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2016 Boogie in the Barn Was Divine!

CAMBA’s second annual fund raising gala, Boogie in the Barn, was a great success. Thank you to everyone who attended, made a donation, purchased an auction item, or helped organize and and present the event. The weather certainly made things challenging, but in the spirit of the event, almost everyone who purchased a ticket showed up, plus a number of others who purchased tickets at the door.  The rain certainly did not dampen anyone’s spirits.

A particularly big thanks goes out to Matt and Kim Dale for the use of the Sylvan Dale Barn.  It was an extraordinary venue; you could see people’s eyes light up and jaws drop as they made their way into the barn and its enchanting environs.

Our good friend Dale Vaillancourt and Divine Swine deserve a very special thanks for their generous sponsorship of the evening’s outstanding meal. Similarly, Angry Minnow and the Wine Cave helped make the evening a success through their solid support. Last but not least, our major sponsors Trek and Farmers Insurance helped underwrite some of the costs of the event, for which we are very grateful. And the many volunteers who donated so much of their time also deserve a significant thanks.

Randy Sabien and Friends provided an outstanding evening of music and kept the crowd thoroughly entertained and on the dance floor throughout the evening. And the auctions were equally entertaining.  In the end, the evening’s programming came off smoothly, without a single hitch.

The 2016 Boogie in the Barn helped raise over $16,000 to help support CAMBA’s trail development and maintenance efforts. This event, in conjunction with donations from several large area races, will help CAMBA approach next season’s trail work and related projects with complete confidence knowing that most of the work to which we aspire will be funded.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this great event a success.


CAMBA East-West Connection Completed

On Tuesday, November 3, a group of volunteers “drove the golden spike,” so to speak, and completed the final segment of the trails connecting the Cable Cluster to the Namakagon Cluster.  Over six years in the making, this eight-mile combination of new trails helps fill out one of the remaining connections in CAMBA’s 90-mile plus system of interconnected singletrack trails.

The Treasures’ Trace trail runs from the Rock Lake bike trail near Emerson Lake, 3.5 miles west to the boundary of the national forest.  From here, Danky Dank, which was completed earlier this summer, runs 4.5 miles to connect with the Esker Trail.  It is necessary to ride in on the Esker about two miles from Spider Lake Firelane to pick up Danky Dank. The total 10-mile through-ride is about as diverse a series of trails as you are going to find in the CAMBA system, each trail with very different character and personality, sometimes changing several times within a few miles.

John Leighton has been the lead volunteer and advocate for Treasures’ Trace and has been holding regular volunteer workdays.  This year the team has put in over 750 hours and constructed 1.1 miles of trail. This segment of trail has been entirely hand built.  Earlier this summer CAMBA deployed one of its paid summer trail crews to help advance the project. Their five-week stint on the trail yielded another .9 mile.

Treasures’ Trace is a narrow, benchcut traditional singletrack trail through the big woods of the Chequamegon-Nicolet national forest. It is a mature forest and the trail winds through varied glacial topography and forest types.  Among the scenic highlights is a vista of the headwaters of Cap Creek, a tributary of the Namekagon River. Generally intermediate overall, the trail is accessible by most riders, and features occasional moderate rock features.

Presently, there is little signage, which will be installed for next season. Once a rider reaches the Rock Lake Trail, they will have the option of turning left and riding two miles directly to the Rock Lake Trailhead if they do not wish to complete the eight-mile balance of the Rock Lake loop. There are a couple of bailout options too, to return via Rock Lake Road.

