A Letter from your Chair

CRAMBA Members,

There has been some consternation and confusion about the updates being done to existing trail areas at Stony Creek.

CRAMBA has gotten a lot of requests for trails that are more difficult, have more variety, and to have areas where you can jump your bike and get air. This desire was reflected in the survey that we had requested our Membership complete prior to the work beginning at Stony Creek. Of the trail systems in our area, Stony Creek’s rolling elevation and terrain is rather unique and best suited to these additions. It is also one of the oldest single track trail systems that was developed long before modern mountain biking suspension systems and modern trail design. One of the biggest complaints from new riders is that Stony Creek was easy to get lost in due to the spider-web mostly linear design of the existing trails. People that have been riding there for many years tend to forget how they felt about that on their first rides, especially if they went out alone. Once completed, the entire trail system will consist of a series of connected loops, making it much easier to return to the trailhead.

It has been suggested to me that the D loop, in it’s currently unfinished and unsigned state, is dangerous for new riders. Having ridden it, I understand your feelings with this assertion, but there are caveats. It is not currently completed, nor designated as “open”. There is a plan for signage that has not been implemented. Generally the most difficult trail is placed as far back into a trail system as possible. I believe that is a goal that was accomplished here.

These new trails are all safe when ridden appropriately, no different than any other trail I have ever ridden. If you are unsure about any obstacle, you should take care to look things over before you ride them hard. The long sight lines on the D loop make this relatively easy to do without needing to stop unexpectedly. These features do take an element of skill in order to be optimally enjoyed. The D loop makes much better use of the reversing grades and elevation changes of that section of the park than the Back Nine did. It also now has a lot of jumping features and drops that do not exist elsewhere on any of the sanctioned CRAMBA trails. It’s now a full loop of singletrack that ends approximately where it starts, avoiding the need to use the dull two track trails to return to the start.

Newer riders will spend more time on trails closer to the trailhead, and thus the difficulty there is much less. The portions of A and B loop that are actually difficult are completely optional, and obvious, and give riders a chance to improve their skill before moving on to the harder trails. Observationally, the oldest of the new trails have already started to become skinnier due to the natural tendency for plant growth to encroach on open spaces. This is a fact that is often overlooked because the process takes a long time. Over time, even the new trails will become skinnier as they are more worn in. The less erosion issues there are in a trail, the more they maintain a singletrack feel. In the areas of the Roller Coaster that have severe erosion issues, those sections no longer maintain that feeling.

All of the changes for the Back Nine and D Loop were detailed in the plan that was originally distributed a few years ago. Yes, the Back Nine trail that used to be there is gone. I personally will miss it, but I feel the D loop is exactly the sort of trail that was lacking in CRAMBA territory, and had been asked for the most. My goal as Chair is to provide an opportunity for every type of rider, and I believe that Stony Creek’s updates will ultimately accomplish that. The GROM loop is short and has a lot of rider skill features that I feel make up for the removal of the Skills Park that was falling into disrepair.

Loop C, that will consist of the existing Roller Coaster trail, and the Snake trail is NOT seeing this same type of “wipe clean and start over” work. The existing difficulty and terrain usage follows a lot of what would be created if it were to be created from new. Yes, there are some significant reroutes that are being done on the Coaster and Snake that are to avoid areas where the terrain could not simply be reshaped to fix perpetual erosion issues, and to enable a more cohesive looping trail. I believe the new trail will still have much of the same feel as the original when it is completed, worn in, and the plants have encroached.

Some of the work on Loop C will be done that doesn’t follow these original plans because of erosion problems that have gotten much worse from when the original plan was devised several years ago. These problems will continue to get worse if they receive no attention. The goal is to reduce the amount of necessary annual work to keep the trails in good shape, something that has overwhelmed CRAMBA’s ability to accomplish due to the accelerating nature of erosion. Yes, there are many spots where the surface of the trail will become widened during the course of the work being completed, but it will not stay this way. If there are troublesome aspects of the trail once it has been completed, I am confident the Metropark will continue to listen and allow us to make corrections and repairs.

