Archive for the ‘Rides and Events’ Category

July Skills Clinic photos posted July 11

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

This month we had a twelve riders total, with one dropping out and another one joining us in the middle! Graham again filled in taking pictures for Steve who was rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our July photo gallery.

Grasslands Trail Reroute in Malibu Creek State Park Now Open

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

In 2010, a steep and unsustainable spur of the Grasslands Trail in Malibu Creek State Park was closed for plant rehabilitation. The spur was a shortcut from Grasslands to High Road. Fences were erected at both ends and “Closed” signs were posted. These signs were torn down by trail users and the fences cut. Parallel trails that skirted the end of the fence appeared beside the original spur. Eventually the bedraggled fences were removed completely.

The new trail has a great view!

The plan from the beginning was to rebuild the trail along a much less steep and much more sustainable route. Under-funding of State Parks, bureaucracy and distracting emergencies such as wildfires and mudslides in Pt Mugu State Park being what they are, rebuilding of the trail has experienced years of delays.

But it is finally open! (Even if it’s not quite complete.)

The new trail starts near the top of the old spur and connects to High Road a little further west (closer to the MASH site) than the spur.

IMG_6598.jpg

Volunteers are finishing the first part on the new trail on Earth Day.

The reroute was built in two parts. The first was constructed by volunteers on Earth Day, April 22. The route had been previously cleared of grass and low chaparral by State Park workers and the volunteers finished it by digging it out to have an appropriate width and slope. This segment ended at a small seasonal drainage that was dry at the time.

State Park workers finished the second half and the trail is now open for use. The seasonal drainage will have a bridge built across it so that the trail can be used year-round, and that bridge is expected to be compete by the end of the summer.

The CORBA Hill Climb contest on the Grasslands spur during the Fat Tire Fest in 2007

The new trail is longer than the original spur and therefore much less steep. The old spur was so steep that it was a real challenge to climb. In fact, CORBA used that section for the hill-climbing contest when the Fat Tire Fest was held in Malibu Creek State Park. The best part is that that new trail has a fantastic view of the trees, meadow and mountains in the background. The gentler slope now allows you the time to look around and enjoy the surroundings, both on the way down and up.

Kudos to State Parks for building a great new trail! The old spur and parallel trails are closed so please use the new trail when riding Grasslands Trail in Malibu Creek State Park to allow the native vegetation to recover on the steep hillside!

What’s up with the new bridge in Point Mugu State Park?

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Recently a sturdy bridge was built across a short gully on the Sin Nombre Trail in Point Mugu State Park. This bridge bypasses a sharp corner that has been the location of many serious mountain biking accidents. Here’s the story of the corner and the bridge.

Climbing away from the corner. You can see the rocks on the edge that were placed to widen the trail, and how steep the drop is.

The corner in question is about 0.1 miles from the top of the trail at Ranch Center Road, where a small, usually dry stream crosses it. From Ranch Center Road, Sin Nombre Trail crosses the edge of a meadow and enters a grove of oak trees. It bends right and downhill for about 20′, rounds the corner in question to the left, turning over 90-degrees, then climbs out of the stream crossing and narrows.  On the left side of the trail is a steep drop into the rocky stream bed about 5′ below. The corner looks really easy to negotiate and that’s the deception that has caused so many crashes and injuries. The natural tendency is to brake to slow on the downhill side to negotiate the sharp corner. The climb out of the corner is unexpectedly steep, so riders who haven’t downshifted can stall and put their foot down. They always put their left foot down because they’re already leaning that way after going around the sharp left corner. Unfortunately the trail is very narrow on the climb out, so unless the bike is on the very inside edge of the trail, the foot goes off the edge of the trail, followed by rider and bike, ending in a pile on the rocks of the stream bed. The seriousness of the injury is dependent on how lucky the rider is on landing on the rocks several feet below. Some of the injuries have been very serious, resulting in broken bones and nerve damage. One rider was paralyzed and unable to feel anything below his neck. Fortunately he’d just sprained his neck, not broken it, and feelings and movement returned after about 10 minutes. In addition there have been lots of regular scrapes, gouges and sprains.

