The Future of the Gandy Dancer Trail

Overview:

There has been some talk lately of increasing the number of special use permits on the Gandy Dancer trail from 2 permits to 5 permits (one of which is proposed as a two day permit I believe). The permits are designed to allow motorized vehicles on the trail. The concern of the silent sports community is that increased use of motorized vehicles on the trail will make the trail far less appealing for families to use the Gandy as a recreational destination, and have other negative effects on our region.

Our purpose in discussing this topic is simply to provide information so that the local community can be better informed before a decision is made. 

Local Impact:

As a non-motorized trail, the Gandy Dancer brings thousands of riders to the St. Croix Valley yearly. On average, Polk county receives $10,000 yearly just from trail fees, and Burnett county receives around $3,000. These trail passes include the sale of season passes which indicate tourists are returning to the region with regularity throughout the summer.

The Gandy Dancer is also the focal point of several major events for the region including:

The Gandy Dancer is also a very safe place for families to ride bicycles with their children. Over the last few years, there has been a slight increase in dangers for cyclists on the road (in part because of the prevalence of motorists texting while driving).

Negative Effects of Motorizing the Gandy (even for special use permits):

One of the special permits is designated for a "Disabled Veterans ATV Ride." It is always noble to honor the sacrifices of our men and women in the armed forces, and we applaud the intentions of this ride. However, it should be noted that there are also disabled veterans who enjoy the non-motorized aspect of the Gandy and are able to safely enjoy the non-motorized trail on adapted bicycles. Please check the Paralyzed Veterans of America page for more information (and please donate to their worthy cause).

Motorizing the Gandy also:
  • Adds an element of danger to families enjoying the trail with young children
  • Increases the number of cyclists who use public highways
  • Disturbs the trail making it a less attractive riding surface
  • Will have a negative effect on the established events which draw their participants due to the fantastic reputation of the trail
Information:

Here are some specific parameters of the "special use" permit as designated in the Burnett County Gandy Dancer master plan. The Polk County plan should have some similar if not identical language:

  • The trail must remain open for public use during the event.

  • Event organizers/sponsors are responsible for any and all damage to the trail. The Forest & Parks Department shall either estimate costs or make the necessary repairs and then bill the organization/sponsor for direct costs of repairs.

  • A Special Use Event permit and fee are required by the DNR. Requests for an Event/Special Use Event permit shall be submitted to the County no less than 60 days prior to the event, and will be reviewed and considered by the Natural Resources Committee on a case-by-case basis.

Anyone who has a complaint about anything that occurs on the Gandy Dancer Trail may submit an Incident report to the DNR. This report may include: damage to the trail, inappropriate use (motorized use) of the trail, inappropriate behavior, or anything else that is relevant. Please do not hesitate to download this report and file it:



The Gandy is operated by Polk and Burnett county under the supervision of the DNR. Each of these counties has a "master plan" for the use of the trail.  These master plans can be reviewed below:



Public meetings are announced on the government pages, and minutes from past meetings are also stored on these pages (although the information can be hard to find).



Here are the minutes from the March 12, 2015 Burnett County Natural Resources Committee during which an expansion from 2 to 5 special use permits was approved. This document is mainly just a copy of the Burnett County Gandy Dancer Master Plan:



Also, here is a timeline of the history of the Gandy Dancer Trail:


What We Can Do:
  • All users of the Gandy Dancer trail need to hold themselves responsible for purchasing a state trail pass. Passes are available at the Polk County visitor center and CyclovaXC among other places.
  • Make an effort to post pictures of yourself on social media whenever you use the Gandy Dancer trail. Many people in the community are under the misconception that this trail isn't as widely used as it is.
  • Fill out Incident reports when you see the trail is not being used properly. Be vocal.
  • Go to public government meetings when the issue of motorizing the Gandy is discussed.
  • Help to organize more silent sport events on the Gandy Dancer trail. This will help the trail, but also increase tourism to the St. Croix Valley.
  • Take day trips on the Gandy to local businesses (such as the Cafe Wren in Luck or Julia's Java in Miltown) and tell them that you used the Gandy to get there. Talk frequently and often about how you use the Gandy trail. People simply need to know how much the Gandy is used.
  • Send an email with "Gandy" in the subject line to be put on an action email list to: bj@cyclovaxc.com.  We will send a limited number of emails. Mainly we will request your presence at meetings or ask for signed statements.
  • Always be courteous to the ATV/motorized community and suggest alternative methods to accomplishing the same goal that do not require motorizing the Gandy.
Proposal:

