Archive for the ‘Conejo Valley’ Category

Giant Bikes Builds Bypass Trail for COSCA

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

The staff of Giant Bicycles in Newbury Park volunteered for a session of trail maintenance for their hometown of Thousand Oaks. CORBA worked with the COSCA (Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency) rangers who oversee the open space in Thousand Oaks to organize a work project.

Staff from Giant Bikes at the trailhead, ready to get to work on the new trail

Staff from Giant Bikes at the trailhead, ready to get to work on the new trail

The project was to build a new trail, about 150 yards long, to bypass a steep, loose and marbley fall-line segment on the Los Robles Trail West in Newbury Park, just above the Felton Street connector trail. That part of the trail has always been extremely challenging to climb for even expert riders, and no doubt many who tried the descent came away with a case of road rash.

The rerouted trail is just to the west of the marbley section and is longer and therefore not quite as steep. In December, COSCA rangers laid out the new route and cut down the chaparral to reveal the trail corridor. Fifteen Giant volunteers gathered at the Felton Street trailhead on the morning of January 16th and, after a brief orientation and safety talk by the CORBA trail crew leader, grabbed tools and made the short hike to the work area. The crew was shown how to dig out the new trail from the slope, working one after the other so that each widened the new trail as they passed, ending with a 4′ wide multiuse surface. They were careful to ensure that the trail had a 4-5% outslope so that rain water would run off the outside, rather than down the middle, creating a new rut. CORBA’s crew leader and a COSCA ranger were there to oversee the work, offer guidance, answer questions and generally pitch in.

IMG_0475

With just 17 workers, it was uncertain if the trail could be completed in one morning. But the folks from Giant were really motivated, quickly learning how to build the trail, and got the job done so quickly that there was time to clean out three clogged drainages on the trail above the work area and build a new one.

COSCA and CORBA wish to give a hearty Thanks! to Giant and their staff for pitching in to help with the local trails!

You can view all the photos of this event in our Giant Bikes trailwork photo gallery.

President’s Message: A Look Back at 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

As we prepare to ring in the new year, it’s a good time to reflect on what has happened over the past twelve months. Here’s a quick recap of CORBA’s most significant efforts of 2014.

strawberry peak trail crew Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Trailwork:  One of our biggest accomplishments in 2014 was the restoration of the Strawberry Peak Loop in spring, and the subsequent opening of the trail by the Forest Service on May 28. This much-loved trail was the focus of CORBA, The Sierra Club, and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps as we coordinated efforts to get the trail ready for opening. We were aided by a grant from REI which allowed us to bring in a professional trailbuilder for much of the heavier work. The restoration included a short re-route of one section of the trail that had always been troublesome.  Another planned re-route of the northern end of the Strawberry Peak trail through to Colby ranch is currently in the NEPA process, but the main Strawberry Peak loop used by cyclists is open and has been enjoyed all summer and fall. We also helped restore trails damaged in the Springs fire in Point Mugu State Park, worked on the Backbone trail, and our adopted Los Robles trail. For 2015 we are enlisting some new trail crew leaders, as we look to expand our trailwork activities.

 

CORBA's Youth Adventures

CORBA’s Youth Adventures

Youth Programs:  In 2014 our Youth Adventures program continued in full swing, with Mountain Bike Unit (MBU) volunteers taking at-risk youth out on the trails throughout the year.  We added another special event to our calendar, the Santa Monica Mountains Rec Fest, during which we put more than 200 kids on bikes at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Rec Fest was a great addition to the calendar, and we are hoping that funding can be found to repeat the event. In 2014 our Kids Club program was picked up by Carl Kolvenbach who is leading these monthly social rides for kids and their parents.

 

Skills Clinics: For the first Saturday of every month this year, and the past twenty years, we conducted our free Introduction to Mountain Biking Skills Clinics at Malibu Creek State Park. Hundreds of people learned basic skills at our free clinics this year. This free service will continue through 2015 and beyond.

