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Mountain Biking in Wilkes
Hundreds take on BMCC-built trails at Dark Mountain May 29th-30th
Burn 24-Hour Challenge a big hit
About 200 mountain bikers scorched the trails at Wilkes County's Dark Mountain recreation area Memorial Day weekend during the Burn 24-Hour Challenge.
The mountain bike endurance race was a big hit with competitors and spectators. "The feedback has been overwhelmingly wonderful, and the new venue was a hit!" said event director Tyler Benedict. "It was better than I ever anticipated," said BMCC president Dwight Levi.
195 racers vied for cash, merchandise and the right to compete in the world mountain bike endurance championships at Whistler, British Columbia. The round-the-clock mountain bike endurance race ended at noon Sunday, May 30th.
The race, sponsored by Burn energy drink, drew top riders from ten U.S. states, Ontario and Puerto Rico. The event also attracted weekend warriors eager to test their physical and mental toughness against the six-mile course through the hills overlooking Kerr Scott Lake.
Anderson, Camp take solo honors
Bob Anderson, 38, of Crozet, Va. finished first in the solo men's category, racking up about 180 miles over the 24 hours.
"The hardest part was staying awake at 4:00 a.m.," said Anderson, a funeral director.
Anderson never slept and stopped only briefly during the 24-hour race. "If I stopped, I knew I'd be stopped for quite a while."
Vicky Camp of Asheville was the fastest female solo rider, logging about 140 miles over the 24-hour period.
Team Spinz of High Point won the two-person team competition, Team Critter of Richmond, Va. took the coed team honors and Team Deliverance of Wise, Va. bested the field in the male team category.
Local riders held their own against tough outside competition.
Brandon Eller, Steve Hall, Michael Satterfield and Brian Pierce of the Biking Buddies Team finished fourth overall in the male team category. Matt Adams, Kirk Brittain, Jim "Sprocket" Horton and Chad Oliver of the Middle Ring Mafia Team finished sixth in the male team category. Both teams completed 38 laps of the six-mile course while competing against teams with five members.
Dynamic duo Annette Bednosky and George Santucci of Biking Buddies finished fifth in the two-person team category.
Round the clock event demands endurance
The format of the Burn 24-Hour Challenge guaranteed fatigue. Racers ran to their bikes at noon Saturday in a furious mass start. About 40 riders in the solo category kept at it around the clock, taking only brief breaks, until noon Sunday. The rest competed in teams of two to five, alternating riding with rest. Top teams logged more than 200 miles of riding over the course of the 24 hour race.
Team camps were scattered throughout the large grassy field near Kerr Scott Dam. Family and friends offered food and encouragement to the exhausted riders.
The tough terrain took its toll. The six-mile course featured two climbs from the shores of Kerr Scott Lake to the top of Dark Mountain. Some competitors speculated aloud about their sanity as they slowly slogged up the steep slope to the top. Once atop the ridge, racers blitzed through an undulating tangle of rolling singletrack trails, encountering tight turns, a "rock garden" and several optional jumps.
At the bike repair tent, mechanics Mark Bumgarner and Sam Hutchens from Cook's of North Wilkesboro worked into the wee hours replacing derailleurs and chains shattered by the strain.
Wilkes Rescue Squad members were on site throughout the race, but encountered no injuries beyond the expected scraped elbows and knees. A massage therapist did a brisk business trying to knead life back into tired leg muscles.
The course was unlit. Racers used lighting systems to penetrate the deep woods at night. BMCC volunteers staffed an aid station atop the ridge, checking off riders as they passed during the night.
BMCC-built trails debut to rave reviews
The Burn 24-Hour Challenge was a debut of sorts for the trail network at Dark Mountain. The trails near Wilkesboro have been complete and open to the public for several months, but weren't officially dedicated until ceremonies Saturday, May 29th.
BMCC volunteers have logged more than 1,200 hours adding about six miles of singletrack trail at Dark Mountain, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Terry Ramsey said.
Riders were pleased with the freshly-built trails. "This course is awesome!" one competitor exclaimed to no one in particular as he completed his initial lap.
"Riders love these trails," said BMCC president Dwight Levi. "We've gotten nothing but positive feedback about the course," agreed event director Tyler Benedict.
BMCC's trail design crew, headed by Jim Horton, used techniques taught by the International Mountain Bicycling Association during a November 2002 clinic in Wilkes. IMBA trail building expert Rich Edwards, a racer in the Burn event, gave the trails a big thumbs up.
Horton himself wasn't so upbeat. "I hate this trail!" he groused Sunday morning after he completed his last lap of the course. "It got longer and harder every time."
The trails were largely dry despite a rainy run-up to the race. They are designed to shed water and hold up under heavy traffic.
Most riders rode the trails for the first time this weekend, but said they'd be back.
"Kerr Scott is the next mountain biking mecca in North Carolina. The Burn 24 puts Dark Mountain in the ranks of Tsali and other nationally-known trails in western North Carolina," said Jason Bumgarner, BMCC's coordinator for the Burn event.
BMCC landed a $10,000 tourism development grant from the Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority in July 2003 to support trail construction efforts. With trail development efforts at Dark Mountain largely complete, the club is working to extend the Overmountain Victory Trail on the south side of the lake. BMCC plans more than a dozen miles of multi-use trail on the south shore.
For more information on the Burn 24-Hour Challenge, visit the event website at www.burn24hour.com
to visit our Burn 24-Hour Challenge photo album and top finishers list.
Corps of Engineers lauds BMCC for "outstanding volunteer service"
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formally presented a Certificate of Appreciation to BMCC at the ribbon cutting for the Dark Mountain trail system Saturday, May 29th.
Kerr Scott operations manager Terry Ramsey cited the club's "outstanding volunteer service toward the creation of seven miles of multi-purpose trails" at Dark Mountain Park. The certificate cites BMCC's contribution of more than 1,200 volunteer service hours to the project.
"We commend BMCC for its willingness to improve public lands for the benefit of all recreational users," Ramsey said.
