benching was performed to drain water into intermittent streams and on to the forest floor. The beginning of the Maiden from Hayden East was rerouted to higher ground and 40’ of puncheons laid down to keep trail out of a water holding area.
This project included the restoration of Maiden, International and Dragon’s Tail with a RTP grant we received from the State in 2011. International was started in early June and the 1.75-mile trail was finished by the end of June. Once again we placed a 100’ bridge in the beginning in a seep holding area that is wet almost through the year with another 6 areas of bridging totaling up 120’. Rock armoring was installed in 18 areas covering over 220’ so water can absorb down the armoring to reach the forest floor to be absorbed along with benching and out slopping for surface water to move off the trail. During this time we had 4 corporate groups assist us, totaling up to 130 volunteers throughout a 6-day period.
By July 4th we were ready to tackle Dragon’s Tail performing the same type of work we have mentioned above. This trail since it leaves the parking area and travels farther away was renovated to not have sediment run off the trail but to leave the roots, rocks and natural features there. We finished this trail by mid July.
The next project was to complete a major renovation of the Backdoor starting at the top of the HTF at Dragon’s Tail and went down to Lincoln Hill road covering about 2.2 miles, with several reroutes added. This project took about 20 days. Better signage was added, lots of derooting for this climbing trail, water-shedding outlets every 20-60 ft, 220 ft of armoring in seep areas and the addition of climbable berm turns under 8% grade.
Saxon Hill was our next area of concern. This silt moraine area has been eroded to the point it is a mud hole for over 400 ft. We installed a rollercoaster bridge 24” wide, 425’ long with dips, tilts and slope into a berm turn. We then proceeded to redo and correctly build 28 berms with skeletal material of rock or logs as the base with a smooth arc on top. Three reroutes were put in of over .25 miles, 80’ of armoring and water-shedding outlets every 20-60’ were added.
HTF in September became the last big project. We have been diligent to get HTF back to great shape for walkers and bikers since we have not been in there for 4 years. Complete signage was redone, clearing of every trail from blow downs, Backdoor from Hayden West was redone, Lost was opened and Missing Link was upgraded.
FOTW trail crew assisted with Michelle Fisher for 4 nights during the off-season to renovate, inform and make more accurate the Map of the trails in the HTF. We then assisted with Stewart J. and hung all the signs made by the Trails Committee. We then, with the assistance of Lenore Budd added signage between the start and finish of all the trails in the proper color to ensure travelers could find their way through all seasons. A big thanks to the Trails committee for their vision to have better signage throughout the forest. The trail crew just finished the last of the signage this past week.
The RTP Grant from the State was a huge project to complete. We would like to thank the HTF Committee for their support of the grant at its conception. We received $26,000 for the grant and we matched it with about $15,000 for labor and materials of our own.
Finally, we finished up with leaf and tree removal in mid fall by 9/20 to ensure power equipment and noise was away from the area for the other user groups to be in there. Hunting for small game and bow start in early October so that allowed about 3 weeks with nothing going on before the openings. We then closed the HTF trails for Kids Hunting weekend and for rifle season. This was delivered on social media, our website and on Trailhub.org
A total of 20 Volunteer work events were used this season, with over 1400 hrs placed into the trails. FOTW sponsored snacks and drinks at each event with some sort of swag to give out. We raffled off two bikes this year a high end Mtn Bike and a Fat Bike in the late fall. Flyin Ryan foundation and FOTW put on a joint fun Mtn Bike event at Catamount trails that was very successful along with four area restaurants that donated 10% of the purchases of dinners for one night to FOTW.
FOTW board of directors took an acting role of a working Board to pick up the administration responsibilities that were previously being done by Andy Weiss. The Board meets every two weeks from April- December then once a month. The board and the trail Director successfully met their budgets and we performed more work this year than any other year on the trials. Somewhere around 8 plus miles were totally redone. FOTW partnered and financially supported VMBA membership template for the 2014 season. We look forward to renewing this next season. We appreciate the relationship and it was a good first year under the umbrella of VMBA.
FOTW Board of Directors.
