Posts Tagged ‘CORBA Trail Crew’

“Hey CORBA, Stop Ruining Our Trails!”

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

By Mark Langton

Does this trail look "ruined"?

Seems like every time there is maintenance on our local trails, we hear from some very passionate people within the mountain bike community: “Leave the trails the way they are!” Along with this we also get the usual “How can CORBA do this?” A recent comment even alleged that CORBA is trying to take away our freedoms by doing trail work; “CORBA is conspiring with the State to ruin a beautiful single track trail—The Guadalasca.” As I and several others said in recent blog responses, trails are dynamic, they need maintenance every so often. CORBA doesn’t decide what work needs to be done, but agrees that it does and feels that we should participate as advocates of shared open space trails.

Many times people making these comments start off by saying “I have been riding these trails for several years…” If that were true, then they’d know that trails return to a more natural, “challenging” appearance after any kind of trail work. The Sulphur Springs Trail in Cheeseboro Canyon and Solstice Canyon Trail section of the Backbone Trail are two such trails that come to mind. Both were widened and smoothed over, and many people said they’d be “ruined.” Look at them now; they are as challenging and natural—and fun—as ever.

I’ll admit, I am not always in favor of trails becoming less challenging, but at the same time, I have to balance it with the fact that I can ride the trail in the first place. Guadalasca (and other sections of the Backbone Trail) is open to bicycles thanks to the advocacy efforts of CORBA. Some people might say that even if it were closed, they’d ride it. That’s your personal choice, but I’d like to think that as someone who enjoys the open space, you’d like to do it without the cloud of breaking the rules hanging over your head. Just because you can break the rules, it doesn’t mean you should.

Here’s an analogy I came up with while out riding (always good therapy): Let’s say the agency that maintains the street you live on proclaimed that, due to budgetary constraints, they would only be able to do limited maintenance on the street. The street and sewer system falls into disrepair, so you and your neighbors put together a volunteer group to help the agency; you get trained in road and sewer repair, and enlist other neighbors to help. Still, the street becomes riddled with potholes and cracks because the agency just can’t afford the materials and equipment to do the repairs. Soon, off-road vehicle owners start using your street to challenge their vehicles’ capabilities because there’s nowhere else nearby they can do it, which make the street conditions worse. Not to mention these vehicles can go much faster than the passenger cars most of you and your neighbors are driving, making it unsafe for you and your neighbors to even drive down the street. You caution the off-roaders that they shouldn’t drive their vehicles on your street, especially at high speeds, because it is creating an unsafe situation, but they still do because “it’s public and they have a right to drive there. And besides, we’re not going that fast.” Finally, after several years, you and the agency start making repairs, but the off-roaders keep coming and start complaining that you are ruining their fun zone. They come to your volunteer maintenance days and complain you are making the street too smooth and it’s no fun to drive there. They write letters to you saying you are trying to take away their freedoms. All because you are trying to do the right thing for your community.

Here’s an idea: The next time you think someone is trying to take something away from you in your local riding area, ask yourself, “what can I do to help improve the situation?” That could mean getting more involved with your local community. Or it could mean going someplace where the trails are more challenging, where riding them at higher speeds does not impact the rest of the trail user community. Such places exist, whether it be a race or a bike park like Mammoth Mountain. Our local trails are for shared use by many different types of users, so you’re just going to have to adjust your riding style accordingly. Kind of like on the street when driving your car or motorcycle; you may have a high-performance vehicle, but to drive it to its capabilities on public streets just wouldn’t smart or safe. Just because you can break the rules, it doesn’t mean you should.


CORBA/IMBA Affiliation Update

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

A few months ago we told you about our decision to partner with the International Mountain Bicycle Association’s (IMBA) chapter program. The process is complete, and we are happy to announce that the transition is going very well. However, there are still a few things that were unforeseen, one of them being the renewal process.