The Gandy is a great resource as it is, but it's easy to appreciate the need for a similar trail as the Gandy that can be designated for motorized use. I, for one, would much rather put my efforts towards something positive than to oppose changing the designation of the Gandy. Furthermore, an ATV specific trail could be designed to produce a much more entertaining riding experience (with turns and hills for example) than the Gandy Dancer trail can provide. Establishing a group to explore the possibility of creating an ATV trail from Danbury to St. Croix Falls, to me, represents the most equitable and reasonable solution. 

Adventure & Tech: History & Importance of the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail



YOU'RE INVITED:

Join us Thursday, March 26th at 6 p.m. for the fourth, and very special, installment of our Adventure and Tech Social Series! Our feature presenter this week is Polk County Board Chairman, William F. Johnson IV, who will share the history and value of the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail.

William Johnson at the Willard Time Trials in 2012

William will also address the potential threats posed to the trail at present time, as well as in previous years. This event is intended to be a positive experience, with respectfully shared information and opinions. As supporters of continued trail access for silent sports, we want to act as ambassadors that educate others in the community regarding the intended use and what a great asset the trail is to our region, and encourage continued non-motorized use of the trail. 
 
Following William's presentation, Amy Middleton will discuss her exciting project that aims to connect the Gandy Dancer and Stower Seven Lakes Trails. Amy is a member of the Town of Osceola Planning Commission and has championed silent sports; including them in planning documents and budget efforts.  

Complimentary beverages will be served, along with ample time for socializing between presentations!

The Smestad Family enjoying a cruise on the Gandy Dancer


To learn more about the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail, click here.





Herr Bati Women's Cycling Team Informational Meeting--Wed. March 25th at 7PM!

Hello Everyone,
As many of you know, Alicia Fisk is starting up a women's cycling team. The name of the team is Herr Bati which is a reference to Norwegian heritage (she'll explain more at the meeting).  Herr Bati currently has a Facebook page you can reference here. She just sent me a press release about an upcoming event that will explain more about the club. The details are below. Feel free to share this with any ladies you feel might be interested! This should be a great group for women of all ages and abilities. Give it a look!

Here's the Facebook event for this meeting.

Here's the press release:

Herr Bati Women’s Cycling Team: Fitting and Informational Meeting

Wednesday, March 25th – 7:00pm-8:30pm

Try on Podiumwear Jerseys, shorts, long sleeved jerseys, jackets, etc. This will also be an informational meeting, with handouts, about what it is to be on Herr Bati and all that jazz.

I'll have a few snacks, but please feel free to bring a snack to share.


