Monday, February 25, 2019

Rethinking Mountain Bike Trails At Glacial Blue Hills

This week the Park & Recreation Commission of the City of West Bend will hear a proposal from GEARS, our local mountain biking advocacy group, for future development of trails at Glacial Blue Hills Recreation Area, the 208-acre park property on the city’s northwest side. Glacial Blue Hills is already home to about 8.5 miles of mountain bike trails that over the last 20 years were built for free by volunteers with the approval of the city.

“Our goal is to expand and improve the trails here, which will enhance the park and have a positive economic impact in West Bend,” GEARS says in a prepared statement that will be presented on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Here are the key points of the GEARS proposal:

  • New trails will be machine-built by a professional contractor, resulting in trails that are sustainable and easier for volunteers to maintain.
  • New features will include a pump track and freeride elements like berms, jumps, drops, balancing platforms, and boardwalk where appropriate.
  • The entire trail system will be signed and mapped, creating a safer user experience by directing riders to areas appropriate for their skill levels. Mapping and signage also will aid emergency responders in the event of a crash that results in injury.
  • As a non-profit organization, GEARS—now part of Metro Mountain Bikers—will pay for the trail-building activities with a combination of grants and donations.
  • GEARS will encourage the city to enhance the property with a paved parking lot, a source of potable water, and toilets. Those features are badly needed by all users, not just mountain bikers.

“With this development we should see more tourism in West Bend,” the GEARS statement says. “Mountain bikers travel to ride new trails and leave money behind at restaurants, (convenience) stores, hotels and small businesses.”

This is a solid plan with good people behind it, but of course there will be opposition. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through Glacial Blue Hills and the local chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance is rallying its members to fight the plan on Thursday. Its call to action frames the situation as “Mountain Bikes vs. Ice Age Trail,” which is truly unfortunate. Hikers and mountain bikers have coexisted in Glacial Blue Hills for years. The past, present, and future can better be described as “Mountain Bikes and Ice Age Trail.” If approved, the GEARS proposal will reduce potential conflicts by keeping mountain bikers off the Ice Age Trail and on clearly-designated, bike-specific trails. This plan has my enthusiastic support. If it has yours, then join me this Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Fitting Cheesehead Roubaix To A “T”

All along the Cheesehead Roubaix route you will find signs inspired by the roadside atmosphere of the Spring Classics in northern Europe. Some assist with wayfinding, but most are intended humorously. Of the latter, nothing has been more popular than the ContrĂ´le Anti-Dopage signs on the bathroom doors at the rest stop in Belgium. (Don’t worry, you won’t actually be tested for performance-enhancing drugs.) I can tell you anecdotally that these signs have prompted more comments and more photos than all other signs combined.

So, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Cheesehead Roubaix, the good folks at BELGIANWERKX have created this commemorative T-shirt:

You can buy shirts online, at the store, or at Newburg Fireman’s Park at the end of the ride on April 28. Proceeds will be donated to the all-volunteer Newburg Fire Department. Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of Cheesehead Roubaix history!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

That Will Take A Bite

Today I had a dental appointment. Routine, right, just a cleaning and checkup? That’s how it started, but it finished with the decision to extract a tooth that has been giving me trouble for more than 20 years. Next Monday I will be back in the dentist’s chair to begin the process: off with the existing bridge work, out with the bad tooth, et cetera. At a subsequent visit the new bridge work will go on and I’ll be more than $3,000 poorer. It’s a big financial hit for sure. In response, I will postpone a couple of equipment purchases that I hoped to make for the 2019 cycling season: no new wheels, no new helmet. They were “wants” and not “needs” anyway.

I got on the bike yesterday afternoon after a 3-week absence. My ride was a slow 25 miles around West Bend, but it kept a streak alive: I have ridden outside at least once in every month since February 2014. With temperatures in the 40s there was no doubt I would hit the road despite a misty gloom.

Saturday was pretty dull looking too and not as warm, but it was good enough for my first snowshoeing adventure since last February. I walked for 90 minutes through Lac Lawrann Conservancy and Royal Oaks Park. There might be more snowshoeing in the immediate future. We’re going back below freezing tonight and it looks like a few inches of fresh snow will fall throughout the week.

It will be a while before I can ride outside consistently, but this weekend was a nice break from the deep freeze … and from the turbo trainer.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!

From one Washington County to another, congratulations to Fayetteville AR, which today was announced as the site of the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships! Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas in the fast-growing northwest corner of the state. Unlike most other sites that have held the World Championships, Fayetteville has not held a UCI World Cup event. You can bet, though, that USA Cycling will ensure it hosts a couple of C1/C2 weekends in the next few years to prepare.

In 2013, Louisville KY became the first American city to host the World Championships.

The UCI also confirmed today that the United States will continue to host the first two rounds of the World Cup next season: Jingle Cross in Iowa City IA on September 14 and World Cup Waterloo at Trek’s corporate headquarters near Madison on September 22. I'm sure I will be in Waterloo again to spectate. It’s too early to know whether I will be able to attend the World Championships in 2022, but I’m hog wild about the idea!