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January 12, 2009

Trailblazer News Update

One of the biggest problems that we face as a club of volunteers, is dissemination of information to our members.  While our website serves us well, especially in the forums, it seems that we come up short when trying to update our membership with club news.  And there is a lot of news to share…


To begin with, you may know that we are in the midst of our yearly membership drive.  In January and February, we encourage club members to renew their membership.  This way, we can budget our funds for the upcoming year.  And it simplifies the process of when a member is due to renew.


The executive board recently added new membership giving levels.  We did not raise the basic rates of membership, instead we have added to them and are offering an enticement to raise your contribution.  The 2009 membership structure:


Basic Membership                    $20
Fat Tire Family                         $25
Middle Ring Supporter             $40
Trailbuilder                               $60
Big Ring Supporter                   $100

Corporate Singletrack              $200
Corporate Big Air                     $500
Corporate Mojo Sponsor         $1,000


Contributions at or above Middle Ring ($40) will receive a voucher for a Trailblazer t-shirt.  You can register on-line from our homepage or mail in your registration, also available online.


As in all things voluntary, we sometimes have a bit of a lag in getting updates and / or upgrades to our website.  There may be a few issues with online contributions at certain levels, but our membership director, Emily Sardonas can be reached at  Emily can help you through the process.


That said, what happens to our raised funds?  Well, recently we have rebuilt our Ditch Witch track machine, purchased two trailers to move our heavy equipment (which includes the aforementioned Ditch Witch, a BobCat, and a Volvo mini-excavator.  In addition we have an enclosed trailer that houses our Suzuki 4 wheeler, dump trailers, chainsaws and countless trail tools).  Just keeping our fleet of mechanized machinery up and running can be a task in and of itself.


Recently (at our December meeting) the club voted to approve the spending of $10K to hire Trail Dynamics ( to punch the trail corridor of Phase IVa at Lake Norman State Park.  This new, advanced level trail will be a departure from the feel of the existing Itusi trails (Hawk, Hicks Creek, Norwood and Monbo), as a more narrow corridor and naturally occurring obstacles will elevate the skill level.  The corridor will be roughly 3.25 miles in length.  This phase will intersect a fire road that will join to a second trail to complete the loop.  Next year (2010) we will venture across the fire road (Phase IVb) and complete the loop.  The total trail length of Phase IV will be +/- 7 miles, bringing the total available trail at LNSP to approximately 20 miles!


This is the first time (other than the point trail at the USNWC) that the club has paid to get trail on the ground.  But we feel it is the wave of the future for the Trailblazers.


So much so, that Jeff Archer has submitted a Recreational Trail Program grant application to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources for $75,000 for Phase V at LNSP.  255 acres and upwards of 11.5 miles of additional trail awaits us in this Phase.  Once again, the Trailblazers would hire a trail construction company to blast the corridor and then rely on the Trailblazer faithful to groom and apply the finishing touches to the trail.  It’s a scene that will become more familiar to club members in the future.


At Southwest District Park, club member Brian Malec has laid out a beautiful 3 mile trail in a distressed neighborhood off of West Blvd.  Recent moves by the Charlotte Housing Authority call for the razing of Boulevard Homes (on adjacent property) and in it’s place constructing a mixed use community.  The new trail will be one of the first amenities to the park that will also include ballfields. These will complement the Southview Recreation Center, already on site.  This is a tremendous opportunity for the club to be in on the ground floor of a community in renaissance.


The Trailblazers have received grants totaling $10K (a $5K, NCDENR, Adopt-A-Trail grant and a $5K grant from REI) to construct the trail corridor, once again through a trail construction company.  Then we’ll rely on the Trailblazer faithful to finish the trail.  Sound familiar? The work Brian and other members have already provided to lay out the trail easily exceeds 200 hours total to date.


The Lakewood community has long been forgotten as the construction of I-85 and Hwy 16 has cut it off from easy community access.   Trips for Kids, a non-profit organization aimed at getting at risk youth on bicycles has a major foothold in the community.  TKF, along with local community groups have banded together to link parcels of land to provide these under privileged kids with a trail to ride within their community.


Lakewood in the 1910’s – 1920’s was Charlotte’s, Six Flags.  Soldiers would ride the train to the park that included a beautiful lake, boardwalk, Ferris Wheel, food, recreation and relaxation.  The park died in the late 20’s as a tornado ripped apart the dam, draining the lake and ruining forever the excitement of the area.  To this day, beautiful stone bridges still stand as a testament to the park and an era, gone by.


