Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's So Easy to Get Involved with Your Local Trails... You've Gotta Try It!

This is the follow up to a post entitled "7 Reasons to Start Doing Trail Work."

The Secret Tool which Makes
All Our Lives Easier
The average Joe mountain biker often thinks that in order to be involved in their local mountain bike trails they have to go through the time to get involved in a local advocacy group, pay dues, and go to pre-scheduled group work parties.  While all of those are definitely great and I highly encourage them, you might either A) Not have the time or money for the above options or B) There may be no advocacy group in your area.

Here's what you may not know: getting involved in trail work is pretty easy, and can be a whole lot of fun!

Take this tree across the trail, for instance. Stuff like this can be moved without any tools at all:

Trees such as this take a little more work to clear, but with the right tool they are also quickly removed:

Enter the handsaw. Purchasing a saw such as this one will open up countless opportunities to do trail work, all without much monetary investment, and in a small enough package to easily fit in your Camelback.

 I purchased this handsaw used at a garage sale for $2. A similar saw is available here on for $15.99 brand new. Such a small investment, and yet it will pay you back untold dividends in clear trails!

It literally took me less than 60 seconds to clear this tree.  See, giving back to your local mountain biking community is much easier than you might have imagined!

As someone commented on the blog post from Monday, if you are just beginning to pitch in by doing maintenance, make sure what you are removing isn't considered a technical feature of the trail.  I'd personally recommend just cutting up downed trees such as these that you know are just obstructions.

Here is something to bear in mind: just because you can't ride a section of trail or clear a specific rocky/rooty climb doesn't mean that everyone else can't.... or even that anyone should be able to.  If you want easy, go buy a road bike.

Even more examples:
This might look like a bigger challenge, but again, it is no match for the hack saw!

Even more domination by the folding saw!
Yes, even more domination by the folding saw!
Black Branch was really a mess, but after one ride with about a dozen stops, it is completely clear and a pleasure to ride!

One last "before" shot.  Downed trees like this are especially frustrating because they force you to dismount, even though the main trunk isn't all that big. 
After: clear trails and smooth pedaling. 
I finished clearing this 6ish mile loop just in time!  I pedaled back to the truck just as darkness fell with the immense satisfaction of a job well done. Getting involved and giving back is very rewarding, and I suggest that if you've never done it before that you help maintain your local trails at the next opportunity.

Given the small monetary investment and even relatively small time commitment required, what's holding you back?!


AJ Heil October 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM  

"If you want easy, go buy a road bike."
Haha, this is awesome. Almost Facebook status worthy.

Nice saw! It's great to encourage riders to take initiative to help out and keep the trails in good riding order. In the end, it saves time and money - Which adds to the overall quality of the trail system. I, for one, commit to being more motivated to get off my wheels and clear some branches.


Clayton October 27, 2010 at 1:59 PM  

I am impressed you cut those out with a hand saw. I carry a Stihl MS170 on my trails!

Greg Heil October 27, 2010 at 2:37 PM  

@AJ, Thanks for the comment! Haha, I hope everyone realizes that the jab at road biking is all in good fun! Sure, road biking is very physically demanding, but it definitely doesn't require anything resembling the technical bike-handling skills of mountain biking!

@Clayton, Thanks!

So do you ride with a full chainsaw in your pack, or do you just hike it in whenever you need to clear something?

One of the nice things about a folding saw is that you can just toss it in your Camelback just in case, or if there's one small-medium sized tree down on a large loop it's a very light alternative. Of course, the downside is there is a limit to the number of trees you can clear with one of them.

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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