News from the trailhead

9 Ways to Involve Freeriders

posted May 6, 2015, 8:05 PM by Loren Easter   [ updated Jan 7, 2016, 10:37 PM ]

9 Ways to Involve Freeriders

As mountain bikers develop their skills and technology advances, more riders are seeking highly technical trails to test their abilities. Mountain bike organizations will benefit by getting freeriders involved with their efforts. Freeriders are some of the most passionate cyclists around, and they can give a chapter or club a great boost of adrenaline. Here are nine tips to help.

Elevated trail project

1. Embrace Technical Trail Projects

Freeriders want technical trails and are willing to build them to suit their needs. The recent growth of unauthorized trail construction with added stunts, drops and other technical trail features proves this. If your group builds technical trails - with land manager permission, of course - you'll attract freeriders to trailwork days and other events.

2. Work with Land Managers to Create Special-Use Technical Trail and Stunt Areas

Narrow bridges, teeter-totters, log rides and other technical trail features are becoming increasingly popular with mountain bikers. Most of the time, however, these features are constructed without authorization. For liability and other reasons, land managers have concerns with these structures on popular trails. However, many land managers are open to the idea of having special use zones or playgrounds for these types of stunts, similar to skateboard or snowboard parks. Work with freeriders and your local land manager to create these opportunities. Many land managers are also open to the idea of designing trails with a variety of options, allowing experts to take one line while offering others an alternative.

3. Open Communication between Freeriders and Land Managers

Lack of communication is typically the the root of unauthorized trail construction. Often, mountain bikers don't think land managers will listen to their requests. This is especially true with freeriders. The fact is, land managers are reasonable folks who are looking for solutions. The savvy land manager knows the benefits of finding an area for freeriders, rather than the never-ending battle of chasing poachers or closing unauthorized trails. Use your club to create an open relationship between freeriders and land managers.

4. Listen, Don't Criticize

The easiest thing to do regarding freeriding and unauthorized trail construction is to criticize and separate your club from this element of our sport. This approach will only fragment the cycling community. Freeriders are enthusiastic mountain bikers. Listen to their ideas - you'll gain their respect and learn something in the process. In turn, they'll be more willing to listen to you.

5. Include Freeriders in Chapter/Club Leadership

It's one thing to get freeriders to come to a meeting or two. It's another to give them the opportunity to have a significant voice in the club's decision-making process. Work to enlist a freerider or two in your club's leadership or board of directors.

6. Liven it Up, Brah!

Meetings need not be events that challenge C-SPAN for dynamic entertainment value. Keep meetings fun, lively and snappy. Show cycling videos, provide good food and drink and keep the agenda moving. These elements appeal to all mountain bikers - not just freeriders.

7. Shop Talk

Freeriders tend to be passionate mountain bikers, and many spend a lot of time in local bike shops. Use these shops to get freeriders involved. Put up flyers for meetings or better yet work to host club meetings or parties at a shop.

8. Use Freeriders to Increase your Group's Membership

While certainly not the rule, freeriders are often young. They may have a different perspective on what types of riding and social events will attract the public riding community. Pay attention: if a freerider suggests that your club's next fundraiser be a thumping techno dance party, perhaps they're onto something.

9. Invest in Freeriders

Not with money, but with time. Take a freerider on a ride. Let a freerider take you on a ride. Freeriders are part of the future of our sport and your club. By taking the time to work with them and sharing your knowledge and experience, you can be sure the future of mountain biking will be in good hands.

The suggestions offered in this and other IMBA trailbuilding articles do not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Trailbuilders and landowners are responsible for the safety of their own trails and facilities. Freeriding and dirt jumping are high-risk activities that can result in serious injuries. IMBA's goal is to help land managers and volunteers manage these risks by sharing information.

"How can I help?" - CILTA seeks to bring more singletrack!

posted Jan 25, 2015, 6:38 PM by Loren Easter   [ updated Jan 25, 2015, 6:44 PM ]

Many have seen the recent CILTA posts anticipating trail reroutes around Lick Creek. Thank you for your responses! This is what we need to confidently move forward with work days. The question has been asked, "How can I help?"

