Tour des Suds 2017 – Park City, Utah

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Tour des Suds is an annual mountain bike race in Park City to raise money for the Mountain Trails Foundation which builds so many of the trail in the area. Some treat it as a real race and some as a costume party and some try to do both. The race is a 7 mile climb to Empire Pass and we were blessed with great weather this year. One of the highlights for me is the knowledge that the return to the party back in City Park means a fun descent on Park City’s excellent singletrack.

I chose to start in the middle of the pack and enjoy the climb up rather than pretend to race. I chatted with other riders and enjoyed the creativity of the costumes. Occasionally we would stop on the singletrack and wait a minute or so while riders got moving again but everyone was chill and not aggro about passing where I was riding. There was even a beer/whisky hand-up about 5 miles up the mountain which surprised me for Mormon Utah.

This guy below carved a ‘helmet’ out of a watermelon and somehow rode all the way up. He told me it was very hot but he didn’t have time to cut vents.

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We all convened back in City Park for race and costume awards. One of the awards was for the oldest finisher – he was 79 – and he finished just a little bit behind me. Even more impressive was the youngest finisher – the boy who won this was only 6!

Thanks Mountain Trails for a great event.

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Below is the author at the top of the race

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A Few More Definitions for Cyclists



Chain: Archaic method for connecting the cranks and rear wheel of a bike to provide forward motion. Dirty and greasy and the subject of continual efforts for at least 100 years to find a better alternative. Yet chains continue to combine the benefits of low cost, efficiency and relatively good reliability and have kept most ‘improvements’ at bay – at least until the ‘string drive’ came along

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salsa vest

Vest (gilet in the UK): Probably the most useful piece of clothing to own. Keeps your core warm without getting your arms too sweaty as when wearing a jacket. Can regulate your temperature with the simple movement of the zipper in temps from 45-65F.

High-vis: The popular bright lime green color worn by middle-aged cycling club members and others who want to survive on the road even if it means derision by the roadies wearing all black.

carbon

Carbon fiber: Woven high-strength material infused with resin that lightens your bike and wallet at the same time.

Kickstand: Controversial piece of hardware attached to the bike that keeps the bike from falling over when parked. Most won’t work on high-end bikes because the attachment method can crush carbon or thin-wall metal tubing. Enthusiast cyclists wouldn’t use one anyway since it is a feature similar to high-vis clothing and a dividing line between ‘racers’ and everyone else.

Fenders (mudguards in the UK): Useful piece of kit that covers the wheel reducing the amount of water spray that hits the rider. Another item that serious riders disdain unless it’s the minimalist version (such as SKS Raceblades) that can be used during training but never in a race where there is a shared joy in suffering.

Use full lane

Share the Lane sign: Cyclists think: ‘I can use the lane’. Motorists think: ‘Those bikes better get out of my way’. The more modern sign ‘Bike may use full lane’ is becoming more prevalent.

Velominati: Keepers of ‘The Rules’. 95 somewhat tongue-in-cheek rules on how to be a ‘legit’ cyclist. It gets superfluous after Rule #5 which is ‘Harden the F*** Up’. How can you talk about acceptable clothing colors, tire colors, tan lines and the like if you believe in HTFU?

Driver’s Ed: Class where motorists can learn such useful phrases as:
– ‘I didn’t see him’
– ‘She came out of nowhere’
– ‘Those bikes go too fast’
– ‘Those bikes go too slow’


Singletrack trail: Narrow trails that mountain bikers long for. Typically 4 feet wide in California and 1 foot in Idaho


Right turn hand signal: The old-school way of signaling a right turn is by using the left arm and pointing it up like you’re asking a question. Made sense in cars about 60 years ago before turn signals but makes no sense for bikes since cyclists can just indicate with their right arm. No idea why we still give cyclists this option since the only car drivers who understand this archaic signal are probably too old to be driving anyway.

Another Great Build Day at Demo

On Saturday February 28, I showed up at Demo for a build day. The weather forecast was a bit sketchy with the possibility of showers and even hail. I thought this might hold down the volunteer numbers but I was so wrong. I was told the count was almost 70. The whole group got a short orientation in the parking lot before heading down the fire road to the bottom.

Thankfully we had a few dogs along for entertainment. They enjoy the forest as much as we do and have the added benefit of not having to do any manual labor.

After a short hike to segment 4 we grabbed tools and got some safety instruction for our group from Mark Davidson – MBOSC el Presidente.

