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5 Things You Need To Know About MTB Trailbuilding

Mountain bike trail crews work harder than me or you. Sorry, but it’s true.

How do I know?

Brent runs a trail crew during West Virginia’s SummitCorps
SummitCorps Trail Crew 2 leader Brent knows the low down when it comes to the finer points of cranking out new trails. (Summit Blog Staff Photo)

Because I talked to Brent, the Area 2 Western Region Venturing president from Salt Lake City who was leading Trail Crew 2 out at SummitCorps.

Brent said that, on day 1, they completed 500 feet of trail. By day 3, they had cleared over 1,300 feet and were on track to blow the first day out of the water.

Er, off the mountain.

If those numbers don’t mean anything to you, by all means, check out the list Brent gave me on the 5 steps every MTB trail crew needs to know to build awesome places for bikes in the middle of the forest.

  1. Flag — You have to make the map before you work on the terrain, right? Flag your project before you break ground. SummitCorps has 44 miles of trail flagged.
  2. Pioneer and Clear — They’re the same thing, really (only true trail ninjas know the difference). This is the hardcore bushwhacking stage. Think bow saws, safety axes, loppers, that kind of thing.
  3. Rough Cut — Clearing roots, stonework, cutting bench. If a trail could get sweaty, this would be the stage for it. You’re going to start seeing some serious progress right about now.
  4. Finish — Concrete workers have to do this, too: smooth out the rough spots and baby the surface. On MTB trails, you also have to look out for any “pedal catchers.” You can probably guess what those are.
  5.  Enjoy — You better take a moment to stop and smell the singletrack. If you’re going to work that hard on something, it won’t be truly finished until you get to step back and take it all in, and maybe even go for a bike ride.

Taking that last point into account, though this trail will technically be ready to go after SummitCorps is done in August 2011, you could argue that it won’t really be finished until the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.

See you on the trail.

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