All posts by Butch Peterson

Members and Supporters of RFMBA, We Salute You!

Dear supporters of the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association,

2020 has been a challenging year for many of us. But one thing the RFMBA is proud of is the fact that trails were always there for you. Despite the added challenges of group gatherings due to the pandemic, this past year we dug more miles of sweet single track and cleared more old school backcountry trails for everyone to enjoy.

For members of the mountain bike community, trails are often more than a path through the fields and forests going from one place to another. Trails are where we can be free and lost in our own thoughts and feelings far away from the stress of crowds, COVID, alerts and notifications.

Social Distanced trail building in 2020

RFMBA volunteer trail days can unite us, bolstering strong communities with shared appreciation for nature, views, thrills, fitness, fresh air, escape and everything in between. RFMBA Trail Agents use solo and small group efforts to tackle projects big and small throughout the valley. And the five person RFMBA Seasonal Trail Crew works full time to cut out deadfall, build and improve berms, chisel out new lines and overcome the obstacles holding back the knobby tracks of our movement.

It’s often quoted, that it “takes a village” to get things done. Here in the Roaring Fork, its more like “It takes a valley.” A valley of passionate riders to create and maintain the excellent trail network we all desire and rely upon when times get tough.

Early in the pandemic, when travel outside the valley was not an option. The trails were here for us. And so was RFMBA to help dig the way to even more trails and good old fashioned local vibes.

We thank all of you who generously support the RFMBA mission. From volunteer trail builders, to individual and family members, to local and regional business sponsors and foundations supporting us. For all who have given generously this year, we THANK YOU for helping us continue to create and sustain the best mountain bike experiences possible.

RFMBA Seasonal Trail Crew clearing Arbaney-Kittle.

In February, we earned the high distinction of becoming one of the first Gold Level Ride Centers in the nation. We encourage every member, volunteer, donor and supporter to feel pride in achieving that high honor. We are a community that loves trails and it shows. Congratulations to all of you.

In 2020, Roaring Fork Valley becomes the first Gold-Level IMBA Ride Center in Colorado and the fifth in the United States.

We encourage every member, volunteer, donor and supporter to feel pride in achieving that high honor. We are a community that loves trails and it shows. Congratulations to all of you.

Some of the unsung heroes of the Roaring Fork Valley are the Trail Agents. Roaming the trails like elusive forest elves, Trail Agents are rarely seen but their impacts are great. To bring more attention to the Trail Agent program we have created the volunteer Trail Agent Race Team.

The Trail Agent Race Team is sponsored by Ute City Cycles and by a generous donation from a supportive foundation seeking to increase the visibility and public knowledge of RFMBA’s mission based work.

In exchange for sponsorship, racers are counted on to assist with local trail projects, and spread the word of the RFMBA mission at local races.

In 2020, the volunteer RFMBA race team was proud to take top honors in the Aspen Cycling Club Senior Men’s A division for the third year in a row.

Volunteer RFMBA Trail Agent Race Team promotes the Trail Agent program

And in this holiday season, we should all raise a glass, a pint, water bottle or soda can to us all, a community dedicated to a wonderful network of trails now and for years to come!

RFMBA TEAMS UP WITH GLENWOOD SPRINGS FORD TO MATCH YOUR DONATIONS THROUGHOUT OCTOBER!

Glenwood Springs Ford has generously chosen to support RFMBA and our mission to create and maintain the best possible mountain bike trail system in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Check out the video above as Glenwood Springs Ford’s Zach Carlson and RFMBA’s Mike Pritchard give us the scoop on how throughout the month of October, Glenwood Springs Ford is matching membership and donation contributions, which makes this an even better time to join/renew your membership!

Government and Nightmare Trail Closure Extended to June 28th

Snowmass area Seasonal Closures in Effect for Elk Calving

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. – The White River National Forest, Town of Snowmass Village, Aspen Skiing Company and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to remind the public that critical elk calving occurs this time of year from Two Creeks to West Buttermilk. The annual closure and restrictions are in place currently and are in effect through late June. This year, the closure has been extended for one week in most of the area, including the Government Trail. Tom Blake, Sequel, and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity will be unaffected by this change. Trail users are advised to check the new restrictions before heading out.

“This annual closure gives cow elk solitude and free-range to raise their young,” stated Phil Nyland, Wildlife Biologist for the Forest Service. “Disturbance caused by humans and dogs is very stressful to elk giving birth and nursing calves. Disturbance may also lead elk to abandon their calves.”

Over the past five months, in coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the White River National Forest conducted an evaluation of elk calving needs and solicited public comments regarding a proposal to change the historic closure for the area. The proposal did not include Tom Blake, Sequel, and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity where the restrictions would remain in place from April 25 through June 20.

“Our desire was to work with the community and partners to develop a closure that is science-based and has community support,” said Kevin Warner, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.  “In doing so, we found common ground. Folks want to protect elk and their calves, and feel strongly that we should all do our part.”

Elk have chosen to return to the Two Creeks – West Buttermilk area every year because the area offers water, forage and the seclusion they need to survive, birth and nurse without being startled or disrupted.

