2017 has come to a close and it was quite a busy year for SAMBA. We’d just like to take time to update everyone on our happenings, share our successes from last year and reveal some new projects in the works for 2018 and beyond.
2017 NEWS & UPDATES…
1) SAMBA’s Board of Directors saw some major changes last year. Long-time board members transitioned out and a new leadership team and Board members were elected. We were able to revise our by-laws to better fit the needs of the club as it continues to grow. Three new dedicated Board positions (Director of Events, Director of Communications and Director of Public Relations) were established as well as four new committees (PGC, Communications, Events and PR). Trail committees were formed at our areas of operation to help support trail liaisons. We can always use more help filling these roles as we evolve. Please contact us if you’d like to volunteer.
2) Swatara State Park mountain bike trails are no longer under the care of SAMBA. The trails are now being maintained by the Friends of Memorial Lake & Swatara State Park group. SAMBA worked closely with DCNR to be able to continue to hold the Tuesday night rides in the park which will continue through March. SAMBA donated an entire cache of tools valued at more than $2000 to the Friends group in order for them to be able to properly maintain the trails. We also made a donation of a Dero Fixit station to the park which will hopefully be installed soon.
3) Parkway Trails are in great shape after a full year of operation due to diligent sustainable trail construction and maintenance. We were able to partner with the Paxtang Cemetery to add a full mile of new trail, held monthly rides and even a 1 year anniversary event. We also partnered with Paxtang Borough to install a Dero Fixit station near the Derry St. trailhead. Volunteers participated for the third year in a clean-up day with Milton Hershey school for their annual day of service. Be on the look-out for permanent trail maps as part of a project to update kiosks along the Greenbelt and another ¾ mile of trail extensions are planned for this year!
4) Camp Mack continues to evolve and some sweet new trail was established last year. A proposal was submitted to develop more trails in the future. The crew keeps finding ways to improve the trails and also participated in a clean-up day at Hammer Creek!
5) Governor Dick in Mt. Gretna was opened to night riding on Thursdays as a result of our liaison working to to continue to build the relationship and trust with the landowner’s Board of Trustees and staying engaged with their meetings and addressing their concerns.
6) SAMBA’s PGC committee (Pennsylvania Game Commission) worked with IMBA to submit a proposal to re-introduce mountain biking to SGL 145 in Mt. Gretna! The original proposal was part of a new program from the PGC for “Special trail use” and it was the first time the program was tested for mountain biking. That proposal was denied as expected but we are in the process of taking the next steps. The process could be lengthy but could eventually lead to access to those trails or new trails in the future!
7) An IMBA trail building school and build session was held at the Parkway Trails. It gave our liaisons (old, new and future) an opportunity to learn sustainable trail building best practices and stewardship and also work through the entire build process so that we can be more consistent with trail design and construction throughout our trail networks.
8) The SAMBA website and Facebook pages finally got much needed updates. Our website now includes a Donation page and real-time Facebook feed. Facebook continues to be our most utilized form of communication and our group Facebook membership has swollen to 925 people this past year. SAMBA happenings such as rides and trail work days are now created as Events. Users were able to find rides, work days and information and also help return items lost on the trail, a stolen bike and lost pets! We hope to expand our social media options for 2018.
9) Troegs Independent Brewing continues to be a great partner for the club and the local mountain biking community. We had a great day out with Troegs employees riding the Parkway Trails and Happy Hour afterwards at the Paxtang Grill. We hope to collaborate more this year on an adopt a trail program, our events and other initiatives.
1) Our Winter Party returned for a second year and was moved to Mt. Gretna from Harrisburg. We hosted rides, ate and drank, and held an awesome raffle that helped us meet our fundraising goal This year’s event will be held Feb 18 at the Mount Gretna Craft Brewery featuring live music by our old pal Dave Heilman. Check Facebook for updates and more info.
2) “The BASH” made a triumphant return up north in Lykens. Riders from all over the state and beyond made the journey to camp, ride, eat and hang out for four nights and three days at the awesome Rattling Creek trails. The laid back vibe of the event was a big hit. Rides were held each day and we provided a bonfire each night and a meal on Saturday night. This year we hope to fill the campground and plan to add live music to the event. SAVE THE DATE…This year’s event has been scheduled for Sept 13-16. See you there!
3) Dirtfest at Lake Raystown was crazy last year and it was our third year in a row hosting a SAMBA campsite. This time around we were able to provide two meals, water, food, snacks, beer, bonfires and a couple rides for our campers. See you there in May for year number four of good times at the lake.
4) Tour de Belt was a big success last year with record participation and it was our third year helping support our friends at CAGA by providing course marshals and an outreach table at the event. We’ll be back this year and also hosting rides on the Parkway Trails in conjunction with the Tour de Belt weekend events.