Many CORBA members have recently received a renewal notice from IMBA, which may be confusing. This is because your CORBA membership automatically became an IMBA membership when we made the transition. No problem! Simply renew your new IMBA membership and select CORBA as your local chapter each time you renew. From now on when you renew, you will renew both your IMBA and CORBA membership at the same time, with everything being handled by IMBA. If renewing by telephone, please make sure to indicate CORBA as your local chapter.

We encourage you to continue to make donations directly to CORBA to help support our local efforts of advocacy, trail building and maintenance, free monthly mountain bike skills classes, Youth Adventures at-risk youth outings, Kids Club, and our web site CORBA still receives a percentage of membership dues though through this affiliation with IMBA, but dues alone can not support our programs entirely. Our Trail Crew requires annual tool purchases, and Youth Adventures is in constant need of bikes, parts, and helmets, as well as snacks for participants because many of these kids can not even afford a granola bar for themselves or come to the outing without having had breakfast. Other costs include licensing and insurance for our trailers and ride programs. It adds up! Click here to go directly to our donation page. Thank you for your support in helping us keep trails open to bicycles!

Potrero Ridge Trail Completed During the COSCA Spring Trailwork Day

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

View of the new trail (green) from the north-west. Other trails in Newbury Park are yellow, Dos Vientos Trails are blue, and the Los Robles West and Rosewood Trails are magenta.

On Saturday March 26, about 55 Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA) volunteers, including a dozen from CORBA and a half dozen from the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Council (SMMTC) trail crew, gathered to complete the eastern end of the Potrero Ridge Trail. This completes the multiuse trail that connects Newbury Park to Dos Vientos by dirt. Now when makling a loop of the trails in Newbury Park, Dos Vientos and Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, the section between Wendy Drive and Reino Road can be done on dirt. Before, we needed to use 1.35 miles of road/sidewalk.

Construction on this 1000 feet of trail began in the fall of 2009. Originally, there were plans to work on this trail during the 2009 COSCA fall trailwork day, so the brush was cut out along the path of the future trail. However, all the volunteers worked on the nearby Mountain Creek Trail instead, and it was mostly completed, with only one or two rocky or otherwise difficult sections still needing work. (That trail was finished during the 2010 Spring trailwork day.)

The fallback plan was for the COSCA rangers to rough the trail in with a sweco during the winter of 2009/2010, but the weather did not cooperate. The large amount of rain we had that winter kept the rangers busy fixing up other trails that were damaged by rain runoff. The rest of the year was too dry to effectively use the sweco.

During the 2010 COSCA fall trailwork day, the connector trail between the Santa Rosa Trail and the Lower Santa Rosa Trail (AKA Baseline Trail) in the Santa Rosa Valley was constructed.

Finally this trail’s time had come! Volunteers worked for three hours on Saturday morning with near-perfect weather. It was cloudy and cool, and it had rained a couple of days before so the soil was moist, making it easy to dig and pack without making any dust.

Some of the hillside that the trail traversed was quite steep, so the trail had to be dug deep into the hillside to reach the desired width of three to four feet. And parts of the hillside were very rocky, requiring the liberal use of rock bars in some places. But the volunteers worked hard, taking breaks as they liked, to complete the work in less than three hours. On average, each volunteer was responsible for building 25 feet of trail!

See photos of the work in our 2011 COSCA Spring Trailwork Day photo gallery.

After the work was completed, volunteers gathered at the top of the hill for grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers. CORBA gave out 15%-off coupons from REI to all attendees. After lunch, those who signed up through CORBA gathered for a drawing of prizes, ranging in value from $2 to $20. Everyone won a prize, and everyone who wanted one got a patch kit, tire levers, and a bell.

Thanks to all the volunteers and COSCA staff who helped get this new section of trail on the map and on the ground!

CORBA’s Kurt Loheit Receives National Award

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Kurt Loheit

CORBA and IMBA founding member and Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame Inductee Kurt Loheit was recently the recipient of American Trails’  Lifetime Service Award as part of the 20th American Trails National Symposium.

