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  1. #1
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    A local trail builders thoughts

    Had my first MTB in 1985 which was road bike geometry, rigid, all the early components. The evolution has been great. Had to go trail ride where you could, local park systems mainly. Started cutting in new ST back then and enjoyed the fun of building, the thought of riding it when completed. Has not stopped due to like being in the woods with your buddies, flinging dirt.
    Forward:
    Now being 56, ride around 3k a year on ST, always have something going on in the local woods, and always ready to help where ever I go when I see the locals doing trails work. Attend some work events elsewhere.
    I feel a minor amount of recreational riders do trail work currently. Which makes it tough for me to want to do anything for the masses. The excuses are many which all of you have heard. Had a recent unfortunate rant out of me on promoters and the racing crowd wishing to use an area where it has been long established that for an event, you put in an hour of trail work for each participant. Always has worked with any group, moto, horse, run, bike who use these lands. The promoter did not want to do any work, show up, use the area, give some money away, off to their next promotion. I figure why cater to racers and promoters where both groups are way under 1% of the overall users and do next to nothing. A few do, right. Few. There is a great promoter in my area who is all about giving back to the woods, and trails, and is not popular with other promoters due to him being on the 'we need to do work on the trails we use', wagon.
    SO outside of not caring about racers, was one in the early days, still could don't care. Like doing the epic rides and enjoying the scenery.
    How to educate the masses to the fact that trails don't just happen. My local ground has one thing in common and that is gray hair. Not a lot longer that were going to be wanting to do stuff, and not seeing anyone under 30 doing work.
    Some groups you read about in areas are successful, others not. What's the future for trails. I'm quite burned out on the attempts to get the masses involved. Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    It's all about building the culture, we're social animals. Beer, food and swag help.
    There's a big difference between ripping and skidding. Those who skid don't know how to ride.

  3. #3
    I build my own.
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    I'm of the opinion that it's all about me. I've been building bike trails for almost 50 years. I've tried to get locals involved on many occasions. I've worked with clubs and governments on trail projects. I've had big promoters "find" my trails and run events on them (B.C. Bike Race). I've ranted and whined and quit building in frustration.

    In the end, I grab some tools, find my place and dig some more trail. At this point I don't care if anybody rides them. I just like building so I'll keep doing it. If a club or group asks and I've got time, I'll go help but I won't try to "educate the masses" anymore. I'd rather herd cats.
    I have a device that can access the total knowledge of man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and argue with strangers.

  4. #4
    It's about showing up.
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    Community building and resource development are different skills than building trails. Finding them all in one person that has the time is nearly impossible.
    I don't rattle.

  5. #5
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    I am trail boss here at a small local area. I am seriously thinking of hosting an Enduro series where the ONLY way to be able to race is to do 4 hours of trail work per race. It basically worked out that way last year, but I think I could formalize it.
    Can't find the time to work?
    Only other way would be a 'significant donation' for tools and beer.
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

  6. #6
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    Good topic. It looks like I have been on this earth about as long as Trail Ninja has been building trails! I have been riding and building trail for only about 5 years so I got a late start. I enjoying getting out and working on the trails almost as much as riding and running on them. Which puts me in the niche’ group of trail geeks. I think there are some users that will never come out and no matter what we do. When I first was getting started I was a big advocate on working with race organizers since they would float us some funds to support our cause. But, more recently I am less inclined to help promote a race due to the wear and tear that a race can do in one day on the trails. But, a couple of our local race clubs have pushing to have their team members come out and help at our work parties. This has been happening over the last couple of years which has been a big positive. When we do have “racer dudes” out helping I really like to make sure they learn something while they are out so that they gain an appreciation for the work and the practices that goes into trail building.

  7. #7
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    This is a good topic and is something I am always trying to improve on here in New Jersey. We have something called Paydirt, where racers get points in the local series for doing trail work on public lands. Although it has had some non believers, it is something that has grown much in the past 17 years.

    Getting passionate volunteers to work on the trails is a big task. If you can make a social thing out of a trail day, you may get more volunteers as mentioned above. If you can delegate the social planning part to another volunteer in your group, even better for you! I also feel that letting a volunteer have a sense of ownership, can really get them excited about working. I know there is a fine line between education, steering volunteers and letting them put their signature on a feature for example, but if there is way to make them feel connected to a trail, it will go a long way.

    Then there is education. This is where Paydirt is huge. Every year a new crop of open eyed racers enter the race fold. They race, meet new riders, get competitive and eventually need to get their Paydirt. Last year our series brought in over 1200 of the 5000 total volunteer hours just from racers in the series. It has turned out to be a pretty cool system where a Cat 3 may work side by side with a pro while building a trail.

    The biggest obstacle in getting a program like this started is getting promoters, trail builders and a few big name racers all on the same page understanding the value of volunteer trail work, positive mountain bike community efforts and racing as both healthy competition and fund raising. Many clubs here both promote races and steward trail systems. Racing can be a great way to fund trail projects. In some case it may involve compromise, but it is often worth a little compromise to have the opportunity to share some common values and have working relationships within the mountain bike community in the eyes of the land manger.

    We had a bunch of park closers in the 90's which resulted in a community more concerned in protecting and expanding riding experiences here in NJ. Unfortunately, much of the young community is not aware of how fragile these relationships could become if neglected. It has been an ongoing effort to keep Paydirt on course. The good news is that in the last few years, new trail systems have been legally adopted and built by the bike community and some even by racers.

  8. #8
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    An interesting thread, sorry I don't have a good answer. If you look at the various forums here on MTBR, you'll notice at any moment, several hundred people are looking at 29'er, freeride, or any number of forums. Trail building and advocacy has maybe 20 viewers- one of the least popular forums. I think IMBA has something like 35,000 individual members worldwide. That's a very small percentage of the total MTB population. I think most bikers don't think about trails much; they just take them for granted. I'm not quite sure what to think of the mentality of "I don't have time to help-I'll just wait till someone else does the work- then I'll find time to ride it." I guess they don't realize that many trails are maintained by volunteers. I think it is best to not show frustration or complain, but to be positive and get people excited about the awsome, fantastic, amazing trail we're working on and we'd love to see you out there, even if just for a couple hours. I like the slogans "What would you do without trails?" and "Every Mountain Biker should spend at least one day (or even a couple hours) a year doing trail work." Small price to pay to have good trails to ride!

  9. #9
    I build my own.
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    Misread a post... nevermind.
    I have a device that can access the total knowledge of man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and argue with strangers.

  10. #10
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    I know most long term trail builders are of the same mind. Building is part of the experience and fun. All happy with building trail that only other builders will know about. Carry on lads.

  11. #11
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    OP, what area are you from? IMBA or local mt bike groups in the area? I'm in the Boston MA area and am active with my local NEMBA chapter(s). Our work days usually involve 1/2 day of trail work, lunch( provided by chapter) and a ride. Seems like a good combo. Great for riders to get to know different trail systems. Everyone always asks me" How do you get to know all the trails" I then tell them about about our next work day.

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