Featured in ADK Sports
June 2022 / MOUNTAIN BIKING
“Leaving It Better Than We Found It”
The unofficial motto of Saratoga Mountain Bike Association
BY ERIN LASKY
For over 20 years, the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association has been quietly maintaining miles of trails at Daniels Road and Pittstown. Lately, though, SMBA has not been so quiet. At the last Trail Day in April, over 40 volunteers, ages five to 65, showed up ready to work. If you have been to Daniels Road, you have probably noticed that there is no litter in the parking lot or along the trails. Downed trees are cleared within days. SMBA VP Owen Dougherty may have been spotted riding in with a chainsaw on his back and a rake in his hand (SMBA does not recommend this!). Each and every ride becomes an opportunity to maintain the trails. That sense of collective responsibility and ownership is what makes SMBA a special organization.
Created officially in 2001 as a pay-to-play club, SMBA members enjoyed riding at the “Stables” trails. When the state acquired the property, it became Daniels Road State Forest, a 523-acre public trail system. Over the past 10 years SMBA has continued to make itself a relevant organization by adding additional properties to the managed trail systems and building trails when possible. Even though it is called the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association, it has become an organization with a wider regional base. Members hail from all areas of the Capital Region and beyond: Hudson Falls, Troy, Wynantskill, Cropseyville, Amsterdam, Schenectady, Slingerlands, Delmar, Chestertown, Ogdensburg, as well as all throughout Saratoga County. SMBA currently has volunteer stewardship agreements with Daniels Road, Pittstown State Forest, and has an advisory relationship with Poestenkill Community Forest.
At Daniels Road, work is being completed on a new connector trail from “Backstretch” to “Canyon.” This will turn Canyon into a loop, rather than an out-and-back. Major progress was made flagging the trail at the April trails day, and work continues each week as SMBA progresses from flags to rakes to riding.
In Pittstown, things are really starting to pick up. Chris Cavanaugh, trail director of SMBA South, says, “We will be able to start building new trails on the expansion property and connectors to the expansion property as soon as the Unit Management Plan is finalized. I walked the proposed connector route with DEC and it will be an awesome trail when we build it! Potential for a 3.5-mile trail with over 700’ of vert! Last update I heard on the UMP is completion this year, so maybe we’ll be able to start building next year.”
According to Ian Bonesteel, vice president of SMBA South and trail director for Poestenkill, “I am hoping that the Pittstown expansion helps to spur some more general interest in the area that SMBA can capitalize on. There is a flat area on the south side of the road that could be turned into a nice skills area.”
After riding the trails this spring, SMBA president Arthur “Artie” Picard said, “Poestenkill is a hidden gem that has not gotten the attention it deserves. We are planning a trail day, and would love to get some new members from the southern end of SMBA involved. There is a lot of potential for new trails!”
SMBA has not limited itself to maintaining the trails during the traditional riding season of spring to late fall. Over the past couple of years there has been a dedicated group of SMBA groomers active at Daniels Road all winter. Trail director Josh Clevenstine says, “The quality of the fat track is unbelievable once it’s tracked in AND the fact that it’s all done without a machine and by volunteers is worth noting. I’m probably biased, but I truly believe we have the best winter riding in the immediate region.”
SMBA has been evolving and living up to its mission statement of “fostering and protecting the mountain biking resources in the Capital-Saratoga-Adirondack region” in meaningful ways. Over the past year, SMBA has forged a relationship with Saratoga Shredders. Saratoga Shredders is a non-profit organization with a mission to get more kids on bikes. The group started in 2020 and offers mountain bike programs for kids from pre-K to grade 12 in the Saratoga Springs, Queensbury and Albany areas.
SMBA is a main sponsor of the Shredders “Spring Send” mountain bike race at Saratoga Spa State Park on June 12. According to Artie, “It’s all about the kids! We have to pass the torch to the younger generation of mountain bikers. Supporting this race and youth mountain biking in general is a great way to get kids thinking about how they can continue to be involved in mountain biking and stewardship for their whole lives.”
Expanding the role in the community has been an important goal for SMBA this year. In addition to supporting Shredders, SMBA members have been strong advocates for the proposed Graphite Range Community Forest, a key addition to the Sarah B. Foulke Friendship Trails. According to The Sarah B. Foulke Friendship Trails Master Plan, the trails “…are envisioned as a network of interconnected and stand-alone trails traversing a mosaic of public and private lands dispersed throughout the Palmertown Range. The trails will be located on public land (Moreau Lake State Park, Lincoln Mountain State Forest, Daniels Road State Forest, Saratoga County Forests, and potentially town and county owned tracts), as well as on institutional lands (Skidmore College, Open Space Institute, Saratoga PLAN), and on private landowners’ properties protected by conservation easements that permit public access.”
The addition of more mixed-use trails as well as designated mountain bike trails presents another galvanizing opportunity for SMBA. Moving forward, SMBA envisions there being more occasions for partnerships and stewardship agreements. If you’d like to get involved in some of the new trail building opportunities and serve your local mountain bike community, SMBA is looking to expand the board with some additional trail director positions. Please reach out to us: email@example.com. If you’d like to become a member, visit: saratogamtb.org.
Please follow Saratoga Mountain Bike Association on social media to read the latest news, trail updates, and report on condition of trails. We have a public page for discussion and questions: facebook.com/groups/saratogamtb. We also have an official page and Instagram for reporting on club events and news: facebook.com/saratogamtb. On Instagram: @saratogamtb.
Grafton Rocks! 2017
Photos from our 2017 Grafton event
Nai-post ni Saratoga Mountain Bike Association noong Lunes, Hunyo 19, 2017
SMBA’s 2016 Grafton Winter Fest Fat Bike Ride
SMBA’s 2015 Pittstown-Grafton Epic Ride
10th Annual MUD Event
Thank you to all our sponsors and volunteers for making this happen!
Posted by Saratoga Mountain Bike Association on Monday, August 25, 2014
SMBA’s 2014 Pittstown-Grafton Epic Ride
Saturday, July 12
Posted by Saratoga Mountain Bike Association on Sunday, July 13, 2014