Another year On The Rocks
At least once a year you ought to set aside a moment to celebrate the passage of another season spent in the Agreement Forest.
Whether or not one is able to notice it, this forest is being kept alive by the community around it. How could that be? Paying no heed to us, we know the trees grow and rocks weather; but if you stop to think about the forest and trails it’s obvious an arrangement of trees, rocks and dirt aren’t what make it alive. Without you and the spirit of this community, the Agreement Forest could only ever be trees, rocks and dirt. An old trail builder slogan said: “Trails don’t grow on trees, but under them.” Catchy because you’re smart enough to understand trails simply don’t grow either on the trees or under them, but why there are trails and what they mean is not easy to put your finger on. I do know that without the people past, present and future who’ve helped in stewarding the Agreement Forest trails all that would be under its trees are shorter trees. Their engagement and your own, in cultivating a future for the forest we know, is one of the things HAFTA wants to celebrate.
So it was, that on Saturday September 8th, just before 1pm and right on schedule the “doors” opened to On The Rocks 2018. It was once again inside the Toronto West KOA, they have been key in supporting this riding and camping event as their property is only a 5 minute ride from an Agreement Forest trail-head.
HAFTA got busy checking in members and dispensing On The Rocks T-shirts to those who elected for one (we still have a few of those left.) Amazingly nobody was lost in our paperwork and only one person that registered didn’t make it to the event. The photo below was taken after the check-in was completed and members who hadn’t seen each other for a while had finished exchanging their hugs and handshakes.
After the group photo was wrapped up we divided ourselves up into ride-groups. Now, this is a long story, but we should explain as there was confusion. On The Rocks had three ride-groups which were divided based on the skill indicated in a person’s sign-up form. When HAFTA tallied the registrants choices, the groups would be almost evenly divided – Great – But at the last minute on Saturday the intermediate group swelled to a less than ideal number. Not only that, but some folks didn’t factor endurance into the evaluation of their ability. That became an issue because regardless of a persons technical skill each group was going to ride for approximately 3.5hrs – It was an Epic Ride after all.
We’re sorry about this because some riders politely voiced frustration over waiting and we too think we can do better, but please temper that feeling with the fact that On The Rocks is at its heart an epic no-drop social ride. We thank everybody for their patience and want you to know that we’re putting our thinking caps on and looking for ways to improve the ride structure next year.
After the Epic Ride briefing we headed out from the KOA and north on Guelph line. What you might not have noticed while pedaling north is that recently the Region of Halton in co-operation with Town of Milton, The Mohawk Inn, Woodbine Mohawk Park and HAFTA. All came together to reduce the speed limit on Guelph Line from the Community Centre at Campbellville rd to just north of the Woodbine Mohawk property. It’s now a 60 zone where it was an 80! Our hope is that this calms traffic a bit and facilitates your safe passage. We’d like to thank Bridget from Mohawk Inn, Jessica and Garth from Woodbine Mohawk Park, Regional Chair Gary Carr and Jim Harnum of the Region of Halton and Councillor Lunau. And one big thank-you to Paulo Laberge our HAFTA exec that got the ball rolling and made sure this change was completed in time for On The Rocks.
All our ride groups made it safely up Guelph Line to the forest where the fun could begin. The photos you are about to see were taken by HAFTA executives Paulo Laberge and Jake Krane. Many thanks to these two for riding to and fro trying their best to capture the action for us. They’ve let us know that if you want to use one of their images in a non-commercial manner that is okay with them, but please do not modify the image and do give them credit for their efforts.
At one point during the ride all the groups crossed paths at the new trail that HAFTA in partnership with the Region of Halton has built: The Den. As you might expect we have a large collection of photos from riders using this friggin’ amazing trail! The first row is of the entrance to the Den’s lollipop style loop. The second and third rows are taken on the East side of the loop which is furthest from the wetland.
