New invasive species… potentially on trails

Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera

Himalayan balsam is an annual herb, native to the western Himalayas. In the early 1800s it was introduced to many parts of Europe, New Zealand and North America as a garden ornamental. Himalayan Balsam has an orchid shaped flower resembling a British policeman’s helmet, which gave rise to its other common name of “Policeman’s helmet”.

Himalayan balsam can completely cover an area and crowd out native vegetation. Mature seed capsules explode when touched and can eject seeds as much as 5 m from the parent plant, giving it the alternate common name of “Touch-Me-Not plant”. It is mostly found in riparian areas, especially river edges and wetlands.

For more information, go to http://www.invadingspecies.com/invaders/plants-terrestrial/himalayan-balsam/

Vote for Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club’s trails

Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) invited the Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club to take part in their Dirt Search contest. 12 clubs in the East and 12 clubs in the West are hoping to win $10,000.

The rules are pretty simple.

GET VOTES – win $10k.

You can vote every 24 hours before Feb 26, 2014.  Vote now: http://blog.mec.ca/2014/02/04/dirt-search-contest/

If SCMTC is fortunate enough to get enough votes and win this contest, they will build a new 10 km MTB trail loop.

Recruit your friends, share the link, vote again.  Let’s win this thing for Simcoe County.  Thanks everyone!

Support, Register, Ride!

To the Rescue… a CBC documentary

To The Rescue is a  documentary about Canada’s patchwork search and rescue system. Why is it sending out its own SOS call?

Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 9 pm (9:30 pm NT)

CBC Television’s Doc Zone

As more urban adventurers seek recreational thrills than ever before, search and rescue teams are pushed to the limit trying to save them. GPS technology – and the assumption that help is just a cell phone call away – have changed the way we play, but the rescue system is chronically underfunded and struggling to keep up with the new demand.

This documentary follows dramatic searches as they unfold, and finds a network patched together with volunteers who risk their own lives to save others.

Watch the trailer:

TO THE RESCUE may be of interest to wilderness trail enthousiasts and/or trail user groups.

Georgian Bay Snowriders trails closed !!!

Due to the tremendous amount of snow received in the past few days, the  Georgian Bay Snowriders’ trails in Midland, Penetanguishene, Tiny and Tay have been temporarily closed.
Extreme  drifts of snow have caused extreme hazardous conditions on many of their trails.  Time is needed for the groomers to get out and maintain the  trails.
For your safety, the trails are closed!
Please refer to the Interactive Trails Guide at   www.ofsc.on.ca or to our website   www.georgianbaysnowriders.com for information when the trails will be reopened.
We thank you for your patience.
Mike Lauder
Vice President – Georgian Bay Snowriders Co-Chairman – Snowmobile Ride For Dad

Horseback riding in Simcoe County

We often get the question “Where can I ride my horse in Simcoe County?” So, we asked Carole McIsaac, member of the Ontario Equestrian Federation and of the board of directors of Simcoe County Trails.

She told us that, in fact, there are lots of opportunities. Here are some suggestions:

–   County Forest tracks near OrrLake, Lafontaine, etc. A lot of the larger County Forest tracts have some super trails and are easy footing for riding.

–   Some of the lower County Forest Tracts have good hill work (especially the ones on Airport Road near the Dufferin County Forest).

–   Copeland Forest during the summer months (we are working on a winter route!). Park in the parking lot on Ingram Road, just to the east of the 4th Line of Oro Medonte.

Horseback riders may encounter other users, but most are polite and share the trails positively. Carole also commented: “I haven’t had a bad riding experience in any of the Simcoe County Forest Tracts whether motorized trail users were allowed in the forest tract, or not.  Most of the motorized users are very respectful of other users.”

Note, there currently is no official trail map of the Copeland Forest. As for the County Forests, you can find aerial photos and topo maps of the Simcoe County Forest tracts on www.maps.simcoe.ca. Turn on the “Forestry and Recreation“ Theme. In the Topo view, you can see green dotted lines, which are the forest tracts.