Matt Dale was the architect and project leader of Danky Dank, which was constructed over a similar timeline. Early portions closest to the Esker Trail were hand built and follow the southward continuation of the mile-long esker. This is old-school riding, on the more difficult edge of the spectrum and a pretty cool ride along the esker. Along with Matt, much of this was constructed by Cable and Hayward area volunteers including Jack Moin, Joe Kelsey and Dave Cook, along with a host of other workers.  Contributing to its eclectic character was the use of three different excavator operators on the machine built segments of the trail, each offering up his own flair for trail building.  After about the first mile of hand built trail, machine building commences with occasional challenging rock sections, before morphing in to a full-on romping flow style trail with big bermed turns and climbs through some very remote woods. The rocks return shortly before the end of Danky Dank with some extended rock ride-overs to add some spicy punctuation to the trail.  Because of some of the rock segments along the way, CAMBA’s technical trail classification considers this a “most difficult” trail – relative to the trails in the CAMBA system.

These trails are terrific additions to the CAMBA system, adding more great singletrack riding in the Cable and Namakagon areas. A huge CAMBA thank you to the project leaders, John Leighton and Matt Dale, for their efforts to help realize this part of the CAMBA vision.


CAMBA Today…And into the future

CAMBA is now in its 23rd year of maintaining and developing trails in Bayfield and Sawyer Counties in Northwest Wisconsin.  The bounty of public land throughout the area continues to be our greatest asset and has been instrumental in our success in gaining access to a significant land base that has provided a tremendous variety of wonderful areas in which to site trails. The result has been the creation of a vast interconnected network of trails spanning large distances.

Over the past 23 years the CAMBA system has evolved from a network of nearly 300 miles of mapped and marked off-road routes with hardly any singletrack to one of the largest true singletrack-based trail systems, with 90-plus miles of purpose-built singletrack trails. In 2010 the Rock Lake/Namakagon/Patsy Lake Trails were designated an IMBA Epic Ride: 31 miles, almost entirely singletrack.  Last year CAMBA dedicated the completion of an equally epic ride including the Ojibwe, FlowMama, Seeley Pass, Makwa, and Hatchery Creek Trails that run uninterrupted from Cable to Hayward – a distance of 34 miles.  When you add in the balance of the loops that comprise Ojibwe and Hatchery Creek, that’s a total of 44 miles.

Nearing completion is another connecting route from Cable to Namakagon that comprises the Esker, Danky Dank and Treasures’ Trace trails, another 11 to 13 miles depending where you start on the west end. Last but certainly not least is CAMBA’s newest foothold in northern Bayfield County near Mt. Ashwabay where by the end of this building season there will close to 10 miles of singletrack.

There is no magic number of how much singletrack we hope to have on the system and our goal is not to simply keep building for all eternity. As our system nears build out, we will look at ways in which the existing system can be improved and enhanced, but on a much smaller scale than in the past. One notable deficiency of the system is the lack of loops, as so much of the interconnection of the system dictated point-to-point trails. This is something we hope to rectify over time. Perhaps not to the extent that every current linear trail becomes part of a loop, but when possible return routes will be considered.

As or more important than our trail development initiatives is our commitment to maintaining and improving the trails that we have.  The first CAMBA singletrack was built in 1999 at a time when admittedly we were far less knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of trail siting and design. Our work force has also changed considerably since that time, from volunteer crews of teenagers doing community service to more mature volunteers with actual trail building knowledge to paid summer crews and hired professional equipment operators. The past couple of summers we have fielded three crews that worked from the beginning of June through mid-August. In addition, we have annually contracted a mini-excavator operator for roughly that same time period.  The crews’ work has been divided between new trail construction and maintenance and trail rehabilitation.  Our trails budget has shifted from the vast majority being allocated to trail construction to 50 percent and now closer to two-thirds dedicated to maintenance.

Maintenance not only includes routine tasks such as clearing deadfalls, trimming and cutting brush, mowing edges, and similar chores, it also includes significant work on our oldest trails that require improved drainage, upgrades to the trail tread and when necessary, minor and major reroutes to site the trails in better locations that not only improve their sustainability, but offer a higher quality trail riding experience.  Many of our more classic trails such as Ojibwe, Hatchery Creek, part of Makwa and Rock Lake will all see efforts to return these trails to their original character and intended degree of difficulty. Many have morphed into something other than they were designed to be and it is our commitment to bring these riding experiences back to what they once were.