 

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Bike Parks:  Fillmore Bike Park construction is well underway. We worked with local advocates from Ride Heritage Valley and the City of Fillmore to bring a new bike park to the town. Construction began in the fall and is ongoing. The park will be opened to the public in 2015, a great asset to the local community.  In Thousand Oaks the plans for Sapwi Trails Community Park are in their final steps to approval. The plans include a pump track and dirt jumps for bikes, along with multi-use trails. We’re excited to see this facility approved and look forward to its construction. We still have pending proposals before L.A. County, and we hope to see continued progress on those proposals in the new year.

 

National Forest Management Plans:  2014 also saw the completion of the four SoCal National Forests Land Management Plan Amendments. During this five-year process we engaged with the Forest Service on the re-examination of their land management plans. The Forest Service was sued for not providing adequate protections for threatened and endangered species, and the settlement agreement had the Forest Service reassess areas of the four Forests for increased protections. The outcome of that process was the proposed Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness. We filed a formal objection to the RW, as it would close three long-distance backcountry trails to bikes. Though these were not popular trails and hardly saw any use over the past several years, they are still a loss of opportunity to the mountain biking community. The final record of decision was a happy compromise: We now have a recommended wilderness area, but the trails will remain open to bikes until such time as a forest order is issued to specifically close the trails to bicycles.

President Obama signs the proclamation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

President Obama signs the proclamation

National Monument: One of the biggest surprises of the year was the announcement and soon thereafter, the proclamation of the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. While we were all taken by surprise with this announcement, the outcome, our new National Monument, will help the Forest Service attract more resources to the area and bring more attention to our beloved mountains. CORBA will be actively participating in the development of the Management Plan for the National Monument, both as a part of the NEPA process, and as a part of a collaborative group brought together by the National Forest Foundation to ensure as much public engagement as possible in that process.

 

 

Bell boxes contain bells   which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Bell boxes contain bells which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Trail Safety: Over this past year CORBA engaged with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council to strategize on trail safety. We developed an educational trail etiquette brochure, which is now being distributed throughout the area. The brochure has been very well-received. In 2015 we will expand upon those efforts by developing a companion trail etiquette web site. We have received a grant from the Trails and Greenways Foundation to achieve this goal. CORBA has also implemented a bell program in the Conejo Valley, and we now have several different style bells available for purchase.

 

CORBA Board: In 2014 we welcomed Wendy Engelberg to our board of directors, and the bundle of energy and enthusiasm she brings. Steve Messer took over from Mark Langton as board President, while Jennifer Klausner completed her final year as Executive Director of the LA County Bicycle Coalition. We have open seats on our board and welcome any inquiries or nominations.

 

A few losses: We lost our battle with State Parks over the revision of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to trail use in State Parks. While a win would have changed nothing with regards to existing trails, we felt the language we proposed was more welcoming to all trail users and a better regulation for new trails. State Parks leadership were chided for a mismanaged public process in developing the new regulations, which have since been sent back into the public process. However, it has become obvious that no amount of public engagement is going to change what State Parks wanted in the first place, a regulation that makes it more difficult to open trails to bikes.

California State Parks have been under much scrutiny with the Parks Forward Commission releasing findings of numerous areas that need improvement in the administration of our State Parks. Their plan will be released sometime in 2015. We are hoping to see some of the recommendations of the commission implemented, but the reforms will likely be difficult in this chronically mismanaged agency.

Looking forward to 2015, we’ll be as busy as ever. We’ll continue to work with State Parks, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, Los Angeles County, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and local cities and conservancies. We’ll continue to monitor trail access issues. We’ll continue to advocate for more trail opportunities. We’ll continue to work with IMBA at the national level, and our neighboring IMBA Chapters and other trail organizations locally and state-wide.

At the moment we know of at least three major issues that will get our full attention in 2015. The first is the previously mentioned San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan.