The Lakewood Community and TFK’s were recently awarded a grant through REI that will amount to $12.5K to construct a trail in this community.  This is the feel good project of the year!  Once again, the Trailblazers will oversee the construction of the trail corridor by a trail construction firm and then rely on you, our faithful membership to groom the trail.  Sounds like a broken record, I know, but it’s the wave of the future for trail construction in our area.  The community sits on the edge of a proposed CMP&R Greenway and will provide connectivity that the community hasn’t enjoyed in ages.  And we’re all a part of it, each and every member of our club…


Edward Autry has recently submitted an application for an Adopt-A-Trail grant to NCDENR for the construction of a trail corridor at Park Road Park.  The $5K grant would once again allow us to hire some level of trail corridor construction. The new trail would connect with the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. In addition to adjacent trails in the immediate area, this project could result in approximately 12 to 15 miles of stacked loop mountain bike trail in the heart of Charlotte with connectivity to a major greenway. 


We have recently been contacted by Charlotte Mecklenburg Park and Recreation and informed that our trail at Jetton Park is going to be nominated for a National Association of Counties Achievement Award.  The 1.1-mile trail, constructed to allow the physically challenged the opportunity to enjoy the sport of mountain bike on specially designed off road hand cycles, is located in Cornelius.  A grant of $10K from Transamerica Reinsurance provided the funding necessary to purchase two of the cycles that are housed at the Cycle Path in Cornelius.  We will be providing information to assist P&R with the application process. 


So in closing, I would like to thank you, our members for your hard work, dedication, donations of time and money as we together are making a difference, a HUGE difference in our community.  Our economic times our tough, what better way to help us through it than to contribute to the betterment of the Metro-Charlotte community.


It’s membership time. 


Think about it.




Tom Mathews

Past President

Tarheel Trailblazers

October 9, 2007

2008 Executive Board Nominees

After serving 2 years on the executive board, vice president Jerry Adams and I are stepping down at the end of our collective terms, effective December 31, 2007...However, as many of you already know, former executive board members never really go away, we just kinda lurk in the shadows...I know that I still have several irons in the fire that I want / need to accomplish, and Jerry is always looking for that next parcel of land to build on...
I must admit that I have had many sleepless nights, worrying about who would pick up the baton and run with it in 2008.  I was more than relieved and greatly excited to learn that Jim Grover, our resident legal expert, was interested in accepting the nomination of club president...Jim is a man of great integrity and has a deep passion for our sport...His leadership will chart a new course for the club, and I look forward to a host of interesting projects and innovative programs...
Paul Bellin, the club's volunteer coordinator for the past several years and an individual that always steps up and becomes involved for the betterment of our club has agreed to his nomination as club vice president...Paul's attention to detail and his keen relationships throughout the sport will assist Jim and the executive board in continuing to steer the club forward...
Leah Mitcham has agreed to return for a second year as club secretary...Leah has been prompt and efficient in her duties and is always ready to voice her opinion...Her dual membership with the Dirt Divas provides us a liaison between the clubs...  
Frankie Pietras, former two term club president and trail coordinator has agreed to continue on in his role as club treasurer...As treasurer, Frankie has helped turn the club from money strapped to one that operates comfortably in the black...His conservative financial nature has helped the club grow financially and has us on stable ground...
Along with a multitude of role players, I am pleased to introduce these individuals as our executive nominees for the 2008 Trailblazer season...The election will be held at our next club meeting, November 1st...
Your continued support and dedication to the club will result in an ever expanding trail system, one that will elevate the Metro-Charlotte area to new heights, and to continue to be a model volunteer organization for generations to come...
Tom Mathews, President

April 24, 2007

Celebrating With Your Your “Invisible” President

My sincerest apologies for falling off the face of the earth over the past 6 weeks or so, but your president has been somewhat overwhelmed by his “real” job.  55 hour work weeks have put the kibosh on all the fun activities and my blog has definitely suffered.  So sorry.  And on top of that, my riding time has suffered.

But for now, I’m back!  And there is so much to celebrate!

Jerry Adams, the vice president of the Trailblazers, has led a small team of trail builders toward the completion of the trail system at Sherman Branch.  At 10.6 miles, this has got to be the fastest trail of any significant length that has ever been built.  And the rave reviews reflect its popularity.  Jerry has taken a dream, that of constructing a trail from the bottom up, to reality.  He dug in, fought the bureaucratic red tape, went through the process of neighborhood meetings, meetings with Park and Rec advisory committees, environmental impact studies, you name it.  And the fruits of Jerry’s labor are the trails at Sherman Branch.  Thanks Jerry, you’ve earned it!