In CILTA's efforts to bring more singletrack trails to the Springfield area, there are many areas of need.

1) Become a CILTA member (and IMBA member at the same time!). Remember, mountain biking is a variable in the equation, the answer is greater trail opportunity! Increased membership means better leverage with civic leaders, grant providers, retailers, and land managers. Also, pays the insurance bill so that we can have great association events and trailbuilding days toward accomplishing more singletrack.

2) Let CILTA know your interest areas and capabilities. For example, we are currently interviewing for the Treasurer position on our executive board. Are you good with tracking the numbers and paying the bills? Lawyer? Planner? Landscaper? Builder? More energy than you know what to do with when not trail hiking, running, or biking? Learn what it takes to accomplish trails:
We need your help!

3) The 'Human' resources help to leverage the 'material' resources. Do you have access to trail advocacy and/or trailbuilding resources? You can help by bringing opportunities/resources/capabilities to the table. As a 501(c)(3) Educational Nonprofit Organization, donated resources can be receipted and claimed: Printing resources, trail signage, treated lumber, trailbuilding tools and equipment, and advocacy event supplies, for example.

4) As previously posted, trail building can be accomplished in primarily three ways: 1) hand build by volunteers; 2) volunteer fundraising for full professional build; 3) combination professional trailbuilding company and volunteer effort. Emphasis on the 'volunteer'! It takes people power. Watch for dates of trailbuilding days and attend. If you know of 'groups' that we can get involved for public service or other project credit, we welcome the assistance. 

CILTA trails are your trails. Our pathways to fun, fitness, and the great outdoors. Personal investment can only help to make them better and more abundant! Thank you.

Springfield, IL Community Trail Development Vision

posted Jan 12, 2015, 8:10 PM by Loren Easter   [ updated Jan 12, 2015, 9:37 PM ]

More singletrack on the way!? Two years ago a large group of natural surface, singletrack trail enthusiasts gathered at Floyd's Thirst Parlor in hope of discovering more singletrack for Springfield. Today we are well on our way. IMBA Trail Solutions has helped us produce the attached document at a primer for the many projects / prospects that sit within tool's reach of reality. The question now: what tools will we utilize to accomplish the trails we seek? CILTA encourages everyone to reflect on the benefits, personal and public, of having an abundance of trails available to enjoy. Consider the resources you could bring to the effort for improving trail opportunities. Then get involved to help Springfield realize its potential for abundant and sustainable trails. We can't do it without you!

Happy Holidays from CILTA and Thank You!

posted Dec 24, 2014, 1:35 PM by Loren Easter

Happy Holidays to our fellow trail aficionados, friends, and families!

Thank you for all the great gifts of support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for trail advocacy that you have shared with CILTA over the past year.  What a great year it has been!  We kicked the year off early with some organizational development and a trail building session that would set the stage for the year’s big event.  In May we were fortunate to host the International Mountain Bicycling Association Trail Care Crew.  Their visit accomplished more new trail, advocate education, and exceptional relationship building with our local land managers and civic leaders.  CILTA continued through the year to build on these relationships and maintain our sponsored trail systems.  Support to CILTA, as part of the IMBA Chapter Program, rounded out the year with award of a grant for trail improvement at Lewis Memorial Acres and a Strategic Trail Plan for the CILTA region, professionally produced by IMBA Trail Solutions.  These last two items are the gifts under the tree(s) from CILTA, to our growing trails community.  In the new year we intend to put the grant dollars and Trail Plan to work towards accomplishing our promise of more single track trails.  Thanks again for your support.  Happy Holidays. 

Your Central Illinois Trails Association Executive Board.