This is not to say that all of these trails will be dumbed down and rendered a sissified ride.  It has, however, been our experience that several of our trails due to the way they have evolved, have lost ridership and that is counter-productive to why these trails were created in the first place. Quite the contrary, it is our goal to increase ridership on these trails, but to accomplish that, improvements to those trails must be made. Work to accomplish this goal began last year on CAMBA’s oldest singletrack, the Ojibwe Trail. Work continued this season and is expected to be completed next summer. Similarly, work on Hatchery Creek and Makwa Trails has yielded significant improvements.  Most of these trails carry an Intermediate/Blue level of difficulty rating. Some push that a little to the more difficult side of intermediate, and it is at these levels that we hope to keep these trails. Our research has shown time and again, that riders coming to the Chequamegon Area are seeking the long ride over the tough and technical. It is our belief that we have a sufficient amount of challenging trail to satisfy those looking for that type of ride.  If anything, we need to develop more Easy/Green trails that provide a gateway or entry-level experience, and this is indeed something we aspire to achieve.

Like many trail organizations CAMBA has discovered and embraced the flow trail as a fun, fast-riding alternative to tightly winding, narrow benchcut singletrack. Contemporary trail concepts and gravity features have reinvigorated the trail riding experience in the Chequamegon. We have no intention, however, of converting everything to a flow trail character and there will always be a good balance of old- and new-school trails in the CAMBA system. As we have learned more about contemporary trail design, however, we have begun to blend flow characteristics and features into a more traditional cross country trail with good success.

Flow trails, of course, require moving a whole lot more dirt, and to do that machine building is required.  CAMBA has been machine building on a small scale for many years.  Parts of Rock Lake, Namakagon, Makwa, Hatchery Creek and Seeley Pass were machine built. More recently, FlowMama, Danky Danky and Mt. Ashwabay have been predominantly machine built. Hand building continues on Treasures’ Trace and parts of Ojibwe. Again, it is our expectation that there will continue to be a balance between hand and machine built trail on the CAMBA system.

To accomplish our lofty trail development and maintenance goals, CAMBA has really had to up its game when it comes to fund raising. We have been extremely fortunate to garner the support of Trek Bicycles, LifeTime Fitness/Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, the Chequamegon 100 and the Borah Epic, all of which have directed significant funds to CAMBA’s trail initiatives.  A donor campaign is now part of our annual fund raising effort and this summer, on August 22 CAMBA will hold its first-ever gala fund raiser, Boogie in the Barn.

Where is CAMBA headed? Much of that has already been alluded to, but as part of a recent strategic planning initiative, CAMBA has developed a five-year plan that lays out many of the smaller and larger initiatives we see coming down the pike.  One such initiative is the development of a small bike park at Hatchery Creek Park in Hayward. Mt. Ashwabay is slated to expand over the next three or four years to 20 to 25 miles of singletrack. More interconnection and linkages are under consideration within the existing system. And most importantly, there will be an ongoing focus on maintaining and improving what we have to secure our legacy of trail advocacy in the Chequamegon Area.


CAMBA Trails Receive IMBA Ride Center Designation

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) based in Boulder, Colorado, has announced its 2014 class of Model Trails designees. Among IMBA’s Model Trails program is a category of Ride Centers. The Ride Center designation represents IMBA’s Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider and are destination-worthy areas that include everything from backcountry adventures to shuttle-served gravity trails and range from expert-only to family-friendly.

As part of this year’s class, the CAMBA trails have been designated a Bronze Level Ride Center. There are only 27 Ride Centers around the world and the Chequamegon Area Ride Center is the only one in the state of Wisconsin among just four in the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes states.

“This is a significant recognition of the great trails we have developed across our area,” reflects CAMBA Executive Director Ron Bergin.  “We believe that the trails of the Chequamegon Area are among the best in the country; to receive this prestigious designation is validation of that belief.”