Please invite friends and spread the word. Please RSVP: aliciafisk@ymail.com

Where: Alicia Fisk’s house
115 Blanding Woods Road
St. Croix Falls, WI 54024

Email: aliciafisk@ymail.com for directions 



Filthy 50 Route Early Season Ride


by Chris Locke of the Skull-N-Bones Gravel Adventure

We left the Fareway grocery store at a little after nine in the morning on March 15th. to do our first group gravel ride of the season. Patrick Ross had contacted me the previous weekend to see if I'd be interested in coming to Stewartville, Minnesota to ride the Filthy 50 course with him and his son Declan. We put it out to a few others and ended up with a great group of guys. Tod Griffith was a surprise last minuet entry to the group. He was on the fence all week so I was glad he had shown up. He drove him self but Pat and I had brought 2 riders each with us. I brought Branden Nall and Dustin Marsh with me and pat brought Declan and Alan Swanson with him. We were also joined by Trenton J. Raygor and Drew S Wilson. Trenton is the founder and organizer of the Filthy 50 bike race in the fall. 
In 2 short years the Filthy has become one of the premier gravel events in the Midwest and one of my personal favorites. Drew is the owner of Cyclocarbon where he repairs damaged carbon fiber bike frames. We dropped Branden's busted up Giant TCR frame at his shop after the ride and he had a pretty cool set up. We had a pretty eclectic mix of bikes between all of us from Branden on his Raleigh 26r to Trent on his Felt cross bike we had a pretty good spectrum of tires on the gravel. I was riding my Salsa Fargo with aero bars witch came in very handy with the strong headwinds. I truly love this bike for gravel. It has big sturdy tires that grip the gravel well and give you plenty of confidence on the fast down hills and rollers. Nothing is better then bombing down a steep gravel road and picking up enough speed to pass others on the way up the next hill.
The weather was overcast and very windy. The gravel was firm and perfect for riding in my opinion. At some points it was a bit damp but nothing too serious. It was just enough to put a beautiful white coating on your bike frame. The group stayed together pretty well the entire day so nobody got lost. It was interesting to see the wind effect on the bikes in front of you. Sometimes people were leaning at some pretty precarious angles. We all took turns sheltering each other from the winds but Trent and Drew were the undisputed pros in the group. One of them remarked they wouldn't have ridden that day had we not been there because it was so windy. To me it was a great adventure in some of the most beautiful territory in the midwest. I felt fortunate to be able to experience this ride so early in the season. When we got to Fillmore everyone stopped and hung out sheltered from the wind by the church for a bit. We marveled at a great scrap wood bridge built over a creek right next to the church. Someone had a lot of time on their hands and they had put tones of work into that thing.
After eating some bananas and jerkie and downing some fluids we were back in the wind. At this point we were down in a river valley with great vertical walls on either side. Unfortunately there was little relief from the walls. They seemed to be creating a wind-tunnel effect and the only real relief from the wind came from the trees when you were in them. After the ride down the valley comes the biggest climb on the route. You cross a bridge and start a long sustained climb out of the valley. Last time I ended up walking up this climb but this time it would not beat me. The road was as wet as any section we had encountered this far so my biggest fear was sinking in and having to start from a dead stop on the incline. When we got to the top of the climb we picked up a friendly dog that followed us a mile or so down the road. We stopped for a while and he lost interest in following us and eventually someone came looking for him.
From that point we only had about 15 more miles to go to Stewartville and the finish line. We had a lot of wind to contend with from that point on but by that time I think we were all pretty comfortable with it. Not too far down the line Trent and Drew had to leave us behind because they had other obligations but between Dustin on his Phone and Pat and I having a pretty good memory of the course we made it back with relative ease. After the ride we all met at the Pizza Ranch in town to re claim the calories we had burned throughout the day. I had tried to make it a metric century but came up just a bit short but I got done riding knowing I used everything I had in me that day. The clouds had cleared out at the end of the ride but the winds never really died down. After eating we dropped Branden's frame off at Cycle Carbon and headed home. It was a great day with awesome people in a spectacular landscape.

Help Keep the Gandy Dancer Trail Non-Motorized, Tue., March 17th, 6PM


Hello Folks,

We need a massive show of support in order to keep the Gandy Dancer trail a non-motorized trail for the summer.  Personally, with the dangers of drivers (especially texting drivers) I think it's wonderful that we and our families have a safe trail to ride bicycles on. However, there is always pressure to open the Gandy up to motorized use in the summer, despite the fact that existing areas for ATV use far outnumber non-motorized trails like the Gandy.

Tuesday, March 17th at 6PM the Polk County Board will be discussing adding some special permits to open the Gandy to motorized use. The meeting will be open for public comment. If you are a fan of a "silent" Gandy Dancer, please go and show your support.