Support Human Powered Trail development in Central Illinois

posted Nov 17, 2014, 10:00 PM by Loren Easter   [ updated Nov 17, 2014, 10:03 PM ]

Mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners have a unique opportunity to help expand trail mileage in and around Springfield, Illinois.  Take action!  Get involved with the Central Illinois Trails Association (CILTA) to let local land managers and stakeholders know that you support development of purpose built and maintained trail systems. CILTA urges trail riders, runners, and hikers who enjoy natural surface trails for human powered recreation to express their interest in seeing more trail opportunities within the community.

This is a significant opportunity to not only expand experiences for trail users in the Central Illinois region, but to continue to demonstrate that varied user groups can be compatible with one another, share values, and responsibly share recreational trails. CILTA is a local leader in working with local, state, and federal land agencies on the management and development of multi-use, natural-surface trails, and intends to be actively involved in planning for a broader trails community in and around Springfield.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit Chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling association, CILTA ideally leverages an abundance of resources tied to off road cycling while seeking to provide natural surface trail opportunities that serve the community at large. 

Natural surface trail recreation offers Americans a healthy exercise opportunity and a connection to the natural environment, both of which tie directly into the goals and values of America’s Great Outdoors and the First Lady’s Let’s Move Campaign.

According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, bicycling is the number-one gateway activity that gets kids outside and interested in outdoor activities.

Improving bicycling opportunities can help promote tourism and economic development for nearby communities.

Mountain bikers are active volunteers, and could offer much-needed love to existing trails requiring repairs. Last year, IMBA members alone volunteered 707,000 hours on public lands, valued at $15.6 million. The IMBA U.S. network conducts more than 3,000 trail projects annually that build and maintain 23,000 miles of trails, most of them multi-use.

Please consider supporting the efforts of the Central Illinois Trail Association through membership, advocacy activities, approved trail building, or any number of opportunities that may meet your particular interests and abilities.

COMMUNITY IMPACT!!! Cottage Grove Bike Park

posted Oct 21, 2014, 9:08 PM by Loren Easter   [ updated Oct 21, 2014, 9:26 PM ]

Please take a look and listen to the message within, even if a bike park with lots of jumping isn't (currently) in your concept of cycling, variety and opportunities are possible for you locally.  The point of the video is what can be accomplished through a community effort and volunteerism.  The result is further development of community.  Positive options for growth, fitness, and fun.  

Full Moon Trail Event @ Lewis Memorial Acres: 2.35 mile run, 6 mile mountain bike ride

posted Sep 5, 2014, 8:33 AM by slmrides

The Lewis Memorial Acres Full Moon Trail Event is a collaboration between the Lewis Memorial Acres Board of Directors and your own Central Illinois Trails Association.  Register now as riding and running spots are limited.  See below for more details and visit the registration page at:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 in Springfield, IL at Lewis Memorial Acres trail on Koke Mill Road in Springfield.

2.35 Mile Fun Run at 7:00 PM
» Free! With a $15 suggested donation (through the day of the event) 

6.2 Mile Bike at 7:15 PM
» Free! With a $15 suggested donation (through the day of the event) 

The event is limited to the first 150 registered runners and the first 50 registered cyclists. Race day registration may be available if participant limit is not yet met.
Check-in and packet pick-up starts at 6:00P at the pavilon of Lewis Memorial Acres. Check-in is mandatory.

The event is FREE but a suggested donation of $15 can be made on-line via, at race day registration, or can be mailed to:
Lewis Memorial Acres
PO Box 9541
Springfield, IL 62791-9541
Lewis Memorial Acres Association is a non-profit organization as defined by the IRS and donations are tax-deductible.

This is an off-road 'fun' event - running OR biking in the dark.The run and bike segments will be separate but concurrent events. Runners will experience single-track dirt trails consisting of roots, rocks, sticks, bridges, benches and maybe even mud - all within Lewis Memorial Acres. Cyclists will use the same dirt trail as the runners but with an additional loop on the paved Sangamon Valley Trail. 
Start and Finish: Lewis Memoral Acres park pavilion.