A local or regional trail system must be invited to apply to receive Ride Center designation.  CAMBA submitted a proposal to request to be invited this past winter and was subsequently invited to submit an application. The application was submitted in May and has since been reviewed by IMBA staff and the regional director. “Before deciding to apply for Ride Center designation,” Bergin explained, “we assembled a team of local riders that were familiar with the trails and the infrastructure of our trail system and did a self-assessment to be sure we had a solid chance. Our work quickly showed that we would score at least on the Bronze Level and even perhaps at the Silver Level. This encouraged us to move ahead with the process.”

Ride Center applications are scored on an objective point system that includes everything from the quality and type of trails, degree of difficulty, climbing, descending, technicality, special features, amenities, services, and community support.  “Our specialty is cross country riding,” notes Bergin.  “We have far more interconnected cross country mountain bike trails than any place in the Midwest and rival other parts of the country. Obviously we don’t have the terrain for extensive downhill or freeride experiences, so we didn’t score as well in those categories.”

Bergin noted, however, that as enhancements and improvements continue to be made throughout the CAMBA system, it would be possible to be elevated to a Silver Level Ride Center.

“Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of being named an IMBA Ride Center,” Bergin adds, “is that we are now, deservedly, thrust on to the national stage of mountain bike destinations.” Riders look to the list of IMBA Ride Centers and plan their travels to experience popular mountain bike trail systems across the country. It can be anticipated that more riders will flock to the region to experience the CAMBA Ride Center in conjunction with the three other Upper Midwest Ride Centers, all within a few hours drive of each other.  “As surprising as it may sound,” Bergin notes, “we’ve actually struggled to get the word out about what we have here.  The Ride Center designation will go a long way to improve both the awareness and perception of the CAMBA trails.”

“We are extremely grateful to the local communities and agencies that offered their support for our Ride Center proposal. I am confident this unabashed support for our efforts played a role in our designation,” Bergin concludes.

To learn more about the IMBA Models Trails and Ride Center programs visit www.imba.com/model-trails. Visit the CAMBA website at www.cambatrails.org to learn more about mountain biking in the Chequamegon Area.


A Most Successful Season

Mother Nature abruptly slammed the door on the 2014 mountain biking season only 10 days into November.  And while we could have anticipated another several weeks of riding, the regular season has officially come to a close. It’s time to look to other activities including fat biking on local roads and a couple of groomed trails, and of course, to reflect.

The 2014 season was notable in many ways. Past newsletters have chronicled in detail our trail accomplishments and we are quite satisfied to say that we came close to completing just about everything we set out to do. It was an ambitious and challenging trail construction season that was complicated from the start by losing our excavator operator just before we were to begin work. A lot of resourceful networking managed to salvage that situation in grand fashion and we were off and running.

This was the first season that we attempted to field three summer crews: a three-person maintenance crew dedicated to routine maintenance across the entire system, a five-person hand building crew digging new trail and performing rehab work, and a four-person finish crew working behind the excavator. We also ended up working with three different excavator operators on many different projects. It was an extremely challenging and at times stressful undertaking to oversee all of these crews, operators, and projects. A summary of trail projects follows this report.

With an extremely ambitious slate of project and maintenance work, and having to address the excavator operator situation, we also spent considerably more than we planned on the trails this season. Fund raising to support these needs was helpful, but we did need to tap our reserves to see it all through.

A strategic planning effort got underway early last season that strove to address a number of basic and more long range issues and initiatives. As  a result, several new committees were formed and tasked with furthering CAMBA’s many-pronged mission.

Particularly gratifying this year were two significant accomplishments: major media coverage and IMBA Ride Center designation. The media coverage came as the result of a media tour facilitated by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, which hired Geiger PR to set everything up. Locally, the chambers of commerce with considerable input from CAMBA, made things happen on the ground. The media represented all kinds of publications, including two mountain bike-specific magazines, Mountain Bike Flyer and Mountain Bike Action.  Both produced fantastic features on the trails. There were numerous other mentions and small features about the trails in many of the other more “main stream” media participating in the tour.