Having ridden the Coaster last night, I can say without a doubt in my mind, that even before work has started, it is not the same trail it once was. Even compared to last year. New lines have been thoroughly worn in, and old lines I used to take are completely covered and gone. Lines to avoid rocks, and roots, and sandy areas are prevalent throughout the trail. There are lines that did not used to exist before the rocks and roots became uncovered from wear and erosion. The people I observed riding were mostly avoiding the rocks and roots, and following these less difficult lines that end up widening and changing the trail.

As a member of CRAMBA’s board, I am very grateful that the Metroparks have listened to our efforts to communicate requests and desires of what our membership has been asking for. As I’m now in my fourth year on the board, I know as well as anyone that there are some who will not be pleased by any of the changes. Your voices are not lost on me, and I wish that we were able to accommodate everyone. I remain hopeful and confident that once the entire project is completed, it will overall be a very positive change for the park, and our membership. That the Metroparks are seeing the mountain bike trails as infrastructure that should be improved and invested in is an enormous win for us all.

There is a petition that is being circulated that runs counter to what I believe are the desires of the majority of the CRAMBA membership. I disagree with the premise of this petition, as it leaves out many of the critical details, and misrepresents the actual work being done on the trails. I feel it is not in the best interests of our membership, and our mountain biking community as a whole. If you have any specific questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me directly. My Email is cramba@dark-fx.com.

Thank you,
Brian McPherson
CRAMBA Chair

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March 2021 Board Meeting Minutes

CRAMBA’s March 2021 Board Meeting was held on Thursday, March 11th 2021 at 7:30pm via Zoom.

Meeting was called to order by Brian McPherson.  In attendance also Michael Green, Marc Padin, Wade Robbins, John Knight, Michael Benigni, and Vito Manzella.  Minutes recorded by Rebecca Padin.

Board Items:

  • “Massive Fall-Alt: Trail Challenge” – apologies to all participants for the delay in providing updates.  The lids for the water bottles were out of stock and we were not notified.  Issue has been remedied, and we hope to have more updates soon.

River Bends

  •       “Far Side Trail Project”/flow trail
    • Proposal received from TrailSense
    • Fund raising in progress via DonorBox, but enough funding has been received to begin construction.
    • KLM hosting a raffle, tickets available for purchase at either location, proceeds to go to CRAMBA
  •       Pump track
    • American Ramp Company – initial spec received, additional photos being provided to help finalize designs
  • Pursuit of fundraising opportunities continues, considering sponsorship from businesses, possibly feature their logo on signage near the sites

Pontiac Lake

  • Grant received from Panasonic to build a changing station, more details to come regarding construction
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More Trails at River Bends. Professionally Designed and Built!

Donations needed!


This project is to develop an additional ~3 miles of bike-optimized natural surface single track trails within River Bends Park, on the west side of the Clinton River.

The Clinton River Area Mountain Bike Association, working with the Shelby Township Parks and Recreation Department, will hire TrailSense LLC, of Holly, MI to professionally design and build the trails in this project.

This professionally designed and built trail section will require significant fundraising efforts for our community and individuals. Our goal is to break ground on the project right after the ground thaws in early 2021, with completion by mid-summer. Of these additional 3 miles of trail, almost 2 miles will use the significant elevation on the ridge west of the river as an exciting, predominantly-downhill trail.

Completion of this project will bring River Bends to a total of over 11 miles of natural surface multi-use trails. We need your help to make this happen.  Any amount will get us closer to our goal!

If you or your company would like to make a sizable donation and wish to avoid the processing fees (pay via check) contact us at riverbends@cramba.org and we will make the arrangements.

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January 2021 Board Meeting Minutes

CRAMBA’s January 2021 Board Meeting was held on Thursday, January 14th 2021 at 7pm via Zoom.  November and December meetings were cancelled due to lack of activity due to COVID-19.

Meeting was called to order with Brian McPherson.  In attendance also Michael Green, Marc Padin, Wade Robbins, John Knight, Michael Benigni, and Vito Manzella.  Minutes recorded by Rebecca Padin.