Then we spent the next 4-5 hours cutting and shaping. It’s always amazing that a bare sketch of a trail can get transformed so quickly into a fun berm ready to shred.

And the reward is a quick test ride before we headed back up the hill for some BBQ and refreshments.

Thanks to MBOSC and the BBQ crew for a great day of work. We at SVMTB sponsored the build day and appreciate the hard work of all the volunteers to make this trail come true.

We only had about 15 minutes of moderate rain while we were working but when we got back to the parking lot just after 3 it really turned on and kept up until we left just before 5. It was our first test of the SVMTB EZ-Up and we picked a perfect time for it.

MBOSC has several more build days coming up this year. If you ride Demo and want to see the Flow Trail completed, check out the calendar at Volunteer Trail Work Days and come out and lend a hand.

MidPen Candidates Questionnaire

If you enjoy the lands of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in the San Francisco Bay Area you get to vote every few years for the Board whose members have the responsibility to decide how those lands are used by the public. This year, 4 of the 7 wards are on the November ballot but only Ward 1 & 6 are contested. Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers (SVMTB) approached the candidates to ask them to share their thoughts. Of course, there are more issues in this election than Mountain Biking but as SVMTB is an IMBA chapter representing the local MTB community the questions deal chiefly with bike access issues. I’ve shared the candidates responses here.

Other than combining the candidates answers in a single document, all responses are unedited.

First, we have Ward 1 with Incumbent Director Pete Siemens and Candidate Mike Buncic with their response to the SVMTB questionnaire.

To all MROSD Board candidates:

The intent of this questionnaire is to allow candidates for Board seats an opportunity to address areas of interest for the members of Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers (SVMTB).
We thank you for your willingness to serve the community in this very important role and thank you for your time answering these questions. We would appreciate a reply by October 22, 2014 so that we can share this information with our membership before the election.
Best regards, SVMTB Board of Directors

1. What sort of roles have you had in land management agencies or similar organizations that would speak to your ability to carry out the role as a Director of MROSD?

Siemens: Past service on MidPen’s Board; Ex-councilman and mayor in Los Gatos

Buncic: In my mind the role that qualifies me most highly for this position is simply that I have spent thousands of hours within the lands of MROSD, travelling virtually every trail. I am highly familiar with the lands and issues related. These areas have a deep personal connection to me. As an educator my students have enjoyed the same. I have also been involved with many of the major planning processes in the past 15 years. As an employee of the Santa Clara Unified School District, I have worked within two campaigns to pass, plan and implement two major bond issues, one of these for approximately 150 million dollars and the other for 300 million. Within the two issues I had direct responsibility within two major projects as to planning and implementation, the construction of a new science facility and the renovation of an athletic facility. I have seen these things done well and I have seen them done poorly. In addition within my career as a teacher I have had many opportunities to interact with the governing board of a governmental agency, I have seen this go well and I have also seen it go poorly, to say the least. This a skill I see as highly relevant to my role within MROSD.

2. What do you see as the best new opportunities for MTB riders to enjoy MROSD lands in the coming years?

Siemens: Opportunities for members to participate in public planning meetings where we discuss policies and trails as part of our Vision Plan implementation.

Buncic: My thoughts here are very simple. In the vast majority of cases trails and lands should be open to all users. Only when a significant ecological or safety situation occurs should any other situation be considered. These are rare. Hiker’s, cyclists and equestrian are all welcome, and I would consider expanding the opportunities for a number of other low impact recreational opportunities. If you speak to the general public, the rangers, field staff and others, the issue of user conflict is nearly non-existent. This has been shown to be largely perception forwarded by land management agencies for a number of invalid reasons. A few incidents that may occur over a number of years either between user groups or among them, cannot be used to prejudice thousands of other open-minded, considerate and well educated citizens. These policies can only breed resentment among the public and bring the district into low approval. This cannot be allowed in an agency which is beholden to the citizens. Such policies are the source of conflict themselves, not any of the vast majority of the public we are obligated to serve

3. There are currently few trails that allow MTB riders access to the Bay Area Ridge Trail from the urban areas to the East of Skyline Blvd. Thus many of our membership drive to trailheads on Skyline but express interest in being able to do loops on singletrack starting much closer to their homes. Do you see opportunities to develop new trails that would allow this?

