Success Story: Ottawa, ON

Participant Tony Hogeveen reflects on the Trail Care Crew's visit to Ottawa, ON, in September 2010. Read on to learn more about hosting a visit!

The IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew hit Ottawa in mid-September for a weekend with the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) in the South March Highlands Conservation Area. The visit had been planned several months in advance and was eagerly anticipated by many, with over 25 people registering to attend the weekend workshop and trailwork.

The Trail Care Crew, Chad and Deanne Lazaruk, started their visit in the Nation’s Capital with a cold, wet, rainy day in the Highlands to get their first look at the trail system. Along with OMBA president John O’Dea and executive committee member Joey Slobodian, they braved the inclement weather and toured as much of the trails as possible. The goal of this initial assessment was to check out the current state of the trails, the work being done by OMBA, and scout a potential project site for the field component of the Trailbuilding School.

Day two of the visit saw the Trail Care Crew, along with members of OMBA’s Board of Directors, meet with local officials, including City and National Capital Commission staff. The group went for a morning hike where they discussed topics such as understanding the trail’s user base, needs of the community, and sustainable trail building techniques.

Saturday morning’s Trailbuilding School began with a well-attended classroom session at the local community center. With a well thought out slide show presentation and discussion, Deanne and Chad led the group through many key factors in designing and building a proper trail system.

They stressed the importance of proper planning and told the group that the planning phase of any trail system would ordinarily account for more than fifty percent of the total work going into it. With a well planned and designed trail, you will not only create the desired user experience and flow, but satisfy the needs and safety of different user groups, such as hikers and mountain bikers. Additionally, you’ll be able to create low maintenance, sustainable trails that satisfy the concerns of environmentalists and land managers alike.

The Crew then went into in depth discussions on the trail building technique of benchcutting, as this would be the primary work being done in the afternoon. Chad and Deanne also demonstrated the use of a clinometer for determining factors like side slope and fall lines. Utilizing diagrams, they were able to show a wide variety of topics involved in the design and build process.

After a meet and greet lunch break, the entire group hiked into the worksite on the trails carrying Pulaskis, Mcleods, and a wide variety of tools need to accomplish the work plan. With such a large work group, the Trail Care Crew spent the afternoon running up and down the work line demonstrating the various techniques involved in proper bench cutting and making sure everyone had an opportunity to work with the different tools.

Towards the end of the afternoon, the focus was changed from trail building to reclamation. Saplings and other natural materials that were carefully removed from the new trail section were transplanted into the old trail section to demonstrate how an old trail can be closed down and increase the forest’s natural ability to reclaim the trail bed. The long yet productive and educational day was capped off with dinner at a local establishment where the Trail Care Crew could mingle casually with the day’s participants.

Of course, no visit would be complete without a group ride! This took place on Sunday morning before the crew left town, continuing their two-year trek across Canada working with local bike clubs, organizations, and land managers.

The IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew’s visit to Canada’s Capital was greatly appreciated. The experience was productive, educational, and it brought together many groups with common interests that may not have otherwise had a chance to meet.

Words by Tony Hogeveen

For photos of the event, please see David Nesbitt's photo page.