But the crowning feather in CAMBA’s cap was finally being designated an IMBA Ride Center. As a bronze level ride center we are now among only 27 such designated centers in the world, including just 20 in the U.S., and four in the Midwest.

We are truly proud of our accomplishments over the past 22 years – and to receive this kind of national recognition in both the media and from IMBA, not only validates what we’ve known all along – that we have one of the best trail systems anywhere – but it puts the Chequamegon Area on the map like never before.


2014 CAMBA Annual Meeting

The CAMBA annual meeting was held on October 10 at the Sawmill Saloon. The well-attended meeting included the usual business of electing new directors as well as a series of reports on the season’s initiatives.

CAMBA President Steve Morales lead off with a recap of our strategic planning implementation, the strengthening of communication among trail stewards/project leaders and the board, revised bylaws, creation and implementation of a new committee structure, the development of a five-year trail plan that was subsequently approved by Sawyer County, manuals for employees, foremen and supervisors; a new volunteer recognition program, and a collaborative trail layout procedure. Steve noted that regarding trails, we have begun to shift our focus to maintenance and upgrading the existing system over new construction. Future concerns that were identified included the need for additional volunteers or raising additional funds to ensure that CAMBA can continue to function at its traditional level of production.

Executive Director Ron Bergin presented the Financial Report and Executive Director’s Report.  Revenues increased over 2013, but expenses, mainly trail expenditures, significantly outpaced additional revenues due to having to employ additional equipment operators and extending the building season. The shortfall was covered by funds on hand. The full financial report was distributed at meeting.

Ron recapped difficulties of the summer building season: loss of planned excavator operator, wet weather, and multiple crews working throughout the system, but noted that it was one of  CAMBA’s most successful building seasons in spite of the challenges. IMBA Ride Center designation and lots of national media exposure this year validated the success of the organization. Partnering with generous major sponsors and cycling events including Lifetime Fitness/Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, Mt. Borah Epic, and the Chequamegon 100 contributed significantly to CAMBA’s financial strength.

Committee Reports
Trail Committee: Steve Morales presented for absent committee Chair Darren Winchester and recapped trail work projects and successes. (See below)
Fund Raising/Marketing Committee: presented by Chair Steve Morales reviewed the creation of the new committee and key projects including sponsorship materials, donor campaign, and assisting with map ad sales.
Volunteer and Personnel Committee: Chair Charlie Evenson gave a brief overview of the creation and implementation of a successful volunteer recognition program with rewards for hours worked, and the development of an employee manual and methods of work manuals for crew members, foremen and project supervisors.
Events and Programming Committee: Ron presented on behalf of  Chair Alison Slavick. This committee succeeded the retired Festival of the Trails Committee. The committee was tasked with developing and executing several smaller more manageable events that were not as labor- or volunteer-intense. Events and programs included a tour for women coincident with the Mt. Borah Epic, coordinated a “Golden Spike” trail completion event, staged the first Moonlight Tour event, and began planning events for the next riding season that will include a Member & Club Rally, a gala fund raising event, and a youth cycling event.
The meeting concluded with a general membership discussion that centered on winter biking and CAMBA’s plans to assist active individuals from the fat bike community to identify and groom trails this winter.

Board and Officers
The results from the board of directors were announced, which saw incumbent Charlie Evenson re-elected and new director Rick Carpenter elected to the board.  At the November Board of Directors meeting, the following were elected as CAMBA’s 2015  officers: Steve Morales, President; John Leighton, Vice-President; Rick Carpenter, Secretary; and Stan Walczack, Treasurer.

Trail Projects 2014

THANKS – to the many wonderful volunteers, donors, sponsors, and other supporters that have helped make this season the success that it was. This outstanding group of individuals and businesses will be acknowledged in greater detail in future editions of this newsletter.


