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
Hello, fellow riders! We wanted to share an update on all that's happened across the Mad River Valley trail network that your membership, donations and volunteering support.
40 Days and 40 Nights
Perhaps you noticed - it's been a wet summer! The record precipitation has saturated our trail network's soil, forcing us to close the trails in order to preserve the trails' beauty and sustainability. We know it's disappointing when the sun finally comes out and you’re looking to get outside and ride, only to see your favorite trail is still closed. The rainy weather has been especially hard on our Rippers youth program, which has missed as many Tuesday night rides as have taken place. Please understand that this is not a decision we take lightly. Our trail committee monitors the conditions of critical connector trails regularly and consults with our trail crew and trail stewards to determine when it is responsible to reopen them.
Huge shout-out to our amazing summer trail crew, the trail stewards, and all the members who volunteered their time and energy to sustain the trails in through the rainfalls. Despite all the water challenges, the MRR Trail Crew accomplished an amazing amount. Here's a quick recap.
Trail Crew Projects
They crew started the season with a multi-day trail building course in Rochester run by VMBA and LD Trailworks, culminating in field work on the lower berms. at Ridgeline's Old Gents trail.
The began their MRV work completing the big Revolution upgrade that centered on rerouting that problematic turn near the bottom via two new bridges over the creek. After Ribbon Trails handled the machine work, Jose and crew spent a week and a half polishing the work by hand. The result is not only smoother but also more erosion resistant.
After a few days pruning nightlines and doing general trail maintenance at the Blueberry Lake network, the Trail Crew headed over to tackle Catamount/Sugar Run. Between rain showers they improve drainage and hardened several chronically wet areas, replaced a bridge, added rock armoring in key spots, managed exposed roots on climbing lines, pruned the connection to Harris Hill Road, hardened the berms in the middle section of the trail, and straightened out that funky angle on the big jump near the bottom. They also added back vegetation along some trail sections that had been widened almost into double track. Higher up the ridge, the crew reworked the key burned turns to enhance drainage on Techy, raked out some bony areas, clarified the climbing line, raking out loose baby heads, and rock armored three stream crossings, pruned the connector to Harris Hill Road.
No doubt the most noticeable work occurred on Goodnight Irene. The trail crew, with help from James and Matt as well as a great volunteer day showing, put the finishing touches on the MRV's newest trail. They used hand tools to refine the initial machine work essentially from top to bottom. With a true rider's eye, they dialed in the flow, crafted berms and added a few optional features. Finally, they decked the bridge to complete the swoopy last section to the road. Working uphill, the crew reworked many of the turns on upper Busternut in order to extend the goodness all the way from Dana Hill Road down to Butternut. A few days almost went into GS trimming, removing downed trees, clarifying ride line for climbing, and improving two stream crossings transitions. Check out the video below to see what a great day of building and riding in the MRV is like!
At the Eurich Pond area (pronounced "Irish" Pond for our out of state friends), Ryan, Eli, Jose and Nate spent a week and a half shoring up the Ridgie by adding rock armoring to erosion prone slopes and restoring the shapes of the drops and jumps. Race got raking and blowing, drainage work and pruning. Maple Twist was also got raked, cleared of downed trees and had the climbing lines lines better defined. Misty Maple got some bench-cutting at the down and then had the downhill line clarified. The crew finished up with two days of weed whacking along Powerline and enhance a few natural features.
The crew will continue working into the fall. Stop and say "hi" if you see them! Follow us on social media to learn about new trail work and to get the latest news and events from Mad River Riders. To stay updated on the latest trail status, you can check out Trailforks or visit the trails page on our website, where we post regular updates. Ride safe and have fun!
We did it! After years of hard work, dedication and perseverance, we are thrilled to announce the formal opening of Goodnight Irene, the newest addition to the Mad River Riders trail network. Named for the late beloved Valley resident Irene Mehuron, Goodnight Irene is a testament to the power of collaboration, generosity and passion that drives our community.
