Beginners and …

Beginners and …

Thanks, and good evening.  On April 30th I helped the Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers in tabling at Midpen’s 50th Anniversary Bayside Family Festival.  Thanks for all your hard work and creativity to put on a fantastic event.   It was nice to meet and speak to many Midpen staff and directors there.

The most common question we heard was “as a beginning mountain biker, where should I go?”   Beginners tend to have a frustrating experience on our steep trails.  Many people were interested in riding with their families, including younger children.  The Bay Trail is wide and flat, but most people were looking for more of a real mountain biking experience — just not someplace where they would end up pushing their bikes.  

At that event I also spoke to representatives of Bay Area Older Adults. They mentioned that they have to work hard to find suitable hikes for older trail users.  I noticed that they are using creative methods like busing people to the top of Mt. Umunhum Trail to provide a downhill hike of moderate length.  That’s a great approach, but we’d like to provide experiences where people can go to a single trailhead and have a nice looping hike or ride without a shuttle. 

An interesting newer area is the Rancho San Vicente development at Calero Park.  County Parks clearly understood that purpose-built trails are of high value, and built roughly 13 miles of narrow winding trails connected by only about 3 and a half miles of existing roads.  There’s a shorter loop where many people take young children.  Calero has become extremely popular due to its focus on purpose-built trails as well as gentle grades which appeal to users from total beginner to advanced.

Some of you know that I’m quite involved with trail building and we’re currently working on a large trail system at Cotoni-Coast Dairies near Davenport.  This system will provide great experiences for the full range of multiple use and also across ability levels from beginner to advanced.  The stacked loop system provides flatter trails near the parking lots including a 4 mile Easy Access trail.  Another option is a beautiful winding loop of about three miles with gentle grades.  As trail users become stronger and more confident they will be able to go further into the system if they choose, while still enjoying the trails they started with. 

I’d like to encourage Midpen to build trail systems that are more inclusive in this way – great for beginners and others who may not venture too far from the trailhead, and for users who want longer and more rugged experiences.  I strongly encourage you to study the systems being developed elsewhere in our area and around the country.  There are a lot of great ideas and tools for trail system development that Midpen hasn’t yet deployed. 

Thanks very much for the opportunity to comment.

These comments were provided to the Midpen Board of Directors during the public comment portion of their May 25, 2022 meeting.