The first trail day of Fall 2017 was a fair-weather ringer. Even more amazing is this was the second year in a row for such weather! Last year we had tackled a single project (on Island Run), but this year we had four separate projects on the go at four equidistant locations.
Some say that to a man with a hammer everything becomes like a nail. Perhaps it’s also true that to a club surrounded by rocks, everything looks like it needs to be armoured. In this light it only made sense that the first project we settled on was replacing the old wood-work in the Hammer Head/Oil Can trail with good ol’ rock. Though rock work is perhaps the most laborious path, when done correctly it’s the most sustainable answer and will last through many seasons and many visitors. The trail where the rock-work was done is one of the older trails in the Agreement Forest (or as it’s now called the Halton Region Forest Complex.) Agreement Forest was an old Ministry of Natural Resources term that was subsequently dropped when MNR handed off the land to Halton. At any rate, this older Agreement Forest trail was part of a continuation of the style of riding found on Stunt trail and B.C. Rocks; one which involved many skill testing wooden structures. A style of building that (among other reasons) has somewhat fallen to the wayside due to it’s relatively high up-keep.
We hope you have a blast riding the updated Hammer Head line and be sure to familiarise yourself with it before you ride it.
The second project of trail day had been on the back-burner a while and involved replacing an unsafe section (about 10ft) of boardwalk on Frank’s trail. This small section of boardwalk spans a seasonal creek and its runners had rotted so much that the decking screws were no long holding. Not a good situation! The club sprang for some brand new runners out of its own pockets and were able to up-cycle some of the off-cuts from the boardwalk build last Fall. The first step in this project was sending a few members all the way to Island Run with our new packs (courtesy of Freewheel cycle), loading them up to the brim with the various off-cuts, tossing them into some poor guy’s vehicle and then shuttling them over. This was no easy task as the wood had been collecting rainwater and other dangers lay in wait. Luckily we had enough volunteers to spread this work out and nobody ended up as exhausted as those involved in last year’s massive “bucket brigade” which hauled full-length decking and runners into Island Run from the secret stash.
A second task on Frank’s trail was to extend the armour at the bottom of a rock roll. The reason for this is that during spring this section takes a long time to dry and riders and hikers were creating an erosion ditch next to the thinner armouring line. Eventually this ditch will become deeper, wider and even more “bombed out”; thus we armoured the 5ft section getting eroded.
Our third project was to stack the boardwalk on the Turner tract double-track. Most of you will know this as the boardwalk closest to the I Will Allow It trail that always tries to float away late winter/early spring. You might also remember that last year a sign popped up alerting people to a tree thinning operation that was going to occur the following year (2017). Maybe you also noticed the orange markings on the trees that popped up this summer.
Anyhow, this operation is delayed as the Region has yet to negotiate a contract with an interested arboricuture company. However after the shotgun hunt is finished, which runs from dawn Nov 6th to dusk on the 10th, there will be a crew in to trim the double-track with machinery and remove hazard trees.
Speaking of hazard trees, we had a fourth impromptu project. This last project saw two crews circumnavigating the AF to remove trees that were blown over onto the trails during the last windstorm. We don’t have any images to share of this, but suffice to say they worked really hard to clear some seriously heavy dead-fall!
Job done, even had time to remove garbage from the trails
You don’t get trail days that are much better than this one. Afterwards many people loitered around the Mohawk Raceway parking lot enjoying the warm weather and sun. The board is a bit worried that people become a bit accustomed to these halcyon days as we’ve been very lucky with weather! Usually trail days in the Fall are grey and cold, however the company is always good.
That was an awesome weekend of riding! The trails were dry, the weather was warm yet temperate enough at night for tenting, the turn out from the AF community was solid and our campfire was well stocked. Last Saturday’s events began months ago for the board and even on the day they were out early erecting signs, banners, tents, tables, transporting BBQs, coolers, lawn chairs and setting up the bikes! The HAFTA crew managed to get settled into the site just in time to welcome our first attendees.
First on the program was checking in. Waivers had to be signed, BBQ meal tickets handed out in addition to a bit of magical red tape. It was nice to see some people who’ve been M.I.A. from the forest this summer making an effort to join in.
After signing in the last few riders that had snuck in under the buzzer, we took a few minutes for a group shot and then called out the route to the trail head.
Here’s to 2017 On The Rocks!
