Monday, October 25, 2010

7 Reasons to Start Doing Trail Work

The singletrack trails that we all know and love didn't get there by accident, and they don't remain in rideable condition by accident. There are dedicated volunteers all across this nation that put in countless hours to keep our trails open. If you aren't already involved in trail work, here are 7 good reasons to start contributing man hours to your local trail system:

  1. If you don't, I'll take my hacksaw to your neck and leave you for dead.
  2. Give back. Nobody likes a "friend" that is always asking for favors and is a constant "taker" and never contributes anything to the friendship.  Its the same way with the sport of mountain biking: don't just be a "taker" and use phrases like: "they should really fix this" or "someone needs to cut this tree out of the way. Be the "they" and the "someone" and give back to the community that has given us all so much
  3. It's a good workout. Many of us mountain bikers could really use more time in the weight room working on our upper bodies to balance out our massive quads.  If you're like me, you hate being inside working out when the weather's beautiful.  Instead of hitting the gym, get out and do some trail work to give your arms, shoulders, and back some work.  Sawing up and moving a down tree, digging in a reroute, and building a berm or a jump are all work that require you to utilize muscle groups that don't get much attention during those endless hours on the bike.
  4. You can do trail work when the trails are too wet to ride. Do you want to get outside in the forest, but the singletrack is too muddy to ride on?  Consider going out and doing trail work instead!  If there's a reroute that needs to be done or a berm that needs to built, I imagine (although not 100% sure on this) that the ground would be much easier to work when it's soft... especially if you've got hard clay like we do here in Georgia!
  5. You'll develop an appreciation for the trails you already have. I know that I personally tend to wrongly take my home trails for granted.  I ride them so often that they seem common place, and I often approach the next ride with a very ho-hum attitude, wishing I was driving to ride somewhere new instead.  But once you start getting involved and get a taste of the amount of work that it takes just to maintain your current trails, not to mention build new ones, you'll appreciate what you already have so much more!
  6. You'll take ownership of the trails. This is slightly related to #5, but also is an important point to note.  Instead of the trail just being another stretch of singletrack, you'll be able to point out where you cleared that down tree, where you helped bench in that reroute, and maybe eventually you'll be riding a trail that you helped build from the ground up. These trails no longer just happen to lie near your town, they are now your trails!
  7. It's easier to get involved than you might think.  Stay tuned for my next post on Wednesday about how to easily start getting involved in trail work. (Click Here.)
Your Turn: If you already spend time working on your local trails, what are your reasons for doing so?  If you don't yet, what's holding you back?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below!


    Funride October 25, 2010 at 8:13 AM  

    Great post Greg! I started working building trails because there were not enough trails around and because it gives me a great feeling after they are finished and ready for riding. As to conservation I believe I should do more...

    Fun rides! :)

    Airborne Bicycles October 25, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

    Well said, Greg! Our favorite reason for doing trail work is purely selfish: you'll have a lot more fun than if you don't. Although we have to admit, reason #1 is pretty compelling, too.

    Greg Heil October 25, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

    @Funride, that's such a great mindset to have: "if they aren't enough trails, build more!"

    @Airborne, yeah you'd better believe I'm serious about #1, haha!

    Unknown October 25, 2010 at 9:41 PM  

    Sometimes it's good to ask before you take something out from the trail. For example we've had a few problems in our area with people taking out challenging pieces of trail; presumably to help. What they really ended up doing was dumbing down the trail and angering the volunteers who built the trails.

    Greg Heil October 25, 2010 at 9:59 PM  

    Yeah in my post on Weds. I'll explain in detail the entry-level type "get involved" work. Specifically, I'm talking about fallen trees that aren't worked into the surface. Stay tuned on Wednesday... you'll see what I'm talking about.

    PS I LOVE a nice, challenging tech trail!

    Greg Heil October 25, 2010 at 10:01 PM  


    Thank you for adding that though, I should maybe have mentioned that in my post... I'm totally with you there!

    Daniel October 26, 2010 at 2:23 PM  

    Nice post. And I agree with all of the above.
    I am fortunate to travel around riding so may trails that other folks have worked years on I do get that feeling of being a ‘taker’ sometimes. I do try and find ways of giving back whenever I can. If I am ever in a town long enough I always try to do an internet search for the local trails group- or look trailhead signs, etc, and see if they have any work days coming up. Its a great way to meet the locals and get the inside scoop on any other great trails in the area. I also try to find a LOCAL bike shop and if possible BUY a trail map as most often a percentage of the proceeds from map sales goes back into trails maintenance fund.

    Some time ago I went to a camping gear store and picked up a small folding saw that I now carry in the camelbak that has seen quite a few of them ‘trail quick fixes’. There are many ways of giving back even if your on the road, its just a matter of remembering that someone worked there butt off building that jump and berm it just took you 1.5 seconds to clear…..

    Greg Heil October 27, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

    Hey Daniel,

    Great addition to this topic! Very cool that you try to stay with local shops when visiting places rather than the big chains... probably get better service too, I imagine?

    As for the topic of the folding saw... check out the post that went live today!

    Also, mad props to whoever has the patience to build quality jumps and berms... so much fun, but so labor-intensive!

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