5) Bike demo days were held at the Parkway trails by Salsa, Trek and Giant/Liv, giving folks an opportunity to try new bikes on familiar trails. We hope to involve more brands and shops this year in these type of events.
2017 NEW TRAILS & PROJECTS:
COMPLETED: The 1.1 mile Elizabethtown School trail was the first purpose-built mountain bike trail on school district property in the state. E-town MTB reached out to us early in the year with the idea to build the trail as a practice trail for their NICA team. We were able to help guide the team through the process of preparing a proposal for the school board, determining where to build the trail based on sustainability, teaching trail building best practices and stewardship and coaching through the build process. The kids did most of the work and then took ownership of the trail just before the race season. The team doubled in size last year and had a great season. The trail also serves as a gateway trail for beginners in the area and has led to more opportunities from other schools as well as a possible opportunity with the Lancaster County Conservancy in the future. SAMBA donated a few tools for the team to use to maintain their trail going forward. We plan to use this project as a template to make it easier to duplicate the process at schools across the state. https://etownmtb.com
COMPLETED: Lititz Rock Garden trails were completed in late 2017 on the Rock Lititz campus. We partnered with Rock Lititz and Lititz Bikeworks to establish the first permanent cyclocross track on the East coast. Since the track is permanent and not just a pop-up course for a race it needed to be built using the same sustainable trail building practices that we use when building MTB trails. The one-of-a-kind track features a beginner, intermediate and expert line and utilizes lots of natural rock obstacles typical of central Pa. We expect to see a full blown race series next year including a Spring or Summer CX series and a possible UCI World Cup event in the coming years. Kid’s short track MTB races, demo rides, coaching and development, open practice sessions and more are planned and it sounds like the track has spawned interest in a NICA team start-up this year! http://intercoursebikeworks.com/cyclocross-course/
COMING IN 2018: PSU Hershey Medical Center trails project is in the final stages of negotiation with Penn State University and we hope to begin construction in the Spring of 2018. The property is filled with especially unique terrain and we have proposed a five mile share-use trail system that will be fun for riders of all skill levels. The trails will be accessible from the surrounding communities via bike paths and the Horseshoe trail!
COMING IN 2018: The Mechanicsburg High School trail was approved by their school Board before the end of the year. This project will be very similar to the E-town project mentioned above except this trail will be introduced directly into the school PE curriculum. The trail will also serve as a gateway trail and practice trail for the West Shore Composite NICA team. Work will begin soon as weather permits.
COMING IN 2018: The Paxtang Park project was launched late last year by the Parkway Trail committee in partnership with Swatara Township, The City of Harrisburg and Paxtang Borough. The park has been in ruins for decades and the plan is to revitalize and re-establish the park as a parking area, picnic spot and meet-up location for visitors coming to the area to ride the Parkway Trails and Capital Area Greenbelt. The parking area is located right in the middle of the Parkway Trails and is much needed. Zoning issues have been resolved and we are now in the process of raising funds to cover costs for stone and construction materials. As part of the project we submitted a proposal to replace outdated “Share the Road” signs with the preferred “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signage to help motorists understand that bikes can and will be using the road. Expect to see the park come to life this Spring/Summer!
FUTURE PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT…
Detweiler Park at the base of Peter’s Mountain in Dauphin was acquired last year by the Dauphin County Parks & Recreation Department and is currently in the early stages of master site planning. SAMBA has been asked to be involved with the steering committee and development planning for the park that could possibly include a mountain bike trail network. After a tour of the site we plan to advocate and work diligently to help develop this amazing opportunity on a beautiful tract of land just 10 miles north of the Capital. Please take thirty seconds to help by expressing your support for mountain biking in the park here: http://www.dauphincounty.org/government/Parks-and-Recreation/Dauphin-County-Parks/Pages/Detweiler-Park.aspx
Donegal Highlands is a tract of land owned by the Lancaster County Conservancy in Elizabethtown adjacent to the Conewago recreation trail. SAMBA is in early discussions with the Conservancy to partner to establish a connector trail through the parcel which would connect downtown E-town to the Conewago trail and Mt. Gretna. The discussions have included the possibility for the development of additional single track trails on the parcel. We hope to have more information on this project in the coming months.
So…2017 was a very busy year for SAMBA and we have many opportunities to grow the club, advocate for new projects and develop mountain biking culture in Central Pa. in 2018 but we will need some help. Please reach out to SAMBA if you have an interest in being involved in any capacity. We currently have open positions with our Board of Directors including Director of Events and Member at-large and several committees including Public Relations, Communications, Fundraising and Events. We need your help to continue to grow and develop new riding opportunities. Please contact us.
Thanks for reading and riding and being part of SAMBA.