BMCC Trail Boss Jim Horton and President Dwight Levi display the Certificate of Appreciaton presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Dark Mountain Trail dedication ceremony May 29th.
Kevin Bauguess goes airborne on one of the BMCC-built mountain bike trails at Kerr Scott Lake. Kevin is one of BMCC's trustiest trail workers. He was at the lake for a trail building session December 20th, 2003. (Photo by Dwight Levi)
Lowe's donates $1,000 to support trail building efforts at Kerr Scott
Lowe's of Wilkesboro has donated $1,000 worth of trail building tools in support of BMCC's efforts to build mountain bike trails, BMCC mountain bike coordinator Matt Adams announced in March. The Lowe's donation was used to purchase wheelbarrows, rakes, tampers, a chain saw and safety gear. The tools have gotten good use and rave reviews during recent work days at Dark Mountain.
"I appreciate Lowe's generosity and Matt Adams initiative to seek this donation," BMCC president Dwight Levi said.
BMCC, volunteers team up to blaze the trail
at National Public Lands Day Sat., Sept. 20th
Members of the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club led approximately 120 Boy Scouts and other volunteers in a work session to develop singletrack trail on the south side of the W. Kerr Scott Dam. Members of Boy Scout Troops 399 and 336 from Wilkes County joined counterparts from Clemmons to rough out several miles of singletrack trail September 20th, 2003.
The Scouts and their leaders raked, hauled off brush and bench cut some sections of the trail. The service project was part of the dam's observance of National Public Lands Day.
BMCC's Matt Adams, Dwight Levi, Jim Horton, Mike Smithey, Kevin Bauguess and Tim Murphy helped direct the efforts of the Scouts.
The trail the volunteers built was officially recognized at National Public Lands Day as part of the Overmountain Victory Trail. In September of 1780, patriot forces from Wilkes County traveled up the Yadkin valley. They met Virginia and Tennessee patriots at Quaker Meadows near Morganton and went on to defeat a numerically-superior force of British loyalists at Kings Mountain. The Overmountain Victory Trail traces the tracks of these American heroes.
The new section of trail begins at the picnic area off Reservoir Road and eventually will run west along the lake toward Bandits Roost. "This next section of the trail will be really nice," BMCC's Jim Horton says. "The stretch out by the marina is unbelievable. It will be prettier than anything at Tsali."
"When complete, the new trail will connect Bandit’s Roost Campground to the Yadkin River Greenway Trailhead at the Tailwater Access Area of the W. Kerr Scott Dam. This is a part of BMCC's ongoing effort with the Corps to build mountain bike trails, " BMCC president Dwight Levi said.
The Dark Mountain Trailhead was alive with activity during National Public Lands Day. Lunch was provided for all volunteers and the large grassy area was filled with interpretive exhibits and activities. Exhibits included live hawks and owls from Wild Haven, and special exhibits by the National Guard, N.C. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. BMCC's information tent offered trail maps to the Dark Mountain Trail. All 11 loops at Dark Mountain are now open and ready to ride.
A good deed
Brandon Bess of Boy Scout Troop 343 built this bridge on the Overmountain Victory Trail as his Eagle project. The bridge was dedicated in memory of Steve and Eric Higgins. Thanks to Brandon and the Scouts of Troop 343 for your help!
Dude, you're gettin' a
BMCC lands $10,000 local tourism grant
to speed singletrack trail development
The Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club's efforts to build singletrack mountain bike trails at
W. Kerr Scott Reservoir got a big boost as BMCC was granted $10,000 in tourism development funds by the town of Wilkesboro to purchase a Ditch Witch mini-bulldozer.
The grant was the result of lobbying efforts by BMCC president Dwight Levi and Dark Mountain trail coordinator Jim Horton. The pair addressed the Wilkesboro Tourism Development board July 29th, 2003.
The grant won't cover the entire cost of the Ditch Witch SK500 the club has purchased, but donations from local businesses will pick up much of the slack. The Hampton Inn is donating $2,500 toward the cause. Cook's, Empire Automotive Group and Premier Chevrolet have also promised donations.
So what's a Ditch Witch?
The Ditch Witch SK500 is a small, powerful track mounted, walk along mini skid steer.
The device has a ton of attachments, including some that will make singletrack traildevelopment a snap. BMCC's Ditch Witch sports a blade designed to cut a 42-inch-wide trail. The 2,200-lb. device is powered by a 24 HP Honda gasoline engine.
Mini-dozer will speed local trail building efforts
The tiny tractor is a big labor saver, trail developers say. Woody Keen, trail coordinator for the Friends of Dupont State Forest, says an hour using a mini-bulldozer is equal to a day's labor using hand tools. The device's role in creating multi-use trails at Dupont Forest was the subject of a thorough article in the Hendersonville Times-News
. BMCC's Jim Horton has tested a Ditch Witch demo model at Dark Mountain and is very pleased by the capability of the small, walk-behind 'dozer.
BMCC will use the device to develop a network of mountain biking trails at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and BMCC have signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage such efforts. Jim Horton has mapped a network of interlocking trails along the lakefront and the bluffs above the shoreline. An estimated 30 miles of singletrack trail is possible, Horton says. The club has been developing trails using hand labor, but it's been slow going. "Now that we have the Ditch Witch, we'll be able to build a lot more trail a lot quicker," BMCC president Dwight Levi says. "However, it still leaves work in its wake. We will continue to need volunteers to meet our goals and commitments."
Mountain bike trails expected to become a regional tourism draw
Why ask the tourism board for funds? An extensive network of mountain biking trails will be a regional tourism draw. Just cruise through the parking lot at Tsali or Wilson Creek and you'll see tons of cars with out-of-state plates. Many of the in-state folks have driven several hours. These out-of-towners will need food and lodging, giving the local tourism economy a shot in the arm. The proximity of Kerr Scott to local restaurants, lodging and shopping should accentuate this benefit.