The run and bike segments are separate events but happening simultaneously.
You MUST check-in before the race.
You MUST carry at least one flashlight and/or headlamp. Carrying both is recommended.
Paint and/or ribbon will be used to mark trail turns. 
Reflective gear is recommended.
A few volunteers will also assist in questionable course intersections.
Additional parking is available at the adjacent Koke Mill Christian Church.
There is a port-a-potty in the park and additional restrooms available in lobby of Koke Mill Christian Church.
This is a Fun Run and Bike. It is NOT timed. There are NO t-shirts and NO awards.
Portable music devices are not allowed for safety purposes.
Water will be available at start/finish but NOT on the course.
LMA Board or event planning committee reserves the right to cancel the event due to safety considerations.
Event updates may be available at

Blazing trails the right way - By Naomi Greene

posted Jun 8, 2014, 5:12 PM by slmrides

Volunteers at the Lewis Memorial trail.

Ever since humans could stand upright and walk, they would create paths to destinations that attracted them out of necessity or curiosity. Except for paved roads, things have changed little in some places where walkers or some cyclists trample through fields and woods. Such trails, while interesting, are usually not sound and can leaves ugly scars on the land. That’s where the Central Illinois Trails Association (CILTA) comes in.

Formed just a little over a year ago, the group views its role as a mountain biking and hiking advocate. Its primary mission is to educate the public and create environmentally responsible trails that last and which can be maintained. To that end, CILTA recently brought a Trail Care Crew from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to reconfigure a portion of the Lewis Memorial Acres trail on Springfield’s west side. The project offered volunteers, who ranged from kids to retirees, an opportunity to learn about the right way and wrong way to build multi-use trails.

“It’s more than just digging in the dirt,” says Lori Reed, IMBA Trail Care Crew member and trainer. Reed and co-trainer Jesse Livingston spent several hours training volunteers on trail development and maintenance. According to Reed, “It takes planning and collaboration.”

The planning part involves evaluating geographical characteristics of the area. Is it wooded or desert? Prairie or rocky? Collaboration of land owners or managers as well as volunteers is key to ensure proper use and conservation of sensitive areas.

There’s more to building a trail than moving rock and dirt. Trails built without planning or training are not likely to drain well. They may develop puddling during wet weather, or “cupping” in the trail that may develop into hazardous ruts. IMBA-led training provides the kind of hands-on experience that allows volunteers to see the proper way to locate and build a trail with minimal impact on the natural environment. 

“When you build properly it minimizes the effect erosion can have on an area,” says Christa McLaren Morris, CILTA’s vice president. “Erosion is caused by water running over the terrain.”

IMBA trained the volunteers on best practices for minimizing tread erosion by allowing water to drain in a gentle manner, keeping soil where it belongs – on the trail. Too much grade can cause erosion. Too little can create puddling and lack of drainage. According to IMBA resource materials, the ideal trail grade is between 5 percent and 15 percent. Volunteers are encouraged to use natural materials for the trail – rocks to strengthen turns and slopes; replanting bushes and saplings to keep users on the trail.

CILTA President Loren Easter envisions a system of well-planned trails being developed in the area that can be accessed by mountain bikers and other users. “We want to look at opportunities for trails,” he says. According to IMBA, there are 1.5 times more mountain bikers in the country than golfers, or more than 50 million. Easter thinks that the number, and interest, along with proper trail development can benefit communities. “They (proper trails) can provide better health for residents,” he says, adding that they can also benefit the local economy. “Trails enhance tourism and can boost sales for local businesses.”

The city of Chicago, which has been increasing opportunities for casual and commuter biking, may soon turn to mountain biking as a tourism draw. The largest mountain biking facility in the country is in Valmont, California. According to Reed, there are talks in Chicago about creating an even larger facility in the Windy City.

Easter’s vision for Springfield and surrounding area is much more modest. “We’re exploring the possibility of reworking existing trails at Jim Edgar Panther Creek to make them more sustainable and maybe converting parts of it as multi-use trails.”