We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who made this project possible. First and foremost, we want to thank Mehuron's Supermarket for their generous donation to develop the trail and their unwavering support for our trail system. As Bruce Hyde, the owner of Mehuron's, said "for the long-term success of the MRV, increased access and upkeep of our trail system is a top priority. The Mad River Riders have taken this responsibility on and are a natural partner for our business. Mehuron's is proud to support their continued efforts."
We also want to thank the landowners who graciously allowed us to build this trail on their property. Without their cooperation and support, Goodnight Irene would not exist. They are true stewards of the land and we appreciate their vision and trust.
Last but not least, we want to thank our VMBA Mad River Rider chapter members, who not only contribute to our paid trail crew through their membership fees, but also volunteer countless hours to construct the bridge and finalize the project. You are the backbone of our organization and we couldn't do it without you!
Goodnight Irene is a 1.5 mile intermediate single track that connects the Busternut trail with Butternut Hill Road at the southern end of the Camel's Hump State Forest Howe Block trail network. It features numerous fun and approachable features including berms, rollers, and rock gardens - as well as several optional technical features to entertain expert riders. Designed as a downhill trail, GNI ends in spectacular fashion with steep, swooping berms and a beautiful wooden bridge. Combining Goodnight Irene with the top of Busternut, newly buffed out by our Trail Crew, provides a delightful 1.6 mile, 700' vertical decent. It's a great addition to our trail system that unlocks numerous big loops through the network. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
On Saturday August 12th, the Mad River Valley community will be celebrating the opening of Goodnight Irene with an afternoon of riding followed by swimming, food and refreshments at the newly opened Madbush Falls near the bottom of the trail from 3:30 until 7pm. Don't miss this opportunity to ride this awesome new trail and thank all those who made it happen.
The Mad River Riders are excited to have brought on a full time trail crew for this summer! With over 60 miles of trail in our network and a growing amount of usage, we wanted to not only keep up with basic trail maintenance but also address sections of trail that had become seriously eroded in recent years or otherwise would benefit from meaningful upgrades. We’re confident that we’ll get the healthy membership numbers and other donations needed to fund this investment. If you haven’t renewed your membership this year, please do so via the VMBA site here. This is your support at work! Combined with the impact from our volunteer trailcare days, we’re certain that this summer the Mad River Valley trails will be riding better than they ever have before
Let’s meet the crew!
Jose Darias leads the Mad River Riders Trail Crew. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he regularly spent his winters in Vermont skiing the raw terrain at Mad River Glen. After graduating from high school, it was a no brainer to relocate to the Valley to be amongst the Green Mountains full time in 2012. Growing up in a cycling family, bikes have been a foundational pillar of Jose’s life and he actively makes time to ride as often as possible. As a strong proponent of "Type 2 Fun", you'll often find Jose pedaling long climbs for big descents, aiming for a high smiles per miles ratio and a "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" attitude. Jose also leads this summer’s Mad River Rippers youth mountain biking program. He currently resides in Moretown with his wife Larissa Darias, their three dogs, Viper, Paco and Kona. The family expects the birth of their first child later this Summer!
Ryan Harris joined the Mad River Riders trail crew in May 2023, looking to add some new-school flavor to the area’s existing network. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Ryan raced gravity mountain bikes since early high school. Now in his senior year at UVM, when Ryan isn’t out building trails you can find him filming his next action sports video. He is looking forward to getting more familiar with the Mad River Valley and its unique mountain biking community.
Eli Moskowitz joined Mad River Riders as full-time trail crew in May of 2023. Eli has lived in Vermont his whole life. He grew up in Waterbury Center, graduated from Harwood Union in 2019, and is now a rising senior year at the University of Vermont. From his roots here, Eli has experienced mountain biking in many parts of the country outside Vermont and world beyond. Two cross-country road trips focused on riding bikes, and he’s also found himself on a mountain bike in Italy and Ecuador. Despite traveling all over the world, Vermont remains one of Eli’s favorite places to ride.