There are other ways to crash on that corner, but putting the left foot down off the edge of the trail is very common.

The new bridge on the Sin Nombre Trail in Point Mugu State Park.

CORBA with lots of help from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council worked to improve this section of the trail in 2012. Volunteers widened the hazardous section of the trail a few inches by embedding large flat rocks at the edge. Unfortunately the trail can’t be widened further by cutting into the inside edge because of oak trees and their roots at the edge of the trail.

Widening the trail be even a few inches certainly kept some people from tumbling down into the rocks below, but still people were having serious injuries there.

A few years ago, the father of a young Boy Scout fell and sustained very serious injuries. Many falls have resulted in broken bones, including at least one broken pelvis.

Now an Eagle Scout candidate, the young man embarked on a project after consulting with State Park officials to fix this issue once and for all. The result is the new bridge and the old hazardous section has been closed off.

Some people will probably be upset that the thrill of rounding this one corner has been removed from the trail, but I hope that when they understand why, they will happy to give up one turn to save less-experienced mountain bikers from falling on the rocks and seriously injuring themselves. So far as I know, nobody has been killed on this corner, but it was just a matter of time.

Many thanks to the young Eagle Scout who completed this project and the many scouts and friends who volunteered to help him!

June Skills Clinic photos posted June 4

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

This month we had a huge group of 32, possibly an all-time record, to make up for the 3 we had last month! Graham again filled in taking pictures for Steve who had a prior commitment to help celebrate National Trails Day.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our June photo gallery.

May Skills Clinic photos posted May 6

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

There was a very small group of only three at this month’s Skills Clinic, on a very gray day in May.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our May photo gallery.

May 2017 eTerraTimes Newsletter Published May 5th

Friday, May 5th, 2017

The May 2017 edition of CORBA’s bimonthly newsletter, the eTerraTimes, was published today, May 3rd. If you don’t get it by email, you can view it online.

As always, the eTerraTimes has all the latest news for mountain bikers in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas.

Vetter Mountain Trail to Open May 5, 2017

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

After more than two years of dedicated volunteer work by CORBA and MWBA volunteer sawyers, we’re happy to announce that the Vetter Mountain Trail, near Charlton Flat in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, will be open to the public this weekend.

Our volunteer sawyer crew has been cutting downed trees off the trail, clearing brush, and working to reopen the heavily-damaged trail. It is in one of the most badly burned areas of the 2009 Station Fire, and thousands of trees killed in the fire have been falling since then.

Vetter Mountain Trail, May 2010

We surveyed the trail for the Forest Service in 2010, the year after the Station Fire. The area had barely begun recovering and would need several more years before work could begin. Vegetation had to grow back, hillsides stabilize, and standing dead trees would fall to the ground. Intense poodle dog settled in not long after, increasing the hazards.

October 2015 we began volunteer work, needing to first clear the trail corridor as best we could, and in many cases, locate the trail. CORBA and MWBA Chainsaw crews began the heavy work. Sawyers have cut well over 100 trees that fell across the trail, and dozens more on the roads to access the trail, in ten days of chainsaw work over the last year. We cut back brush that was choking off the trail, and reopened the corridor. Three times over the past year we cleared the entire trail of downed trees, only to return months later to start again.

Volunteer Sawyers begin work on Vetter in 2015

Earlier this year, hot shots fire crews were able to fell most of the largest standing hazard trees, reducing hazards along the trail corridor. The rate of trees falling is slowing down, especially since the big windstorms of this past winter. Numerous dead trees are still standing, and will continue to pose a hazard for some time, much like many other trails in the recovering areas. Be especially aware if you’re on the trails in a burn zone during high winds or bad weather, as dead trees are especially prone to falling in these conditions.

Volunteers on National Trails Day

Last Saturday, at our urging, the Forest Service scheduled the annual National Trails Day volunteer project on the Vetter Mountain trail. Volunteer Crews from Coca Cola, MWBA, CORBA, JPL Trail Builders, Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association, National Forest Foundation and many other groups and individuals proceeded to re-establish tread and cut back brush. Sawyer crews chainsawed a dozen or more trees from the trail. Sunday, CORBA volunteer sawyers returned to continue cutting the remaining downed trees from the trail.

