As many of you know, Crystal Ridge is land owned by Milwaukee County Parks who leases it to the current ski hill operator for recreational use. The long term plan for the land is uncertain, but it will likely remain "public" in some sense and hopefully our use as MTBers will continue. One idea that has been brought up has been to upgrade Crystal Ridge to an actual "Bike Park" like Valmont (Valmont link) in Colorado..
Now Alpine Bike Parks has a new, affordable program to help groups like us move forward and jump start the process.
Please take a couple of minutes to review both the Valmont link and the Park Start link and leave some feedback here..
I think making this in to a bike park would help keeping kids busy and off the streets. Might help cut down on street racing and drug us too.
Certainly worth talking with to get more info on the Parkstart program. It would interesting to know if such an idea is feasible. They describe a lot of services provided. Having that information and written content prepared in a precise, informative format has a lot of value,
What would said "Bike Park" entail both as far as features, expenditures and overhead? Talk is cheap. Would it be staffed? Will the park be built by volunteer or through IMBA Trail Solutions? I think there is room for an indoor BMX Track similar to what they have in Walworth in the winter. Would the capital improvement costs fall on us as a club? Sponsors? City of Franklin? Milwaukee County?
I think this would be great for the county from a standpoint of making one of their large spaces something that can be a producer for them. Also, this would hopefully insure the existance of the trail that started it all in MKE county...
I talked to the folks at Alpine Bike Parks today. They are very interested in helping us with this project and suggested we consider a site visit added to the package (an additional $1400 which could be less if coordinated with a another visit in the area, possibly northern Wisconsin on October). IMHO, the Parkstart program looks like just what we need. Although we didn't plan this expense for this year, it would not be an undo burden on our budget, especially if we partner with other interested parties. Personally I think Metro should pony up the lion share as proof of our commitment to the idea...we'll be hitting up local businesses for larger amounts of cash as the program moves forward.
One of the most significant challenges of Crystal Ridge is that it's primarily communicated through word of mouth. Initial web searches put you in parking lots with little to no communication to riders that are new to the sport or new to the area. That is the key to success to any trail system. I would suggest an incremental approach to increase community attendance and industry support (local bike shops). I believe we could have better gains for all parties involved if we implement a plan in which the "bike park" becomes the end goal and shining star for the community. The overall intent would be to introduce mountain biking to folks new to mountain biking and grow our base. An increase in attendance would make future initiatives much easier to attain (business proposals, sponsorship, volunteer base, and goodwill towards the property owner). As a cascading effect, it can also be used as a model to gain land access to other areas in the community by showing a well managed plan. I moved up from Atlanta and the local SORBA community utilizied this plan and has seen the local biking community flourish as well as land access. Below are a few suggestions that we could immediately implement and further reaching goals that will help build the community around Crystal Ridge/Alpha.
-Creation of a map that well defines different skill levels of the trail system at Alpha/Crystal Ridge.
-Map incorporated into a flyer distributed to local bike shops and sporting goods stores. Stores can use this to help sell their products and we gain from increased attendance and visibility.
-Map posted @ Trail head on Alpha side
-Clearly define trail system from parking lots (Alpha/Crystal) and define paths/distance throughout the trail system.
-Placement of a trail head board @ Crystal Ridge which communicates the trail system and our group.
-Setup bike demo days with local shops in order to increase visibility. Metro could have a food/grilling tent to sell food for donations and use it as an opportunity to engage the local community. Or they could simply be present to help visibility.
-Use national initiatives like take a kid mountain biking to build relationships with the community and bring in new riders to the sport and trail system. Flyers for these events could then be more widely distributed within the community.
Throughout these initiatives, we use them to promote and talk about the future "bike park". This will show the local community that we are actively building the biking community and gain support to attain additional goals we would like to see in the future. I have experience doing a majority of what I've suggested and I would be more than happy to assist in any of these items.
Below is a map of Blankets Creek which utilizies a "stacked" trail system. Through this map, you can see some of the items that I've mentioned. By doing this, you can make Crystal Ridge and Alpha a destination point for a various level of riders. Granted Crystal Ridge/Alpha is a trail system more for the beginner/intermediate rider and we should do our best to cater to that group.
Additionally, I would encourage all of you to look at Crystal Ridge and Alpha as if it was new to you. This will help you visualize some great opportunities that can significantly improve our experience at this trail system. I believe Crystal Ridge would be open to these improvements because it will gain visibility to their facilities during the off season.
Great stuff Charles! I have seen similar things work in the St Louis mtb scene (where I recently moved from) and would be more than happy to help in any way I can. I seems there are a multitude of opportunities to grow the trails and participation in the Milwaukee area.
Charles and Doug are both absolutely right! Metro has been missing the boat on a many projects..trail mapping, trail signage, marketing and fund raising, to name a few. Yes, we have an active core of volunteers that have been doing the heavy lifting for a long time and yes,we need to engage new/casual members to help with these projects. We need a couple more folks to step up and lead groups and get thing done. If anyone is interested in leading a particular initiative, start a new discussion on the topic to recruit members and develop a plan.
What about having structured sub-committees?
-Fun Raising/Event Coordinating
Every IMBA Member should be assigned to a particular committee, whether they participate in their committee is up to them. If members are part of Sub-committees they will be more likely to feel part of the process rather than just a member @ Large in our monthly meetings.
If we can engage the members better, especially the passionate ones I think we will be a lot stronger as an organization.
I, myself, have resources at my disposable for signage that I would be willing to contribute basically on a wholesale level and my time donated.
Marty, I'm new to Metro. What would we need to do to start an initiative like this? If we can build a simple game plan for Crystal, we could then implement it to other trails in our area. The trails are already very well maintained. We just need a few little tweaks and then promote them to drive traffic to the trails.
Cody, That's a great idea. I've seen something similar in other groups. Each of those areas would be held by a chair. Larger topics would have a co-chair. Smaller/similar topics could be paired down to one chair. The chairs would meet as a group to discuss the larger plan for a designated trail system. When the plan was complete, they would present their idea to the larger group at the monthly meetings and solicit for ideas of improvement, comments and then ask for individuals to volunteer for each initiative.
Some other things I thought of in addition to the other ones...
-A small skills course in a field that's not in use by the land owners. We could put a couple logs out there, see-saws, rock garden, etc. To help riders practice individual obstacles in a safe and open area. This will help acclimate riders to things they may encounter on the trail. They could then take those newly learned skills and apply them to the trail or other trails they encounter.
-Small picnic area with grill, bike stand area, picnic tables, outdoor grill and a bulletin board. This could function as a gathering area to meet other riders and aid in promoting our group to folks that do not know of our online presence. If we design this area to be similar to other trailheads, it will give the rider a sense of familarity when arriving at a different trail. They'll imediately know what activity goes on in that area as well as information that should be posted. On another note, how can we drive traffic to the Alpha side trail head? That has a really nice fire pit and logs (for seating). It would make for an excellent gathering area.
-One big immediate need that I can think of is signage system that could be posted at all trails within our area. So when a rider tries out a different trail, they'll be looking for the same colors/symbols/posts.