OK – just a quick reminder, ’cause we know that you already read it in the Newsletter, but it bears repeating: Please don’t park on Thompson Drive. Please drive SLOW on Saxon Hill Drive. Please keep your dog in control in the parking lot. Please don’t leave trash around, don’t make a ton of noise – let’s respect our neighbors! We DON’T want to lose this parking lot, or have the police sit there all the time waiting for people. Not worth it. So – What are we up to at Saxon? Saxon is one of the original mountain biking and multi-use areas we started taking care of. Hans Jenny and his band of friends over 11 years laid down most of Flow, Mo Flow, Low Flow, etc, along with many local volunteers at the time. The was the hay-day for what we now call ‘rake and ride’ trails. At Saxon the huge sand moraine desposited from the Wisconsin glacier let’s you literally rake the leaf litter and topsoil off so that you can ride on the subsoil layer. Some of our best flow trails are in the area. Thanks once again to the locals and pioneers who have been trail building and maintaining for years. Through the years many of the trails have been flooded out or eroded away by major storms. Sand erodes easily, and Saxon gets a lot riding when other networks are wet as the sand usually drains well. Also, Saxon is pretty near Burlington, so a lot of people use this network frequently. All these factors have added up to contribute to the deep troughs, mud holes, exposed large roots scattered all over, exposed rock sections, and trails that now hold water. Some sections are at the point where the damage is irreparable unless you bring in material and machinery, or bridge over a lot of the bad sections. Last year we laid down about 150 feet of boardwalk in the Low Flo area that was washed out by Irene. This year at the intersection of the large white pine tree to the right, we just finished 425 feet of what we call ‘roller coaster’ board walk. When making a boardwalk this long you need to constantly change the pitch, topography, and sight lines so users can successfully navigate the board walk. At the end we banked it up high so it will push you back onto the trail. We armored a large section at the beginning and end so the pressure from the bike tires doesn’t create a hole in that area. We then continued down the trail and performed our routine maintenance. When these trails were built, we didn’t know as much about what makes a sustainable trail as we do now, especially with as many riders as we get on them. Issues like drainage, tire pressure impacts, and lasting construction weren’t big issues then because we had a lot fewer riders. That was just the time back then – the sand was so easy to build in, and the drainage seemed to be so good that we didn’t worry about it. It seems like it’s only the last five years that Saxon has been worn down to its current condition. We went through and looked for drainage issues. Every 20 feet of straight sections, if there wasn’t any drainage, we created drainage nicks, outsloped the trail, used tile drains, or re-routed the trail. We also improved the berms. The best way to build a berm is to use rocks in the center as a spine, covered with subsoil, with a place for water to drain at the end or in the belly of the berm. There are areas on Freefall where berms were built with rocks or logs at the back. Eventually the soil covering them erodes away and they rocks or logs shift into the trail and the feature has to be re-built. So it’s really good to do it right the first time around, and that often means digging a borrow pit for more soil to lay over the spine. In Saxon there aren’t a ton of rocks laying around, so at times we need to use logs. Not the best material to use as they’ll rot, but it you can’t bring in material this is an OK last resort. We use fresh hardwood logs and they’ll usually last 5-7 years before you need to re-build or re-vamp the feature. In all, we made built or renovated 12 berms below the new roller coaster board walk. The next two weeks we’ll be finishing the trail to the bottom with another board walk on the lower side that goes right through a drainage area. We’ll be re-routing part of it to cut out an area that is wet 75% of the time. Enjoy the renovation, roller coaster, and the flow of the trail! A lot of this work is due to the fact that one day a group of rider went through and said to me, “You know, it’s just not as flowy as it used to be.” This really inspired us to get out there and put the flow back into Flo. Enjoy, and thanks for your support. Mickey Stone Trail Director, Fellowship of the Wheel.
Hinesburg Town Forest RTP Grant: Dragon’s Tail Part III
I can remember it so vividly it was early fall 2003 the leaves were falling and we could see the unlimited expanse of the Hinesburg Forest western slopes. Steve Russell who at that time was the HTF committee solely had the foresight to see we were great stewards of the Forest and he allowed us to go ahead and install the trail system we have today. Though certain names pop up on who laid trails out and who installed them it was the trust and vision of Steve to allow the three of us to create the network. Steve is still part of the HTF committee but he has stepped down as president. His father planted the hundreds red pine trees in around where Nature Boy use to be, so Steve’s roots run deep in the forest.
