Middlesex Fells "Welcome Back" Mountain Bikers Day
April 28, 2007
"Why couldn't the bicycle stand up?" asked Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's North Region Supervisor, Richard Stewart, to the group of cyclists that gathered waiting to embark on a ride. "Because it was 'too tired'! That's my daughter's joke and she's only nine, so it's pretty good!"
Such was the informal, friendly tone of what turned out to be a beautifully sunny spring Saturday at the Middlesex Fells Reservation – a perfect day to celebrate the Fells' first ever trail-oriented mountain bike event. Stewart, on behalf of the MA DCR (the Fells’ park manager), sponsored the event to welcome mountain bikers back to the park after a winter hiatus and to educate the riding community about the rules of the trail and the issues facing the park.
Working with Greater Boston NEMBA, the DCR invited mountain bikers to come and learn about ongoing issues, programs and plans for the park. This event was precipitated by the need to re-engage the MTB community with the Fells and park management. Last year, the MTB community made strides in the public perception with massive amounts of volunteer hours given back to the park and with renewed compliance of riding regulations. While there's much to be done, the trend is positive and park management wants to build a spirit of cooperation between the Fells' ridership and the rest of the park user community. Welcome Back MTB Day focused on educating the MTB community about responsible riding, giving back to the park, and other great programs that promote the use of this wonderful open space and seek to protect it.
Well over a hundred riders came in throughout the day and rode in small groups led by trained Ride Guides. GB NEMBA president Tim Post, and DCR supervisor Dick Stewart, along with DCR Ranger Peter Luongo and DCR Staffer Mike Arnott, welcomed each group, and more than 30 volunteers were on hand to make the event run smoothly. More riders probably met DCR personnel during this single day than over the last few years, and it was equally helpful to have the riding community put a face to the people responsible for the care and well-being of the park.
"Besides the mountain bike loop, there are another 25 miles of trail available to cyclists," says Tim Post, "and we hope to work with DCR to create some new singletrack sometime soon in the future. But there are also many foot trails in the park, and it's important that cyclists leave these to the walkers and stay off of them." Post unveiled GB NEMBA’s newest program to the riding community: GB NEMBA Ride Guides. The Ride Guides are trained ride leaders who were recruited from among the members of the Fells trail user community. They have been educated on the issues and benefits of regulation-compliant riding in the park, and are tasked to lead by example and to pass on this knowledge thereby making a difference in changing the riding habits in the Fells.
According to Post, “the Ride Guide program will spread awareness of the issues present at the park to as many members of the riding community as possible, to make the riding community aware of the rules and the benefits of following them. We wish to influence riders to enjoy the park responsibly and safely. Today alone, we were able to influence over 100 riders, and over the next few months we anticipate being able to directly reach another 400-500 riders.” The guided rides will place every Wednesday and Thursday evening for the rest of the season, and GB NEMBA also has an ambitious trail care schedule of events taking place the first Sunday of every month. Everyone who enjoys the Fells is urged to take part and give back to the park. The group also plans to partner with DCR's No Child Left Inside program and lead monthly rides for children to get them off of the couch and into the outdoors.
As smiling riders made their way back from their rides, they were greeted by some hearty BBQ courtesy of Redbones BBQ and healthy energy snacks from Luna Bar courtesy of the Luna Chix. Some riders even ventured back out to try out one of Cycle Loft or Wheelworks demo bikes. For more information on this and future events or the weekly ride and monthly trail work series in the Fells, please go to www.gbnemba.org.