BK NEMBA Summer News

Thursday, September 4, 2014

As of mid-summer the weekly chapter rides in both Keene and Brattleboro continue to be very well attended by both long-time members and people coming out for their first ride with us.  We’ve been doing rides local in each town, as well as venturing out to areas afar.  Keene rides Tuesday nights, and Brattleboro rides Thursday nights – both at 6PM.  Rides will continue into the fall.  As sunset starts coming earlier we might push the start times sooner, and lights will begin to be a good thing to have.

The kiosks are up at Drummer Hill!  And they have maps on them!  We had a fantastic turnout for the installation work night – enough people so we could all take a turn at standing around.  We have put one kiosk in at the trail head at Drummer Rd and Green Acres, and another at the mid-gate on Timberlane Dr where Old Gilsum Rd starts.  There is one more to install at the cul-de-sac at the end of Meetinghouse Rd.  We just need to work out property lines so we make sure to get it on city land.  Each kiosk has a map of the Drummer Hill/Goose Pond trail network, a chalk board for leaving messages, and there are push pins for leaving notes.  We still need to put small roofs on each to keep things out of the elements.  We’ll also post announcements regarding Drummer Hill trails at the kiosks. 

Speaking of Drummer Hill trail announcements…  the logging project that wiped out the Exits trails is mostly done, but another project has begun that has led to the closure of the Bitten and Threader trails.  We’ve posted a map on the kiosks showing the logging extents and trails impacted.  Please respect the trails closures.  This logging is happening on private property.  The logger is pro-bikers and has spoken favorably to the landowners about us.  Remember that the loggers are doing their job, on private property.  Be courteous, and stay out of the way of the heavy equipment when it is going in and out on Old Gilsum Rd.  And please stay out of the areas closed for logging.   If we don’t play nice, this could end badly for us.

The beginner (or easier) loop at Stonewall Farm is mostly complete.  One bridge was put in late June, and we have one more short bridge to install.  There is a little touch up work that we hope to get to at some point.  The trail has been marked, and the map updated such that riders can keep the trail junctions straight and find their way.  Stonewall Farm continues to be very supportive of our efforts.  We will be reworking a small section of trail directly behind the Learning Center.  This trail will be used for part of the kids race course at the Bike for Bovines races, and will also serve as a short single track connector when the farm has the lower field behind the center closed due to grazing animals.  Watch for fall work days to knock this out.

Watch for some organized kids/family rides this summer and fall.  Elm City Velo, a local cycling club, just wrapped up a very successful 6 week session of mountain biking instruction and race training.  They met twice a week at Stonewall Farm for their practice sessions.  I had the privilege of helping out one night per week and again race day.  The kids did amazing.  We are currently in talks to figure out how to successfully expand this.  We hadn’t worked out the details when this went to press, but expect some sort of collaboration between BK-NEMBA and Elm City Velo that will allow us to make this available to more kids, for more of the season.  We’ll also be looking for adults to help out with this.  This is very exciting for the future of mountain biking in the Keene-Brattleboro area - more to follow.

We decided to take the summer off for chapter meetings.  Scheduling conflicts complicated things, and we all wanted to get out and ride bikes.  Our next meeting will be 6PM on September 16th at Stonewall Farm. 

We might be joined by the Conservation Easement Steward from Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests that is responsible for the City’s Drummer Hill/Goose Pond property.  We’ll also try to get some representatives from the city to attend as well (Parks and Rec, Conservation Commission – nothing is finalized yet), and possibly someone from the Monadnock Conservancy.  Peter Poanessa and I met with the Steward and walked some of the trails at Drummer Hill.  The Steward is a mountain biker, and appreciates the work that has been done in Drummer.  He views us bikers as an asset.  But the easement does have certain stipulations that we need to work within, and he has some concerns.  Trail density and man-made structures are the biggest things he was concerned with.  This is a great opportunity for the mountain biking community to show that we are responsible stewards of the land, that we respect the wishes of the property owners (the City), and that we are willing to sit down with them and get educated about what we can and can’t be doing.  It would be great if we got a large turnout for this from a cross section of the mountain biking community that uses Drummer, NEMBA member or not.  Watch for more information as we get closer to the meeting date.

--Michael Davern