Today, Thursday May 4, the CORBA team will return to put some final touches on the trail, remove the last remaining obstructions, and officially remove the “trail closed” signs in preparation for the trail’s opening this weekend.

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It is part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a popular mountain bike loop that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

Once lush with majestic conifers, and known for a series of switchbacks, followed by a flowy descent along a drainage, the trail looks much less apocalyptic than it did on our first survey in 2010. The area is recovering, but it is still within the burn zone, and will look very different from it’s pre-fire state. We’re just happy to have it back!

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It was part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a route that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

California Trails and Greenways Conference – Ken Burton Trail Restoration Project Wins Award

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

The 2017 California Trails and Greenways Conference (CT&G) was an extra special conference for CORBA. CORBA has been involved with the conference for more than 25 years. The CT&G Conference brings together trail advocates, nonprofits, and land managers. California State Park employees are able to earn continuing education credits, and district trail coordinators from around the state meet here annually.

Steve Messer and Matt Baffert accept the Merit Award for Development

CORBA was nominated and received the Merit Award for Development for the Ken Burton Trail Restoration Project, which saw 100 volunteers put in over 1600 hours into the restoration of the trail last year. Accepting the award for CORBA were Steve Messer, who led the project, and Matt Baffert of the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association who contributed significantly to the project, and who were also the original builders of the trail in the early nineties.

 

Kurt Loheit, one of CORBA’s founders who led IMBA’s early involvement in trail design and construction, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 25 years of volunteerism and trail advocacy.  Kurt was instrumental in developing the trail design principles that have put IMBA at the forefront of sustainable trail design.

Also receiving a lifetime achievement award was Ron Webster, a Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and Sierra Club trailbuilder who constructed over 35 miles of the Backbone Trail. The National Park Service received an award in the Acquisition category, for the acquisition of the last private property segments of the backbone trail just in time for the trail to be completed and designated a National Recreation Trail last year.

Steve Messer, CORBA’s President and trail crew leader, gave a presentation on the Teen Trail Corps with Austin McInerney, Executive Director of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and Laurel Harkness, IMBA’s California-Hawaii Regional Director. The presentation was streamed live on Facebook, and is archived there. The Teen Trail Corps is a joint project between IMBA and NICA, supported by REI, which encourages youth engagement in IMBA’s four tenets of mountain biking: Ride, Respect, Build, and Speak. It is based upon much of the work of CORBA with local high school teams.

Many California IMBA Chapters were represented at the Conference, which gave us a great opportunity to meet and discuss statewide matters of importance to the Mountain Biking community. The Chapters were also able to meet with Dave Wiens, IMBA’s new Executive Director, and discuss IMBA’s future, the Chapter program’s future, and the apparent disconnect between issues of importance to California mountain bikers and those of IMBA. Chapter leaders came away from the meeting encouraged and appreciative of Dave’s willingness to work with the Chapters.

Electric Mountain Bikes were a hot topic of discussion, with E-MTB manufacturers offering test rides during the conference and at Sea Otter. Currently State Parks allow Class I e-mtbs on any trails where bicycles are allowed. However, that policy is under review and may change. Federal land managers all consider e-MTBs as motorized, and restrict them to OHV approved routes also used by motorcycles, 4x4s and side-by-sides or quads. Local land managers policies vary across the state.

It was not coincidence that the conference was timed to allow conference attendees to then attend Sea Otter, which began the day after the conference. It made for a great week of advocacy, bike riding, and trail talk.

Report on the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days, April 28-30, 2017

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

On Thursday, in preparation for the annual Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days held every year in Pt Mugu State Park, I drove my now very dusty car down the main Sycamore Canyon trail and parked at the bottom of the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the Backbone Trail. I hiked up the trail and flagged 59 spots where drains were needed – mostly to clean out existing drains that had become clogged with silt from the winter rains, but also some new drains about 2/3 of the way up the trail.

Saturday, CORBA volunteers and few others install drains and repair ruts on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, a segment of the backbone trail.

Saturday morning, the State and National park services drove 17 of us, including 2 youngsters, and our work tools to the bottom of the trail. After grabbing our tools, we hiked 1.5 miles up to the work area, about 2/3 of the way to the top, and proceeded to work down. Altogether, we put installed or cleaned 26 drains.