Develop Dark Mountain trails for Burn 24 Hour Challenge in May
Blaze the trail during Dark Mountain Saturday work sessions
Volunteers are needed to help construct trails at W. Kerr Scott’s Dark Mountain area Saturday, April 3rd.
BMCC is tweaking existing trails and adding new singletrack in preparation for the Burn 24-Hour Challenge
. The nationally-sanctioned endurance mountain bike race is coming to the Dark Mountain Trails
Memorial Day weekend.
"Those of you who have been out to Dark Mountain recently have seen the excellent progress that Jim Horton and his volunteer crews have made. His layout and design vision and the skill and dedication of each volunteer crew is creating a trail system that we all can be proud to use and to share," said BMCC president Dwight Levi.
With the "scenic bypass" trail from the lakeside to the top of the ridge done, attention will shift to a trail linking the new access trail to the Ridge Trail (Trail #2).
"We've recently built additional trails to link the loops so the Dark Mountain Trail can be ridden or walked in a continuous loop. Our last step was to bring the "new" trail up to the highest overlook on the Core Jeep Road. Once we got there the need for a singletrack link to the Ridge Trail (#2) became obvious," BMCC president Dwight Levi said.
"Jim Horton and Mike Smithey have scouted, surveyed and flagged the route. It
will drop down from the high ridge to an old logging road. The pitch of the side hill will allow Jim to do much of the bench cutting with the Ditch Witch. As you all know, that still leaves a lot of prep work and detail to be done by hand. The Army Corps of Engineers have given us the go ahead.All we need now is to 'Just Do It'."
Workers will meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Dark Mountain Trailhead at the far side of W. Kerr Scott Dam.
Volunteers of all ages and abilities needed
Work day activities include preparation of trail beds, brush cutting,
removal of deadfall, roots and stones, and mulching of disturbed areas.
The toughest work is done by machine. BMCC owns a Ditch Witch mini-bulldozer to establish the rough route of the singletrack trails. Volunteers are needed to fine tune the trail bed so it will shed water and be suitable for mountain biking and hiking.
"We can use folks of all ages and abilities as volunteers," says Jim Horton, BMCC’s ‘trail boss‘. "Some of the work is physically tough, but there are other tasks that are no more demanding than yard work."
How to get there
To reach the Dark Mountain trailhead:
Take N.C. 268 west approximately 3 miles from U.S. 421 (Exit 286B) in Wilkesboro.
Turn right on Reservoir Road at the big W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir sign.
Drive across the dam, then turn left down the hill to the Dark Mountain trailhead.
What to bring
Participants in trail building sessions should bring:
Appropriate dress (long sleeve / long pants)
Safety goggles (if you plan to operate a chain saw)
Rake or lopping shears (optional); Pulaskis and McLeods (specialized trail building tools) will be available
Water / fluids
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility has purchased a clinometer and trail building tools to be kept in locked storage near the Dark Mountain trailhead for use by BMCC during trail building sessions. The dam will keep four Pulaski tools, four McLeod tools and several rakes and hoes in the storage area. The clinometer, a device used to measure slope, is kept in the ranger office.
For more information
For more information on the trail work day, e-mail trail boss Jim Horton
or call him at (336) 838-1948 (work). Smaller informal work days will take place throughout the winter and spring, Jim reports. If you have some spare time and would like to help, please let Jim know. Community groups are also encouraged to volunteer.
Already the trail construction project at Dark Mountain ranks as one of the biggest volunteer projects in community history, with more than 5,000 hours logged since November 2002.
to participate in future trailbuilding sessions
To volunteer to help with trail improvements and learn about proper trail building techniques, complete the online registration form below. We'll contact you with more information.
BMCC-sponsored visit to Wilkes in November 2002 was a big success
Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew helps blaze the trail here
A mountain biking dream began to take shape as about two dozen people designed and built a section of mountain bike trail November 16-17, 2002 at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir in Wilkesboro.
The project was the culmination of a hands-on mountain bike trail design and construction clinic presented by Scott Linnenburger and Aaryn Kay of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew. Their visit to Wilkes County was sponsored by the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club.
IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, has several full-time trail design and construction consultants, fully funded by Subaru of America.
Linnenburger, 30, and Kay, 28, travel the East Coast for IMBA. They have earned master’s degrees in environmental management from Duke University.
Since 1988, IMBA-affiliated groups have put in more than a million trail work hours worldwide, constructing an estimated 5,000 miles of mountain biking trails.
At Kerr Scott, participants in the trail building school tagged and began construction on a single track offshoot of the Dark Mountain Trail.
The Dark Mountain area is a 140 acre site on a large hillside just north of W. Kerr Scott Dam. The well-drained site sits atop a granite vein, meaning there’s very little mud, even after heavy rains. “The Dark Mountain site is made to order for mountain biking,” said R.G. Absher of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
The bike trail development project at Dark Mountain is the first in the nation since IMBA and the Corps signed a national memorandum of understanding encouraging such projects, Linnenburger said.
Classroom session teaches trail design and construction techniques
The two-day trail building school began with a two-hour classroom session November 16th, illustrated with slides depicting both exemplary and improper trail designs from around the world.
The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew emphasizes the design and construction of sustainable trails. Sustainable trails can withstand erosion and safely handle the demands of users.
“The goal is to keep users on the trail and water off the trail,” Linnenburger said.
Water can do more damage than users, Kay added. Trails that run straight up and down slopes are prone to water damage. As the trail loses soil, roots are exposed and the trail gets wider and uglier.
Properly designed trails run in harmony with the land they traverse. Just as Michelangelo worked to release the sculpture within a block of marble, trail planners strive to discover the trail best suited to the site.
Two rules guide contour trail design:
The 10% rule
. The average grade on a properly designed trail should be 10% or less, with no grades to exceed 15%. Grades above 15% are quickly eroded by water and users.
The half rule
. The grade of the trail should be less than half the grade of the side slope, to keep water from flowing down the trail. Water should always flow over the trail bed in sheets, not run down it.
Proper trail planning takes more than just contour design. “It’s important to get in the head of the user,” Linnenburger said.
