Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dirty Jobs: Mountain Bike Trail Builder

Mountain bikers have had a bad rap over the years. I'm pretty sure the reason is because back when mountain biking was first becoming popular in the late 80's and early 90's, very few people were maintaining trails for bikers to ride on. Also, any place that they did ride tended to get trashed quickly and not cleaned up.

These days, mountain bikers are some of the most active trail builders, maintainers, and volunteers in Minnesota. Today was National Trails Day and I got to spend the morning helping build and clear trails in Saint Paul with 84 other volunteers. It was cold, wet, muddy, and a heck of a good time.

Not that we were complaining about the rain. It has been really dry in Minnesota this spring. To the point where if you hadn't been running the sprinklers, your lawn looked like late July. Besides, we had to wear pants and boots to protect ourselves from the tools and terrain, so the cooler temperatures were a bonus. The rain also kept the dust down.

A good portion of the trail was already cut, to a certain extent. Our job was to cut the trail to roughly three feet wide, grade it to a maximum of about 10 degrees, descard any rocks, roots, or other organic matter that could make the trail hazardous, and take care of any low-hanging branches.

I'd say it was a morning well spent.

There is still a lot of work to be done to finish this trail and maintain it. But from the sound of our crew leaders, they were quite happy with the work. For more information about mountain biking, trail crews, and volunteering, visit International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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