From the American Trails website:

The National Trails Awards is one way American Trails recognizes the exemplary people across the landscape of America who are working to create a national system of trails to meet the recreation, health, and travel needs of all Americans.

Lifetime Service Award: Kurt Loheit

This award recognizes an individual demonstrating long-standing, significant, and exemplary service to trail planning, implementation, and recreation.

Kurt Loheit has more than 20 years of experience as a passionate outdoorsman, who has been instrumental in organizing and leading trail programs with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and numerous other organizations across the nation, including the California Trails and Greenways Conference, founding the Los Angeles Chapter of Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association, and being the Resources Director of the International Mountain Bicyclist Association. Kurt has been a leader of the hiking and mountain bike community’s efforts to contribute to the design, construction, and maintenance of sustainable trail systems. He has supervised trail projects and trail building schools around the country, he’s written about trail building issues in a number of mountain biking and land management publications, and he’s presented many times at national, state, and local trails conferences. In 2004 he was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

As one of CORBA’s “elders,” Loheit continues to provide guidance on trail related topics, from maintenance projects to advocacy concerns on both a local and national level. A resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, he has been instrumental in the ongoing transformation of the open space trails into cooperative shared use. Says CORBA Palos Verdes member Troy Braswell, “When cyclists in Rancho Palos Verdes were on the verge of being completely shut out, Kurt stepped forward to put us on the right course. He guided us from a disorganized bunch of ignorant bikers to a band of pretty effective CORBA PV warriors.

“The foundation for everything we have gained was paid for with his years of advocacy experience and countless hours of volunteer work. His position as a nationally recognized trails expert and committed volunteer has given him a highly respected voice in Rancho Palos Verdes. When the city or land conservancy has a question about trails, they go to Kurt. When we need direction through the political battlefield of advocacy, we go to Kurt.”

Loheit had this to say about the honor: “It really isn’t so much what I have done, its more about what others have done along with me. Everyone has a part to share in this award.”

We congratulate Kurt on this lifetime service award, and express our sincerest gratitude for his ongoing contributions to CORBA, mountain biking and trail user communities around the nation.

Rogers Road Trail Update

Monday, November 15th, 2010

On November 10, CORBA Board members Mark Langton, Jeff Klinger, Hans Keifer, Danusia Bennet-Taber, and Steve Messer, along with Jim Hasenauer of IMBA and Bryan Gordon of the Canyonback Alliance, walked/rode the upper section of Rogers Road Trail with Topanga Sector Superintendent Lynette Brody and Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner.  This tour was arranged by CORBA with these State Park employees in response to intense public input regarding recent work performed on the “re-route” (singletrack) section of trail (west where it meets Temescal Ridge Fire Road) as well as about a mile and a half of the wider road bed to the east of the singletrack. In the past few weeks, Supervisor Skinner has used a Sweco trail tractor/dozer to fix and install several drainage channels, as well as bring the trail up to vegetation clearance guidelines for multiple use, specifically, equestrians. Many local trail users have complained to State Parks that the work was overdone and that a once narrow, serene singletrack trail has been obliterated into a road.

There are actually two separate sections, the “re-route” which was built as a true narrow trail, and the main Rogers Road Trail, which was originally a road cut that supported wide and heavy equipment.

Earlier comments on CORBA’s web site began by trying to assuage concerns of trail users not familiar with this kind of work by saying that typically trails “come back” to a more natural state after a couple of seasons. This can be said for the “re-route” section, although CORBA noted to Supervisor Skinner that the widening created a “faster trail” and suggested that possible speed control devices such as pinch-point structures be considered.

As for the wider section, based on the tour that took place on November 10, CORBA’s original comments were premature. After witnessing the complete section of the work area and hearing comments made by Supervisor Skinner, as well as an evaluation by professional trail contractor Hans Keifer, it is evident that the work that was performed lacked forethought and consideration for minimal impact. In fact, no Project Evaluation Form (PEF) was submitted for this work and therefore is in direct violation of the department’s own policy. We were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process, which they said could take several months to over a year.

