Greetings Mad River Riders and Friends!
As we turn the page on 2023, we wanted to look back across the year at all that happened and all that we accomplished as a community. What a year it has been! We are so grateful for the amazing support and participation from our landowners, trail stewards, corporate sponsors, individual donors, volunteers and VMBA members. You make it all possible!
Let’s start with all of the great events we enjoyed together. Getting together to ride and celebrate the outdoors connects us as a community like nothing else can. As usual, we kicked off the season in early May with a festive Cranko de Mayo event at Sugarbush, where we enjoyed the best of both worlds, gravel biking and skiing in the spring sunshine. Later in the summer, we hosted our first Grateful Gravel event at Mount Ellen. It was a huge success, thanks to the flexible support from Sugarbush, delicious beer from Lawson's, awesome music from Zach Nugent covering Grateful Dead's Cornell 77 show, and an impressive turnout of riders and concert goers. In September we evolved the unDuro to the eDuro, racing from Lincoln Peak down to Stark Mountain Bikeworks.
While rain stopped us from leading as many rides as we would have liked, we still had over 100 kids participate in our Mad River Rippers youth cycling program, enjoying our expanded, refurbished set of intermediate trails throughout the valley. This year we were fortunate to include a new dimension to help build the diversity and inclusivity of our trail network. Vermont Adaptive hosted a two-day clinic for High Fives athletes at the Blueberry Lake trail network, which was a blast for everyone involved. Finally, we concluded the season with our second annual celebration at the Mad River Barn, complete with great food, drinks, company, and live music by the “Running in Circles” band.
Of course, the Mad River Riders mission is to build and maintain trails. And on this front, 2023 was a groundbreaking year, pardon the pun. With your generous donations, we hired our first fill-time trail crew. And it’s fortunate we did; the wet, rainy weather required constant drainage and repair work to keep the network going. Yet with the help of volunteers at half a dozen trailcard days, the trail crew managed to complete several exciting trail projects focused on revitalizing and maintaining our existing trail system and improving the diversity of trail offerings, all while ensuring the highest quality user experience and minimizing environmental impact. We officially opened Goodnight Irene, a flowy downhill trail. Connecting this with the revamped upper Busternut provides an exhilarating 1.7 mile, 700 foot descent to the Valley floor. We improved the tread on the trails leading to the McCullough Barn, making them more sustainable and enjoyable. And we revamped the lower part of Revolution, a highly trafficked backbone of our network, adding and repairing turns and features and smoothing out a few rough spots.
Finally, our local portion of the VOREC project continued making progress. With the grant signed in August and permits in place, focus now is on construction plans, quotations, and short term financing for the project keystone, a pedestrian/cycling bridge across Mill Brook to connect the trail network with the welcome center and the Irasville commercial center via the Seriously Sharp Way trail.
On the fundraising and support front, we expect to end up just shy of 700 members. Your membership, as well as your individual donations above and beyond, are our financial foundation. Thank you! We started off the year well, when the Riders were lucky enough to be the recipients of the Lawson's Sunshine Fund in March. Events, especially the Grateful Gravel, were very successful fundraisers this year. We welcomed a new sponsor (and great post-ride food and bev spot) to the Valley, Madbush Falls/Riders Outpost. And finally, we focused our Giving Tuesday campaign on boosting our recurring donations. With your support we passed our goal of $5000 yearly recurring support, which unlocked another $2500 in matching funds from the board!
In summary, 2023 leaves the Mad River Riders and our community well positioned for another great year of riding in 2024. If you’re looking to get more involved with the Riders, we always welcome help at our volunteer trail days, as well as trail ambassadors and support at events. Email us to find out more.
Happy New Year, and thank you all again for a great season!
-The Mad River Riders