Next is the Santa Monica Mountain Trails Master Plan. This plan has been in development for more than 12 years, and is the primary reason that State Parks have not yet followed through on their obligation to assess existing trails for bicycle use. We expect public hearings on the trail master plan to begin mid-winter. This will be one of the most important processes for you to stay involved with, and will determine the future of bicycle access to trails in the Santa Monica Mountains for decades to come.

Rim of the Valley Study Area

Rim of the Valley Study Area

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Study will also be released in Winter 2015. This study is examining the mountains surrounding the San Fernando, Simi, Conejo, and Crescenta and San Rafael valleys for an integrated management approach. This study has implications for trail connectivity, resource protection, wildlife corridors and more.

We need your support. CORBA, with it’s small but dedicated crew of volunteers, has a lot on our plate for 2015. But if we are to accomplish everything on our agenda for 2015, we’ll need some help from you. We depend on your support and your membership dollars. You have renewed your membership, right?  In addition to your membership, attending public meetings and submitting your comments on issues that affect our trails is the most important thing you can do.  Of course, volunteering to do trailwork is the most tangible ways you can make a difference. Join our Meetup group to stay up to date on our activities. We also welcome help in areas of graphic design, public relations/marketing, fundraising and grantwriting. If you’d like to just stay on top of what’s happening and get some of the inside scoop, consider attending our monthly board meetings.

Get out and ride. Stay informed and involved. Remember to be courteous to other trail users. Thanks for your support through a great 2014, and have a wonderful, happy and prosperous 2015!

5 Bell Boxes Installed Along Thousand Oaks Trails

Monday, December 29th, 2014
Bell boxes contain bells   which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Bell boxes contain bells which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Over the last month five bell boxes have been installed and stocked along the Los Robles and Rosewood Trails in the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA) areas. This is a joint project between CORBA, the Conejo Open Space Foundation (COSF), COSCA, and local Eagle Scout Michael Young, who constructed and placed the boxes. Two thousand bells were purchased by CORBA and COSF, and local volunteers will be stocking them.IMG_2149 In just under one month nearly 300 bells have been placed in the boxes, with several re-stockings already having taken place, which means the bells are being used. Bells are free and are not expected to be returned. Using a bell is a win/win situation on the trails as it alerts others that you are approaching and helps to eliminate the “startle factor” that so many users complain about when citing negative experiences with bikes on the trails.

COSCA Annual Trailwork Day attracts 150 volunteers; 0.6 miles of trail built/repaired

Monday, October 20th, 2014

This past Saturday, October 18, almost 150 volunteers turned out to help rebuild the Conejo Crest Trail and a connector between this trail and the White Horse Canyon Trail in Thousand Oaks. This included 20 CORBA volunteers and several riders from nearby high school mountain biking teams. The work was divided into 5 distinct projects.

Chopping out a stump on the new trail to bypass the Descent of Death

Chopping out a stump on the new trail to bypass the Descent of Death

The most important was to build a reroute around the Descent of Death (watch the video of mountain bikers on the Descent of Death). This new trail is just over 1000′ long, compared to 680′ for the Descent itself, so it is about 1/3 less steep. Three crews were assigned to this challenging section with lots of big rocks, some very steep cross slopes, and many sturdy stumps to remove. The amount of work needed was more than could be accomplished by the available volunteers in just 3 working hours, so COSCA will complete this section later. However, the most difficult parts were completed so the bypass trail is open for use.

The connector to White Horse Canyon Trail is very rocky because rainwater has washed away all the soil. We removed the biggest and loosest of these rocks.

The connector to White Horse Canyon Trail is very rocky because rainwater has washed away all the soil. We removed the biggest and loosest of these rocks.