Build ’em, Ride ’em

It’s been a busy summer across the CAMBA system as we’ve ticked off project after project on our 2014 trail maintenance and construction “To Do” List. The building season is winding down, though in reality we’ve gone into extra innings as we’ve typically concluded after the second week of August. This year due to setbacks with our equipment operator situation early in the summer we’ve extended the season a couple of weeks.  We expect to conclude in another week to 10 days, depending on crew availability and may still have to rely on volunteers to fully wrap things up, so stay tuned for announcements about special work nights and weekend workdays.

We are very satisfied with the work we’ve accomplished this year and pleased to have been able to address some long standing maintenance issues, finish up some lingering projects, and also punch out a couple of new things. Unlike many years our work this summer did not focus on one single or major project. To that end we can’t say, “We built ‘X’ miles of trails this summer,” as we typically have been able to summarize our season’s production.  Instead, the work has been spread around as we’ve extended, completed, enhanced, or improved no less than seven different trails across the CAMBA trail network.

As we enter one of the best times of the year to put the rubber to the dirt we’d like to invite you to get out there and “Ride ‘em” and check out the fruits of our labors. We’re confident that you’re going to like what you see.

To help you better understand just what has been accomplished and to also choose where to ride, here’s a summary of the summer of 2014 trail development and maintenance.  Let us know what you think.

Martel’s Reroute

The first project of the season was the construction of a .7-mile reroute into and out of Martel’s Pothole. It’s a flowy fun descent and very manageable climb back up. This piece of trail has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. The original line is now a one-way uphill route. The new trail is two-way, though apparently the signage is a bit confusing and will be corrected.

Mt. Ashwabay

CAMBA’s newest cluster quietly advanced up the slopes of Mt. Ashwabay with ¾ mile of newly finished trail on top of last year’s significant growth. Work included machine digging early in the season with regular volunteer nights to do the necessary finish work. It is hoped that more digging will yet be done this fall to continue to advance this exciting project. Some of the latest trail is an absolute blast to ride – challenging, a bit edgy and a wonderful addition to the CAMBA system.  With five-plus miles of trails, the word is getting out too, as riders and other visitors to the Bayfield peninsula are beginning to discover what the Mt. Ashwabay trails have to offer.

Hatchery Creek

Reroutes and remediation have been the words of the summer at Hatchery Creek.  Two major efforts have seen the trail tread elevated through a low lying and formerly rocky area, several shorter reroutes constructed, and a new series of turns to improve the climb next to Bitch Hill. More of this work is planned in the future as we strive to return Hatchery Creek to its original intended degree of difficulty and encourage people to return to riding there.

Treasures Trace

Also quietly advancing through the forest is the connection from the Rock Lake Trail near Emerson Lake through the National Forest to the west to meet up with Danky Dank.  This hand built singletrack has seen 333 hours of work with 4,200 feet of trail completed just this year. All totaled there’s about a mile and a half of trail done, with about two miles to go. It is a very realistic expectation that this trail will be completed next summer, and thus the east-west connection from Namakagon to Cable.

Danky Dank

Major accomplishments on the Danky Dank include the completion of a half-mile segment in the middle of the trail that previously required a ride-around on the ATV and snowmobile trail. It is now possible to ride, uninterrupted, from the Esker Trail through to the portion of trail that was built last summer. This newest work is creative, most definitely edgy, and has technical challenge.

On the other end of the trail, the tread has been completely dug by the mini-excavator from the National Forest boundary back to the section built last year, but not all of the finish work has been completed. There’s a good week or so of hand finishing yet to be done. It is possible some of this will yet be addressed this fall by volunteers, but it most definitely will be completed early next season. This latter segment of trail maintains the fast flowy character of the trail preceding it.