For example, if there’s a view near the trail, route the trail to the view or users will blaze their own trail to it. Use trail design elements like narrow passages to slow mountain bike traffic and exclude motorized vehicles. Trail design is more effective than warning signs at keeping users on the trail.
Participants tag trail alternatives atop Dark Mountain
After the classroom clinic, participants in the trail building school took to the slopes of Dark Mountain on Saturday to tag possible trails.
The goal: find a gentler alternative route for a short section of the main trail. The section of the main trail to be bypassed has a grade of approximately 25%, well over the maximum recommended slope. Trails that steep are tough to walk and nearly impossible to bike.
The group separated into several teams. Using small hand-held devices called clinometers to measure slope, the groups bushwhacked through the forest and brush , putting survey tags along several alternative routes around the wall on the main trail. The goal was to keep the grade of the tagged trails at 10% or less.
Despite a steady rainfall, the teams kept at it, but they weren’t all successful. Some of the tagged routes exceeded the desired grade or dead ended due to topographical barriers. Out of four teams, two came up with workable alternatives. One surveyed a route that cut below the steep slope and followed a lower, longer line up the hill. Another group envisioned a path just beyond the slope, following a contour on the far side of the hill.
Volunteers build a section of singletrack trail at Dark Mountain
Sunday, a smaller group of volunteers returned to Dark Mountain to build a narrow, singletrack trail along a route discovered by one of the teams on Saturday.
Under the direction of Linnenburger and Kay, volunteers tagged an environmentally-sound hillside route for the trail and used hand tools to clear the path and construct a bench cut trail.
Bench cut trails have shoulders designed to promote sheet flow of water over, not along, the trail. Tedious hand labor with specialized tools is required to cut these trails into the soil.
The hard work is worth it because once a bench cut trail is built, it’s there to stay.
All told, about a dozen volunteers managed to cut and groom a short section of trail during a three hour work session. A longer section of trail has been tagged, waiting on future work sessions for construction.
BMCC member Jim Horton had a gleam in his eye after walking the hillside trail. “This will be really sweet to ride when it’s completed,” he said.
After the work session, the group took to mountain bikes to ride a section of the Overmountain Victory Trail near Warrior Creek.
Trail Building School draws a diverse and enthusiastic crowd
The trail building school drew participants from as far away as Alaska. Bill Petty, a retired Air Force officer on an extended RV trip along the East Coast, learned of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew’s visit to Wilkes and rerouted his itinerary to be in Wilkes for the trail building school. Other participants drove from Boone, Statesville and Charlotte.
A number of teens from the Wilkes Central High School bike club participated in the trail building school on Saturday.
Dennis Huggins, executive director of the Yadkin River Greenway Council, and Jeff Teague, president of the Friends of Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest, also participated. Linnenburger and Kay also met with Wilkes Chamber of Commerce and other officials during their four days in Wilkes. Meetings with land managers at W. Kerr Scott took place throughout the Trail Care Crew's visit.
"There were 2 significant elements to this IMBA visit - 1) Land Managers 2) Trail enthusiasts. Both parties left educated on an effective program to build and maintain sustainable trails," said Marc Czarnecki, president of the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club.
The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew's visit was conceived and coordinated by Marc. Congratulations, Marc, on a job well done!
Guide to the Dark Mountain Trails
Plenty of sweet singletrack to enjoy at Wilkesboro's Kerr Scott Lake
Dark Mountain Trails poised to become
a mountain biking mecca, IMBA says
The network of mountain biking trails at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir
near Wilkesboro is drawing rave reviews from local riders and positive notice nationally.
"Kerr Scott Lake is positioning itself to become a destination mountain biking area," raves IMBA's Autumn 2003 issue of Trail News.
A rider who's competed in several 24-hour races on the 1996 Olympic mountain bike course rated the trails at Dark Mountain better overall.
Tyler Benedict, organizer for the BURN 24-Hour Challenge
endurance race, visited Dark Mountain March 21st and raved about the trails.
"The trail work (BMCC has) done is phenomenal!" Benedict said in an e-mail. "Dark Mountain is truly shaping up to be one of the best trail systems in the area, heck, the whole state." The Burn event will be staged at Dark Mountain May 29-30, 2004.
Triad-area mountain biker Randy Schmitz is also singing Dark Mountain's praises.
"The whole car ride home to Greensboro we did nothing but plan our next trip (to Dark Mountain) and rave about the trail system. You guys have done an amazing job over there and I want to contribute to your efforts in any way I can," Schmitz wrote the club.
The trails at Kerr Scott's Dark Mountain Recreation Area are also getting attention from some internet mountain bike sites, BMCC president Dwight Levi reported recently.
Six miles of trails are ready to ride
The Dark Mountain area near W. Kerr Scott Dam has about six miles of mountain biking trails, all ready to ride.
The trails have been developed since November 2002 by BMCC's trail building coordinator Jim Horton and a small cadre of dedicated volunteers.
Dark Mountain Trail: How to get there, what it's like
The multi-use Dark Mountain trail system begins at the edge of the large field at the north end of W. Kerr Scott Dam, just a few miles from U.S. 421 in Wilkesboro. (Click here
for road directions to the trailhead.) Cross the dam, turn left at the circle and park in the large lot at the foot of the hill.
Important: Note what time the dam will close before you park. If you'll be riding after hours, park in the small lot near the dam gate and ride across the dam and down the hill to the trailhead.
The core trail, a doubletrack jeep road, runs up a forested ridge and across the top. A network of interlocking singletrack trails loops off the jeep road.
The trail's toughest climb comes at the start, as the jeep road makes a steep ascent to the top of the ridge. Don't get discouraged; most of singletrack trails atop the ridge aren't nearly this steep, and a new, gentler approach to the top is now complete. The new approach trail enters the woods from the far corner of the grassy field at the lake. Where the trail forks, bear left, and you'll enjoy a winding route through the woods to the top with no grueling grades to negotiate.
