Monday, December 1, 2008

Another great workday and Neale's Trail



What a GREAT DAY the 29th was! Not really with the weather but the results. It was a cold, rainy/snowy and windy Saturday workday followed by the “opening ceremony” for Neale’s trail!

First a bit on what we got done during the workday;
We had twenty plus hardy soles that braved the weather and came for breakfast and then a bit of muddy but rewarding work. We split into four work groups and headed out. One group took a truck load of gravel, 45 feet of perforated drain pipe and a bunch of shovels then headed for that always muddy spot on Paradise Alley to install a French Drain system. The crew did a great job and I think it will fix the problem, but time will tell! The second crew headed off down TNT and did some vertical rock armoring and deberming all the way down to the end of old Granddad! The third crew headed over to the Pulpit and installed a set of step ups that should add some good challenge for some folks. And the fourth crew worked on putting up some new trail name signs, adding a couple carsonites and fixing some missing/wrong intersection numbers. They also opened up the ends of the new trail!

After we completed our tasks we headed up to the parking lot and surprised Neale by handing him a trail map and showing him a newly added trail! In his words he was “BLOWN AWAY” by the fact that we built that trail without his knowledge.

A little history and why Neale’s Trail is such a big deal;

Neale first started talking about forming a club back in 1990. He had this dream of creating an advocacy group to help us open doors to places to build trails in KC. That initial concept was called HAATBA (Heart of America All Terrain Bicycle Association) and didn’t go too far because we were busy with other things, mostly road riding. Anyway, not long after the HAATBA idea, a Northland shop called Mike’s Bikes (Mike Hamilton) came up with the Earth Riders name and the club was born. Some of the very first members were Mike Hamilton, Jay Williams, Rob Stitt, Mike Cleveland, Sean Cairns, Myke Borylo, Matt Harrah, and Neale of course. They were all Northland guys (except Sean) and the club was much more geared towards the social aspect than advocacy. At some point over those early years Neale served as president. The club’s numbers grew slowly until around 1995 when email and internet access became widely available and we started reaching a lot more people. About that same time the club took a dramatic turn towards being more of a race team and less of a social club…and even less of an advocacy organization. Neale kept at it though and after a couple of years of finessing a handful of cocky alpha male types into agreement, ERTA was finally formed. Somewhere along the line Neale put his stamp on ER by re-creating the club’s logo. He was the one that first came up with the globe and cog idea that Sean Cairns later modernized into the logo that we use today. Neale was instrumental in creating the relationship with Clay County for the SMV trails and spent hundreds of hours lobbying the city of KC for access to Tiffany Springs Park. Neale has been very involved in the Northland Trails Association. I could go on and on about all Neale has done but I think you get the picture! Earth Riders have come a long way and it has been lot of things, but even before its inception Neale knew that there was a correlation between membership size and strength as an advocacy organization. To that end he’s been focused on turning the club into the powerful advocacy organization that it is today. We (ERTA and ER) are well respected organizations that are well known across the city and Midwest. The opportunities that exist today would not exist if it weren’t for Neale’s efforts. Neale has talked for years about a trail he wanted to build along the lake, parallel with Posson Trot. He knew this trail would be a tough build as it is all on a steep side slope and would mean 100% bench cut in rocky, loamy soil. He always thought it was better to create trail where we could get more “bang for the buck” so the dream just sat there. Three years ago the SMV core group discussed the plan to build the trail for him as a tribute to all he has done and to do it with out his knowledge. We flagged the trail in the winter of 2006 with many days going back and tweaking it. In the fall of 2007, we began the task of clearing corridor. Late winter found us starting the bench cutting along the new corridor and the trail was starting to take shape. We quit work in late spring and picked back up on it in the last couple months. It was completed on Friday the 21st with the help of a bunch of different people! It is tough to build a trail when Neale is out there all the time!

This trail is technically challenging (by SMV standards) with a couple interesting features. It is only about ½ mile long, but I think it ranks amongst the hardest ½ mile trail build I have worked on! If you are looking for it, look to the south end of Lakeside Speedway and you will find it just before the paved trail. Be careful, it is a challenging trail and I have the scabs to prove it!

Come on out and test your skills on Neale’s trail and if you happen to see him along the way stop and say “THANKS”!

We will see you on the trails,

John

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