Board Items:

  • Steve Vigneau has decided to take a step back from the CRAMBA Board and has resigned as Treasurer.  He will continue working on the Stony Creek Shelden Trails Redevelopment on behalf of CRAMBA along with supporting other trail projects. We thank him for his dedication to mountain biking and look forward to continuing to work with him.
  • Marc Padin has volunteered to assume the position of Treasurer, motion passes.
  • Jeremy Verbeke will be moving to a new position within the National Bike Patrol, his position within CRAMA is being filled by Vito Manzella.  Vito has been a bike patroller for several years, and has been a member of the National Ski Patrol for many more.  We look forward to collaborating with Bike Patrol with Vito at the helm.
  • The company that CRAMBA’s insurance was through is no longer providing policies for bike groups at our required level.  Currently in the process of receiving quotes from companies ahead of our March renewal
  • Results from the “Massive Fall-Alt: Trail Challenge” digital event are being reviewed, and information regarding rewards will be made available soon.

River Bends

  •       Quotes received from TrailSense for several new segments of trail.
  •       Long-discussed project of building a pump track at River Bends
    • American Map Company being pursued for design – In addition to personal donations from Wade Robbins and Brian McPherson, motion approved for CRAMBA to allocate up to $3,500 for the cost of the initial spec.
  • Board to pursue fundraising opportunities to evaluate the feasibility of both projects
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CRAMBA Massive Fall-Alt: Trail Challenge

Goodbye summer, Hello CRAMBA Fall Trail Challenge! CRAMBA is doing something a little different this year. We wouldn’t have been able to hold the typical events that you enjoy so much so we came up with an Alternative! Sign up and Ride CRAMBA trails this Fall to get some CRAMBA swag! More details are posted on the CRAMBA Massive Fall-Alt: Trail Challenge event page.

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September 2020 Board Meeting Minutes

CRAMBA’s September 2020 Board Meeting was held on Thursday, September 10th 2020 at 7pm at Stony Creek.

Meeting was called to order with Brian McPherson.  In attendance also Mike Green, Marc Padin, Wade Robbins, Steve Vigneau, Ken Markiewicz, and John Knight.  Minutes recorded by Rebecca Padin.

Board Items:

  • Discussion regarding hosting digital/self-run CRAMBA Trail Challenge (ride all the CRAMBA-sponsored trails in a certain duration)
    • Potential for winter/fat-tire event depending on success of autumn event
  • Stoney Creek – Loop B in progress, impressed with FlowTrack’s work so far
  • Annual elections due to be hosted in October
  • Bald Mountain/Addison Connector – Bald Mountain side due to be done by the end of the year, discussions still in progress with Addison.
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August 2020 Board Meeting Minutes

CRAMBA’s August 2020 Board Meeting was held on Thursday,August 13th 2020 at 7pm at River Bends.  The July meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Meeting was called to order with Brian McPherson.  In attendance also Mike Green, Marc Padin, Wade Robbins, Steve Vigneau, Mike Reeves, Ken Markiewicz, and John Knight, Kristen Berry, Pete Januszewski, and Josh Seyfarth.  Minutes recorded by Rebecca Padin.

Board Items:

  • Several members stopped by to pick up their CRAMBA-branded face/head coverings, which are available for free to all CRAMBA members (paid for by donations and membership fees)
  • Technical Features program has started to see several new features completed, most recently the Tree Bridge feature located in the CK Canal Loop at River Bends
  • Discussion for the feasibility of hosting digital or self-run events (race a specific route between two dates, email your GPS file), “CRAMBA Trail Challenge” (ride all the CRAMBA-sponsored trails in a certain duration)
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June 2020 Board Meeting Minutes

CRAMBA’s June 2020 Board Meeting was held on Thursday, June 11th 2020 at 7pm at Rivers Bends.  The May meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Meeting was called to order with Brian McPherson.  In attendance also Marc Padin, Wade Robbins, Steve Vigneau, Mike Reeves, , Jeremy Verbeke, Ken Markiewicz, and John Knight.  Minutes recorded by Rebecca Padin.