Ojibwe [2.0]

As previously reported, a considerable amount of work is being done on the Ojibwe to bring it more in line with some of our other trails with regard to sustainability, technicality, and rideability, with the additional underlying goals of getting more people to ride it and thus infuse more accessible riding to the immediate Cable area.

Work on the Ojibwe has included tread improvements on about six miles, numerous reroutes to address sustainability issues, and several longer reroutes near the North End. Among these was a half-mile reroute that removes the bike trail from an old road/now ski trail and utilizes better, more bike suitable terrain. It will double as a snowshoe trail. Other work completed at the North End includes: a 1,000 foot reroute east and south of the trailhead that also removes bikes from the ski trail and will double as a snowshoe trail; a 40-yard bypass of a rock garden on top of the ridge above the cabin – the rock garden will remain as an optional line; and a new in/out trail from the trailhead of almost 1,000 feet.  There has been very positive feedback about the new Ojibwe Trail.  It is still a challenging ride, with lots of climbing and tight and narrow sections with sidehill exposure. Now with access directly from the North End Trailhead, ridership has already increased. Do check it out.

Camp 38 Road Trailhead Connector

Last but not least, work is still ongoing on a new connection from the Camp 38 Rd. Trailhead to connect with the Seeley Pass (a.k.a. FlowMama) Trail that runs from Ojibwe south to the “ballfield.” This connecting trail will permit direct singletrack access to the north-south corridor without requiring riding on the ATV trail or other roads. It is about .8 mile long with a series of climbing turns near the trailhead, a lot of sidehill contour trail, and utilizes a fast, open and flowing style. Plus, there’s a cool new gravity feature. There’s a lot of work yet to be done on this one, but come check it out and see its progress over the next couple of weeks.

That’s all folks!  Pretty impressive list of new places to ride, if we do say so ourselves. We’ve built ‘em, now get out there and ride ‘em.


CAMBA Festival of the Trails to Debut Mt. Borah Epic

05/04/2013

The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association will present the fifth annual Festival of the Trails on May 31 – June 2. The Festival is CAMBA’s annual celebration of the tremendous network of singletrack mountain bike trails developed across the region over the past 15 years.  “The event is in part to promote and generate greater awareness of our regional trail network,” says CAMBA executive director Ron Bergin. “It has also become one of our major fund raising events, helping raise money to continue to develop and maintain the trails.”

CAMBA recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as one of the leading trail advocacy groups in the Midwest. Since 1993 CAMBA has developed and maintained a system of over 300 miles of off road trails and routes.  “CAMBA has earned a well-respected reputation for its efforts in putting mountain biking on the map in northwest Wisconsin,” Bergin adds. “And since 1999, CAMBA has annually added an average of five miles of singletrack trails to that network.”  With now over 75 miles of singletrack trails, CAMBA has the largest contiguous, interconnected system of singletrack in the upper Midwest.  This summer’s trail construction plans include the completion of a two-mile segment of trail that will provide the final link in a continuous singletrack trail running from Hayward to Seeley to Cable. Over the next couple of years that trail will also be linked from Cable to Namakagon. There will be nothing like it in the Midwest.

The biggest news regarding this year’s Festival of the Trails is the debut of the Mt. Borah Epic race.  While a separate event unto itself, CAMBA has partnered with the Mt. Borah Foundation to present a 30-mile, point-to-point race using most of the CAMBA singletrack trails between Cable and Hayward. Starting in Cable at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, the Epic will roll out on a couple of town roads before ducking onto CAMBA’s Ojibwe Trail; from there on it will be almost all singletrack. “The wonderful thing about the Mt. Borah Epic,” Bergin adds, “besides it being a unique event, is that all proceeds from the event will be donated to CAMBA in support of our ongoing trail development initiatives.”  Bikers interested in participating in the inaugural Mt. Borah Epic can register online at www.mtborahepic.com.