To celebrate the completion of Sherman Branch, the Trailblazers invite you to attend the grand opening celebration, as we kick off BIKE! Charlotte on May 5th.  We will be leading group rides of the park from 9:00 – 11:00 with hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks from 11:30 – 1:00!  We are in need of some volunteers to step up to assist.  If interested, please contact me at

The big news in the Lake Norman area is the opening of the Monbo Trail at Lake Norman State Park.  At 900 feet shy of 6 miles, the Monbo is the longest continuous trail in our system, bringing the total trail length at the park to 12.8 miles!  And talk about red tape!  This is the first trail built in a state park and WaterbOb Karriker and Jeff Archer have been through the ringer, writing the book as they go.  And the result is a sustainable trail that will be assured of a long life.  This is a trail that our great grandchildren will be able to enjoy.  Built to standards like no other trail in the region the Monbo offers a totally different feel from the Itusi.  Fast descents are punctuated with quick drops, sudden turns and a climb that will have you calling UNCLE!  The recent addition of bOb and Jeff (otherwise known as “Crossroads Cycle Club”) brings us to a new level in trail construction.  We owe these two a tremendous debt of gratitude!  Thanks guys!

At the USNWC, the completion of the “Figure 8” marks the final piece of the re-connect of our beloved “Catawba”.  Frankie Pietras has spearheaded the effort to re-connect the trail and has been instrumental in garnering a working relationship between the Trailblazers and the USNWC staff, led by Mike Kafsky.  Learning to talk the same language came slow at first, but Frank has led the charge to educate the white water leadership on the intricacies of trail construction and maintenance.  Many individuals have devoted countless hours to seeing that the trail maintained its high standard for being the challenging jewel in the Trailblazer crown.  Many naysayer’s now see that the vision has indeed become a reality and that the Trailblazers’ open mindedness has brought a new standard to Catawba.  Many thanks to the individuals that are too numerous to name, for their efforts at returning the USNWC to a challenging destination.

And while we’re discussing celebrations, what better way to celebrate than uniting two of our most loyal and dedicated mountain bikers, Dirt Diva/Trailblazer Jennifer Dilworth and Trailblazer Bryan Hines this weekend (April 28) in the Great Smoky Mountains!  Jennifer is the former secretary of the Trailblazers and is the current ride leader of the Dirt Divas.  Bryan has been heavily involved with the grant process and helping to steer the club through the maze at Mount Holly.  We all have grown to know these guys over the past several years and their marriage will be a celebration of all that is good in our sport.  Two good, solid people, moving forth together as husband and wife and as cycling’s dynamic duo.  Congratulations Bryan and Jennifer!

November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

It’s hard to believe that we’re preparing to celebrate yet another Thanksgiving. This is always a time for reflection on exactly what it is that we are thankful for.  And this year has been one of many blessings.

I’m thankful for this club, the Tarheel Trailblazers, and the individuals that continue to step up to the plate, tirelessly giving of their precious time to make the mountain bike community in the Metro Charlotte area stronger and offering riding options to all riding styles…

I’m thankful for our executive board, VP, Jerry Adams, the ying to my yang, to Frankie Pietras, who holds the purse strings and keeps us financially secure, and to outgoing secretary, Jennifer Dilworth, who I look upon as a sister.  I appreciate all of her hard work and dedication.  Now take some quality time Jen, plan that wedding (congrats Bryan!) and get back on that bike!   I’m thankful that Leah Mitchim has offered her services as secretary for 2007…

I’m thankful for all the individuals that gave of their time to attend the Sherman Branch neighborhood meetings, to show their support and to make the approval of a trail system at the “Branch”, a reality.  Thanks to Jerry Adams and unsung hero, Steve Kiker, as they built a solid 7.5 miles of trail in under 6 months.  And there’s more to come.  I’m thankful for the volunteers and Boy Scouts (thanks Wes) that have provided the much needed bridges on the property.

I’m thankful for the individuals that stood strong during the closing of Catawba, those that have worked behind the scenes to keep the trail cleared during the closing.  Frankie P. for his vision and trail design skills in getting the trails back in order (with more to come).

I’m thankful for former club president, Jeff Smith, grant writer/trail builder Bryan Hines for their efforts to make the Mt. Holly trails a reality.  If you only knew the bumps in the road that these folks have been able to overcome, and there are more hurdles on the horizon.  Rest assured that along with Ray Broome and club attorney Jim Grover, we have the right folks on the job.