At the bottom of the bypass trail is a connector trail to the White Horse Canyon Trail. This 835′ long connector goes straight down the hill with no diversions to get the water off it. As a result, rainwater has run straight down it for years and it has become very rutted, and rocky where the soil, sand and smallest rocks have been washed away. In addition, it was somewhat overgrown. Three crews were assigned to this section to clear the brush, remove the worst of the loose rocks and build drainages to get the water off and minimize future runoff erosion. These crews finished early and went on to help build the bypass trail. Another crew was working to remove loose rocks from the Conejo Crest Trail for about 1100′ from the top of the Descent of Death. The bypass trail crossed an illegally built trail that ran from the top of the Descent of Death almost straight down the hill to the Los Robles East Trail (Edison Road). A ranger-led crew worked to rehabilitate the ground around this trail, to restore as much as possible the natural contour of the land. Berms and jumps were knocked down and raked over. The trail was blocked to prevent future use and further erosion and degradation of the public open space. Finally, a group of youngsters worked to beautify the trailhead to the Triunfo Trail at Triunfo Community Park by raking out the trail, building a pretty border out of rocks, and planting native plants in the bare area next to the trail.

Enjoying the lunch prepared by the COSCA rangers after trailwork was finished

Enjoying the lunch prepared by the COSCA rangers after trailwork was finished

After the work period, the volunteers gathered at Triunfo Park to enjoy a barbecue lunch prepared by the COSCA Rangers. About a dozen people won prizes in the give-away to thank the workers, including one lucky volunteer who won a Giant mountain bike. You can see more photos of the work in our gallery of trailwork photos. The trail crew leaders were COSCA rangers and volunteers from CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council. These folks and the organizations they represent would like to give a hearty thanks and shout-out to all the volunteers who help keep the trails in great shape for all trail users!

Join our Ride and Mingle (RAM)/Pancake Breakfast September 28th

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Come join us for a RAM (Ride and Mingle) morning! Ride beautiful Sycamore Canyon in Pt. Mugu State Park with your buddies, or join one of the guided beginner, intermediate or advanced rides.

PancakesThen pop over to Michael’s Bicycles in Newbury Park at 10:30am for pancakes!

Please sign up in advance so we’ll know how much batter to have on hand for hungry riders!

You can sign up on the CORBA Meetup page or the CORBA Face Book page.

Suggested donation for the Pancake breakfast is $10.

Please support your local community of mountain bikers by supporting CORBA: http://www.corbamtb.com/join/

Directions to the trail head in Newbury Park: Take the 101 Freeway to the Wendy exit in Newbury Park. At the end of the off-ramp proceed south on Wendy until it dead-ends at Potrero Road. Park in the adjacent dirt parking area.

COSCA Annual Trailwork Day Oct 18th

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the 24th Annual COSCA Trailwork Day in Thousand Oaks on October 18, 2014. The trail we will be building/repairing will be announced soon.

COSCA will treat participants to lunch afterwards and have a drawing for some great door prizes. Participants who register with our Meetup event will also be eligible for the end-of-year drawing for a Niner frame and other prizes!

For full details and to register, see our registration page. We hope to see a good turnout of local mountain bikers at this event!

Niner Bike Frame is Grand Prize for Trailwork Volunteers

Friday, March 28th, 2014
Could it be YOU who wins a frame like this Niner?

Could it be YOU who wins a frame like this Niner?

As part of the thank-you for volunteers who help with maintaining our trails in good riding order, CORBA has been giving away mountain biking swag at the end of each event. To speed things up on trailwork days, and to allow some really great  (ie, expensive!) prizes to be given away, we will instead have a drawing at the end of the year for all the volunteers who come out during that year.

We have a Niner frame waiting for some lucky volunteer, plus other great prizes including grips and saddles from Ergon!

In order to be eligible for the drawing, volunteers must register for events in advance on our Meetup group, show up at the event and sign the standard waiver form. At the end of the year, we’ll go back through all the Meetup events and count the number of times each volunteer helped out. Everyone will get one chance in the drawing for each time they participated.

Now by helping to keep our trails in good shape, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re giving back to the trails community, of contributing to the enjoyment that others have in our open spaces, and also having a chance at scoring a sweet ride from CORBA and Niner!

Good luck and thanks for helping out!