Registration for the Festival of the Trails itself can be done at the CAMBA website, www.cambatrails.org.  The Festival is a touring-based event with numerous tours, rides and incentives to encourage people to ride as many trails as possible over the course of two and a half days.  With several social events, multiple riding activities, opportunities to enjoy great food and drink from local restaurants along with chances to learn more about the sport and also win some great prizes, it is an event unlike any other in the Midwest.

The very popular “Tour de Trails,” entices Festival riders to tour the many great singletrack trails in Hayward, Seeley, Cable and Namakagon where they will navigate to locations along the trails and punch a tally card for that specific location. The more trails they ride and punches they accumulate, the better their chance at winning great merchandise prizes at the conclusion of the Festival.

The Festival kicks off Friday evening with a Meet & Greet at the Wilson Lake Trailhead on Lost Land Lake Rd. in Namakagon, followed by a night ride on the nearby Patsy Lake Trail.  Lights will be provided for those who want to try out this fun way to gain a different perspective of the trails. The Meet & Greet will also include a session on the basics of bicycle repair – how to fix the important things in case you have a mechanical breakdown in the woods.

The signature event of the Festival of the Trails is the Taste de Trails – a two-hour food fest along the trails where area restaurants will be sampling their specialty foods. Delectable treats from the Brickhouse Café, Coop’s Pizza, Delta Diner, Namakagon Grocer, and the Rivers Eatery will be served. Located in a remote part of the National Forest, the Taste de Trails will be an oasis of food and fun with music and giveaways.

For those interested in honing their skills on the bike, Lindsay Sherman from Trek Bicycles and numerous area riders will offer a bicycle skills session from 8:30-10:00 on Saturday.  This has become one of the more popular activities among the Festival’s many offerings. A new addition to the agenda is another skills session – How to Ride a Flow Trail – where riders will get tips and advice on how to enjoy this contemporary trail type, of which CAMBA built five miles last summer.

Saturday night is party night for Festivalgoers at the Rivers Eatery in Cable for more socializing and sharing of festival experiences with slide and video presentations of the day’s action. Concurrent to the Saturday evening gathering is a special “Ladies Hour” where issues relative to women’s participation in mountain biking will be discussed.

Throughout the Festival weekend there will also be multiple opportunities to test-drive some of the latest and greatest new bikes from Trek.  In addition, Festival participants will receive a raffle ticket (and have the opportunity to purchase more) that will give them the chance to win a Trek/Gary Fischer mountain bike, SRAM 1 X 11-speed drivetrain set, Light and Motion Seca 1700 light set, Bontrager “Head to Toe” (shoes, helmet and gloves), and a Park Tool PRS 25 Team issue repair stand.

Festivities wrap up on Sunday with more trail touring and the awarding of several thousands of dollars of prizes during yet another social event, a barbecue sponsored by Famous Dave’s and Angry Minnow Brew Pub.

For more information on the Festival of the Trails, call 715/798-3599 or visit www.cambatrails.org. Registration is at the festival base at County OO Trailhead beginning at noon on Friday. Online registration will be available at www.cambatrails.org until noon on Thursday.

CAMBA is extremely grateful to the following Festival of the Trails sponsors.  Platinum Sponsors: SRAM and Trek; Gold Sponsors: Becker Law Office, Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, Mt. Borah, Bontrager, Famous Dave’s, and Light & Motion; Silver Sponsors: Angry Minnow Brew Pub, Freewheel Bike, Honey Stinger, Keen Footwear, Maplewood Cycling, New Moon Ski & Bike, OutThere, Riverbrook Bike & Ski, and Trek Bicycle Store; and Bronze Sponsors: Bay City Cycles, Cresthill Resort, Fits Socks, King Realty, Northern Lakes Co-op, Outdoor Ventures, Park Tool, Saris, Scheel’s, Smith Optics, State Bank of Drummond, Tailwind Nutrition, and TS Events. Taste de Trails sponsors include: Brickhouse Café, Coop’s Pizza, Delta Diner, Namakagon Grocer, and the Rivers Eatery.