The Greater Boston chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association (GBNEMBA), in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), hosted its annual Middlesex Fells kickoff celebration May 6, bringing mountain bikers, their families and local businesses together for a day of outdoor adventure.
Recent changes to trail access policy in the Fells made it possible for NEMBA to host its largest Fells event yet, catering to riders of all abilities - from young children on their first bikes to elite cyclists. More importantly, it made it possible to use this event as a vehicle to raise money for the Fells via inclusion in the Kona Bicycles MTB Adventure Series.
A team of 22 volunteers, with support from DCR staff Tony Guthro and Bill Dalton, made the long day run smoothly and without any serious issues. A team of eight volunteers hit the trails at 6:30 a.m. Sunday to put out more than 500 pieces of course markings to help ensure that riders stayed on legal trails and riders unfamiliar with the Fells wouldn't get lost. At the end of the day members of this team swept the routes and removed the markers.
A bigger event meant more money could be raised for trail improvements as part of NEMBA's commitment to Fells stewardship. One hundred seventy-two riders registered for the event, contributing $1,720 to aid DCR-approved efforts to repair existing trails and reduce rogue pathways in the 2,500-acre park.
Cycleloft in Burlington generously donated a barbeque lunch, as they do every year for this event. Hungry bikers wolfed down 80 hamburgers, 36 Italian sausages and 24 ballpark franks refueling for their next ride.
"This was the first year that we had absolutely nothing leftover at the end," said Anthony Laskaris of Cycleloft. "Next year we would be happy to plan for a little more food (and probably two grills as well)."
Cancer research fundraising Team Forza-G BBQ was also present, serving 50 to 60 helpings of their delicious BBQ pulled pork to the hungry crowds.
Parents loved the family rides, where ride guide Tim Post gave kids a chance to put tires in the dirt on a 2.75-mile loop, learning to bike responsibly and under control. Two kids for every guide, along with a trained bike patrol crew, meant a completely safe environment.
"I appreciated her encouragement, inspiring conversation, and helpful instruction," raved one parent about ride guide Alice Hunter. "It made it easy for both my son and I not to give up and try another ride."
Wheelworks, in cooperation with Santa Cruz Bicycles, brought a huge selection of the latest in bike tech for riders to demo or drool over.
"These events work well for us," said Len Meserve from the Belmont shop. "Riders on older bikes were surprised by the quality of new 29ers. We sold a titanium Moots to one customer, and expect to see several more asking after Santa Cruz products in the next couple of weeks."
Wheelworks employees Colin and Jody were on hand to help mark routes and save the day when necessary. One rider said: "The Wheelworks guys rock" when he broke his saddle, and they didn't hesitate to sell a saddle off a demo bike to get him back on the trail.
With strong attendance, continuous progress in the sustainability and quality of trails in the Middlesex Fells, and support from Kona Bicycles, Moots Cycles, Wheelworks, Cycleloft and JRA Cycles in Medford, the future looks bright for the newest addition to the Kona Mountain Bike Adventure Series.
GBNEMBA is very pleased that the mountain bike community came out in strength to help support the great natural resource that we have in the Middlesex Fells. Everyone involved and everyone who attended deserve great thanks for their efforts in making this happen. We look forward to next year's event!