Congratulations to the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers (CAMBr), an IMBA chapter, for winning the 2013 USA Cycling-IMBA Trail Tune-Up Grant! CAMBr will receive $2,000 from USA Cycling and a visit from the Subaru-IMBA Trail Crew in 2014. This grant is for "projects that create or improve trails used for mountain bike racing..."
CAMBr will use the funds to work in the Palos Forest Preserve, home to nearly 50 miles of single- and doubletrack and Illinois' largest cross-country mountain bike race, the Palos Meltdown. The money and volunteer training will help construct an uphill trail linking the bottom of a downhill trail, known as "Gravity Cavity," to a trail known as "Out and Back," which is currently only reachable by riding gravel roads.
Constructing this connector trail will achieve several goals. Out and Back is one of the most popular trails in the Palos system. The project will allow CAMBr to expand the race course options to include more varied terrain and the Out and Back trail itself. In addition, this new trail will give CAMBr the ability to incorporate some illegally-built trail into the legal trail system, while closing other illegal trails that currently threaten an environmentally sensitive area within the park.
Finally, constructing the connector trail will allow CAMBr to turn Gravity Cavity into a downhill-only trail. Currently, it has severe erosion problems that are only made worse by riders attempting to ride the trail in both directions. Making Gravity Cavity a downhill-only line will allow CAMBr to make it safer, control the erosion, and give downhill-specific riders a trail of their own, as well as a very challenging trail for the Palos Meltdown race course. CAMBr expects the new trail construction and existing trail maintenance to take 14 days.
The grant money will help with several things, according to CAMBr: The work will require the use of multiple CAMBr power tools that will inevitably need maintenance and fuel during the build out. Second, the two trails will require culverts, gravel and rock to control water flow and flagstone armor to build a sustainable riding surface in low spots. The chapter will need to create new signage for the new trail route and for the new, one-way-only Gravity Cavity. The funds will be also be used to buy lunch for the many volunteers that will be needed to complete this challenging project. The visit from the Trail Care Crew will be a focus of the project that will help engage volunteers, and help CAMBr open up significant mileage and options for the 2014 Palos Meltdown.
(Photo from the CAMBr Facebook page of a Chicago-area trail)