It’s true that after new construction or trail maintenance, trails look bare and lose their natural character.  Typically, Spring rains create new vegetation which helps the trails recover some of their more natural character.   This has been our experience on several agency trail maintenance projects in the past.  In the case of the recent work on the wider section of Rogers Road Trail there was a fundamental disagreement between the State’s position that Rogers should be maintained to “road” standards and that vegetation should be cut wider than the 8-foot wide/10-foot high vegetation clearance suggested by multiple use guidelines–and CORBA’s position that Rogers is a trail (the Backbone Trail), not a road; that the 8-foot/10-foot clearance was for new trail construction, not existing trails, and that the trail should be left as narrow and natural as possible while addressing and achieving the maintenance concerns of water drainage and a proper vegetation width for shared use with equestrians.

We acknowledged that this is a multi-use trail that must work for all users and that there are several drainage and maintenance issues that are beyond the scope of handwork.  We demonstrated how anything more than an 8-foot clearance wasn’t necessary for safety or sustainability and that in many cases the clearance that has been done was far wider than eight feet.  CORBA’s position is that this work went too far and urged State Parks to minimize the impact of the maintenance on the only bike-legal singletrack in Topanga State Park.

We were informed that the plan was to continue the work down to the Will Rogers State Historic Park Trail Loop, and we also expressed serious concern about continuing these impacts into what is admittedly an eroded and deteriorating section of trail. Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner reiterated that moving forward, greater evaluation and a full PEF would take place and could take several months to over a year.

Examination of the new/refurbished drains that were installed shows minimal attention to corrected out sloping to facilitate proper drainage; drains were basically cut with only a few passes with the Sweco’s blade and very little additional shaping or contouring was evident. On another section of trail, an entire corner (approximately 250-300 square feet) was scraped clean of vegetation, with the reason for the denudation being “ it’s for the hikers. Hikers like the beautiful views.” This brush clearance ignores the fact that it created a large, bare, disturbed area of unprotected, easily eroded earth that will exacerbate hydro erosion because there is no root system to control runoff. Also, there was no drain installed at the bottom of the hill where water would run to from this bare area. Another section of trail further south was smoothed of ruts and out sloped correctly. However, the width of the tread was increased to approximately 12 feet, far more than what CORBA considers appropriate or necessary.

Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner (left foreground) and members of CORBA discuss the complete removal of vegetation from dozens of square yards of soil at an "overlook" section of Rogers Road Trail. Photo by Jim Hasenauer

Again, we were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process. Check back here for further information as we get it. There will be several opportunities to get involved as trail planning in Topanga State Park and the rest of the Santa Monica’s moves forward. We encourage you to get involved with your parks’ planning process and be proactive in shaping park policy, planning and landscapes.

CORBA at the So Cal High School MTB League Leader’s Summit

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

“The greatest recent innovation in mountain biking isn’t twenty-nine inch wheels, ten speed rear shifting, adjustable travel or carbon fiber. It’s high school mountain bike racing. This is shaping the future of our sport,”  said CORBA board member Steve Messer at the recent High School Mountain Bike League Leader’s Summit. The Summit is required training for all High School Mountain Bike League coaches.

Messer spoke to the new coaches about the importance of advocacy for mountain bike access. His presentation followed a talk by Matt Gunnell, director of the So Cal league, on how coaches need to train their teams to be good representatives of the mountain bike community. Part of being a good representative is giving back to the trails in the form of at least one day of trail work for each team, each season, he said. The League strongly encourages this, and many did not know their league insurance covers their team for trailwork during the season.

Banner Moffat, coach of the Glendale team and trail crew leader for the Friends of El Prieto then talked about the basics of trail maintenance. “Anyone can make a difference to a trail with time, commitment, and just a few basic tools. It isn’t rocket science.” Moffat said. He distributed handouts explaining some of the basics of trail maintenance including tools, brush clearing, drainage and rock armoring.

