Trail design can sometimes be a pretty complicated endeavour. One must balance many considerations when adding new trail to an existing network. This includes the basics like user types, difficulty level, existing trails, and the ever present question of sustainability. Furthermore, different types of terrain provide additional challenges; a beginner trail in rooty and rocky terrain can require significant effort.
It can take quite a while for an organization or club representing a group of people to become an established part of the community. Especially when the club has to work with both local or regional governments, and at the same time establish a membership base which can support the activities and long term goals. Furthermore, when an organization is just starting out, the list of obstacles and challenges is often much larger than the lists of successes.
For years, mountain bikers have had to tell land managers exactly what type of trail we like. For those who've never ridden a mountain bike, it would be reasonable to assume a wide doubletrack with gravel or wood chips is good enough. But anyone who has ridden a mountain bike knows the amount of fun that can be had on narrow and twisty singletrack.
It's 9pm on Sunday night, and most of us have our feet up after a day of work or play. But what is our host, Rob Woito of the Athabasca Recreational Trails Association, up to? He's busy organizing his next trail project with some local equipment operators.
Riding Mountain National Park is a picturesque experience located on the western edge of Manitoba, featuring some of the only elevation within the province. Steeped in history (the park has the oldest original park gate entrance) and fantastic nature experiences , the park should be on the list of anyone interested in taking in the natural beauty of the area or the friendly atmosphere of Wasagaming, the town located in the park.
When we think about the sustainability of trails, we often talk about how they have a low impact on the environment, or how they are environmentally friendly. Sometimes we overlook the fact that a sustainable trail also considers how people use the trail in order to manage risk and ensure they have a good time.
Such was the case for our visit in Wakefield, QC. With a particularly challenging sideslope – often reaching 50% – gaining elevation was quite hard on both users and the environment.
ep·ic adj \ˈe-pik\ : extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.
One word to describe the 2011 Trail Care Crew season; epic. Thirty two official visits, 9 provinces, 290 days on the road and over 50,000 kms travelled. We drove through snowstorms, a hurricane, a tropical storm and endured a heatwave. We started the season digging into frozen ground, we finished the season in a wind storm.
Most mountain bikers are aware of the riding scene in Rossland, British Columbia thanks to the Seven Summits trail (an IMBA Epic). Nelson has a reputation for big lines and big air. However, located right between the two, in the heart of the Kootenays, is Castlegar which has mostly been overlooked until now. Their tourist information office used to receive a few hundred requests for trail information every year. Those requests now number in the thousands.
While we were prepping our project in Nipigon, Ontario one of the long time residents and trail advocates stopped in to see what we were up to. He was impressed at how Chad was swinging Heidi the hoe and at the style of trail we were constructing. During our conversation he asked us “How much do you guys get paid per foot?” After considering his question he answered for us. “You get paid by every happy foot that travels along your trail”.
We generally have a sense of what we will encounter at each of our visits. We meet the trail champions of the community, we explore some trail, we engage the volunteers and a new trail is created. Working with the Forgotten Trails Association wasn't much different except that our volunteers exceeded our expectations.