Trails are scenic, interesting and challenging
The payoff for the opening climb is an awesome view. Three wooden decks atop the ridge offer expansive, bird-like looks at the lake and the Brushy Mountains.
The trail network features loop after loop of singletrack trail rolling through a mature
forest with tall poplars and pines. You'll roll through a rhodendron tunnel, dip past an old homestead, skirt the edge of a pony pasture and cruise past a finger of the lake on the trails.
It's only a few hundred vertical feet from the lakeshore to the top of the ridge, but the tangle of trails creates quite a workout nonetheless. Visitor Jerry Adams reports that the trails at Dark Mountain average about 118 feet of climbing per mile. That's about 40% more climbing than at some N.C. piedmont mountain biking sites like Poplar Tent.
Trails are in top condition for fast, fun riding
While the trails have some tough spots, they're built to be fast and fun.
The new trails are well drained. A visit just a few days after a big rain revealed miles of bone-dry singletrack. The few muddy spots to be found were on the jeep road, not the new singletrack trails. The trails were designed to be durable in wet weather, employing techniques taught by the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
The new trails are also well groomed, with just a few rooty spots...perfect for a fast spin through the woods. You'll find a few short, steep climbs and soaring descents along with a lot of fairly level riding along the ridgetop.
Trail network includes jumps and a few technical spots
The trail network features several jumps, including a log pyramid ramp (pictured at right
) in an easy section of loop 8, the Pony Trail. If you're not into daredevil stunts, don't worry. The jumps are easily avoided by staying on the main trails.
"You can hit it wide open," BMCC mountain bike coordinator and resident daredevil Matt Adams says of the pyramid. "It's a lot of fun." Look for Matt during BMCC club rides
at Dark Mountain.
The ride from the ridgetop ends with a tricky singletrack descent back to the lakeside. Riders wanting to avoid this downhill can descend using trail 1, the jeep road, or the new trail that diverges from the jeep road near the first observation deck. That route offers the gentlest route up and down the ridge.
While there are some technical spots in the Dark Mountain trail system, they're few and far between. Most of the trails are appropriate for a wide variety of riders.
We caught some Boy Scouts (pictured at left) having a ball on trail #3, blasting out of the rhodendron tunnel at full speed, whooping and hollering.
Dark Mountain Trail tips for novices
BMCC's Marc Czarnecki shares these tips for riders tackling Dark Mountain for the first time:
On the climb up the ridge, riders need to slide forward
. Riders with too much weight on the back wheel on a climb risk pulling a "wheelie", losing steering control.
The ascent is quite steep and riders need to shift in anticipation
. It's hard to grab a lower gear under full load.
On the descents, riders should slide back
to aid in rear wheel braking and minimize the risk of going over the handlebars.
Riders should also should use even pressure on both brakes
on the descents; too firm a squeeze on the front brake lever could result in a "face plant." Ouch!
Finding your way through a maze of singletrack
To find your way around the maze of trails atop the ridge, check out the Dark Mountain Trail Map
. You can get a copy at the W. Kerr Scott Visitor Center or Cook's in North Wilkesboro, or download the PDF file and print it yourself.
BMCC's Jim Horton created the trail map. It includes trail descriptions and notations on the difficulty of the loops. Horton has also installed signage (pictured at left
) to coordinate with the numbered routes on the maps. All told, Dark Mountain boasts 11 signed mountain bike trails. Most of the trails are short loops that interconnect and feed back into the main jeep road.
There are no facilities atop the ridge, so bring plenty to drink. Mens and ladies latrines are located in the Fish Dam Creek Overlook picnic area near the circle. The nearest flush toilets are located in W. Kerr Scott's Visitor Assistance Center on the opposite side of the dam.
Trails have come a long way
in just a few short years
In September 2003, BMCC acquired a Ditch Witch SK 500 mini-bulldozer
to aid trail construction efforts. The town of Wilkesboro contributed $10,000 of tourism development funds, and several businesses have pledged lesser amounts. The mini-dozer was used to complete construction of the trail network on Dark Mountain.
Trail development efforts will be in high gear during early 2004 as BMCC preps Dark Mountain to host the Burn 24-Hour Challenge
mountain bike race.
Best Dam Sunset
Richard Fink took this beautiful shot from atop W. Kerr Scott Dam after a recent work day and ride at Dark Mountain. Remember, if you plan to ride at Dark Mountain in the evening, park near the ranger station (not at the trailhead), so you won't get locked in! Maybe you'll get to enjoy a view like this on your way back to your vehicle.
BMCC trail designer Jim Horton has updated the Dark Mountain Trail Map and reworked the route system. Here's the scoop from BMCC president Dwight Levi:
The core trail is now marked "C" (previously "1"). The Entrance Trail, the new favored route up to the ridge, is marked "1". Other notes: Ride #3 is a loop that most folks ride clockwise so they don't miss the Rhododendron Tunnels. #4 can be used to bypass most of the Snake Loop,"5", down to the Homestead at Fish Dam Creek in poor riding conditions or if the ride down to the Homestead and up the Snake just isn't in your prefered ride route. There is a "connector" portion of the #8 trail if you want to skip the #9 Lake Loop. If you do you will miss a "laugh out loud" downhill and a strenuous ride back up to the ridge. (The downhill is worth the ride up.) #10, a spur trail to the highest overlook, is "out of sequence". There are a number of ways to incorporate it into your ride.
To view and print the latest version of the Dark Mountain trail map,
download the Adobe Acrobat version by clicking the link below:
If you don't have Adobe Acrobat on your computer,
It's fiesta time! Next BMCC meeting a social Mon., June 21st
It's fiesta time....time to celebrate BMCC's successes and have fun at a club social. BMCC will meet Monday, June 21st at 8:00 p.m. at Chile Verde Mexican Restaurant. Chile Verde is on Business U.S. 421 near the intersection with 421 Bypass in Wilkesboro.
