Our first year as an official NEMBA chapter wrapped up in the spring, and it’s been a busy one! We thought you’d like to hear about what we’ve been up to, so here are some of our accomplishments and lessons. Thanks to everyone for your amazing support!
One of our big goals for our first year was to look at land-use permissions on the trail systems in Bath. There is a lot of good riding in Bath, and we began the work of studying maps to figure out who owns what, and contacting landowners and town offices. As of today, we have established agreements with most landowners which gives us explicit permission to ride on all but a few small sections of trail. For the most up to date list of trails that are okay to ride, go to trailforks.com or the trailforks app and check their interactive maps.
In the fall of 2018, a small and intrepid group of Six Rivers members dismantled and removed the abandoned GMC Eagle that had been decaying on the side of one of the South Bath ATV trails for twenty years. The removal of the car vastly improved the natural setting of this spot, and the landowners were very appreciative of this work.
As a fledgling community organization, Six Rivers has worked hard to create and nurture connections with other local groups and businessesAll four local bike shops offer Six Rivers members discounts, and have donated products and even bicycles to the chapter for us to use for fundraising events. We are grateful for the support of Bath Cycle and Ski, Center Street Cycles, Gorham Bike and Ski and The Rusty Crank Bike Shop.
Six Rivers is working with the towns of Topsham, Bath, West Bath and Brunswick and The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust and The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust on the creation of new trails and stewardship and promotion of existing trails. We have also partnered with both land trusts on fundraising campaigns.
The Merrymeeting Wheelers, a local road riding organization, has been a great partner in our first year. Together we ran weekly fatbike rides throughout the winter, and their organization donated funds for the signs at the new Topsham Ponds trail system. We look forward to continued collaborations with the ‘Wheelers.
The speed with which we built our constituency of over 100 members tells us that people were ready for us to start a local NEMBA chapter! We are so grateful for the groundswell of support for mountain biking from you all, and we hope we can reciprocate by creating plenty of opportunities for great riding.
We had a number of great events this year. In October we held the official opening of the Neptune Woods trail system in Brunswick with around 100 community members and supporters in attendance. In February we collaborated with the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust to host a snow-ride for the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend. In March we tried our hands at our very own fatbike race on our new Topsham Ponds trails where over forty people came out to ride. Then in April we held our first annual Six Rivers Raffle and Movie night where we raffled off prizes from tens of sponsors, including bikes, frames, lights, clothes, tools, and services. It was a huge success raising more than $6,000 for the chapter.
In July, ten of us tried something new and joined the Bath Fourth of July Parade. We rode our bikes and carried our banner and signs letting people know about Six Rivers. It was a lot of fun, and we’ve already got ideas for some fun activities for next year to draw in the crowd --choreographed moves, wheelie competitions, track stand competitions, and maybe even a mobile trail element that we can take turns navigating.
In our first year we completed one new trail system, nearly completed another, secured permissions for tens of miles of existing trails in Bath, and created a system for member-driven maintenance of trails. Both the Neptune Woods trail system and the Topsham Ponds Trails are aimed at more novice riders, filling a real need in our region.
We are grateful to the scores of volunteers who have helped and continue to help us with our various projects. There is no way we could have accomplished so much in our first year without the tremendous amount of community engagement and support we received. Thank you to everyone for all your continued help!
During the winter of 2019 we teamed up with The Merrymeeting Wheelers to run a series of Sunday morning fat bike rides. We routinely had groups of 20+ riders for these rides, and we plan to keep these going for the coming winter.
We are still trying to find our groove with summer group rides, but we have had good attendance with our “Rake and Ride” events on the Topsham Ponds trails. We feel confident that the group rides schedule will eventually figure itself out. We hope to eventually run rides for beginners, intermediates, women and kids.
Tools and Equipment
Our biggest acquisition of the year was our Snowdog grooming machine. We were able to purchase the machine after a rapid-fire fundraising campaign in December of 2018. We are forever grateful to everyone who donated to the cause! We used the Snowdog extensively throughout the winter to groom Neptune Woods and Topsham Ponds, both of which saw a lot of use. For the coming winter, we have also received permission from The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust to groom sections of the Whiskeag and Lily Pond Trails. Thanks to our volunteer grooming crew for all the huge hours they put in to keep the trails in shape during the winter months.
We have also built up a solid quiver of rakes, shovels, loppers, saws and leaf blowers to use for trail construction and maintenance. We currently have enough tools to outfit a crew of around twenty people for trail work.
We are looking forward to another great year in 2019! We have a solid group of talented board members who are committed to promoting mountain biking and trail access, and a great member-base full of engaged, enthusiastic riders. Thanks to each and every one of you for being part of the Six Rivers community. See you on the trails!