I’m thankful for our local cycling promoter, Neal Boyd, who selflessly gives of himself to provide the entire cycling community top quality events that many of us take for granted.  Neal has his finger on the pulse of the cycling community and is a friend and confidant to the president.  Thanks Neal…

I’m thankful for our sister club, the Dirt Divas, to Cynthia Lipski, a good friend and wonderful person that has never failed to give her time, whenever I asked.  I’ll miss her as my counterpart but we’ll remain close friends and associates. Thanks to Anna Hernstein who worked with me to put on the Bike! Summit presentations.  I look forward to working with Patty Smith and Tracey Jones as they take the reins of Divas.  I’m thankful for Cathie Docherty as she continues to snap high quality images for our website, upcoming brochure and maps.  Thanks for keeping things fresh, Cathie…

I’m thankful for Dan Burns and Ivan Konerman, two individuals that have stepped up to provide us with incredible maps of our parks.  Look for them (maps) in the first quarter of 2007.

I’m thankful for the relationship that Jacob Burns and I have fostered, as we work together to provide advanced skill opportunities to the cycling community.  The PASA constructed pump track at North Meck is just the first step in what we hope to be a new awareness of style and direction for cycling in the community.  Thanks Vinnie…

I’m thankful for Pel Deal, who has wrapped his arms around the club membership and organized it into a usable form, for working hard to welcome new members in a timely fashion and to provide the executive board with interesting demographics.

Thanks to all of you that purchased more than 300 Trailblazer emblazoned garments over the past year.  The logo is out there, front and center and the community are now aware of us and we are considered to be THE volunteer organization in the Charlotte recreation community.  And that’s something that we should ALL be proud of!

I’m thankful for all of my brothers and sisters that continue to work toward expanding riding opportunities in the Metro-Charlotte region.  To Doug Satterwhite, Paul Belin, Kim Rodden, Joe Recore, Scott Trotter, Mark Sullivan, Brian Malec, Chris Nixon, Edward Autry, Scott Hubbs, Eric Troutman, Cathi and Rod Mowery, David Rodden, Bart Stetler, Jack Crouch, Tom Waldron and the Ranks, Rick Hoffarth, bOb Karriker, Jeff Archer, all the supportive bike shops, Turner Bikes, Cathy Turpin, Travis and Lyndsay, my mom, my employer that gives me a little extra rope, and to all of you that continue to work behind the scenes to make the Trailblazer vision come true.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tom Mathews

November 2, 2006

What's Goin' On?!?!

The November Trailblazer meeting will be held on Thursday night, Nov. 2nd, at 7:30 at Jack's on 7th Street...Novemebr is election month, and we'll be electing our new executive board for 2007...So far, the nominees include incumbents: Tom Mathews - President, Jerry Adams - VP and Frankie Pietras - Treasurer...Jennifer Dilworth has asked to move  on (to work on a very special day, right Jen?  Congrats!)...Leah Mitcham has been nominated to the secretary position...We will be accepting  any additional nominations from the floor prior to the elections...

 Our RED jerseys are in!  Jerry Adams is currently sorting through them and will have them for distribution at the meeting on Thursday night! They are smokin' hot!
 AND, just in time for the holidays, we have purchased an additional run of the original blue jersey!  So if you missed out on your orders, here's your chance to cover your bod with the sharpest jersey in the southeast!  The blue jerseys will sell for $50 to members, $65 to non-members (includes a $5 discount on the club fee)...These will make the perfect Christmas gift!

 On Saturday, the USNWC will hold its White Water Festival, and the Trailblazers and Dirt Divas will be on hand to sell jerseys,  memberships and to lead trail rides around the facility...We're always looking for volunteers, please stop by between 10:00 and 2:00 and lend a hand!

 The Dirt Divas/Trailblazers End of Year Party will be held at the  Field Trail Barn at Anne Springs Greenway in Fort Mill, SC on Sunday, November 5th, from 1:00 - 6:00 PM.Group rides start at 1:30 and food will be served at 4:00.Please RSVP to to  make your reservation.  Trailblazer members are requested to make a $5 donation to cover costs.  We'll be selling jerseys and I'm sure there will be some available as raffle prizes!  It'll be a blast!
From Charlotte take I-77 South to exit 90. Turn LEFT at the light at the bottom of the ramp. Continue through 5 lights for 1.3 miles and turn LEFT onto US-21 Business. ('Times TurnAround' Gas and convenience store is on the corner.) Continue for 1 mile. There is a new road pattern and traffic light. Turn Left at the light (still on Bus. 21) and continue about another .75 mile. At the white fence and white house on the right, turn LEFT onto Springfield Parkway. Go 1.2 miles. Just after passing the new "Springfield" neighborhood on the left, you'll see the ASG entrance sign on the Right. Turn RIGHT. Continue ~ 1/4 mile on this gravel road and you'll see the RED Field Trial Barn up ahead on the left. (When you are on Springfield Parkway, if you come to a fork in the road, you've gone too far.)