For now, CILTA appears poised to help find common ground between riders, hikers and environmentalists. To find more information on the group and events, visit 

Naomi Greene is a freelance writer and cycling enthusiast.


posted Jun 7, 2014, 6:19 PM by Loren Easter   [ updated Jun 8, 2014, 5:14 PM by slmrides ]

Trail Etiquette: Cut, Reroute, or Leave Alone

posted Dec 21, 2013, 10:52 AM by Loren Easter   [ updated May 28, 2014, 12:07 PM by slmrides ]

Great riding depends on great trails, but singletrack doesn’t repair itself. Here’s the right way to approach three common trail issues.
ByBrian Fiske
Photo: Great trails don’t fix themselves. It take a lot of hard work, says IMBA trail builder Chris Kehmeier. (Leslie Kehmeier)
When it comes to trail maintenance, there’s a good chance that Chris Kehmeier has seen it all. The 38-year-old trail master got his start when he helped re-route the Two Elk trail near Vail, Colorado, in 2000. From 2009 to 2011, he traveled the country as part of IMBA’s Trail Care Crew. And now, he’s a Trail Solutions Project Manager for the trail organization, a job that recently took him outside of Hong Kong, where he helped develop of a flow trail through an old tea plantation.

Building new trails is only a part of Kehmeier’s job. Much of his time—and that of other trail builders—is devoted to maintaining and repairing existing trails. Over the years, Kehmeier has identified three common trail issues that riders commonly deal with, especially in spring: Blow-downs, washouts, and mud pits. Chances are, at least one of these sounds familiar to you. Here, Kehmeier shares how to decipher the best way to solve the problem at hand. No matter what course you take, your first step should always be to talk to the land managers and work with the local trail group, if one exists.

Blow Downs (from large branches to whole trees)
What to check:
Visibility. If the log has fallen just after a blind spot (like a corner or dip) it could force riders to brake suddenly. That braking can make the trail more susceptible to erosion. Riders might also be tempted to ride around it, especially if it’s too large to ride over. If any of those situations are present remove the blow-down.
Safety. If the blow-down seems scarily large, unstable, or tangled it should be removed or the trail should be re-routed around it. If removal is best, talk to the land manager or trail group about enlisting the help of someone experienced with a chain saw. Safety first!
Drainage. Larger logs can change how water behaves on the trail. If there is pooling—or worse, the tree diverts runoff into channels—remove the blow-down.
Expectations. Is the trail mostly for beginners or more-experienced riders? If the situation feels right—leave the log where it is. But, consider creating a well-defined ride-around, or other riders might make multiple lines of their own.

What to check:
The source of the water. Whether the damaging deluge came from snowmelt or a change to the ground uphill that changed the course of water running down the slope, you should identify the cause before fixing the trail, otherwise it will eventually wash out again. Walk uphill and follow how the water is flowing down.

What’s further downhill. Take a peek downhill, too. Would changing the way water reaches the trail have a negative impact further down the hill? The trick to any water-related fix is making sure you don’t just move the problem to another location. If changing the trail uphill would lead to destruction elsewhere, plan a re-route that would lessen impact or allow you to avoid the problem area entirely.

The best fixes. Water issues shouldn’t be ignored, Kehmeier says. But the fixes are labor intensive and require approval from land managers. They can include armoring (adding stability to wet areas), knicks (wide, sloping depressions that gently lead water off the trail), or rolling grade dips (think of them as man-made rollers that also gently lead water off the trail). You can learn more about these on the U.S. Forest Service website.

Mud Pits
What to check:
Look for lower ground. If there is lower ground adjacent to the mud hole, it can be fixed: Add a hardened surface through the area (flat rocks, for example) leaving room for water to pass through to the lower area.

Look for a re-route. If the spot is already the lowest ground around, drainage isn’t an option. “I always vote re-route,” Kehemeier says. “If a reroute isn’t an option, a raised tread of sorts—a boardwalk or rock causeway—is the best bet.”

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