There is a popular saying on the coast of British Columbia “Trails don’t build themselves!”
This is a true statement, without the local trail builders spending countless hours in the forest building trails there would be nothing to ride.
If you have ever spent time building a trail you know how building a trail takes a lot of time, patience and a little piece of your soul. The first trail I built was not very good, nothing really worked on it and it took a lot of time and patience to make everything flow together. Over weeks, months and years I learned what worked and what didn’t. Hours were spent moving piles of dirt and a little piece of my soul was buried in those jumps. I evolved as a trail builder and the trails I have built since that first trail are because of that first trail.
For the last decade, I have worn many different hats and have been able to watch the trails and bikes around me evolve from many different angles. This year I have spent a lot of time thinking about how a trail takes life and grows. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to look into some of the things that I believe are driving trail change.
The Trail Builder:
In between paying jobs, I ran into Ted at the bottom of Half Nelson and we talked a bit about how the trail has evolved and why after six years he was donating his time and machines to improve a trail ridden thousands of times every year.
He talked about how when Dream Wizards was contracted to build Half Nelson he had a limited budget and a tight time frame. Now that he owns his own machines and has some time to kill before starting a new job the budget and time frame are not looming over his head. He said that when Half Nelson was originally constructed they were rushing to finish the trail and never got the chance to ride the trail before opening it. Some parts of the trail worked better than others, but that is part of the fun for Ted. He is constantly experimenting with trail design to achieve the most fun given the terrain and available materials. The joy and experimentation is what has driven Ted back to Half Nelson to fix what he; and possibly only him, considered to be problem areas.
Ted also talked about the evolution of the modern trail bike. When he build Half Nelson he was riding a hard tail dirt jump bike and the original Half Nelson reflected that. The trend has changed significantly over the past decade and all mountain bikes have similar travel to the original downhill bikes but with only a fraction of the weight. The advancement of the modern trail bike and the bikes that Ted is currently riding also played a part in wanting to rebuild portions of Half Nelson.
Ted has also improved as a builder over the past six years. His yard is full of machines that have helped him tune his trail building skills. He has built countless meters of trail over the past decade and with every meter of trail he builds he learns something new. Those meters have also given him an eye for a trail that will work, a trail that will drain properly, a trail that will stand the test of time.
Personally, I think the real reason for Ted wanting to rebuild Half Nelson is the little piece of his soul that he left there. Like a father wanting to spend time with his child, Ted needs to turn the dirt he laid down six years ago because it is what he loves to do.
Thank your local trail builders, whether they are paid or they are vounteers with out them there would be a lot fewer trails to ride.