 Last, but certainly not lease, the Big Stampede rolls into Lowes Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov 12th.  This is a huge swap meet, and the Trailblazers will be hosting 30 and 50 miles fully supported road  rides, The Southside Spanker on the Northside!  I believe the ride time is 11:00 am, but please check for details on our website at  We are in need of volunteers to man rest stops and registration, serve food and tear down following the event. We also needs assistance to mark the course on Sat the 11th. Please contact for more information.

October 16, 2006

Stepping It Up

As we enter the fall of the season, baseball’s playoffs are in full swing.  Players are stepping up to the plate, in an attempt to deliver for their club.  A season that stretches for the better part of nine months is getting down to the nitty gritty.  Who will step up and come through for their team?

I’m often asked about what benefit an individual will receive from joining the Trailblazers.  To me, the answer is simple, but their question is somewhat backwards.  What would joining our club do for us - The Trailblazer faithful?  That answer can only come from our devoted members, many of whom give so much to the cycling community and seemingly get little in return. 

But that return on investment is big for our volunteers.  People like club Vice President Jerry Adams, who along with unsung hero Steve Kiker have built 6.5 miles of trail in 5 months time.  Suddenly folks in the Sherman Branch Park region of southeastern Mecklenburg County have a reason to go play in the dirt.  Many have recently stepped up to the plate and joined the dynamic duo in putting additional sweat equity into the effort.  And to a man or woman that has helped, I know they are all excited by their newfound passion and the spirit shown by their fellow volunteers.

Frankie Pietras, a long time Trailblazer member, current club Treasurer, club Trail Coordinator, and former two term club President, continues to plow forward on the trail reconnect at the USNWC.  Tireless volunteers like Kim Rodden, Joe Recore and Scott Trotter (to name a few), have invested countless hours in their efforts to rebuild and replace what may have been lost during the construction phase of the park.  Some like to sit back and criticize the Trailblazers for the loss of trails, while others, like these volunteers, see the glass is half full and drive themselves “full steam ahead” to make the trail better than ever.

Over the past couple of months, we have received donations from participants in our local races.  Individuals that come out to race their friends week in and week out, to test themselves on Trailblazer built and maintained trails.  Then taking their prize money and donating their winnings back to the club in an effort to say “Thank You” for what the club has provided for them.  Within the past week, a loyal Trailblazer dropped us a check for $2,500, and apologized for not being able to donate his time.  But money always helps.  And we sincerely appreciate the gift!.

We enter the fall season looking for members to step up and volunteer for the executive board of the club.  Unfortunately, no one at this time has seen fit to throw their hat into the ring.  As President, I told the membership that I would accept the position for one year.  That time is coming to a close and it looks as if I will remain as club president by default.  I am however fortunate to have a board of directions that stands behind me and will return for a second year.  In addition to Jerry and Frankie, already mentioned above, Jennifer Dilworth, our “Girl Friday” and secretary will also return.

To those that can’t seem to find the time to get involved on any level, I challenge you to look at your life and your schedule and see where it is that you can indeed fit in to the inner workings of the Trailblazers.  I am a single dad, raising an 18 year old son on my own, trying to prepare him for college and the future beyond.  I have a 21 year old daughter that graduates college in the spring and needs help in preparing for grad school.  I have recently taken on more responsibility on my job.  A 50 hour work week is getting to be the norm.  I try to maintain a 120 mile relationship.  My ride time is slowly dwindling.  But you know what?  For the love and belief in the friends that I have made in this community, and the Tarheel Trailblazers and Dirt Divas, it’s worth all the effort.  All the juggling of my time and my life, to help in some small way to provide our community with a trail system we can all be proud of.

In the weeks ahead, we have several big events that need our attention.  Rick Hoffarth has led a crew to build the Harrisburg Half Short Track.  Rick needs volunteers to assist him in registration, timing, and scoring over the weeks to come with his fall, Short Track Race Series.  Volunteer, race, but throw your support behind his effort.  Contact Rick at

Race promoter extraordinaire, Neal Boyd, will putting on a 12 hour race (“The Tree Shaker”) at Renaissance Park this coming Saturday, Oct. 21st.  Neal has been working on this race for the past two years.  Help him to make it a success!  Volunteer, lend a hand, race, hang out, but support his efforts!  Contact Neal at:

On Saturday, November 5th, the USNWC will celebrate their Grand Opening and have invited the Trailblazers and their sisters at the Dirt Divas to man (woman) a tent and to lead some small group rides around the trails.  Volunteers are needed! Contact Tom Mathews at:

On Sunday November 6th, the Dirt Divas and Trailblazers host their second annual “End of Season” party at Anne Spring Greenway in Fort Mill, SC.  You presence is requested, as we say thank you for all the efforts that our volunteers have put forth this year.