“This closure protects elk during critical biological functions that ramp up late April and extend to the end of June, said Kurtis Tesch of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  ”Since the local elk population is in decline and more information on factors affecting calf survival is several years away, a small increase in the time of restricted access is reasonable to allow mother elk and their calves to nurse, bond wean and become strong enough to join the herd.”

The proposal extended the closure time frame an additional week to allow late-birthing elk longer time to nurse and raise their newborn calves without disturbances that may cause elk to misplace or abandon calves, or injury to calves that struggle to keep up with their mothers. Comments in favor of extending the restricted period were received from 44 entities including partners such as Aspen Skiing Company, Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, Roaring Fork Horse Council, Pitkin County, the Town of Snowmass Village, individual trail users, nearby residents and the public.

This proposal also provided an opportunity for the Forest Service to align its restriction timing with Town of Snowmass Village Ordinances where the federal and Town boundaries overlap.

The closure includes the following trails:

  • Tom Blake trail, Sequel trail and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity are closed April 25 through June 20.  These trails and the surrounding area open June 21.
  • Anaerobic Nightmare trail is closed April 25 through June 27. This trail and the surrounding area open June 28.
  • Government trail #1980 and Sugarbowl trail are closed May 15 through June 27.  These trails and the surrounding area open June 28.

Wildlife monitoring cameras have shown hikers, dog walkers, and cyclists recreating in the area illegally during the closure period. Violating the closure can result in a fine of up to $5,000 or 6 months in jail, punishable by Forest Service regulation. Violation of Town of Snowmass Village Ordinance also applies in Town limits.

Many other trails in the area are open during this time. Suggested alternative trails include the Highline/Lowline trails (open year round); Sky Mountain Park trails (open May 16); North Rim trail (opens May 16); South Rim trail (open year round); Ditch trail (open year round); Sam’s Knob and Alpine Springs trails; West Government trail; and Elk Camp work roads.

Comment on Proposed Rules for eMTBs on BLM trails by June 9!

Love ’em? Hate ’em? Never heard of ’em?

Good news, any above answer on eMTBs means it is important to participate in this comment period. Following up on last year’s Dept. of Interior Secretarial Order 3376, a Proposed Rule for managing e-bikes on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land is now open for public comment through June 9. Mountain bikers could be affected by this new rule more than any other user group. The BLM has long been a strong federal partner and values rider input, so let’s make sure our voices are heard and we shape this new rule well for mountain biking.

Pros of the proposed Rule: 
–Requires a local public process before allowing any eMTB access. 
–Distinguishes between class 1, class 2 and class 3 eMTBs. 
–Manages eMTBs separately from mountain bikes.

What could & should improve in the final Rule:
–Managing class 1, class 2 and class 3 eMTBs separately from each other.
–Prohibiting class 2 and class 3 eMTBs on natural surface non-motorized trails. 
-Revise any Rule language that carries a pre-decisional undertone. The BLM should point to NEPA as the required way of making revisions to travel management decisions. Local mountain bikers and stakeholders should play an important role in local decisions; local eMTB access should not be decided by the Dept. of Interior’s over-riding point of view.
–Clarify the timeline for required NEPA analysis as part of future planning processes. For some deep background details on this topic, take a look at IMBA’s analysis of the Proposed Rule. For more information on eMTBs, visit IMBA’s eMTB education page and IMBA’s eMTB FAQs.
Ready to submit a comment?

For this proposed rule you need to submit your individual comment using regulations.gov. (Rule reference number: RIN 1004-AE72.) The sample comment below is in line with IMBA’s eMTB position, which supports class 1 eMTB access as long as access for traditional mountain bikes is not lost or impeded. We always advocate for these decisions to be made via public process alongside local mountain bikers and all stakeholders. Customize the comment below—the second paragraph would be great to personalize—or craft your own comment following these tips.
Sample Comment:
 Thank you for the opportunity for the public to engage in the Bureau of Land Management’s “Increasing Recreational Opportunities through the Use of Electric Bikes”.

The mountain bike community is responsible for a large part of the natural surface trail infrastructure that exists today on our federal, state and local public lands. Hundreds of organized mountain bike clubs around the country manage thousands of volunteers who work closely with land managers on trail development, trail maintenance, and trail education for all users. Mountain bikers appreciate that the leap in technology presented by eMTBs is a unique management challenge. This proposed rule rightfully plans separate management for bicycles and electric bicycles. It is critical that land managers and local mountain bikers work together to determine where eMTBs are and are not appropriate on current and future mountain bike trails. The proposed rule includes an admirable planning process to achieve this, which could be made stronger by clarifying the timeline for NEPA analysis.

The final rule should be improved by following the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s management recommendations: managing the three classes of e-bikes separately from one another, and prohibiting class 2 and class 3 eMTBs on natural surface, non-motorized trails. This is to maintain the spirit of traditional mountain bicycling by ensuring pedal-assisted use, and maintaining reasonable speeds for the safety of all users.
Thank you for the willingness to engage with the mountain bike community.

Sincerely,
[name, location, contact information]
Thank you for taking action!