What kind of prep work does the KTA Trail Crew put into the network leading up to NEMBA Fest?
The crew and I try and get things as "showcase ready" as possible. We take a lot of pride knowing that riders come here to ride the trails we design and build and want them looking as good as possible. We try and get the Three T's (Tody's Tour, Tap n' Die, and Troll Stroll)
as dialed as they can be since they are part of the demo loop and see a ton of action. Ideally we try and get at least one new project completed prior to the festival. This year we had the bottom of Cat Box Hill
rerouted and machine built as well as constructed a new bridge on Bemis
and put in a switchback to make it easier for beginners. I like to try and get a few guys out with brush saws and our mower to get as much mowed and trimmed as possible. It really can be quite hectic leading up to the festival for the all of us. Not only do we do the trail work leading up to it, but we do much of the festival site work leading up to the event: fencing, flags, banners, signage, camping and parking layout, etc. I don't have a full crew sometimes until a week before NEMBA Fest, so I'm often forced to throw guys right into the fire which can be a bit tricky when they are green to trail work. This year I have the least experienced crew I've ever managed, but they killed it. I'm super proud of their efforts before, during, and after the fest and look forward to this summer with them. What were some of the new features and updates that you think people were most excited about?
As mentioned before, we reworked Cat Box Hill
with a mini excavator, so that got some use. Last year at NEMBA Fest we hadn't built Bear Back
or Piggy Back
yet so those two trails were able to be showcased and since they've been constructed have become two of our premier trails. We also just completed a new beginner skills track right next to the venue site and it got a ton of use! It was dusty, but that didn't stop the little groms from hitting the rollers, tables, berms, and small drops. It was in constant use throughout the weekend. As the event continues to grow in popularity, do you envision the need to temporarily enforce a directional system throughout the network?
Event or not, that is something I'd like to see happen on the trail system, or at the very least make more trails directional. Allocating certain trails to either climbing or descending only will obviously will help with the flow system-wide all season long. Some weekends here are crazy busy; actually most weekends are, and I'm starting to see the need to make directional trails a policy. But we first need to have some more discussions with our Trails Advisory Committee about it. To designate the entire system directionally just for the festival would be a huge undertaking logistically, and would require a crazy amount of signage. What do you think the Kingdom Trails represents to the rest of the northeast?
I think we represent collaboration. We have over 60 private landowners who let us use their land to provide this trail system. We have an entire community behind us, that helps support what we have going on here. Sure, we have some amazing trails, but there is amazing riding everywhere. What sets us apart is the people: the landowners, locals, visitors, businesses, and the entire KT staff that work hard to make sure that the area is the best it can be with all of the positives we bring. Generating revenue for an entire region just from mountain biking is a model so many people want to replicate, but very it's hard to do. A lot needs to go right, but if it does you can see from what we have going on here that it can be an amazing thing.