Arrowmen at SummitCorps are busy building over 40 miles of mountain bike trails as we speak, but they aren’t doing it alone.
Trail building is rather technical, and Rich Edwards, the International Mountain Bicycling Association trail solutions manager, has been called into action to get these Scouts on the right single-track (yes, that was a bad mountain bike pun).
Before the project began, 35 Arrowmen came to the New River Gorge to get schooled in all things mountain bike. These Scouts, dubbed the InstructorCorps, or I-Corps, worked closely with Edwards as he let them in on all the secrets.
Want a taste of some good homemade bike trail? According to Edwards and the I-Corps, these are the must-have ingredients.
Mountain Bike Trail Necessities
- You can’t have a good trail without flow. What’s flow, you ask? It’s that feeling when your brain shuts off and you just enjoy the moment. In other words, no slamming on the brakes for unexpected turns, nasty rock gardens or sudden inclines.
- You also need a healthy dose of difficulty levels and trail diversity. Edwards explains that switching things up makes riding more fun. That means trail builders have to think about everyone’s riding experience and try to give them something to look forward to around every corner.
- A trail just won’t work if it doesn’t take the local terrain into account. The New River Gorge wilderness is rugged and rocky, so why not incorporate the natural sandstone into the experience? Trails have to work with the inclines, declines and natural obstacles to have the right feel.
- Edwards also takes the weather into consideration. A dry trail, is a happy trail. Water and trails don’t mix very well, so good drainage is a must, especially in the New River Gorge where trails can easily wash away.
Built To Last
One thing’s for sure: Edwards gave the I-Corps the tools to build some gnarly trails that will pass the test of time.
“The main thing is that we want them to be around for hundreds of years,” said I-Corps leader Paul. “The quality needs to be good.”
Edwards explained that the Scouts’ productivity is measured in quality instead of the hours spent building. So with the help of the IMBA and the National Park Service, SummitCorps will add many trails — and well-built trails — to the New River Gorge.