The area of greatest concern was at the start of our work area where the trail passes through a grassy area and is solid clay. Most of the rest of the trail is very rocky. This clay section is pliable, quickly becomes depressed in the middle where a rut erodes when it rains. This section of the trail was completely restored during trailwork in February 2015, yet it was as rutted as ever after just two years. A narrow but deep rut had developed in the middle of the trail, just wide enough for a mountain bike tire to slip in and get jammed.

We learned that leveling the trail doesn’t last here, so instead we cut a drain in about every 50 feet. That involved cutting through the berm (the dirt that builds up on the outside edge of the trail and keeps the water from running off), the first few inches was as hard as concrete, despite having been rain-soaked a few weeks earlier. The drains were 3 to 5 feet wide. We used the dirt we dug out of the drains to fill in the rut on the trail. Now we have a section with frequent drains to keep the water from running all the way down the trail, and the rut is filled with dirt. Hopefully this restoration will last longer than two years!

Overall, we dug out 26 drains over 2100′ of trail and filled in about 500′ of rut! Well done, everyone!

Saturday restoration on the Upper Sycamore Trail.

While the CORBA crew was working on the Wood Canyon Vista Trail, the other volunteers (about 60 of them) worked to restore the Upper Sycamore Trail where Sycamore Creek crosses it a number of times. By all accounts, this trail was decimated by the stream. This is a very shaded trail in a deep canyon and popular with hikers, but it’s in the Wilderness Area and so closed to mountain biking.

Everyone was back to the staging area by about 2:30 so we spent the afternoon relaxing and chatting with friends until the barbecue dinner. As usual, we had chicken, hot dogs, veggie burgers, baked beans (regular and veggie), salad and garlic toast. It was up to us to bring our own beverages. As dinner was winding down, the prize give-away started. There were so many prizes that everyone must have gotten one.

Saturday barbecue dinner.

The work continued on Sunday morning with a much smaller force of about 30 total. We all shuttled up to Upper Sycamore Trail, then split into two crews. One hiked up to the top of the trail to work on tread issues while the other worked on clearing overgrowing brush from the bottom. Sunday is always a smaller and shorter event; we were back to the staging area by noon to enjoy left-overs from Saturday’s barbecue.

CORBA would like to thank all the volunteers who came out to help fix up our trails in Pt Mugu State Park. Everyone did a great job! And a special thanks goes to the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council that organizes this event every year.

You can see all the photos from this weekend in CORBA’s photo gallery, or photos from Steve Messer and Xander Tenai . Take a look to see what we accomplished.

 

Report on Earth Day trail building in Malibu Creek State Park April 22, 2017

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

A few dozen volunteers gathered at Malibu Creek State Park on Saturday Morning, Earth Day, to help spruce it up. There were three main projects: to pick litter out of the creek, to paint over graffiti, and to build an extension to the Grasslands Trail. CORBA and other mountain bikers worked on the new trail.

A number of years ago, a steep fall-line trail that connected the Grasslands Trail to High Road was closed because it was not sustainable. At the time, it was planned that a new, contour trail would replace it. After many delays caused by, among other things, fires and floods in other parks, the first phase of the new trail was completed this past Saturday!

This trail is going to have a great view!

The trail had been roughed in by a SWECO trail bulldozer in the past couple of weeks, so the job of the volunteers was to put on the finishing touches – removing rocks, smoothing out bumps, ensuring an even outslope so next winter’s rainwater will run off the edge rather than down the middle, and completing the uphill edge.

There were enough volunteers that we got the work completed well before the expected time of noon, meaning that we had a bit of a wait until the Subway sandwiches were delivered for lunch. That gave us more time to sit and chat.

The second phase will be to build a 16′ bridge across an intermittent stream. Once that’s done, the remainder of the trail can be built to finish the connection to the High Road trail that leads to Crags Road, Century Lake and the MASH site.

Thanks to all the volunteers who dedicated their Saturday morning to help with one of their local parks!

You can see some of the activities in our photo gallery of the Grasslands Trail extension.