In the 1990s, I started cycling semi-seriously as a mountain biker. I got my first “real” mountain bike in 1992 (an Iron Horse). In 2002 I got my first full-suspension bike (a Kona) and started to enter races. So my cycling roots are in mountain biking.In recent years however, I’ve found myself cycling more on gravel and paved roads and rail trails rather than on singletrack through the woods. There are a few reasons for this: (1) my concussion symptoms tend to arise more from the constant chattering of my bike on roots and bumps on the forest, (2) it’s much easier for me to hop on my road or gravel bike for a quick ride than to drive out to the trails.
Those are, of course, excuses. Despite riding over 4000 km in 2018 so far, I’d yet to get out on my mountain bike until…
This past weekend, I spent two days exploring the fantastic singletrack trails at Turkey Point. The trails, developed by the Turkey Point Mountain Bike Club (TPMBC), were first introduced in 2011. Since then the group has built over 70 kilometres of singletrack! Trails are rated from Beginner (green) to Intermediate (blue) to Advanced (black) to expert (Red). I stayed mostly on the green, blue and black trails. All were very rideable for an intermediate rider like myself. The flow in the woods is amazing, and every technical feature had an easier ride-around option.
Signage was excellent, so we never felt lost, despite the large area that we covered. Signs at every trail head were instructive without being intrusive. And their interactive, on-line map helped as well. With sponsors and funding from a Trillium Grant, TPMBC has been able to build a vast network of trails without scarring the forests. Technical features are built around natural obstacles, such as fallen trees, roots and valleys, so there’s always a sense of being out in the wilderness.
As a trail builder and volunteer since 2003, I understand the work that goes into building and maintaining good, sustainable mountain bike trails. Labour can be hard and time-consuming. There can be a tendency to rent large machinery to aid in the trail building process and while this can speed up the trail-building process, it can also lead to large scarred areas of forest, which can take away from the natural feeling of being in the woods. Clearly, the TPMBC has been able to build a ton of trails in less than a decade while maintaining the natural beauty of the different forests in the area.
For example, there are places where you can look out over the Turkey Point marsh (where they used to test bombs, apparently). It’s now part of the Long Point National Wildlife Area.
And who can resist riding past vineyards? In this case, trails pass right by the Burning Kiln Winery!