The meeting will be at:

Polk County Government Center
100 Polk County Plaza | Balsam Lake, WI 54810 
[directions] | Phone: 715-485-9226


Tuesday, March 17th at 6PM

If you can't attend, please send a letter to all of the following:

William Johnson
william.johnson@co.polk.wi.us
Dana Frey
dana.frey@co.polk.wi.us


Here's an example of the letter I wrote:

Benjamin Jonjak
Vice-President CyclovaXC (retail bicycle and ski shop in St. Croix Falls)
Co-Race Director Gandy Dancer Trail Marathon
Co-Event Director Mammoth Gravel Classic
112 N. Washington St.
St. Croix Falls, WI. 54024

To Whom It May Concern,

As a local business owner and co-director of three of the largest events of the region, I would like to express my strong disapproval over the proposal to allow additional motorized vehicle use on the Gandy Dancer trail. Such use would have an extremely detrimental effect on CyclovaXC as well as the events which we organize to bring tourists to the region. Furthermore, there is such a proliferation of roads open to motorized use already, that it is not reasonable to assume opening the Gandy to motorized vehicles would lead to any increase in tourism or the associated tourist revenue for the region.

I have seen firsthand how allowing motorized vehicles on a trail such as the Gandy Dancer makes that trail impassable for cyclists. Also, one of the major draws of The Gandy Dancer Marathon (which raised $3000 for the Luck Fire Department last year) is the pristine nature of the trail. We are already anticipating major growth and we believe this could become one of the premier marathons in the state. Do not underestimate the financial effect of a popular silent sports event. A recent study indicated the American Birkebeiner ski race had an economic impact of 32 million dollars annually.

At CyclovaXC we dedicate a large amount of our personal time towards the economic growth and development of the region. It is our opinion that opening the Gandy Dancer Trail to additional motorized vehicle use would be extremely detrimental to our efforts and have a negative economic impact on the region.

Thanks for your support!


Cyclova Skiers at the 2015 Birkie

Hey Folks! 
I just received this great photo set from Neal Lundeen of Cyclova Skiers at the 2015 Birkie.  I'll be posting these on the CyclovaXC Facebook page as well. These are all low resolution photos, but if you want a full sized one just email me at bj@cyclovaxc.com and I'll send you the full one.  Great work everybody! Way to represent at the Birkie, I think we had 35 skiers!

Next up, the Mammoth Gravel Classic FREE gravel adventure on Saturday, April 18th!

Oh, and don't forget to sign up for the Gandy Dancer Trail Marathon!



































FIRST WEDNESDAY NIGHT ROAD RIDE - Rolling Tomorrow Night at 6PM SHARP!

Spring has sprung!  Join us tomorrow night at 6 sharp for the first Cyclova XC Wednesday night road ride of the season!
It is time...

Winter has lost it's grip (at least for now), we are enjoying balmy temps in the 60's, the snow is melting, and we have an extra hour of daylight in the evening thanks to Daylight Savings!

That's right, tomorrow night (3-11-2015) we will be heading out on our first Wednesday night group road ride of the season.  We don't have any extra daylight, so show up a few minutes early and be ready to roll at 6 SHARP - we will be rolling at 6!

While we don't have enough daylight to do our normal Wednesday Night Sprint Loop, we will get about 1:10 worth of great riding in.  The plan will be to do a roughly 15 mile loop down toward Osceola - mixing in some beautiful flats and river valley hills, at a conversational pace (average speed will be about 14 - 15 mph). 

Dust off that bike, inflate your tires, and join us!  We likely will kick off the season with an evening of libations at the Dalles House Bar afterward.  See you then!

Also, don't forget to join us on Thursday night at 6PM for our Gravel & Nutrition Adventure & Tech Social Event!  The "Goddess of Gravel", Lisa Thompson will be on hand to share tales & tricks on how to get into and make the most of the coming gravel & adventure season!  This will be followed up by a presentation on nutrition for endurance athletes by Dr. Steven Edling.