Apparently, in the 15 years of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew, there had been no visits to Rhode Island. Until last weekend. It’s the smallest state in the Union, but perhaps the feistiest, and man, are there trails to ride.
We were seriously impressed with the mountain biking opportunities in Rhode Island. In just the southern part of the state, there are three 20+ mile systems within an hour of each (Arcadia, Burlingame and Big River). All sorts of people consider mountain biking in their backyard to be better than your backyard, which might be true, but think about riding a bit further from home, or if you're from Southern New England, joining RI NEMBA on their Thursday evening group rides. You would be impressed.
The major thing going on in that neck of the woods is rock -- think mini-Moab. Huge, sheets of beautiful granite popped up everywhere along the trails we both rode and designed. We’d kiss the granite if it weren’t for leptospirosis. Our project consisted of designing and building a connector trail between the Sammy C Trail and the Governor Trail in Burlingame State Park, a not-so-flat park, but in flat-ish terrain. Whenever you’re working in flat terrain that lacks topography, imagine your glass half full, not half empty. Think about the opportunities to add spice to the trail: trees, rocks, twists, turns. The steepest sideslope throughout our project area was seven percent. Our opportunity was the granite. One way to create sustainable singletrack in otherwise discouraging landscapes is to incorporate natural features like granite slabs. Even if flat, they add challenge to the trail and maximize tread durability. In our case, the granite was usually tucked under two inches of mossy duff. Picture rolling up musty wet carpet and exposing beautiful granite goodness, it was actually quite fun!
There’s opportunity for sustainable trails all around, you just have to dig a little deeper sometimes.
One last thing: It’s turkey hunting season in a few of the parks we rode in, so we got to wear our best orange gear. We recommend the IMBA Trailbuilder shirt – it does double duty if you want to look cool and dissuade hunters from mistaking you for Thanksgiving’s main course.