Board Items:

    • Board approved the purchase of 23 portable “silky saws” for Trail Coordinators, but difficulties in finding a vendor that had that many available for purchase caused delay. Order for all the saws has since been placed.
    • Todd Szott (of the Szott Auto Group) approached CRAMBA regarding organizing a GoFundMe to fund the purchase of a few trimmers for Holdridge. Szott to front the money for immediate purchase of the trimmers, request to be reimbursed the cost of the trimmers from the GoFundMe, and any additional proceeds would be donated to CRAMBA for use to maintain the Holdridge trail system.
      • As of Monday, the GoFundMe had already raised double the cost of the trimmers.
    • Steve visited with Pete McCreedy to discussion signage needs at Oakdale, provided suggestions for spots for posts and numbering scheme.
  • Board approves motion for Jeremy to purchase another string trimmer for River Bends.
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2020 Addison Oaks Fall Classic is Cancelled

It is with a heavy heart that CRAMBA has decided to cancel the 2020 Addison Oaks Fall Classic mountain bike race, originally scheduled to be held on September 12th at Addison Oaks County Park in Leonard, MI.

For over 11 years dozens of volunteers have spent hundreds of hours each year putting on the Fall Classic as a fundraiser to help CRAMBA pay for everything we do; from trail tools to winter grooming equipment, from insurance to pizza for volunteers at trail days, from signage to bridges. On a good year the event has raised over $8000, but on light attendance years — such as 2019 — this has been less than $2000.

With COVID-19 and Stay Home, Stay Safe affecting spring and summer racing seasons, many promoters have moved their races to autumn. From mountain to gravel to cyclocross races, every autumn weekend in 2020 has multiple races to choose from; far more than in typical years. While the choice of races is great, there are only so many racers and this results in a smaller turnout per race than if they were spread out throughout the year. Fewer participants means less income, which is the primary reason why CRAMBA puts on the Fall Classic.

More than just a fundraising race, the Addison Oaks Fall Classic is also a social event. It’s a time to race against friends, cheer others on, then share stories about the summer while sipping your favorite fizzy beverage. Unfortunately, right now it’s unclear how long we’ll be having to keep distance from each other, with the distinct possibility that large gatherings will still be prohibited come September.

Springtime is when race planning seriously begins; signing contracts for timing and the race venue, setting up registration, soliciting sponsors, arranging food, ordering medals and number plates, and much more. By cancelling the race now we can save our volunteer’s time and avoid costs that come from having to back out of agreements and leave dated material unused.

Today, at the end of April 2020, CRAMBA has around $48,000 in the bank. Our yearly expenses — without special purchases — are around $8000 and most of this has already been paid for 2020. Without the Fall Classic income CRAMBA will have no problems continuing as normal. Our work of building, maintaining, and advocating for trails will continue, and we have plenty of money available to spend on special projects.

All of this added up — the likelihood of minimal income, the costs of cancelling at a later date, and the lack of immediate need for fundraising — has led us to cancel the 2020 Addison Oaks Fall Classic.

We will continue planning our other events, including Massive Fallout and Trail Days, and will let you know as they are scheduled.

Thank you for being safe on the trails; here’s to getting back to riding and working!

See you out there (but from a safe distance),

Your CRAMBA Board of Directors:
Roger Class · Michael Green · John D Knight III · Ken Markiewicz · Brian McPherson
Mike Reeves · Becky Padin · Marc Padin · Wade Robbins · Steve Vigneau

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April 2020 Board Meeting Minutes

CRAMBA’s April 2020 Board Meeting was held on Thursday, April 9th 2020 at 7pm via Google Hangouts.

Meeting was called to order with Brian McPherson.  In attendance also Marc Padin, Wade Robbins, Steve Vigneau, Mike Reeves, John Knight, and Ken Markiewicz.  Minutes recorded by Rebecca Padin.

Board Items:

  • Board approved motion to pursue the purchase of small, portable “silky saws” for Trail Coordinators, which can be used to saw through debris up to 18” in diameter
  • CK Canal Signage was purchased, cost for signs was shared between the Rochester Historical Society, the CK Canal Society, and CRAMBA.
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