Siemens: Absolutely yes; elements in the Vision Plan projects include trails from the Santa Clara Valley up to Skyline (and beyond). Most of our constraints come from adjacent agencies. I see off roadway access to Skyline as a critical need.

Buncic: I refer to these types of trails as “regional connector trails” From what I have seen, this concept has largely not been considered in land planning at MROSD. Not only does it provide for a rich user experience, but it has the additional benefit of reducing both bicycle and car travel along narrow roads as well as being environmentally sound. The opportunities are many, and many of these locations will be considered under planning process related to Measure AA. I could not vote in approval of any plan that does not take multi-user trail improvement into consideration. Ill list a few; Razorback Ridge, Hamms Gulch and the Lost Trails at Windy Hill, Page Mill Trail at Los Trancos, Black Mountain Trail at Monte Bello, a planned extension of the Stevens Creek Trail into Monte Bello, the combination of John Nichols trail ( SC County Parks) and an eventual through trail at El Sereno to Lexington Reservoir, Lexington Reservoir to Skyline via Bear Creek Redwoods. Sierra Azul through trail from Los Gatos to Highland Way via Loma Prieta. and more….

4. The outdoor experience that Mountain Bikers seek is not that different from other trail users. We want to enjoy a close connection to nature that singletrack trails allow as well as the challenge inherent in navigating such trails. Other park districts have made efforts to develop these multi-use trails. A local example is the Emma McCrary trail in Santa Cruz. Are you supportive of efforts to develop trails within MROSD preserves that have similar features?

Siemens: I am not familiar with the Emma Trail; however I think single-track trails are a good addition to some of our preserves so long as they are environmentally sound and are treated with respect.

Buncic: I am absolutely supportive. In addition to the user experience you mention, these trails have the added benefit of being more ecologically sound in terms of habitat impact and erosion control. Having worked a good number of hours in trail maintenance and building I am well familiar with these types of trails. MROSD has made some effort recently in providing trail opportunities in this realm. White Oak Trail, A near open Ancient Oaks Trail (Russian Ridge) and Oljon Trail ( ECDM) show they have begun to take these into planning. Any future planning should look to include increased number of such opportunities

5. What is the best way to work with you to better understand the interests of mountain bikers? How will you balance the needs of the various trail users?

Siemens: See #2 above; also the ‘needs’ of various users involve mutual respect. I have and will continue to support our education efforts to accomplish this.

Buncic: The key concept here is simply communication. I feel strongly it is the responsibility of a board director to go well beyond the usual public commentary process and to be familiar with the thoughts of the public he or she serves. They must actively pursue it. I will be sure to be easily available, not to mention regularly out on the trail myself. In addition to my previous comments on multi-use issues, education is a key component of trail use. That can only occur if user groups are brought together to participate in the outdoors cooperatively rather than segregated. But that goes for me as well. I must be as experienced with the needs of user groups as they of each other.

6. Is there anything else you would like to tell our members before they cast their votes?

Siemens: I am encouraged that national bicycle organizations recognize our extensive provision of trails for bicycles; I am also thankful for the thousands of hours of trail projects the various clubs have given to the District.

Buncic: I can assure you I will make every effort to move MROSD into a more diverse user environment, and increase the public’s awareness of, and participation in the preserves. I would like to see a much larger segment of the population experience the settings that I have been fortunate enough to.

 

Next we have Ward 6 with Incumbent Director Larry Hassett and Candidate Brandon Lewke with their response to the SVMTB questionnaire.

1. What sort of roles have you had in land management agencies or similar organizations that would speak to your ability to carry out the role as a Director of MROSD?

Hassett: I have been a Board member of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for the past 14 Years, representing Ward 6. I have been a strong advocate for increasing the resources dedicated to land management and public access during that period and was a strong, active supporter of the essential policy changes in the 2012 Strategic Plan and 2014 Vision Plan that led to the passage of Measure AA.

Lewke: Great question. My background is in nonprofit finance, where I am responsible for accounts receivable for a $17M annual organization in the middle of a $50M, 5 year exhibit renewal campaign. Every day I handle other peoples’ money. I am also responsible for creating the monthly department income statement reports for 25 departments and project reporting for over 40 active projects. I know what a restricted fund is, I need to be able to put my hand on my heart and say that a gift was used for the purpose as intended by the donor. The largest check I have held in my hands, not with my name on it, is over $3M. The measure AA funds are restricted funds, wouldn’t you like a caretaker who is familiar with the concept representing you? With the CFO I create the monthly finance committee package and attend the monthly finance committee meetings. I have great personal and professional integrity as a steward of others property and have been the primary liaison for the annual audit for the last six fiscal years with my organization’s auditors. All six audits came back clean; no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies.

