I feel like I need to address what’s going on at Standing Boy the next month or so (hopefully we’ll be open by early September and the worries contained in this post will be behind us).
As you probably saw in the paper, RJ Ripper (see here) is riding out there this weekend with some NICA kids and the people that have most consistently come to trail workdays. I asked some people to give me input on who’s invited, but I’m sure the list is not perfect. I apologize for that.
In order to do the ride, I had go back and forth with DNR and get a permission letter that stipulates the conditions of the ride (including a limit on the number of riders). I also had to work through things with Trail Solutions, who had concerns. I’m also really nervous about parking (cause there ain’t hardly any right now). But, Trees Columbus (who puts on the film festival) has had my back on this project for years, and now it’s my turn to have theirs. I’m more than happy to do that for them, because that’s how partnerships/friendships work.
Beyond that, I have an understanding with DNR and Trail Solutions that I can take people out there to ride for the purpose of helping raise the rest of the funds we need to complete Phase 2.
The goal for phase 2 includes, in order of importance, segments:
- 13-16 (portion of outer blue loop)
- 6, 7 (climb and green gravity)
- 8, 9, and 12 (some of inner blue and rest of outer blue)
- 18 (blue gravity, but we have to get a team of sawyers to deal with tornado damage first)
Total cost for all that is $800,000 (not including the sawyers).
I’m currently signing a contract for 13-16 only. We’re going to have about $300K left after Phase 1, and segments 13-16 alone cost about $450K (it’s a lot of mileage).
Committing with only a $150K shortage is less of a pinch-squeeze that I’ve run on this project in the past, but I’m trying to decrease rather than increase the amount of sleep I lose over this project. While I think we can raise a lot more than $150K this fall, I don’t want to make a promise to my friends at Trail Solutions that rests on raising more than that.
The main purpose of the contract is to go ahead and get on their construction schedule before they get booked up. It will also allow them to achieve some costs savings by planning further in advance. Hopefully, we will keep amending the contract to add more trail as we raise more money. The green climb and green gravity are $150K, and I really, really want to get those done in early 2020.
All that is to say that I’m not out there joyriding and treating it like my own personal trail system. I’m normally taking people that have not mountain biked very much at all, but that can help me find the money for Phase 2 if they get excited about the project. Often, I’m not even on a bike. I’m walking the trails with people that don’t ride and aren’t yet ready to try it out.
I desperately want to get the trail system open to everyone, if only for selfish reasons. Right now, there is nothing more fun than seeing the smiles and hearing the comments when people see the trails.
Trail Solutions is building back towards the parking lot. I am pushing hard on signage, kiosk, etc. so that we can open the trails as soon as they connect to the parking lot. I am really anxious and excited for everyone to be able to ride. The second I am able to do so, I’ll put out the word to come ride.
Unfortunately, until then there are a number of reasons I have to insist everyone stay off the trails. DNR has not given us permission to open the trails, and we don’t want to damage the relationship and trust I’ve worked so hard to build over the past few years. Those trails are still a construction zone, and Trail Solutions has OSHA and insurance issues they have to deal with (that’s why the guys wear hardhats while cutting roots with clippers in the 95 degree heat). Also, there is no parking currently.
Small game season is getting ready to open, which means DNR and hunters are going to be out there at even more random times. And, DNR is walking the trails pretty regularly to monitor construction and progress. I really, really don’t need a DNR officer coming across you illegally riding the trails or a hunter snapping a picture and sending it up to Atlanta. Also, if you’re parked on Old River Road (or in back of Green Island) I’m going to get a text from the neighbors (I’ve asked, and it’s going to include a tag number). Not only is it going to be really unpleasant to have to call people out, it’s also going to take time and energy away from raising the funds for Phase 2. Please, please, please don’t make me get these texts and phone calls.
I expect a lot of people will think this post was a bad idea, but I prefer being transparent and hope that transparency will encourage people to stay off the trails. Once the trails are open, there’s going to be a lot of ways for everyone to pitch in (and everyone is going to need to pitch in). However, until the trails are open, by far the most important thing you can do to help me make all this a reality is to stay off the trails. I know it’s tempting, and I really appreciate your discipline and patience.