Then on Sunday, November 12th, the Trailblazers host the second annual “Southside Spanker on the Northside” (it’s a long story, don’t ask) a 30 and 50 mile supported road ride, leaving the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the “Big Stampede”.  This is a huge fundraiser for our club and once again, volunteers are needed!  Contact Neal at:

We will be starting efforts to construct a new trail at Jetton Park in Cornelius this fall.  It will be the first “Off-Road Hand-Cycle Accessible” mountain bike trails in the region.  Join us, help us to provide those less fortunate to have a park they too can enjoy.  Contact Tom Mathews at:

Please, take a long, hard, look at YOUR club, see in it the fun it has given you, and step up to the plate.  Volunteer, support YOUR club.  We’re only as good as our membership.

Paraphrasing President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your club can do for you, ask what you can do for your club”.


Tom Mathews
President, Tarheel Trailblazers

August 3, 2006

August Meeting, Cane Creek Race, Trail Updates

For starters, I just wanted to remind EVERYONE that there is NO August meeting tonight.  I have caught a little grief over the cancellation, but there are many conflicting activities scheduled for this evening and our summer attendance has been a little off.  Suffice it to say that I will use today’s Blog to discuss the various ongoing activities.

The Cane Creek Cup Series makes it annual stop at the USNWC (Catawba) on Sunday, August 20th.  We are in need of volunteers for everything from registration to timing and scoring, course marshals, you name it.  Our resident cycling promoter, Neal Boyd, will once again be leading the charge.  A great article on Neal and the Summer Mountain Bike Series can be found here
To volunteer for the upcoming race, please contact Neal at:

We have a workday at Catawba, scheduled for this coming Sunday, August 6th.  Mike Kafsky of the USNWC is spearheading the project along with the Trailblazer faithful.  Efforts to complete and open the park continue and I’m certain the White Water faithful are every bit as excited to get in there as we are.  Additional scheduling information can be found, here. 

Jerry Adams and Steve Kiker continue to lead the trail building effort at Sherman Branch Park.  Jerry tells me that he has approximately 4 miles of trail currently cut and groomed.  We have recently had a shift in leadership over the park and we are excited to forge a fresh relationship with our new contact at Parks and Rec. 

No news is good news concerning our grant application for construction of a trail network in Mt. Holly.  We are still in the system and are hopeful of hearing of our status in the near future.  Jeff Smith, with the help of Brian Hines, continues to do battle for the club in this arena.

Fall is just around the corner and with the fall of leaves will come the layout of a new trail at Jetton Park, on Lake Norman in Cornelius.  The +/- 19 acre parcel of land will be home to the first handicap accessible mountain bike (pedal chair) trails in the area.  Or according to IMBA’s Woody Keen, the first trails of this nature, anywhere.  It looks like we’ll be writing the book on this one.  It should be a fun project and several of us are looking forward to getting underway.

And while we’re discussing Lake Norman, Water bOb Karriker and Jeff Archer have led a total of four workdays at LNSP over the past two months, working on small issues that have lead to trail closures due to rain.  The repairs should make the trail drain better and hopefully lead to less closures, or at least shorter closures, in the future.  Construction of the new Monbo Loop has been halted for the summer months, but will resume this fall.  Only 1.5 miles of trail remains to be cut, adding a more aggressive 6.5 miles of trail to the Itsui System.  That will make LNSP quite the destination.  Look for upcoming posts on trail work days.

We continue to mourn the death of Bill Austin at Renaissance Park on July 16.  Bill’s wife, Susan Newsome, has gotten back on the bike and looks for healing through her riding.  When the family feels sufficiently recovered from this tragedy, we will sit down and discuss a community service project in Bill’s name.  We are currently moving forward with new signs to place at Reni and our other parks to alert riders of all skill levels of possible danger ahead.  Let’s not forget Bill and especially Susan as she works through the healing process.

The latest and greatest, Special Edition Tarheel Trailblazer jersey is now on sale.  This jersey features a red to black fade.  The garment is the popular short sleeve jersey with mesh shoulder/side panels and full zipper.  The jersey is offered to members of the Trailblazers and Dirt Divas for a paltry $50 (MSRP $85) and for $65 to non-members.  The non-member fee will include the club membership at a $5 discount.  Savings abound!  For more details, go here.