2. What do you see as the best new opportunities for MTB riders to enjoy MROSD lands in the coming years?

Hassett: With the Passage of Measure AA, there will be tremendous opportunities for more access throughout the District. Already completed is the staging area at Bald Mountain and the Summit trail from Bald Mountain up to Mt Umunhum nearly completed. The opening of the Sierra Azul trails, because of the large size of that preserve (18,000 acres) represents one of the very best new opportunities for MTB rides in our region. Other notable trails would be the mid section of the Stevens Creek Trail, trails throughout the La Honda and Bear Creek preserves, completion of the Purisima to the Sea trail, and additions to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Lewke: In my Ward I am eager to get La Honda Open Space Preserve open in my four year term. I also would like to see a multi-use trail that connects La Honda to Woodside/Portola Valley open, in an effort to get bikes off of 84 for safety reasons. This trail would be a mountain bike and road biking trail, dirt on one side and paved on the other. I would also like to have mountain bikers on a trail committee with me and members of the Mid Pen Field Staff to evaluate a system for determining where is the greatest interest for biking trails and where it is realistic. The arbitrary 60% open to bikes is too low. I would like to see it closer to 75%. Is that achievable in four years? I don’t know, I prefer to shoot for the moon and if I miss, still land among the stars.

3. There are currently few trails that allow MTB riders access to the Bay Area Ridge Trail from the urban areas to the East of Skyline Blvd. Thus many of our membership drive to trailheads on Skyline but express interest in being able to do loops on singletrack starting much closer to their homes. Do you see opportunities to develop new trails that would allow this?

Hassett: Although I fully support additional trails coming up from the urban area to Skyline, few opportunities currently exist for improving this due to land ownership issues. However, with the Passage of Measure AA, the District now has the acquisition capacity to close gaps in this area as opportunities become available. Short term, the District is working on the Alpine Road trail at Coal Creek, and getting started potential new trails at Windy Hill with links to other preserves. Long term it’s a matter of acquiring key parcels when the opportunities arise.

Lewke: Certainly, parking lots seem like an afterthought at nearly every open space preserve, if bikers can help identify locations on open space land that could be a mountain biking or multi-use trail start, that would be beneficial. There is only one of me, there are many of you, I prefer to work as part of a team, than to do everything by myself and hope you are happy. I am open to exploring possibilities, please help me serve my community by offering your input!

4. The outdoor experience that Mountain Bikers seek is not that different from other trail users. We want to enjoy a close connection to nature that singletrack trails allow as well as the challenge inherent in navigating such trails. Other park districts have made efforts to develop these multi-use trails. A local example is the Emma McCrary trail in Santa Cruz. Are you supportive of efforts to develop trails within MROSD preserves that have similar features?

Hassett: I have not personally experienced the Emma McCrary trail other than seeing it on the internet, however I will put the quality of Midpen’s trails up against any other park agency in the Bay Area. We have some of the best world class mountain bike trails throughout our preserves, designed, built, and maintained by our staff and our ability to increase the availability of such trail will now occur as public access is expanded through the implementation of Measure AA funded project.

Lewke: Absolutely! I spent four years of my life growing up in Germany, biking to and from school and soccer practice, and going on longer typically one to two week biking trips during the summer with my family. We biked often on multi-use trails along rivers between 40-70 miles a day, stopping to visit cathedrals and castles along the way. I do not see a reason why we cannot convert many of our existing trails to multi-use or create new multi-use trails. We have 62,000 acres of land, with slightly more than half of it open, I would like to have more of it open so we can experience more adventures together. I would encourage the mountain biker community to weigh in on the idea of mountain bike trails that follow a legend similar to skiing: green bunny slope trails, blue intermediate trails, black diamond ‘be sure your life insurance policy is current’ trails. This would help mountain bikers of different experience levels to enjoy open space without creating friction by managing users’ expectations.

5. What is the best way to work with you to better understand the interests of mountain bikers? How will you balance the needs of the various trail users?