Note: you would be well advised to take a GPS with you, as there are no wayfinding signs in the forests.

Mountain bike permit required on SCMBC trails

SCMBC Trail Access – Identity Sign

In response to requests from the mountain bike community, the Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club would like to explain the reasoning behind making the difficult decision to move from voluntary permits and explore the concept of Permit Required.

Our club is blessed to work with a progressive landowner who is a leader in Ontario in allowing recreational activities on their land. Our primary landowner, the County of Simcoe, owns 135 tracts of land totaling over 32 000 acres throughout a County area of approximately 10 000 km2. This is an enormous area upon which we have the opportunity to build MTB single-track. The County of Simcoe has established land use agreements with other user groups and currently has 17 agreements in place. In many of those user agreements there must be mandatory membership in place in order to use the forest properties and/or designated trails. SCMBC feels mountain bikers should not be exempt from this requirement.
Prior to making and protecting designated trails, the first and main stipulation from the County of Simcoe was that we provide them with Third Party Liability Insurance covering our signed land use agreement areas and designated trails. If the County did not have this stipulation, there would be no need for the existence of our club and land use agreements in general.
SCMBC believes in the user pay concept, as do the local tourism and recreational managers. Paying a $40 SCMBC permit is not viewed as an unfair request of users when most riders are on bikes worth thousands of dollars.
Insurance, as well as trail building and maintenance tools are expensive. These costs should be borne by the people who use these trails. The Club believes it is unfair to ask non-trail users (for example, the tax payer in the case of public money like grants) to pay for our passion.
With the permits and land use agreements come the benefit of trail protection as the system is designated for mountain bike use. Other users groups such as hikers, snowshoers, cross country skiers and birdwatchers may use the trails with the condition that they do not cause damage.
All cyclists may continue to use the forest fire roads in all of the County tracts as currently permitted in the County’s recreational policy. However, if they choose to use the signed, maintained and designated mountain bike trails our intent is that they must have a permit. It is the only way for us to ensure the protection of the landowner.
In return for your permit, “our give” is a well-maintained trail network and new single-track construction. Is there a mountain biker that does not want more of that?
It should be noted that the first LEGAL mountain bike trail build in the County of Simcoe occurred this year with a 5 km loop on the Mountain. This immediately followed the establishment of a land use agreement with the County. We are currently cutting another 5 km of legal single-track in a forest tract that has no other users and we are flagging a further 10 km loop in another new tract.  In addition to working with the County of Simcoe, we are negotiating land use agreements with private property landowners to gain access to their land. These agreements will provide the much needed linkages between County Forest tracts. Indeed, we recently signed an agreement with a local gravel quarry for a strip of land along the edge of their pit to reconnect the single-track in 8th line trails. Prior to the establishment of the club and the ability to provide third party liability insurance certificates to landowners this agreement would have been impossible to obtain.
SCMBC Day Pass
We have had many positive responses from the mountain bike community and from our membership in relation to the concept of permit required. We have been asked a few times to provide a day pass option. In short, we do not have a means to do this. All of the day pass options we have investigated involve a significant administrative burden which we will never have the volunteers, or the ability to cover the cost to administer properly. We have looked at several options and the end result in every case is that they cost more to administer than they collect thus taking money away from the most important thing, single-track trails. It should also be noted that no other user group within the County of Simcoe has mastered a cost effective method of providing a day pass option.
SCMBC single-tracks will be spread over one of the largest County’s in southern Ontario. There will be over 25 and counting trailheads/parking lots so the maintenance of money drop boxes, day pass purchase locations and administration of the whole program is very difficult.  We have had communication with other clubs that offer electronic day pass options and been told that they have not worked as expected.
The simplest, most cost effective way for you to support the trails is to purchase a $40 club membership online with your credit card.
We have had many complaints that we are being exclusive for not offering a cheaper way for visitors or one-day use people to ride our work.  If we could, we would.  It really is as simple as that.
We have also received a lot of criticism from people who just want to see the trail system before deciding if there is value in membership for them. So, for the once only crowd we say, “Take a Mulligan”.
Definition: A mulligan, most simply put, is a “do-over.” Hit a bad shot? Take a mulligan and replay that stroke.  Or in this case enjoy a ride on SCMBC. So as you’ve probably guessed, a mulligan is never “legal” under the Rules of Golf. Mulligans are most often employed during friendly rounds by golf buddies; or during charity or play day tournaments where mulligans are sometimes sold.
This mulligan option will not and can not apply to the private property land use agreements as there is no cost effective way to provide third party liability insurance to the landowners to protect them from litigation by unregistered riders. As a result that land must be marked “No Trespassing unless you are a member of the SCMBC”.  This is the only way we can protect the people who have opened up their land for our use.  Trespassers cannot be tolerated on these lands as they will jeopardize the agreements.
Please enjoy our work and if you like it enough to want to enjoy it more then please purchase a SCMBC membership.  It is good for 365 days and cheaper than one day of golf, one ski pass, one race, one case of your favourite micro-brew…….
Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope it has provided the information needed to clarify the current situation we face in Simcoe County to the Mountain Bike Community.
Happy biking!!!
Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club (SCMBC)

