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SORBA Jax Trail Care Crew Weekend

During the weekend of November 17 through 20th, the Jacksonville, Florida chapter of SORBA (SORBA-JAX) welcomed the IMBA Trail Care Crew for a weekend of advocacy, education, trail building and, of course, riding.  After arriving in Jacksonville on Thursday, November 17th Jake Carsten and Jenny Abraham kicked off their busy weekend with a tour of Jacksonville’s premier trail system located at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.  Jake and Jenny were given a taste of northeast Florida trails, which are typically rooty, sandy, tight and technical.  On Friday, Jake and Jenny, along with several SORBA-JAX members, met with City of Jacksonville staff from the office of Parks and Recreation.  Jake and Jenny presented IMBA’s “Better Living Through Trails” presentation to the city staff members, who were largely unfamiliar with mountain biking.  The presentation provided a high-level overview of mountain biking and the many ways that purpose-built mountain bike trails can positively impact a community such as Jacksonville.

Saturday was the big day.  SORBA-JAX members, as well as members from other organizations throughout Florida, convened at Hanna Park to learn how to properly build and maintain sustainable mountain bike trails.  We learned how to grade a trail to ensure proper drainage, how to armor a trail to limit erosion and how to control trail speeds for safety.  After cooking up burgers graciously provided by Bubba Burger, the crew hit the trail with full bellies and their newly-acquired knowledge.  The plan was to re-route a section of trail to address safety concerns about bicycles intersecting the park maintenance road.  Plants were carefully removed from the new section of trail and re-planted in the former trail.  Debris was raked onto the abandoned trail and the end result was a seamless, natural transition from the old trail to the new one.

Saturday night was our social event.  In partnership with local restaurant, The Burrito Gallery, SORBA-JAX screened Pedal Driven, a Bike-umentary.  All of the club’s shop sponsors set up tents in the parking lot to showcase the latest and greatest in mountain bike technology.  Cloudy skies threatened to derail the outdoor viewing but everything cleared up just in time for the festivities to begin.  The documentary was billed as a bicycle advocacy film and not just a mountain bike advocacy film.  As such, the event was attended by a wide variety of Jacksonville cyclists.  Everyone in attendance agreed that the lessons from the film were universal: work with local land managers and city officials, organize and present a unified message, be patient, etc…  The Mayor of Jacksonville, Alvin Brown, even showed up briefly to see what the excitement was all about.  He was extremely enthusiastic about building trails and creating a “bike movement” here in Jacksonville.

The weekend wrapped up on  Sunday with a final group ride at the Hanna Park trails.  We tested the re-routed section and it worked great.  Many thanks to go out to Jake and Jenny for sharing their professionalism and enthusiasm with us here in Jacksonville.  Their efforts were important as we move forward with several new trail projects and the ultimate goal of creating a new Ride Center .  Follow our progress on www.sorbajax.org.

Troy Mayhew