Now that the year is winding down, we thought it would be a good opportunity to look back and reflect on what’s happened in 2016 and also to look forward to what we’ve got in mind for 2017.
No doubt, it’s been a great year for North Mississippi Trail Alliance. One thing is certain – the relationship we have with our business partners is a big reason for our successes.
The Peddler Bike Shop The Peddler has been a business partner with NMTA since our beginning in 2014. Hal Mabray, Josh Jacobs and the rest of the team at the Peddler have given us a ton of support in 2016 in the form of event sponsorship, member discounts, race support and word-of-mouth endorsements with their customers. Both organizations have a common goal, to increase cycling opportunities in Desoto County, and it is a pleasure to see progress happen towards that goal with such a great team of people at the Peddler. Thank you Peddler!
Sunstate Equipment Company NMTA established a new business partnership in 2016 that has allowed us to expand our trail building capabilities far beyond what we thought possible before. Sunstate Equipment Company provides in-kind donations to NMTA in the form of equipment rental at no charge. Over the past year, Sunstate has provided mini-excavators, skid steer loaders and plate compactors that, if rented, would have cost NMTA thousands of dollars. Projects like the culvert/rock bridge installation at Hernando Point simply would not have been feasible without such equipment. Thank you Sunstate!
Land Managers Last, but certainly not least, is our business partnership we have with our land managers. This relationship has been absolutely vital to reaching our goals. NMTA works closely with the US Army Corps of Engineers at Arkabutla and Sardis Lake and also with Mississippi State Parks at Tombigbee State Park and Trace State Park. We get phenomenal support from our land managers and we look forward to continuing the great relationship. Thank you Land Managers!
It has been a busy year for trail building and trail maintenance in 2016. Here’s what our members have been up to:
Hernando Point The spring flood put a serious damper on progress of the beginner loop at Hernando Point. High water literally cut off access to a lot of the trail for 3 months. Once the water level dropped, we were able to finish construction of the 2.2 mile beginner loop at Hernando Point, and get another ¾ mile of intermediate level connector trail built headed eastward. With 960 acres to work with and 26 miles of trail planned, we’ve got a long way to go, but we are excited with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far.
Bayou Point The spring flood hit Bayou Point pretty hard too, but as a testament to its good design and layout, only a small portion of trail was cut off by high water. 2016 saw Bayou Point in probably the best condition ever in preparation for the Bayou Boiling Point Race in April. A lot of man-hours were spent getting the trail in tip-top condition, including a short connector trail to bypass the flooded section and construction of some new table top jumps. Also new for 2016 is trail signage and mile markers at Bayou Point.
Tombigbee If you haven’t been to Tombigbee State Park lately, you may not know how much trail work has been done this year. A huge amount of man-hours has been spent building a new trail system at Tombigbee. As of late 2016, there is about 7 miles of intermediate level trail built, much of it bench cut into steep side slope. The trail is located on the north side of the lake in hilly terrain with mature timber that has very little underbrush, which makes riding the trail even more fun because of the long sight lines. It is incredible how much work has been put into those trails by Tupelo area members. Great work; that new trail system will only get better and better!
Trace State Park There has been a lot of activity at Trace State Park too. All of the trails are in great shape as a result of routine maintenance accomplished by Tupelo area members. Downed trees have been removed, encroaching branches trimmed, and sustainable reroutes have been added where necessary. All trails have had signage added in the form of reflective arrows so newcomers can easily get around. A lot of man-hours have been spent expanding the Nester trail into a loop, including re-routing due to construction on the levee. Five new bridges and a new trail sign kiosk at the trailhead have been built. The Oliver Twist trail has been reopened so users can ride around the entire lake again. Newly updated trail maps have been created and will be posted at trailheads, and soon all trails will be marked with letters and numbers for emergency locating purposes. Great work Tupelo area members!
Clear Creek Thanks to our local volunteers, Clear Creek on Sardis Lake continues to be one of the must ride trails in the area. Clear Creek is a great mountain bike venue for local Oxford riders as well as for out of towners looking for a fast, fun and challenging riding experience. Additions to the Clear Creek trail are under discussion and when plans are finalized, NMTA is committed to helping make it a reality.
NMTA provides an online method for volunteers to report hours via our website and many of our members and volunteers are using it. It is important to keep track of volunteer hours so we can communicate this to Land Managers, local governments and when requesting grants. It is a clear way of showing community support for trails in North Mississippi. In 2016, more than 900 man-hours have been spent developing and maintaining trails in North Mississippi, and we’re pretty sure that there are hours being spent that do not get reported. Thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts!
Races / Events
NMTA hosted another MORCS race this year at Bayou Point. We had 28 racers participate in the time trial race and 75 racers participate in the cross country event the following day. Overall the race was very successful and everyone had a great time. Funds received from the race in part helped NMTA to purchase a 6-way dozer blade that will be used for future trail construction. Thank you to our race sponsors, The Peddler Bike Shop and Bussenger Chiropractic Clinic! 2017 races have not yet been established, but plans are being discussed for a mountain bike race at Trace State Park and a 5k trail running race at Hernando Point. Stay tuned for more!
IMBA World Summit The IMBA World Summit is a biennial event that hosts mountain biking advocates, volunteers, thought leaders, land managers, and industry representatives from the U.S. and around the world. This is a unique opportunity for everyone to network, share ideas, and discuss best practices in a casual setting. On November 9th through the 13th, several NMTA directors attended the sold-out IMBA World Summit in Bentonville, AR. NMTA directors paid their own way and no NMTA funds were used for the trip. While there, we were able to meet and discuss various strategies for improving mountain biking with other IMBA chapter leaders and industry stakeholders. We left encouraged by the success of other chapters and confident that we can implement some of the strategies other chapters are using to grow membership and increase trail miles. A more detailed Summit Recap was emailed out to members on November 22. Please let us know if you would like to receive a copy.
Goals for 2017
We are excited about the upcoming year and what it holds for NMTA. Here are some of our goals for 2017.
- Make and implement plans for a mountain bike race and 5k race.
- Develop funding plan and fundraising effort to purchase mini-skid steer.
- Develop regular group rides for member retention, new member recruiting and NMTA recognition.
- Chainsaw and mechanized trail building training for NMTA members.
- Develop additional NMTA financial partners in Desoto County, Oxford and Tupelo.
- Develop .PDF trail maps that local bike shops can print out for their customers
- Develop membership recruiting plan with goal of 100 members
- Brief local municipalites and stakeholders on trail development and eco-tourism opportunities as a result of Arkabutla Lake and Tupelo area trail systems.
- Coordinate with MS State Parks management to improve support for Trace and Tombigbee trails.
How can you help?
- Continue to volunteer your time and efforts in trail building and maintenance, including reporting of volunteer hours.
- Join NMTA and/or renew your membership.
- Spread the word about NMTA and our goals.
- Join us for group rides and cookouts.
- Support our business partners.
- Join us on January 7th at our next meeting to discuss these goals and how to implement them in 2017!