Here's the official invite from BMCC president Dwight Levi: "We have time to relax between a very busy May and preparations for the Hurt, Pain and Agony Metric Century
on August 7th. Therefore, the business done will be kept to a minimum ... perhaps a series of toasts ... all in favor, say 'Cheers!' All are invited to participate. Bring your friends and family along. See you there!"
BMCC names Lazaro Hoguin Chamber of Commerce rep.
BMCC member Lazaro Hoguin will represent BMCC at meetings of the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce, BMCC president Dwight Levi announced at the club's November 24th, 2003 meeting. Wilkes Chamber officials are pushing tourism in an effort to pump up the local economy and think cycling could become a major draw here.
The Chamber's tourism committee met with BMCC leadership in September to learn more about the cycling scene in Wilkes. The Chamber offered BMCC a free chamber membership and promised to promote BMCC's major events. Chamber officials have asked BMCC to spearhead development of a brochure touting the county’s cycling opportunities. Lazaro will head up BMCC's efforts to produce the brochure.
Club to pursue tax-exempt status and bylaws next
That's BMCC, Incorporated, thank you very much!
The Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club is now an incorporated entity, thanks to leadership by club president Dwight Levi and legal assistance by local attorney and cyclist John Willardson.
The club will consider updated bylaws after a legal review. Then BMCC will file an application for tax-exempt status, Levi said at the March club meeting. That will allow BMCC donors to write off donations to the club.
New "Still Crankin" BMCC jerseys are here!
Graphic designer and BMCC member Jim Horton has done it again!
Jim's brewed this potent "Still Crankin'" club jersey design. The jersey is a nod to Wilkes County's moonshining heritage. The Louis Garneau jerseys are available now at Paceline Bicycles
in Winston-Salem. If you ordered a jersey, contact BMCC VP Brandon Eller
to make arrangements to pick up yours.
The jerseys are already drawing rave reviews. Matt Daye got some appreciation from some motorists on the Parkway, and Brian Pierce has this glowing report: "Greetings from Asheville. Thanks to Brandon, I was able to sport the new BMCC jersey at the local club ride today that meets at UNC Asheville. Numerous club members commented on the jersey design. We had about 40 on the ride including seven Canadian riders on their spring break---the jersey was a hit with lots of great comments from everyone, and the Canadians will take home a new found education about moonshine!"
Biking Buddies in West Jefferson to offer discount to BMCC members
Join BMCC and save on your bike-related purchases
Two area bike shops have joined the ranks of establishments offering discounts to Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club members. Biking Buddies in West Jefferson will offer a 10% discount on any product in the store, owner Joe Blevins reports. And Paul's Schwinn in Winston-Salem will offer a 10% discount on all products in the store except bikes and fitness equipment.
You also can show your 2004 BMCC membership card and save at these BMCC partners:
on bicycle accessories at Cooks
, West Park in North Wilkesboro.
on clothing and accessory purchases at Paceline Bicycles
in Winston-Salem. The BMCC discount at Paceline does not apply to bicycles, components or parts.
on all accessories except Yakima products at Magic Cycles
on all purchases except bicycles at the Bicycle Shop of Clemmons
With all these savings, it's time to join BMCC or renew your BMCC membership. All BMCC memberships expire December 31, 2003.
Existing members: Renew your BMCC membership by sending a check for $10 payable to BMCC to:
1201 Trogdon Street
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659
To join BMCC for the first time
, click here
to request a membership form. We'll e-mail you the form. Complete it and send it with your check to Steve. Membership cards will be available at the next BMCC meeting, Monday, March 15th, 2004.
Clean your closets and support the Special Olympics cycling team
At the June 2002 BMCC meeting, several club members donated clean, useable bike equipment to the Wilkes Special Olympics Cycling Team. Coach Chris Rowland and Special Olympian Chris Clarida talked to BMCC at our April meeting.
The team especially needs helmets and riding shorts. Jerseys are also welcome, but the Special Olympians cannot wear jerseys with commercial logos during competition. If you have items to donate, e-mail Tim Murphy
or call him at (336) 667-6836.
Cycling News Around the USA
Bush biffs! Prez takes a tumble during mountain bike ride
You know that embarrassed feeling you get Monday morning when you limp into work with road rash after crashing your bike over the weekend? President George W. Bush feels your pain.
The President suffered cuts and bruises Saturday, May 22nd when he fell while mountain biking on his ranch, the Associated Press reports.
Bush was on the 16th mile of a 17-mile ride when he fell, Duffy said. He was riding with a military aide, members of the Secret Service and his personal physician, Dr. Richard Tubb.
"He had minor abrasions and scratches on his chin, upper lip, nose, right hand and both knees," Duffy said. "Dr. Tubb, who was with him, cleaned his scratches, said he was fine. The Secret Service offered to drive him back to the house. He declined and finished his ride."
Bush was wearing his bike helmet and a mouth guard when the mishap occurred.
Bush isn't the only prominent politico to take a tumble from a two-wheeler. Earlier in May, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry took a spill from his bicycle while riding with Secret Service agents through Concord, Mass., about 18 miles north of Boston. Kerry fell when his bike hit a patch of sand. He was not injured.
Tour de France loud and large on the big screen July 17th in Charlotte
In collaboration with Regal Cinemedia and OLN, the Tyler Hamilton Foundation will present a live, big screen viewing of Stage 13 of the 2004 Tour de France Saturday, July 17th. The only N.C. showing takes place at the Regal Stonecrest at Piper Glen 22 in Charlotte.
Come view the fireworks on the third mountain stage from Lannemezan to the uphill finish at the Plateau de Beille. Join us for breakfast and watch the Tour de France
on the big screen while hooting and hollering with fellow cyclists.
Registration is $25, and includes viewing of TDF, continental breakfast and a THF pin.
$40 includes viewing of TDF, continental breakfast, THF pin and a T-shirt.
There will be door prizes at each theater. All participants at will be entered in a drawing to win.
The Charlotte showing is hosted by the Mid Atlantic Chapter of the National MS Society. The theatre opens at 7:00 a.m. and the live broadcast begins at 7:30. (Organizers promise plenty of coffee!)