In anticipation of potential unpleasantness involved with a whack of cyclists (about 50 of them) riding up the shoulder of Guelph line through broken bottles and competing with speeding cars from the 401 for space, HAFTA flagged and pruned a marginally longer though decidedly more peaceful alternate route. The route took us up the less trafficked 2nd side-road, through the hydro field and then spat us out north of Mohawk Raceway and opposite the entrance to the forest’s (Currie Tract) parking lot. Before we dive into the woods, HAFTA would like to thank our partners at the Region of Halton for preserving such an amazing tract of forest to enjoy!
Once all the riders made it to the safety of the Agreement Forest we broke into three groups: A “non-stop” ride lead by JJ, Paulo and Rob, a “social” ride lead by Garry, Zeus, Barry and Jake, and finally an intermediate “co-ed” ride lead by Karen Glancy and Jen. Each ride was scheduled to last about 3 hours, albeit they would be travelling at different paces. The groups followed Epic Ride rules which are our procedure for larger HAFTA rides where people may not yet know each other, notice if somebody goes missing or know the trails in the forest by name.
What are Epic Ride rules? When coming to an intersection the rider behind the Leader is designated as a Marker. The person designated as a Marker must then direct the group while waiting for the Sweep to arrive before both of them continue on. If another rider in the group wants a break they may swap places with the Marker. The system works great, requires little planning and everybody tends to follow it – Lest they earn the scorn of the rest of the group.
The only point of interest the groups planned on riding to was the now semi-iconic Gnome Rock. Two of the groups managed to make it there for a photo, but the third group ran out of time or decided against it as the Boundary trail, on which Gnome Rock resides, requires a set of solid technical bike skills and some riders that day were first timers. One thing worth mentioning about the routes is that our partners at Conservation Halton granted our group free admission to cross their lands. Volunteering has benefits!
This saved us an organisational headache. Although most of our members hold seasons passes, some of the new visitors might not. That fact would have complicated things. Crossing into Hilton Falls adds many miles to any ride in the Agreement Forest and the folks at Conservation Halton deserve your support because they’re also down with mountain biking and natural trails throughout the region.
Without further ado, here are a few select photos of the awesome riding and riders that make the AF what it is! The first batch of photos are courtesy of Paulo and were taken of his non-stop group;
This next batch of photos are courtesy of Jake and they’re all of Saturday’s social group;
Those are some pretty nice photos. I hope you had one taken of you, but if not there is always next year’s event. If you want a large version of your photo send us an e-mail.
As the clock ticked closer to 5pm the riders began arriving back at the KOA. The management there had graciously provided HAFTA with an extra large grassy area so we could camp, BBQ, race and relax. Plus, their showers and rest-rooms were on hand directly opposite the event so there was plenty of opportunity to freshen up post-ride.
Around about a quarter after five we fired up the BBQ. Thankfully Peter Weldon had volunteered to go out and do all the grocery shopping for the group (no small task!) while we were riding. That meant our supplies were waiting in the coolers when we arrived back at the KOA. A good thing because “hangry” riders were sure to be loitering.
After the serious riding and BBQ’n was over it was time for the not-so-serious riding to start. In no particular order here are the mini-bike photos, the winners of which received a complimentary t-shirt from The PRFCT line or a coupon to The Village Bikes and Skis – Extra thanks to Bikes and Skis for donating a few of these mini-bikes.
Soon enough the sun was setting on the ridiculous mini-bike racing, the handing out of sponsors prizes and the distribution of the remnants of BBQ food. That meant some secret second dessert should be served! Everybody who hung around got to enjoy a bacon butter tart courtesy of Karen “The Rock Riding Realtor” Glancy and there was a round of ice-cream bars courtesy of HAFTA. With Saturday’s event fortune full, there was only one thing left to do – Pull up a chair to the camp fire and relax.
Sunday’s sunrise found our fire pit smouldering and the campsite covered with heavy dew; many camper’s eyelids were equally heavy, but luckily none of them were covered in dew and passed out in a chair by said fire pit. The trails were waiting for HAFTA, so as the sun cleared the tree-tops we buckled down and started breakfast. Sunday’s group was decidedly smaller and far more social!
Everybody smile – Er, smile again! Welcome to Oriel and Jack P (far right)
By far the highlight of Sunday’s ride was having Peter Weldon join us. This was his first ride in the AF after an awful crash that saw him enduring major surgery and years of painful rehabilitation. We’re all pretty stoked to see him testing the “waters” at the AF again – Go Pete!
