Bike Fed Resident Dirt Tester Matt Gissibl here. I want to say Congratulations t0 the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) for receiving the well-deserved recognition as a Bronze Level IMBA Ride Center (see press release below). This should come as no surprise to anyone in the midwest who has been riding a mountain bike for the last 20 years. The combination of purpose-sweet single track and countless miles of two track and fire roads through the verdant Chequamegon Forest is truly epic.
While we all knew that, getting the official designation puts Wisconsin on the map as one of the top off-road riding destination our country has to offer. I have traveled and ridden around the world at some of the most incredible mtn bike destinations, and I can honestly say the CAMBA trails and the CAMBA area is a special place like no other. But don’t take my word for it, pack up your rig and head for the Northwoods to see for yourself!
While you are up there, give a special thanks to all those at CAMBA for the hard work they have done over the past decade (and more), to build and maintain all those trails. Many of us know what a special thing it is to make the drive to the Hayward and Cable area, and experience the lakes, the forest, the wildlife, the beautiful sights, the sounds and the incredible smell of the Northwoods. For those of you who don’t, I strongly suggest you look at your calendars and make a date to go experience CAMBA, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!
These trails have been some of the most memorable for my 5 year old, 13 year old and my 16 year old, as well as with many, many good friends!
A few things about these trails.
1) These trails are free to ride (Yes that’s correct free).
2) There are trails for all ability levels.
3) The trails are clearly marked, so you won’t get lost.
4) The trails are professionally maintained, so no bush wacking is required.
5) Bring your bug spray and don’t stop for too long on the trails or you will be donating your blood the local mosquito bank.
6) Last but not least, know that, the more you ride the more wild life you will see, and the more hungry and thirsty you will be. I have provided a short list of some of my favorite post and pre ride stops when I want to refuel, hydrate, or resupply.
In the Summer 2014 issue of IMBA Trail News, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) based in Boulder, Colorado, announced its 2014 class of Model Trails designees. Among IMBA’s Model Trails program is a category of Ride Centers. The Ride Center designation represents IMBA’s Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider and are destination-worthy areas that include everything from backcountry adventures to shuttle-served gravity trails and range from expert-only to family-friendly.
The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) trails of Northwest Wisconsin have been designated a Bronze Level Ride Center. There are only 27 Ride Centers around the world and the Chequamegon Area Ride Center is the only one in the state of Wisconsin among just four in the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes states.
“This is a significant recognition of the great trails we have developed across our area,” reflects CAMBA Executive Director Ron Bergin. “We believe that the trails of the Chequamegon Area are among the best in the country; to receive this prestigious designation is validation of that belief.”
A local or regional trail system must be invited to apply to receive Ride Center designation. CAMBA submitted a proposal to request to be invited this past winter and was subsequently invited to submit an application. The application was submitted in May and has since been reviewed by IMBA staff and the regional director. “Before deciding to apply for Ride Center designation,” Bergin explained, “we assembled a team of local riders that were familiar with the trails and the infrastructure of our trail system and did a self-assessment to be sure we had a solid chance. Our work quickly showed that we would score at least on the Bronze Level and even perhaps at the Silver Level. This encouraged us to move ahead with the process.”
Ride Center applications are scored on an objective point system that includes everything from the quality and type of trails, degree of difficulty, climbing, descending, technicality, special features, amenities, services, and community support. “Our specialty is cross country riding,” notes Bergin. “We have far more interconnected cross country mountain bike trails than any place in the Midwest and rival other parts of the country. Obviously we don’t have the terrain for extensive downhill or freeride experiences, so we didn’t score as well in those categories.”
Bergin noted, however, that as enhancements and improvements continue to be made throughout the CAMBA system, it would be possible to be elevated to a Silver Level Ride Center.
“Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of being named an IMBA Ride Center,” Bergin adds, “is that we are now, deservedly, thrust on to the national stage of mountain bike destinations.” Riders look to the list of IMBA Ride Centers and plan their travels to experience popular mountain bike trail systems across the country. It can be anticipated that more riders will flock to the region to experience the CAMBA Ride Center in conjunction with the three other Upper Midwest Ride Centers, all within a few hours drive of each other. “As surprising as it may sound,” Bergin notes, “we’ve actually struggled to get the word out about what we have here. The Ride Center designation will go a long way to improve both the awareness and perception of the CAMBA trails.”
“We are extremely grateful to the local communities and agencies that offered their support for our Ride Center proposal. I am confident this unabashed support for our efforts played a role in our designation,” Bergin concludes.
To learn more about the IMBA Models Trails and Ride Center programs visitwww.imba.com/model-trails. Visit the CAMBA website at www.cambatrails.org to learn more about mountain biking in the Chequamegon Area.