Well, I know that there are about a hundred other items that I have missed, please join us at our September meeting (September 7) at 7:30 PM at Jacks on 7th Street.  Hope to see you there!


July 24, 2006

A Sobering Couple of Days

(The following Blog entry was left in hyperspace following our move to a new server - Originally dated 19july06)

On Sunday, we were graced by 34 volunteers from REI, who along with 11 Trailblazers, descended upon the trails at the USNWC…The plan was simple: utilize the provided workforce to rough in a new (albeit temporary) access trail to join into the base of the “Trail of Joy”. A quick drop into that area had been constructed last year to accommodate races at Catawba. The trail was by no means sustainable and has been a thorn in our side since its inception. Half of the work crew descended on that section and in less than 3 hours time, had constructed a ¼ mile of trail! Unbelievable…The trail will be much more sustainable and at the same time, significantly safer than the previous attempt.

While that effort was under underway, the other half of the crew attacked a new trail that will be necessary to connect the south end of the park to the two miles of sweet single track on the north end of the park.
We estimate an effort of +/- 150 man/woman hours. A big thank you to the REI crew and to the Trailblazer faithful, who gave up their Sunday afternoon and flocked to the park on (very) short notice!
Our excitement was somewhat tempered as news of the death of Bill Austin percolated through in bits and pieces. Bill was involved in an accident at Renaissance Park on Sunday morning. Bill had recently joined the Trailblazers, and after reading his obituary, it seems that my life would have been a touch more complete had I known this caring individual.  His wife Susan has requested riding partners though our sisters in the Dirt Divas, as this would be a significant part of her healing process. The family was kind to name the Trailblazers as beneficiaries of donations in Bill’s name. We will work with the family to develop a community service project in Bill’s name.
I was also saddened to learn of the passing of Adam vonOlhausen’s wife Linda, also on Sunday. Adam is an employee of Joe Gibbs Racing and we’ve been friends for upwards of 10 years now. Adam competes on occasion in the SuperSport division of the Summer Race Series and is a lover of two wheels.  
Two painful losses in such a short period of time.
The Charlotte cycling community is one of a tight knit group that rises to the occasion when one of our own is in need. The “Ride for Recovery” to benefit Vance Price who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and “Cycle Charlotte” in memory of Todd Weaver, killed when struck by a city bus, are just two examples of the strength, love and care that local cyclists have for their own. Let’s keep the families of Bill and Linda in our thoughts and prayers and not forget the healing process takes time. Let’s not forget Susan and Adam after the dust settles. Take some time, contact them, let them know that you and our entire cycling community care.
Tom Mathews

June 5, 2006

What's Going On?!?!

Sorry, your pres kinda went into hiding for a little rest following Bike! Charlotte. We have a lot of interesting projects on the table, here's an update and answers to a few recent inquiries....
MountHolly - We have recently cleared one hurdle on a $50K RTP grant. The grant has been recommended for approval and is now onto the second step in the process. We are hopeful of receiving more information in the near future. If successful, we will probably receive the approval in late fall, early winter. Plans focus on a trail construction company to punch the corridor trail and the Trailblazers perform the grooming. On the down side, we were turned down on our request for a $5K, Adopt-A-Trail grant. You win some, you lose some.
Sherman Branch - Trail construction has started at Sherman Branch and 2 miles of completed trail by the end of June is a possibility. We still have a hurdle to overcome, as there is a grave site on the property that needs to be researched by the Historical Society. Hopefully we can overcome this bump in the near future and get things up and running, soon.
Holbrook's "Dump" Trail - We have recently received a contract to construct trails adjacent to the Huntersville landfill, off of Hwy 115. We have been modifying the contract as presented to establish an advanced level trail system on this property. We are hopeful that the remote location will assist us in our quest to provide an advanced trail.
USNWC (Catawba) - We are working with the white water staff to put together a contract that will cover both parties and allow us to start the reconnect. Recent road wrangling has hurt the progress of the part and has also shifted USNWC priorities. We'll know something soon.
Jetton Park - The Trailblazers are on the PRC agenda, June 13, 6:00 PM at the Administrative Office Building on Brookshire Blvd. It is hopeful that the proposed trail will receive final apporval and we can start construction this fall on a beginner 1.5 - 2.0 mile trail, that may be the first handicapped accessable mountain bike trails in teh region!
Trailblazer Maps - Ivan Konermann has been working diligently to assemble as much GPS information as possible to provide website accessible, downloadable maps of all the trails in our system and additional popular trails in the region. Anyone with updated GPS data of the trails should forward their shape files to Ivan at: This will be quite an undertaking by Ivan and anyone else interested in assisting should contract Ivan.
Finances - We have recently had a few questions about club funding and where those dues ultimately end up. Here is some insight paraphrased with special thanks to Paul Bellin):
The club is required to maintain a $2 million liability insurance policy and of course we insure our tools and equipment.