Hassett: SVMTB has been instrumental in prioritizing capital improvement projects for the District. During our Vision Plan workshops the mountain bike community was well represented. Several members of SVMTB were part of our Citizens Advisory Committee. I recommend your members continue to participate in board and committee meetings as we roll out new projects. Staff and the General Manager also began to explore the creation of a “multi-use” forum to bring all trail users together to ensure that issues could be openly discussed and solutions proposed by the user groups. This effort had to be suspended with activity around the Vision Plan and Measure AA, but I think it is worth pursuing again as Measure AA see more lands opened to the public for multi-use.

Lewke: The best way to help me understand the need is to invite me to come ride with you and see what you are talking about. I am a good road cyclist, I try when possible to bike once a week from my home in Redwood City to work in San Jose. It is 23.5mi one way, taking around 90-100min depending on traffic. I am a novice mountain biker, having primarily ridden in Arastradero Preserve. You may need to ‘take it easy on me,’ I may not be the greatest hill climber, or bravest thriller seeker, but I do own a mountain bike and want to become more proficient with it! I believe we live in a democratic society and need to balance the needs of various trail users accordingly to the proportion of use they represent on the trails. I believe the majority users of open space are pedestrians, a large but growing minority is mountain bikers, and the smallest contingent are equestrians. I think wider and more multi-use trails would be my preferred approach, a secondary approach based on compromise not involving widening existing trails would be making certain trails open to bikes say on odd days of the week and equestrians on even days, so there are no complaints concerning horses or bikes ‘interfering’ with the other groups enjoyment of the space. The third approach is to have some biking trails that run parallel but separate from, or just have plain separate trails open exclusively to mountain bikes.

6. Is there anything else you would like to tell our members before they cast their votes?

Hassett: Measure AA was a real boost to the Districts ability to complete some long delayed projects. Over the course of the next few years as we ramp up our ability to make these projects happen, the mountain bike community will definitely see substantial trail opportunities. I am personally pleased that SVMTB has participated in our processes to date and I welcome their continuing participation work to implement and grow the best trail system in the region.

Lewke: I have a bike and like to bike! If you want someone like that to represent you, please vote for me and encourage your friends to do the same! To learn more please visit facebook.com/votelewke and democracy.com/votelewke Please like my Facebook page, share it with friends, post on it that you support Brandon Lewke and his vision for more multi use and biking trails. Look forward to earning your vote November 4th.

Henry Coe Beauty

One of my favorite places to ride in the Bay Area is Henry Coe State Park. It’s a rugged and varied park with fun trails and always-challenging climbs. But the real reason I go is the sense of solitude and the feeling of being in a wilderness on the edge of a huge city.

Most days I’m either above the valley fog if it’s early or baking in the heat late in the day. However, today was unique with fog clinging to the ridges throughout the day lending an air of mystery throughout my ride.

The Spring is dominated by wildflowers and green grasses but during Autumn, before our rains come, it’s all brown grass

HC panorama


and the occasional Tarantula looking for a mate

HC tarantula
When it was time for lunch I found a nice spot nestled below a ridge and out of the wind. The little knoll was covered in Oaks and large boulders with thick carpets of moss

HC boulder


Getting to the spot I walked through 10 yards or so of grasses. I had forgotten that the fall grasses have a nasty sticker that cling to everything

HC socks
I’ll probably spend 15 minutes just getting all those out to save my socks, but I’ll remember my Sunday at Henry Coe a lot longer.

Another Great Flow Trail Build Day

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I went up for my second build day at the Soquel Demo Forest to work on the Flow Trail. MTBR sponsored the event and got the word out and there must have been 60 volunteers. The photo above shows the crew just downhill from us working on the berm for a 180 degree turn.

Below is a section of trail we worked on during the day. Very satisfying to get to a section of trail that isn’t rideable in the morning and seeing it get sculpted and shaped and almost ready to ride. I only wish I could see so much progress in a few hours at my day job

sculpted trail

Patty Ciesla started things off in the parking lot and she got the ‘Jesus Light’ treatment. Must be a sign that we’re doing the right thing

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One of the things I like about working in the forest is seeing some unusual equipment. Pictured below is a hydraulic conveyor that the guys cutting firewood use to get the logs from where they are cutting up to the road.

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Then there is the powered wheelbarrow that is sized perfectly for tight singletrack. It runs on rubber tank tracks so can go just about anywhere

wheelbarrow

Very satisfying day of work and great to see passionate riders out there giving back to the sport for others to enjoy. And big thanks to www.mtbr.com for sponsoring both days of the weekend!