Check out Tour de France this July on OLN
Keep up with the latest in competitive road cycling with OLN.
Live coverage of the Tour de France will be shown from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. race days, with repeats at noon, 2:30, 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. On the rest days (July 12th and 19th), OLN will present a highlight package from 8:00 to 10:30 p.m.
No OLN? CBS has three one-hour telecasts set for July 11th, 18th and 25th.
Ride the Rockies: Ultra 100 mountain bike century race set for Aug. 21st
Leave your excuses in the dust and gear up for one of the most breathtaking mountain bike races of its kind, the Ultra 100
Scheduled for August 21st, 2004, the Ultra 100 will start and finish in lovely Beaver Creek, Colorado. Participants are offered a full gamut of race entry options, featuring the traditional 100-mile individual and team competitions, along with the 100-K individual and team races. Allow two members per team.
"The Ultra 100 is a beautifully scenic yet challenging race that uncovers an athlete's true grit," explained James Deighan of Highline Sports & Entertainment, the Colorado-based sports marketing company responsible for the Ultra 100 Mountain Bike Race. "It's a mental and physical test of toughness, but the sheer exhilaration and sense of accomplishment at the finish line makes it all worthwhile."
In addition to strong lungs and legs, the Ultra courses also require solid intermediate mountain bike handling skills. Run primarily on four-wheel drive roads that traverse some of the most spectacular views in the Vail Valley and the White River National Forest, the Ultra also features a pair of steady climbs of more than 3,600 feet, along with several 1,000-foot ascents thrown in for good measure.
LAB's national Bike Fest set for September 3-6, 2004
The League of American Bicyclists will partner with the Indiana Bicycle Coalition to host the League's National Rally at the Indiana Bike Fest in Jasper, Indiana on September 3-6, 2004.
This four-day event covering Labor Day weekend will bring riders from all across the US to enjoy scenic rides both on and off-road. Contact Christina Herold at (202) 822-1333 or firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
G-105 was third Clear Channel radio station to advocate harming cyclists
Not a laughing matter: Raleigh DJ
jokes about violence to cyclists
From the League of American Bicyclists
Clear Channel Communications radio stations in three cities (Cleveland, Houston, and Raleigh, N.C.) have recently broadcasted talk show hosts and listeners encouraging violence against bicyclists. Recently, Raleigh station G105 advocated violence against cyclists, with suggestions of how to run cyclists off the road, and urged listeners to call in with stories of harassing them. One DJ joked of pelting cyclists with empty Yoo-Hoo bottles and said he would "love to be on a motorcycle and driving it down a bike lane. Because he didn't think bikers should be allowed on the road. He said they should ride on the sidewalk," according to a listener quoted in the Raleigh News and Observer.
In what now appears to be a pattern, Clear Channel Communications radio stations in three cities (Cleveland, Houston, and Raleigh, N.C.) have recently broadcasted the reprehensible comments of talk show hosts and listeners encouraging violence against bicyclists. In the latest incident, on Raleigh's G105 station, September 22 and 23, morning talk show hosts joked about harassing cyclists, urged listeners to call in with stories of how they had harassed cyclists, and provided suggestions of how to run cyclists off the road. One host suggested pelting cyclists with empty Yoo-Hoo bottles. Calls came in from listeners who agreed with him, and said that they would take similar action. A show intern discussed a man in her neighborhood who shoots a pellet gun at cyclists as they ride by his house, attempting to hit their tires to make them crash.
According to a listener quoted in the October 1st Raleigh News and Observer (http://newsobserver.com/news/story/2911339p-2677916c.html
), "One caller said her dad had purposely hit a biker on the road on the way to church one Sunday and kept on going. That got laughs. Bob (Bob Dumas, one of the hosts) thought that was funny. And Bob said he'd love to be on a motorcycle and driving it down a bike lane. Because he didn't think bikers should be allowed on the road. He said they should ride on the sidewalk."
The offending broadcasts come on the heels of similar broadcasts on Clear Channel stations in Houston and Cleveland encouraging motorists to taunt or even strike cyclists. Clear Channel owns some 1,200 radio stations across the country that regularly share content with each other. Cyclists across the nation have reacted with furor to reports of these broadcasts, which have been widely disseminated on the Internet, condemning the radio stations for their reprehensible incitement of violence. Many have expressed fears that the incidents could inspire some deranged individual to commit an act of violence against bicyclists.
The League condemns in the strongest possible terms the promotion of violence and harassment against bicyclists as well as pedestrians. With about 700 cyclists, including 200 children, and 5,000 pedestrians killed every year in traffic crashes, it is clear that traffic safety is a very serious issue. The League urges motorists and bicyclists to share the road and to respect the rules of the road. State and local transportation authorities need to do more to protect cyclists and pedestrians and there is a profound need for more education for motorists to be conscious of the need to share the road with cyclists and pedestrians.
Click here to be linked to the League of American Bicyclists "Take Action" page. You can write letters to Clear Channel's national leadership here; a suggested letter and e-mail addresses for top Clear Channel decision makers can be found on the page. Clear Channel is a media conglomerate with more than 1,200 stations coast-to-coast, including several in the Triad and Charlotte markets that are popular in our area. Let Clear Channel's leadership know that violence to cyclists is no laughing matter.
You also may wish to file comments with the Federal Communications Commission. File your comments electronically at fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Make sure you use file number RM-10803.
Clear Channel CEO apologizes for DJs' anti-cyclist remarks
NOVEMBER 11, 2003 -- SAN ANTONIO, TX (BRAIN)--After Clear Channel radio listeners and advertisers in three cities protested the anti-cyclist rhetoric of morning DJs, John Hogan, president and chief executive officer of the 1,200-station company, apologized to cyclists at large. Hogan wrote a letter to Elissa Margolin, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, distancing Clear Channel's official stance from the DJs' anti-cyclist jokes. Clear Channel also began running pro-cyclist public service message on a few of its stations.
