Monday, November 9, 2009

Ipswich: Southside's Best Singletrack

"Ipswich? Man, I haven't ridden there in years!"

The rumors of Ipswich's demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, there's been a fair bit of grassroots effort in the past couple of months to make Ipswich (A.K.A. Indian River Park) a better place to ride. The Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association (EVMA) is negotiating with the City of Chesapeake to officially sponsor the park, at the behest of Southside Hampton Roads mountain bikers who want to realize the full potential of Ipswich.

Here's a short, and probably incomplete, list of some of the work that's been done at Ipswich since the summer:

  1. Litter Clean Up. Let's just be honest about it, Ipswich gets trashed. It's not as bad as it was, but it definitely should be better.
  2. Trail Maintenance. It's the little stuff- trimming back branches, pulling out thorn vines, and occasionally getting out a chainsaw to clear deadfall.
  3. Mud Holes. There are a fair number of low spots at Ipswich. The worst of them have been "palletized." Drainage and gravel has been added in a few spots, but there's still more work to be done in order to make some of the trail loops flow smoothly- right now it's pretty damaging to ride through the worst spots.
  4. New Bridges. In a fit of liability paranoia a year or so ago, the City of Chesapeake chainsawed the best MTB features, such as the 15' teeter totter...but there are some new features cropping up, including a sweet little bridge (if I do say so myself):
  5. Trail Marks. By far, this is the improvement most visible to newbies and riders who haven't been back to Ipswich since the last hurricane. While there's still more work to be done, it's now possible to ride the "Orange X" loop around both sides of the park. The marking of the "Red Circle" and "White Arrow" trails should be finished before Thanksgiving.

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