It’s a new year for all of us, but for Michigan trail associations, many of the challenges that arose in 2020 are still very much a part of the reality in 2021.
The turn of the calendar is always a poignant time to pause and reflect on the year that was and organize plans and energy for what comes next. Across the state and around the globe, the pandemic remains a pressing health threat that may push in-person events deep into the summer and fall months. That has posed a problem for trail associations, which rely heavily on races, riders, and member meetings not only to raise funds but to raise awareness and build community.
At this time, it’s hard to say when events, especially those on state land, might be good to go. Another year without races like the Yankee Springs Time Trial of Traverse City Trails Festival could severely push back trail maintenance plans and expansions not just at those trail systems, but other areas of the affected trail associations.
Still, there’s a lot to be excited about, too. 2020 saw a bike boom that didn’t stop at the bike shops. Those riders were quick to explore both paved and natural surface trail networks in their communities and further afield. With indoor and event spaces shuttered or severely limited in operation, outdoor trails became even more important in the travel plans of individuals and families looking to get out of the house safely over the spring, summer, and autumn months. Even now, with winter slowing gathering strength and dropping the temperatures, winter sports from fat biking to cross-country skiing are more popular than ever. Especially with many ski resorts limiting passes, the trails are the most accessible place to be this winter.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting the challenges and goals of our affiliate chapters as a sort of check-in. We’ll be asking them what the hardest parts of 2020 were in their neck of the woods, and ask them how those challenges have affected plans for what they are hoping to accomplish in the new year. We hope this will help to provide trail users from across the state with a better idea of the work trail associations do and how working with different landowners, different terrain, and different populations can affect the direction of trail work in different parts of Michigan.
As we highlight these chapters, we’ll also be asking what your goals are for the new year and how trail associations can better suit your needs, communicate plans, and build the community, even without in-person events and races.
We hope you’ll keep an eye out for more on this series over the coming weeks and months!
From the whole MMBA crew, have a wonderful 2021 and we’ll see you in the woods!
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