We own and maintain many tools (as a matter of fact, we recently purchased 12 new McCleods). We own and continue to purchase items such as chainsaws, bus hogs, and the club recently received a Bobcat through a donation from Ingersol Rand. That piece of equipment will not be cheap to maintain. We are looking into the purchase of a used trailer to transport the Bobcat and are pursuing an articulating blade for the unit. If you've ever attempted to bench cut without one, you'll understand the need. We also have a covered trailer that hauls our tools and ATV (with dump trailer(s); lots of landscape types of hand tools, enough to be able distribute to various trail crews and help do large projects that require a lot of bodies; chainsaws, leaf blower etc. We rely on a lot of volunteer or in-kind efforts to fix and maintain some things but it takes money too. We also have some promotional materials we need and use (flyers, forms, banners etc). Not to mention the social things we do to try to increase awareness of the mtn bike community as a whole (cookouts, Bike Summit pizza nights, etc). No, your membership doesn't get any more access to the trails than if you were just some random rider, but it does help build those trails, maintain them, repair things like broken bridges or downed trees, and continually improve things out there for all riders. Not to mention all the new additions. Every time you see a new little section of trail open up, it's because of the above and the volunteers. The club officers and steering committees spend a lot of time together planning where we're going and what we want to take on.

Which brings us to the best part. Most of all, we rely on you, the volunteers and members, to support the club and what we do, to show up and put in some hours on any of the above and our special events, help find sponsors or donors (some leftover lumber or bags of concrete mix can go a long way), and hopefully help the club function forever. Somewhere we're keeping track of most of the volunteer hours and it's a big number, but we want to see it get bigger. Look at all the new trails on the horizon; we'll need all the help we can get. We'd love it if everyone who rides would just put a few hours into their favorite trail, and sign up so our numbers and voice keep growing.

Our 2006 budget (prior to the gift of the Bobcat) can be found here:

May 18, 2006


With Bike! Charlotte fading into memory (I hope that each and every one of you took time to enjoy many of the festivities), we have several great projects currently underway and several on the horizon. But first off, congrats to Neal Boyd for all of his efforts to make Bike! Charlotte the success that it was. Somehow Neal sandwiched the event between getting married and the honeymoon that he’s now enjoying in Mexico, with his beautiful bride Janet. Thanks as always Neal for your contributions to the cycling scene in the Metro-Charlotte area.

In Neal’s absence, tireless volunteers Paul Bellin and Doug Satterwhite took the reins of last night’s first stop at North Meck Park for the Summer Race Series. Over 140 riders participated, and accord to Paul, that sets a record for attendance at any of the races! The frog in a blender effect was definitely there, but other that a few isolated incidents, having 140+ racers on the 3.5 mile course came off really well. Thanks for the patience of all! Next week is an off week, before moving on to Catawba on May 31.

Good things are happening at the USNWC (Catawba) as we are on the verge of starting to move dirt and get the re-connect started. Trail Coordinator Frankie Pietras has spent countless hours and has the blessing of Jeff Wise on the new corridors. Look for more info soon.

Jerry Adams has been spending time at our newest park, Sherman Branch in southeastern Mecklenburg County. Jerry and his crew are hopeful of opening at least an initial section of the trail in the not too distant future. With over 200 cares, we should have a cool playground in the offing.

Our Recreation Trails Program (RTP) grant for construction of trails at Mount Holly has cleared the first major hurdle and we’re hopeful of hearing more about the funds in the near future. Former Trailblazer President Jeff Smith and Bryan Hines have been spearheading this effort and deserve much appreciation for the time spent on this important project.

The Meck Co P&R Committee will be voting on a proposed trail system at Jetton Park at their June 13th meeting. The Jetton property (19 acres in Cornelius) could prove to be the first handicapped accessible mountain bike trails in the area or anywhere for that matter!

In closing, I encourage any of you readers that may be on the fence to join the Trailblazers, Dirt Divas or PASA, as together as clubs we are much stronger and can continue to request access for additional parks land for our favorite sport. Each member is vital to the cause, your support is appreciated!

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Tarheel Trailblazers | 182 Saddle Road | Mooresville, NC 28115
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