A couple of friends and I cruised around Sauk Prairie State Recreation Area on our gravel bikes in the unseasonable warmth and sunshine last Sunday. We had a really nice time. All the currently marked bike trails are either abandoned roads or wide , smooth, grassy paths. It's pretty interesting to see the old ruins of the ammunition activity juxtaposed against scenic nature.
I reached out to NR Region Program Manager Paul Zajackowski about this thread. The Wisconsin Off Highway Motorcycle Association (WOHMA) is working on submitting an application to hold an event in the SPSRA next year. The litigation evolving around the Master Plan has been resolved and no longer prohibits special events from occurring on the property. The WDNR is accepting Special Event Applications for events having less than 50 participants and requires a COVID - 19 mitigation plan included in the application for approval. This event would be limited to existing roads and trails on the property and would need to follow the guidelines outlined in the Master Plan.
The SPSRA is a new management area for the WDNR. The Master Plan of the SPSRA was approved in 2016 and tells us that there will be new trail development for hiking, equestrian use, and cycling (10 miles of single-track) developed between 0 - 15 years. The protocol for all new management areas of WDNR is to bring in a Trail Consultant to find balance between these user groups. The bad news is the WDNR has not employed an active Trail Consultant since 2017. This would require them to hire or contract one. The onset of COVID-19 has made a huge impact on the WDNR and the focus on the SPSRA may take some time.
I welcome working with WOHMA. The Master Plan of the SPSRA tells us that a percentage of these 10 miles of single-track must be dual purposed for 6 Dual Sport Motorcycle events per year. This adds challange to future trail development. Trails would need to be built that can handle the Dual Sport motorcycle events. WOHMA is a large professional organization and well funded. Their assistance in building trails in the SPSRA is very beneficial as trail could be produced professionally and quickly.
CORP expanded its territory in 2015 specifically to assist with the development of single-track in this area.
Please, take a road trip with your mountain bike and go ride in the SPSRA. No one is using the Rec Area and thus there is no visibility of cycling activity. There are miles of old roads, trails, gravel, and historic interpretation sites. This area is ripe for single-track, and it's been written into the Master Plan. Then, reach out to your local WDNR representatives and tell them you want to help build this property.
I haven't dug on this, but if the NRB did approve essentially the same plan that the courts tossed 3 years ago, my guess is that the same thing is going to happen when (not if) they appeal. I'll further guess that the current state administration won't fight it, so it'll get tossed again, and we'll be back here in 3 years... at which point there will be different people working in the DNR and new appointees to the NRB. Fun times.
I'm also surprised to hear that the motorcycle group is mapping out trails. My understanding is that the motorcycles could use portions of the bike and equestrian trails, rather than building their own. Did that change?
Please remember that summer only trail memberships expired 10/31. You need a full voting membership or winter only membership to ride now and until April.
How about get a full or voting membership? That means you can ski, snowboard, have snowmaking for Nordic skiing and try biathlon. That also increases the Nordic skiing terrain just like bike membership does. Your vote will count in the annual meeting. That makes it your club year round. Regardless, please don't trespass.
Also be mindful of freeze/thaw season that' upon us. Do not ride, hike or run the trails when you are leaving marks or picking up dirt on your tires or feet. If you need exercise and outdoors time when the trails are soft we can give you a volunteer task.
Personally, I really like the idea of experiencing the same trail segments on both my dual-sport moto and my mountain bike. I'm looking forward to helping with trail development on this property from both perspectives.
I'm a member of the Wisconsin Off-Highway Motorcycle Association, and on their facebook page they mentioned that the litigation was resolved and they have begun to map out trails for their events next year. I'm not exactly sure when the issue was Ok'd.
On Friday, the trails out in Blue Mound were in good shape, and the forecast called for temperatures right around freezing and a beautiful fall day for Saturday, so we marked the trails open and looked forward to perhaps the last really nice day of the year. Well, it must have gotten colder than expected out there, as the reports of muddy bikes and trails started trickling in, and then flooding in. Thanks to everyone who sent feedback, and who were willing to bail on your rides. To those who went ahead and rode, we get it; the trails were marked open, the weather was beautiful, you had driven all the way out there, and maybe around that next corner things dry out, right? A couple lessons/reminders as we move into the shoulder season:
Riding wet trails is hard on the trails; it pushes the mud to the side, cupping the trail, so that they hold water, making them stay muddy longer, then they get more cupped, and so on. Yes, there are videos all over the web of people riding in mud, and, yes, some soil types can stand up to being ridden when wet. But we can't account for everything that gets posted on the web, and Wisconsin clay is not one of those types.
This is even worse during freeze/thaw. The water in the soil expands when it freezes, making for an even looser, soupier mud when it thaws. Go here or here for more details on this frustrating phenomenon. This time of year, a cloudy day with temperatures around freezing will usually be better for riding than an unusually warm, sunny day.
Even with years of experience, we can't always predict how the trails will react to the weather, and we can't always get out to physically inspect the trails.
The actual condition of the trail always trumps the posted trail conditions. If you get out and find that the trails are wet despite being marked open, please don't ride, and let us know. Likewise, if the trails are marked closed but you aren't leaving a rut, pushing the soil to the side, or picking up mud on your tires, it's okay to ride, and, again, let us know.
We all want to get as much riding in as possible, but sometimes that means staying off the trails so that we don't have to spend time repairing them in the future. There's no shortage of good road and bike trail riding in the area when the trails are wet. Thanks for caring!