The area we were analyzing looked like a series of steps with plateaus in between maybe rising about 10-20 feet with each riser. Finally, the area flattened out towards the top to a rolling rambling peak that stretched over a few miles. It was an endless sight line with many terrain variations and open areas where trees were 20-30 feet apart. My partner, actually leader, founder of Fellowship, and visionary Hans Jenny and I were creating, flagging and talking over each other so much on where a new trail should go that neither was listening to each other. It was like two brothers on Christmas having to share the same toy that they both wanted for themselves.
We started a new trend back at that time which was a corner stone for FOTW. We actually researched the area, walked it several times, looked at maps and contour lines, rough flagged it and then came back and made it more exact. By this time in our careers we had participated in our first IMBA trail building course and were ready to put it to good use. At the same time we had a local UVM college graduate in geography with an avid mountain and biking background, Brooke Scatchard. Together the three of us laid out what are now Dragon’s Tail and the Back Door from Hayden Hill West along with the rest of the trails.
The spaghetti type of switchbacks that are laid on top of each other create the climb to the top of the forest. This was Hans’ specialty and it allowed the rider to gain elevation, make a turn, and then have some rest on a long straight track towards the next switchback. Approaching the top of the mountain we decided to utilize a lot of the existing ledge rock for the trail. This is where Brooke’s Rocon (chain geared motorcycle with eight inch wheels) with a homemade trailer attached hauled buckets of gravel to reinforce the muddy areas between the ledge rock. I remember pushing the Rocon up the trail because we had loaded it with too much weight one day. Yes, we were indeed possessed back then. We also had volunteer days where we did not just rake but we actually had our first grub hoes put to work. This was probably the first type of trail that was benched, some roots removed, and most of the topsoil taken off to expose the subsoil layer. This subsoil layer creates a firm surface and allows you to shed water by outsloping and nicking out on the side of the trail.
Brooke brought a more engineered and technical focus to our building. He was instrumental in getting FOTW to the next level with IMBA classes and new tools.
Today Dragon’s tail is a bit different. A big winter storm blew down many trees on the top and we had to eventually close it and make the reroutes we have today. We eventually renamed parts of Dragon’s Tail to Back Door from Hayden West up to the top. The naming came by all three of us creating slogans ideas and catchy names but in the long run it was Hans who coined most of the trail names that stuck. The trail climbs the forest and then travels through the north south line on the ridge and then snakes back down, like a long Dragon’s Tail lying over the area.
Through the years Dragon’s Tail has deteriorated mostly because of location to water holding areas, lack of proper water shedding and the blow down from years ago. Large trees covered the top to the point it was hard to cut them all away plus it has allowed a lot of underbrush to grow up now that there is more sunlight getting to the base. This season the FOTW Trail Crew took on these challenges with the remaining RTP grant we received. DT was rebenched, outsloped, water bars added, a few bridges were built, hundreds of feet of armoring added, pruned, and we used our new-but-old technique of creating corduroy. Once again, we only use this technique when we are to far away to haul material in or unable to find any near by. In 5 years we will need to replace those areas again.
To enhance this long sinuous trail even more, the addition of features was added, taking advantage of existing rock, boulders and drops along the trail. At the start Dragon’s Tail was installed as a climbing trail to get to the top and then go to Wolf Tree, Passing the Horizon, etc. Now with the new work completed, rerouting and the addition of features the trail is as popular going from either Economou or Hayden West.
We hope you enjoyed this series about the HTF and the RTP grant we received. You can see it is not any one person who does all the things it takes to put in a network. Instead it takes years to create, rotating personnel, good building technique, design and a community that will support and utilize it. That is why it is so crucial to get two more folks who support the HTF and are a Hinesburg resident to join the HTF committee (see our recent Trail Crew Update).
We hope you enjoyed this small series and some of the background and key passionate people who have been part of it. Thank-you for your support financially and philosophically.
Current FOTW Trail Director
Representing FOTW Board of Directors, Trail Crew and members.