At least one high school team, St. Francis, will be participating in CORBA’s upcoming El Prieto trailwork day on November 7th. We expect team members from other teams as well.

“As high school coaches your voices carry a lot of weight with community leaders and land managers,” noted Messer.  “They’ll realize that X-games derived images of mountain biking don’t represent the reality of who is using trails on mountain bikes.”

Along with league director Matt Gunnell, Messer encouraged all the team managers and coaches to join their local advocacy groups, get up to date on any issues pertaining to the trails on which they ride, race and train. Most importantly, they need to let their voices be heard when it comes to public comments on proposed actions that may affect their trails.

Of special note is the fact that as the So Cal League enters it’s third year with several new teams confirmed and more in the works, not a single team is based out of any L.A.U.S.D. school, the largest school district in California. This is perhaps a reflection of the City of Los Angeles’ prohibition of off-road cycling in City parks. Almost all of L.A.’s neighboring cities have teams in the League.

The League carries a memorandum of understanding with IMBA, each supporting the other’s efforts. CORBA is also a supporter of the So Cal High School Mountain Bike League, and we look forward to working with the league as they help shape a new generation of not just mountain bikers, but upstanding representatives of the sport and stewards of the lands and trails on which they ride.

Saturday July 17 CORBA trail maintenance day at Will Rogers State Historical Park

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Where: Will Rogers State Historic Park (map)
When: 7:30am – 2:30pm
Rogers Road is a very popular six mile single track trail in Topanga State Park. The trail has become so overgrown most trail users are avoiding it. We need a lot of help to get this one cleared! We will meet at Will Rogers State Historic Park at 7:30 am. We will hike in from the trailhead to the Oak tree (approximately 2 miles) and work our way back from there. Riding in is an option too. If you want to ride in and meet us be sure to RSVP to so we can be sure to have enough tools for everyone! Bring sturdy shoes, water, snacks, sunscreen, hat and preferably long pants and shirt. CORBA will provide lunch for the trail crew after the work day is done.

Report from CORBA Trail Crew – Santa Monica Mountains Trail Day 4/24/2010

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

By Danusia Bennett-Taber

Over twenty mountain bikers joined the CORBA Trail Crew for Santa Monica Trails Days on April 24th in Point Mugu State Park. They came to give something back to the trails they love to ride.

Drain placement is very important. This looks like the right spot?

CORBA crew leader Hans Keifer shuttled a few people and carried all the tools, while most of the group rode their bikes to the work location. The CORBA crew worked mostly on the upper section of  Wood Vista (aka “Backbone”) trail to add drains to eliminate channeling of water down the middle of the trail, forming a rut.

This section of the trail was really overgrown!

Volunteers also cut back brush. Not an easy task considering that a few sections of the trail were overgrown with a poison oak!

No work day could be complete without a quick ride on a newly maintained trail.

Special thanks to the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days organizers for preparing the BBQ and for the prizes that were raffled off at the conclusion of trail work. Also thanks to IMBA/Clif for donating trail crew snacks.

Last but not least, thanks to all the CORBA crew volunteers that came to support trails. Trail work provides many benefits like creating and maintaining riding opportunities, preserving habitat, burning extra calories, interacting with fellow mountain bikers and making friends with other trail users. Now let’s go and ride! We earned it.

Rut is gone!

I pledge to come to every CORBA trail work day!

State Trail Day in the Angeles Forest 4/17/10

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Join the CORBA Trail Crew and other trail user groups for a day of trail maintenance.

Hans, an OTB rider and the CORBA trail maintenance coordinator, sits on the CORBA trailwork trailer, loaded with tools

Meet at 8:00 am at the Wildwood Picnic area.  Bring your own lunch and water.  Sturdy shoes and long pants are required.

Work will be on the Stone Canyon Trail.  This trail goes up to Mount Lukins.

Take Big Tujunga Canyon Road approximately 5 miles north of Ora Vista Street to the Wildwood Picnic area.

For more information contact Hans at