COSCA Spring Trailwork Report, Photos and Video from March 22

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

As well as this section, there are lots of people working up above!This past Saturday, March 22, roughly 60 volunteers converged on Wildflower Park for a short hike to the work area at the bottom of the new trail. By noon, the volunteers had built the 0.25-mile long Castillo Trail that now connects Wildwood Trail in the canyon to Castillo Circle on the mesa above.

The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA) rangers had previously removed the chaparral and marked the route of the trail with little orange flags. It was up to the workers to dig out the dirt to make an even trail tread. The trail crossed a steep hillside, so there was a lot of dirt to be moved along much of it’s length. The route included two nearly 180-degree turns, necessitating a switchback and a climbing turn. Each of these features took 6-8 people all morning to complete.

After the work was finished, the crew returned to Wildflower Park to enjoy a barbecue lunch prepared for the volunteers.

Steve Messer, CORBA’s president, brought along his GoPro and made a time-lapse video of the trail building, and of the first ride down on his new hard-tail 29er. You can see the video on YouTube or Vimeo.

You can also view the photo gallery of the trailwork.

February 23rd Space Mountain Trailwork Report and Photos

Monday, February 24th, 2014

This past Sunday, 12 CORBA volunteers and two COSCA rangers headed up the “Space Mountain” section of the Los Robles Trail in Thousand Oaks to fix up the 1.7-miles long switchbacks part of this singletrack trail before the winter rains worsen the ruts.

Clearing slough from the trail

Clearing slough from the trail

By all standards, the work was a tremendous success! We cleared slough from 230 yards of trail, installed about a dozen new drainage nicks, cleaned debris out of about a dozen existing drainages, and whacked out about 20 stumps.

From the top of the switchbacks, we continued another a short distance to fix the falling slough on 230 yards of trail. Slough is rocks, dirt and other debris that falls on the trail from above. So much had fallen that half to 2/3 of the trail was covered, forcing people to the very outside of the trail. We could see many tracks where people had ridden off the edge and possibly taken a tumble. With the trail now returned to it’s full width, that hazard is much reduced.

Next, we headed back down to the bottom, installing new drainage nicks as we went, and hacking out stumps that had become hazards in or near the edge of the trail. Finally, as we got to the lower half where we had installed drainages in previous years, we cleaned out those that were becoming clogged with silt so they would continue to be effective in diverting rainwater off the trail.

You can see the volunteers working in the photo gallery of Sunday’s trailwork day.

After the traditional prize give-away to thank the volunteers, CORBA treated everyone to lunch at Baja Fresh.

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help, and the COSCA Staff who joined in to support us!

Space Mountain Trailwork Scheduled for Sunday February 23

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Join CORBA on a rare Sunday workday as we fix up CORBA’s adopted trail, Space Mountain (Los Robles Trail West) in Thousand Oaks. We’ll be doing treadwork – clearing silt out of the drainages – starting at the top and working back down. This is a favorite mountain biking trail, especially in the winter when other trails are muddy. Our work on Sunday will help keep the water off the trail and open to riding next winter!

After the trailwork is finished, CORBA will have prizes for some (or all) lucky volunteers, and treat you to lunch afterwards.
No experience is necessary to help out with trailwork. Tools and instructions on how to use them safely and effectively will be provided. Children must be over 7-years old to attend, and children under 14 must be constantly and directly supervised by their parent or guardian who brought them. And you don’t need to be a mountain biker to help out – Everybody is welcome! For more information on trailwork in general, visit our trail crew web page.

Be sure to wear protective clothing (sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves, hat, golves) and bring snacks, sunscreen and water. CORBA will provide the tools and training.

We request that you pre-register online so that we’ll know how many tools to provide. Remember, by registering here, CORBA will treat you to lunch afterwards, and enter you in the drawing for mountain biking prizes!

CORBA’s thank-you lunch will be after trailwork ends at 1:00 pm, so bring some snacks to tide you over.

Meeting location and details are on the online registration page.