Georgian Bay Snowriders OFSC trail now open!!

Wow!   Great News!!   The Trails are OPEN!!!
 
The  Georgian Bay  Snowriders have been working hard, over 160 hours of grooming time spent in the last week preparing trails.  And now they are ready for you to  enjoy.
But please ride with caution and be safe throughout the Christmas holiday.
Please respect our landowners by staying on the marked trail.

Volunteers are required!!

We have two great events coming up in early February.
Midland Winterfest – Puddlejumps on February 1st. 
Call Pat Murray  (705) 529-3307 to volunteer and to register.

Snowmobile Ride for Dad on February 8th.
Go to www.RideForDad.ca to register and call Mike Lauder (705) 220-0422 to volunteer
Please mark your calendars, these events you don’t want to miss.

The GBSR Volunteers Group make a great community!

For up to date status of other OFSC snowmobile trails, check the interactive OFSC website www.ofsc.on.ca.

Time to get the snowshoes and skis out!

Heavy snow in Midland

It’s been snowing non-stop since Tuesday night, and snowsqualls are expected to continue until Friday… But don’t let that stop you from going outdoors. Follow the example of the above Midland Ganaraska Hiking Club hikers, who were out today and enjoyed a brisk snowshoe walk.

So get your skis and snowshoes out and get out there!!

Note: OFSC snowmobile trails are not open as yet. Check the interactive OFSC website www.ofsc.on.ca for trail status.

What’s up with the Fat Bikes?

The newest and greatest fad for trail use? I have heard avid cyclists say that it’s a “must have”, so they can continue cycling all through our winters.

Check this out benefits of riding a Fat Bike in the winter:

Even Horseshoe Resort is providing an opportunity to check out fat bikes as they celebrate Global Fat Bike Day this Saturday December 7th by offering no charge trail passes and Fat Bike demo rides to all those who want to experience winter cycling! Joining them will be Norco Bicycles, Muskoka Outfitters and Total Sport Midland; purveyors of all things Fat Bike. Also on hand will be the Ride Guides and Horseshoe Guides to answer any questions about riding in the winter. Come experience a groomed test track right on the base of the hill and a selection of trails to test your skills.

http://www.horseshoeresort.com/opening-day

See you on the trails!

ATVers: please take note of where to ride legally

A local snowmobile club is experiencing problems in the Stroud area, due to unauthorized ATV use on private land.

See http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/4252655-atv-riders-put-trails-out-of-commission/#.Up7FOvJ8Asc.facebook

ATVers should be aware of where to ride legally. A good place to find out is the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicles organization www.ofatv.org, or the local Central Ontario ATV Club at http://www.coatv.ca/ or the Baxter/Severn ATV Trail Riders  http://batv.ofatv.org/