"As CEO of Clear Channel Radio, I do not support or condone the anti-cyclist messages and have taken steps to insure they do not occur again," Hogan wrote.
Margolin traveled to Clear Channel's San Antonio headquarters to meet with Hogan Nov. 5.
Radio talk show hosts in Cleveland, Ohio, Houston, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina recently joked about ways to injure or irritate cyclists while driving.
Lois Cowan, owner of Century Cycles in Cleveland, has been on the offensive since radio DJs in her area encouraged motorists to do things like throw rolls of pennies at cyclists or open car doors into their path. Clear Channel executives in Cleveland met with Cowan and promised to support cycling through messages on their station.
In Raleigh, two local businesses including a Ford dealership pulled their ads from the local Clear Channel station after a DJ laughed on-air about stories of motorists assaulting cyclists. Raleigh station officials said they would produce a series of bicycle-safety messages, but instead aired a spoof message, according to an area paper.
Clear Channel officials said in all cases that the comments were not meant to be taken seriously. However, the company did fire its Houston producer. And all three stations are now running public service announcements for drivers about bicycle safety.
The company has promoted more than 100 cycling events since 2002. The company put together a team for a "Bike to the Beach" ride from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Margolin said found her meeting with Hogan heartening.
"The League is pleased with the response from Clear Channel Radio. The comments broadcast on stations in Cleveland, Houston and Raleigh were indeed egregious, but the company's redress has been aggressive and the measures taken to prevent any reoccurrence are heartening," Margolin said. "Hogan has clearly demonstrated that any programming that endangers cyclists will not be tolerated and we applaud his
leadership on this issue. We are particularly pleased that Clear Channel will work with the bicycling community to help make America's roads safer for everyone."
U.S. Senate backs bike and pedestrian projects
Efforts to eliminate federal spending on bike paths, greenways and other people-powered transportation amenities were derailed, as the U.S. Senate voted Feb. 12th, 2004 to protect funding for such projects.
Here's the story from the America Bikes website:
February 12th, the United States Senate passed S. 1072, the successor to TEA-21 by a vote of 76 to 21. Our bike stuff fared well. Existing programs such as Enhancements, Rec Trails, CMAQ, etc continue. Safe Routes to School is funded at $70 million a year.
Debate on the bill centered around the $318 billion price tag. Fiscal conservatives complained that the bill's spending was not in line with the 2004 budget, and that the funding package was laced with credits, offsets and other "funny money." But other Senators, eager to send "jobs, jobs, jobs" back to their states, overrode those objections to pass the bill. Senators also chose to overlook President Bush's threat to veto the bill, which calls for $62 billion more than the President's proposal.
HIGHLIGHTS of the bill:
Safe Routes is funded at $70 million per year.
Enhancements is slated to receive $4.79 billion over the next six years, up from $3.33 billion under TEA-21.
Rec Trails will receive $360 million over six years, up from $270 million under TEA-21.
A new Alternative Transportation in National Parks Program, funded at $25 million a year, includes bike/ped projects in the eligible activities.
Bicyclists and pedestrians have been added to the list of "interested parties" invited to comment on transportation plans (both TIPs and Statewide Plans).
Funding for a bicycle and pedestrian information center is included.
to read columnist Neal Peirce's take on the relationship between national transportation policy and health. It's interesting reading!
Local Special Olympics cyclists shine in state competition
Wilkes County Special Olympians brought back gold from cycling competitions at the North Carolina Special Olympics 2003 Fall Games.
Chris Clarida of Moravian Falls, a World Games Gold Medalist, won a gold medal in the 25 km road race. Chris scored silver medals in the 40 km road race and 1 km time trial. He also placed fourth in the 5 km road race.
Teammate Tanya Moore of Millers Creek grabbed a gold medal for her performance in the 15 km road race. She snagged silver in the 1 km time trial and the 10 km road race.
BMCC congratulates these outstanding young cyclists!
B of A Criterium to attract top cyclists to Charlotte Aug. 7
Some of the world's best cyclists will zip through the streets of downtown Charlotte August 7th, 2004, vying for $125,000 in prize money in the first annual Bank of America Invitational Criterium.
The date falls between the Tour De France and the start of the summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, so a top field is expected, the Charlotte Observer reports.
The 50-lap, 60-mile event begins at 7 p.m. and will follow a course through the heart of uptown Charlotte. The criterium is part of a ten-day cycling celebration in Charlotte to benefit the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas. Find out more at www.charlottecriterium.org
New website on High Country road cycling has it all
Bicycling magazine calls the cycling in the Blue Ridge High Country "simply some of the best road riding in the world." Lance Armstrong chose the area as the location for his "comeback from cancer" training camp. Now there's a new website to help riders plan road cycling trips to the Blue Ridge High Country: http://blueridgebiking.tripod.com
(note: no www. prefix
Up to the minute High Country weather
Links to all our area's road cycling events
, including Blood, Sweat and Gears, the Blue Ridge Brutal 100, the Bridge-to-Bridge Incredible Challenge and BMCC's own Rides Around Wilkes and Rollin' Round the River events
to information about local bike shops, festivals, accommodations and attractions
The riders in the website's photos should look familiar; they're BMCC members who participated in the club's High Country road ride series last year.
The website is a companion to the book "Road Cycling the Blue Ridge High Country".
"Road Cycling the Blue Ridge High Country" features more than 800 miles of road cycling routes, with cues, maps, elevation profiles, photos, route descriptions, and information about roadside attractions and outdoor options along the routes. Rides in the book range from short, flat "leg stretchers" to epic rides up to 6,630 feet in elevation. "Road Cycling the Blue Ridge High Country" has rides for everyone from families looking for a leisurely spin to extreme cyclists looking to test their limits against Eastern America's highest mountains. It's available now at Cooks, Boone Bike and Touring and from internet booksellers like Amazon.com
Lance Armstrong was blown away by the "beautiful, peaceful, soulful mountains" of the Blue Ridge High Country. Bookmark http://blueridgebiking.tripod.com
and use it to plan your next High Country cycling getaway.