Nate Caplan rounds out the Mad River Riders trail crew. Originally from southern Vermont near Mt. Snow, Nate grew up with a passion for the outdoors, skiing in the winter and biking in the summer. After high school at Stratton Mountain School where Nate traveled and competed in freestyle mogul skiing, he decided to stay in the green mountain state and attend the University of Vermont. While Nate is still an avid skier, when not on snow you may find him hiking, biking, fishing, and exploring the forests. He lives in Burlington where he is completing a major in Forestry, giving him an array of knowledge about forest ecosystems. Whether on a bike, skis, or foot, Nate is happiest when he can be outside doing what he enjoys the most.
The Mad River Trail Crew supplemented their natural energy and passion with top-notch trail building instruction early this summer at a VMBA boot camp in Randolph/Rochester. We’ll be documenting their work via Instagram. Please say “hello” if you pass the crew on the trails this summer!
Hunting season is here. All Mad River Riders trails will be closed during youth hunting weekend (October 22 and 23) and deer rifle season (November 12 to 27) for daytime use. BUT - you can use trails (except for trails on state land - Howe Block and the Chain Link area) until half an hour before sunrise and then again half an hour after sunset. We've pulled together suggested ride times for each day based on sunrise and sunset times, in the tables below, to help you get out on the trails safely.
There are several other hunting seasons as well. Check out our first table below for deets. The trails stay open during those seasons. Just look out for hunters, be nice, wear some orange, and make an effort to be quiet.
See you out there!
Lower Gumball Trail has been closed to mountain biking, effective immediately. Please refrain from riding the bottom portion of the trail that is northeast of Old Center Fayston Road (to the right heading uphill) and stick to Upper Gumball and Too Tight which are further up and to the left (southwest) of Old Center Fayston Road.
The Mad River Riders and all other Vermont trail organizations rely on the generous goodwill of the private landowners across whose lands our networks pass. Maintaining positive relationships through good communication is a major part of our work.
Unfortunately, our execution has been uneven in recent years. What we thought of as adequate fell short of the ideal. As Covid restrictions on in-person meetings and booming trail usage spread our resources thin, this shortfall was magnified. We were unaware to what extent until Friday when a valued landowner partner, who has allowed the Lower Gumball Trail to cross their land for more than a decade, came across a pile of lumber that had been deposited on their land without their knowledge. The lumber was clearly organized for a building project they had not been consulted about.
The lumber and a plan to address a problematic muddy crossing came from a longtime Riders member who has been helping to maintain Gumball for years. However, he hadn’t communicated his plan with any MRR board members. As a result, our normal landowner communication process didn’t happen, giving the impression that the Mad River Riders were taking liberties with the permissions the landowner granted. They understandably want to maintain control of their land, and as a result have closed it to biking.
Any type of project, beyond minor shovel work or fallen tree clearing, that involves amending any part of a trail on private or public land, must go through a thorough review and communications process. The board works carefully to gain permissions from every landowner for any structure or change, so there is full understanding about exactly what is going to occur, how long it will take, and who will be involved in the project.
The landowner is completely justified in asserting control over their land after an incident like this, underscoring the importance that however well we love the trails we ride, any proprietary impulse to make any changes without permission has the potential to endanger our access to the land. Our organization should communicate this message consistently and clearly to our members. We are grateful to have a conversation with this landowner about how our communication fell well short of the mark, because it gives us the opportunity to examine our relations with all of our landowners to see where we can improve.
The closure of a beloved trail like Gumball serves as a reminder of how critical landowners are to the Mad River Valley trail network. The Mad River Riders board has expanded its membership and is rolling out a new, more systematic approach to landowner relations to ensure we keep them informed, acknowledged, appreciated, and supported. When enjoying the trails, please be respectful of all land and be especially respectful and courteous towards private landowners. Please do not undertake any trailwork beyond seasonal maintenance without engaging the MRR board.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the closure, as with any communication or questions regarding any trails we maintain.
Mad River Riders