Eventually all riders snaked their way around The Den. If you’re paying attention you’ll notice a mix of ride-groups here, that’s because each of the three groups arrived only minutes apart from each other and all went counter-clockwise. With the advanced group arriving on scene last it was a mess of overtaking. Not sure what the odds of that happening again are, but we’re hoping for zero. Here is a collection of images taken on the West side of the trail:
After an epic loop around The Den our groups spread in different directions across the Agreement Forest. Here are a few members closer to 6th line riding the old rock wall on The Nomad trail.
At No Dab (which is adjacent to Nomad trail) the few advanced riders passed the intermediate group, too fast for the cameramen they continued on through Bent Rim 2, then 1 and onwards to Wandering Lynx. The intermediates began to make their way back to the KOA.
While members were approaching the end of their ride our HAFTA skeleton crew (the two Peters) were already back at camp busily making the preparations. As riders arrived, changed out of sweaty riding gear and made use of the nearby showers our HAFTA sponsor The PRFCT Line setup shop and debuted their sweet new Gnome “Rock” line of shirts – Pretty clever design as usual!
As we experienced at On The Rocks, “stuff” happens in the AF. Usually it’s small and some bandages or pills can turn the frowns upside down, but other times it’s not as easy. You’ll be happy to know HAFTA’s ride leaders are now in possession of some really dope first-aid bags created by our newest sponsor: Bruiser Bags Bikepacking. We’re happy Heather crafted these custom bags for HAFTA as should any riders that join us on the social rides.
Before daylight faded at camp we had to run our annual kid’s bike race, an event where fully grown adults deftly pilot a comically small bicycle to victory and riches. Quite a few of HAFTA’s sponsors had donated prizes and the game was definitely afoot with prizes such as: A new Chunk tire from Terrene Tire, multiple gift cards worth significant value from local Milton shop sponsor Village Bikes and skis plus a collection of clothing from BikeZone. All of it waiting on the other side of the finish line – Who would get there first?
Apparently nobody would achieve victory because things got a bit heated on the kids bike course early on with a big tangle-up that saw one rider receive a nasty cut on their hand. We decided to shelve further rounds of the kid’s bike race and instead draw from the personalised 9point8 BBQ tickets to determine who would receive a prize. The kid’s bike race will be back next year, but in the mean time we’re giving those bikes an exorcism and significantly altering the course – Kids bike hill-climb challenge?
Speaking of the BBQ tickets, which were now doubling as our draw tickets, Jack Pittens who sponsors HAFTA through 9point8 had just finished his cooking and was able to perk up our mood with a delicious feast. Jack had been diligently slaving away on the grills since mid-afternoon (he had also done the shopping earlier that week). On the 9point8 BBQ menu for HAFTA members was their choice of beef ribs, beer-can steamed chicken or a home-made hamburger. We heard that each choice of fare was excellent. Our HAFTA exec Jen had prepared the sides for this feast, those included a leafy or pasta salad and lastly Paulo had brought the beverages – Though some members had already opened their own.
After members had finished devouring the 9point8 BBQ meal (there were only scraps left!) everybody sauntered on down to our litAF campfire where we drew tickets for the sponsor prizes.
This year’s campfire was possible thanks to HAFTA exec Rob Schultz who’d donated about a half-cord of his own seasoned firewood for us to burn. His generosity saw the camp-fire burn hot for many hours. Peter Reid, who is another HAFTA exec brought his Friendship torches to light the area around the campfire and provide the ambiance. He was also the fellow who figured out that September wasn’t too early to eat pumpkin pie (or rhubarb or apple). As the night grew darker and we began to see our breath for the first time since March the circle narrowed and the fire was stoked well into the night.
As you might suspect, things got off to a slow start on Sunday morning, many people had pounding headaches (no photos) and though it wasn’t in our budget HAFTA took mercy on their souls and cooked a “Hung Over the Rocks” breakfast for them. Sure the eggs were stretched a bit thin, but everybody got a toasted bun (inside joke). Thankfully our meagre offering was enough fuel to get a few riders out, by about noon, for a light spin through the forest.
This event was really enjoyable and we are nervous about what next year will bring; can 2018, the year of The Den, be topped?
We wish all the members that attended went away with a new appreciation for the trails and hope to see them at an upcoming build day or just out enjoying the trails we love.
HAFTA is grateful to everybody for their support.