Perhaps it was the sense of occasion or the sleep deprivation, but for some reason things got pretty “sendy” after chilling at the falls and secret drops were ridden by JJ, Jake and Kevin. The group meandered through the trails for an hour or so more and the board relaxed knowing they’d just hosted the largest event in the Agreement Forest in many years and also in celebration of the closing of another summer spent on the rocks.
We hope the attendees of On The Rocks had a memorable time and that we’ll see some familiar faces later this Fall when the leaves are down. We’ll soon be announcing our build projects. We have lots of improvements on tap for the trails and are going to need your help to maintain them.
If you’re not a member and want to hear about these events send us your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll subscribe you to the mailing list.
Stay tuned for group rides through Facebook or Twitter – We try to host one every week.
On The Rocks is a ride and camp weekend at the AF. This event was an idea that struck us last year after hosting an epic Fall ride in Hilton Falls. Despite weather trying to ruin that event it turned out to be successful and resulted in many happy riders. In view of that success we’ve decided to add on to it this year:
On September 16th (12pm) and through to the 17th we’ll be at the Toronto West KOA (905-854-2495) hosting what will be a fun weekend centered around riding those awesome trails available at the Agreement Forest.
To help our members ride and chill we’ll be providing leaders for the group rides and a dinner. At about 7:30 (sunset) we’ll have a nice bonfire for everybody to sit around. Event opens on Saturday the 16th at 12pm and group rides will leave at 1pm sharp and wrap up shortly after 4pm. We’re firing up the BBQ around 5pm and starting the bonfire shortly before sunset. Remember this is a campsite, so please bring a chair unless you’re okay with standing. On the following Sunday a second ride will leave the KOA at approximately 10:30am. Even though admission is free for the MTB community you won’t be permitted to join either ride unless you’ve signed our waiver and had your attendance taken. This means that if you’re not a member or simply never signed our ride/build waiver please arrive promptly todo so. On Saturday fun/crazy activities are also planned post-ride for people who’ve got the energy. Though the rides are not geared toward children, most of the event will be child-friendly. Parental discretion is also advised at the bonfire. The event is welcoming towards dogs, but dogs will not be permitted to join the group rides.
If you think you won’t feel like driving after the bonfire on Saturday, an area of the Toronto West KOA (which is across the street from the AF) is up for reservation. We will not be serving any alcohol, but people are free to drink at their own KOA sites. HAFTA has already booked their sites and we suggest you book in advance and early. If you’re a member, then mention you’re with HAFTA so your site is near the bonfire and if you’re a member booking a site ask about the small discount.
Participating in the group ride or festivities at our KOA site – No charge
Very limited run of “On The Rocks” T-shirts $20 if you’re a member and $25 for non-members.
Mohawk Chop House opens at 8am on Sunday for Breakfast, KOA has a pancake breakfast or cook your own
Q: How much does the event cost?
A: See pricing section above – Cash only at our site.
Q: I don’t want to ride – Just hangout at HAFTA’s campsite.
A: No problem, however meal tickets are only available for purchase at registration table BEFORE the 1pm ride begins.
Q: I want to join a ride, but not participate in anything else?
A: That works, but you musn’t park at the KOA. Parking there is very limited and it will only be for people who’ve purchased sites. You will have to park at Mohawk Inn and ride over to HAFTA’s KOA site and get signed in.
Q: Where can I park or register for the ride?
A: To clear things up, we are not starting at the racetrack nor is the ride stopping there – Find us at the KOA!
There will be a limited number of signs to help you find us! Keep your eyes peeled –
Q: Are people bringing their small children?
A: A handful members will be bringing their children of various ages along. However the group rides aren’t designed to accommodate children.
Q: Just how difficult is the ride going to be?
A: We’ll have a beginner group and intermediate – If you’ve never ridden the AF, then the beginner group is where you should place yourself. Be considerate here. It’s far more polite that you as an individual wait for a group than you slow down and entire group. Each group will be riding for approximately 3hrs and covering different distances.
A: Mini-bike racing, bean bag toss, giant jenga, 26″ wheel horse-shoe (what else are they good for now?) and just sitting down to take the load off.
Q: Breakfast on Sunday!?!
A: The Mohawk Inn has a full breakfast service at 8am, the KOA does pancakes and you’re free to cook your own if that is how you roll. Just be back at 10:00 because we’re rolling out of our sites at about 10:30am for the second ride.