Mountain Biking in the Maritimes – Part 1

What a way to kick off the season! These past couple weeks saw Mark Schmidt and Daniel Scott travel to Canada’s East Coast to investigate multiple trail situations including a visit with PEI National Park, the Brookvale Nordic Centre, Terra Nova National Park and Signal Hill Historical Site.

The first visit on the tour was with PEI National Park and consisted of a training workshop of Park staff. The workshop used IMBA’s tried and true approach of classroom theory in the morning followed by trail side application of said theory in the afternoon. Staff from various disciplines within the Park were in attendance both in the classroom and in the field. For the hands-on portion, a nasty, off-camber, section of trail was chosen as it proved treacherous for nordic grooming in the winter and unpleasant to travel in the summer. With machinery, chainsaws, and a myriad of hand tools, the crew went to work and within no time had re-established proper outslope while stabilizing the outside edge with cribs.

Outside of the hands on trail work and classroom theory, IMBA was also there to garner a better understanding of some of the unique challenges facing PEI NP. For those who have not had the privilege of visiting the Park, it is situated on the northern shore of Prince Edward Island. It is home to some rather unique and sensitive sand dune habitats. While beautiful, these dunes are also very dynamic, constantly moving. As a result, attempts to provide visitors with access points to the beach without impacting the dunes as proven rather difficult. This is an ongoing issue and one that IMBA will continue to work with PEI NP on.

With PEI NP in the books, Mark and Daniel set off to the east side of the island to work with the good folks of Cycling PEI at the Brookvale Nordic Centre. After a morning’s worth of training, the volunteers set out to take a new section of trail that was to be used for an upcoming Canada Games course and revisit it. Taking the design principles that they had learned, the volunteers set about revising the routing and creating a great section of bench cut trail that meandered through the woods and skirted a nearby bubbling brook. By day’s end, all the volunteers were wiped and comments were made about how much work more work was initially involved in building sustainable trails vs. unsustainable ones.

 

The second day of the build saw the volunteers get the opportunity to implement some more advanced construction techniques. The focus this time round was on stone pitching a section of trail that was wet and muddy, and currently utilized old palettes and fallen sticks help riders get over it. At the end of Day 2, the trail had been reverted back to singletrack with some excellent stone pitching to remedy the water issues. A local rider even tested it that very day as he did his loop and said it was ten times better than before. Nice work!!

Before & Afters (Plus During Above)

There is some truly awesome mountain biking in PEI. One of our guides, Luke, was kind enough to take us to some of the locals favourite XC rips and man, oh man, did Mark and I get humbled. The trails were relentless with short, punchy steeps, roots everywhere and tight trees which my 27″ bars could barely fit between. To further our humility, Luke cleaned nearly everything in front of us on his 29″ singlespeed! A big thank you to Luke, the volunteers and everyone else who helped out.