Blackhawk Mountain Bike Program History
THE EARLY YEARS: Mountain biking began sporadically at Blackhawk in the late-1980s, on trails that were raked out by hand and ran straight up and down the fall line. Some riders started to race on these trails in the early 1990s, and the Chain Smokers began sponsoring “time trial” races in the mid-1990s.
CHAIN SMOKERS TIME TRIALS: In 2005, Paul Manley, Spencer Fulkerson, and Jerry Long led the mountain bike program, with the support of David Reddington, Michael Waisbrot, Dirk Mason, and David Bell. That year, the Program:
- Held the time trial series on Wednesday evenings
- Sponsored at least two Badger State Games mountain bike races
- Conducted FORCS training camp
- Sponsored 2 junior riders in WORS series
- Several podium finishes from members at State, national and international events
- Improved trails at club and other local areas including Camrock and Blue Mounds
At that time, their goals were to:
- Increase trail network by linking with Erdman, Wayne Rounds and Middleton properties (noting at that time that the “trail should be developed with multiple use in mind-X-country, running and mountain biking”)
- Develop facilities for changing and showering and bike maintenance
By around 2008, David Reddington became the Program Chair, with help from Jason Plansky and Renee Callaway. Time trials continued for the next few years, but interest declined and the races ended around 2010. After that, mountain biking activities were not well organized. At that time, several advanced riders began building expert downhill runs, that included challenging wood structures and gap jumps. Few of these trails had options for less skilled riders, so only a limited number of riders were using them.
FOCUSING ON YOUTH LESSONS: In early 2013, the Club began discussions about developing a formal “mountain biking program” that focused on the mission of the club—teaching kids how to ride—modeled after the successful First Flight ski programs. That summer, Jeff Iverson and Kelley Linnan started giving lessons to kids, with a 3-year goal of serving 60 kids each summer. In 2013, 30 kids participated in 2 sessions and by the summer of 2014, the program had grown to 65 kids in 2 sessions, with 8 volunteer instructors.
At the end of the summer of 2014, a “Mountain Biking Committee” was formed, with Pat Remington and Jeff Iverson (co-chairs), Kelley Linnan (programs), Chad Landowski (trails), William Lorman, and Jon Augspurger. The committee developed a plan that was presented to Board of Directors, and approved. The plan included:
- Vision: Blackhawk will become a national model as place to introduce kids and families to safe, fun, and fast mountain biking
- Mission: To develop and promote youth and family mountain biking by developing facilities and by offering instruction and sponsoring competition
The board approved the 2-year “Trail Development Plan” (see below), the purchase of a mini-excavator, plans for trail stewards, and a CORP partnership. An “Open House” was hosted on October 25 or 26 to build support for the club’s new mountain bike program and trail plan. To support this plan, contributions of $5,000 each were made by Chris Fortune, of Saris, and Jon Wolff.
Chad started construction of the first flow trail, later named “Roller Coaster” in the fall of 2014, and completed it in the spring of 2015. The total cost of this trail was less than $1,000 for Chad’s labor, with the use of Trek’s mini-excavator. Recognizing critical importance of the mini-excavator, Pat Remington purchased a used mini-excavator at a cost of $22,500, in October 2014, with the plan that it would be used by Chad Landowski to build trails for 2 years, and sold.
During the summer of 2015, major progress was made on building the Club’s signature flow trails, including “Howling Wolff,” “Ziggy,“ the “East-West Connector,” and the first half of the “Expert Jump Line.”
By 2016, we began the 4th season of youth lessons, which included 60 kids. New trails were added to meet the growing demand for trails, including the upper pines classic single trail and hand-built the “Creek Trail“ (including bridges), and kiosks. Built switchbacks on Erdman Ski Trail (a beginner bike trail option).
- Trail Building Costs: Approximately $6,300.
- Memberships and Program Profits: Approximately $4,000.
- Donations: $17,500
- Youth Lessons: The 5th season included 87 kids. Revenue was about $6,375 (expenses were about $5,300).
- Race Team: Led by Brian Heifner, the Blackhawk race team grew from 4 riders to 12 riders, gained 3 new coaching parents, gained 3 families that had one child join us with a younger sibling waiting to join, and 1 additional family of riders with two children on the team.
- Trail Building and Maintenance: Twist and Shout and the wetland Boardwalk were built, and existing trails were improved, including Howling Wolff and the Connector.
- Trail building costs: $32,000
- Membership revenue: Raised about $13,500 in memberships.
- Summer Biking: Sold 242 single memberships ($6050) and 119 family memberships ($5950), raising about $12,000.
- Fat Biking in 2017-2018: For our first season, we sold 37 Fat-Bike single memberships ($925) and 12 family memberships ($600), raising $1,525 for the first annual Fat Biking program. This income was used to cover the cost of the Fat Bike trail groomer (split with CORP).
- Donations: $21,700
- Youth Lessons: The 6th season included about 90 kids.
- Race Team: The NICA race team continued in the summer of 2018, under the leadership of Dirk Horne.
- Trail Building and Maintenance: No new trails were constructed in 2018. One section of the Pines Trail was extended during the annual work day, and we contracted with Backyard Trails to repair a section of the East-West Connector Trail.
- Membership revenue: Raised about $12,000 in memberships.
- Summer Biking: We continued to increase our summer membership, raising over $12,000. In addition, many former summer members rejoined the Club as Year-Round members.
- Fat Biking in 2018-2019: The second season of Fat Biking was a success, selling more memberships, and having enough snow to groom trails. Bikers used the north side of the Erdman Ski Trail to connect to Pleasant View.
- Donations: $2,200.
- Youth Lessons: We're planning the 7th season to include over 90 kids.
- Race Team: The NICA race team will continue in the summer of 2019, under the leadership of Dirk Horne.
- Girls lessons: We're planning to pilot a small girl's only mountain bike lesson this summer.
- Ninja Camps: We're planning summer bike camps in June and September, in partnership with https://sandiegomountainbikeskills.com/wisconsin/
- Trail Building and Maintenance: We are planning to build a new Skills Area near the East Chalet, and continue to improve our Gully Trails, Howling Wolff, the Pines Trail, and the Switchbacks. Total cost for new tralis and improvements is estimated to be $40,000.
- Membership revenue: Our goal is to raise about $15,000 in memberships.
- Donations: We hope to continue to receive donations, with a goal of $5,000 in 2019.