By Chris Barlow
Riding trails on a Mountain Bike requires existing in the moment while keeping a sharp eye on what is ahead. That is precisely what the Metro Mountain Bikers (MMB) Milwaukee Chapter does in their efforts to enhance the biking experience in Wauwatosa and beyond.
The trails that MMB has built and maintained in Tosa are a hidden gem. Many city residents may not be aware the trails exist. These unique tracks are mainly near the Menomonee River, and begin in Hoyt Park and extend all the way past Hampton Avenue.
For many years, a good portion of the trails existed in various forms due to hikers, runners, bikers and even dirt bikers. But it took the MMB to bring them up to the high standards at which they exist today.
“We approached [the County Parks Department] with a plan, and they agreed to put it on their agenda,” says MMB President Chris Cooper. “We did a walkthrough of the land, showed them what we wanted to do and they gave us the go ahead.”
After MMB got the green light, they began to transform what had been a series of unconnected and rough trails into a cohesive urban mountain biking experience. It is great for biking enthusiasts to have the opportunity to ride out of their driveway and, in a matter of minutes, arrive at well maintained trails they can ride for hours.
“I appreciate what the trail-builders have done in Tosa,” biker Tim Daley says. “I visit my sister here often, and having these trails available so close is a huge plus.”
The mission statement for MMB is to promote and protect environmentally responsible mountain bike opportunities in Milwaukee. The group has been steadily growing since its inception in 1994 when it began as the Milwaukee Chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).
The first trail that the group revitalized is in Whitnall Park and is named the Alpha Trail. After that effort proved to be a success, the group turned their attention to an area on the southeastern side of the Menomonee River near Hoyt Park.
The bikers drop into the trail near Swan Boulevard at the entrance of the Hoyt Park parking lot. It is a fast track that riders of nearly any skill level can navigate. Along this trail, bikers will also be able to experience a skills area where a rider can hone his or her mountain biking skills.
The advanced bikers will appreciate the technical skill required to navigate Bubba’s Woods, a trail which runs along the river at the parkway from Burleigh Street to Mayfair Road. This trail is 1.5 miles and has all the rocks, roots and tight turns that experienced riders look for on a track.
The trailheads for Bubba’s Woods are on the west side of the Menomonee River at both Hwy 100 and Burleigh Street. There is also a trail on the east side of the River in this area that is not part of the MMB system of trails.
The third trail in Tosa is called Oak Hill. Prior to MMB maintaining the track, it was known as the “Harley Trail” because it was carved out by the local bike maker as they tested dirt bikes for retail sale. This track is 4.6 miles long and is a moderately technical run that is fairly flat. The trailhead can only be found off of the Menomonee River Parkway near Capital Drive.
Bubba’s and Oak Hill are mostly single track (one way and narrow) trails and are maintained and built for bikers only. The Hoyt Park trail is multi purpose and a rider will encounter hikers, runners and dog walkers with frequency. It is a biker’s responsibility to ride safely and politely to not disturb others enjoying the trial. The high standards at which the MMB ask bikers to adhere to comes from the desire for bikers and others to be able to coexist. These standards are based on what the IMBA established in 1988.
A wonderful resource that MMB created to build awareness of the trails is a website that has maps, news from the group, upcoming events and information about trail conditions and closings. It is operated in connection with the IMBA and even has 3D versions of a trail ride on each of the tracks.
“The IMBA has guidelines,” Cooper says, “and those are the guidelines we use when we design, build, maintain and ride all of the trails in the area.”
On the first Tuesday of each month, the MMB has a meeting to establish fundraising efforts, schedule cleanup of the trails and plan events. They rotate a Tuesday ride throughout the various trails and also set up Wednesday night time trial races.
Keeping their eyes on the trail ahead, the MMB has some enhancements in mind for Tosa.
“Near the beer garden at Hoyt Park we are working on plans to put in a permanent Fix- It station,” Cooper says. “It will have a pump, some tools that are chained down to it and a work stand so you can put your bike up in the air so you can work on it.”
Also ahead the group would like to take a rough, unfinished trail that connects Bubba’s Woods to Hoyt Park and bring it up to their standards. This trail currently exists due to riders utilizing it, but the MMB has not yet been given the go ahead to build up and maintain the trail.
If you would like to get involved with MMB or IMBA please visit metromountainbikers.com . If not, get out and ride. The folks at MMB have created an awesome experience for all to enjoy.
EAST TOSA GRAN PRIX
Approximately 500 top cyclists from around the world are coming to Wauwatosa June 26 as the 8th annual East Tosa Gran Prix takes place beginning at 12:20 pm.
The ETGP race, presented by the Milk Marketing Board, is the final leg of the Tour of America’s Dairyland series that begins in East Troy on June 17. Other stops on the tour are Grafton, Waukesha, West Bend, Downtown Milwaukee, Port Washington, Shorewood, and Bay View and the East Side neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
At the Tosa event you will see eight categories of races that are for both women and men and culminate with the Pro Men 1 race that begins at 6:40. If you are interested in viewing the race, it is free for spectators and is a “massive neighborhood event” that includes family fun and kids activities. It is also exciting to watch the cyclists, as the final race sees riders going speeds in excess of 35 MPH.
The race course is a loop that begins on 68th Street and North Avenue and heads east before turning north at 65th Street. The riders will then veer west on Meinecke Avenue before returning to North Avenue via 69th Street.
The event organizers are looking for area families who are interested in hosting the participating athletes and state that this is a key component in attracting the top cyclists. In 2015 the racers on the tour came from 36 states and 13 different countries.
If you would like to be a host, or need more information about the event please log on to tourofamericasdairyland.com.