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  1. #1
    Killer of Chains
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    Training All Volunteers to Be Trail Builders

    You've got permission to build on a section of land, and you've approved a flagged trail with the club, community, and property owner/manager.

    Trail days are disaster, no-one shows up, the few locals you have have conflicting schedules.

    Rather than give up, what about training the locals to build trail on their schedule, ie, by themselves if necessary.

    Basically, you ask that locals not to build trail until properly trained, and that no power equipment, tree pruning, tree cutting, is permitted outside of group build days.

    I've seen plenty of lone trailer builders on this forum, and although they are property trained, why not teach average Joe's the basics of trail building so then can do it by themselves.

    There is still a trail contact that any problems can be relayed to, and that trail contact has the ability to reach out to all certified trail builders to make sure problems are addressed.

    Any success stories or concerns of potential problems with the concept?

  2. #2
    I build my own.
    Reputation: Trail Ninja's Avatar
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    If I didn't use this idea, I'd have no help at all. Here are 2 different situations.

    The middle school trails:
    Most of the wannabe builders are kids aged 12 to 20. Maybe 7 or 8 adults. None of them have any experience and few of them have even basic safety "smarts". So I go one-on-one with then on their schedule. Fortunately my schedule is very flexible.

    I teach them basic tool safety then the very basics of trail design & layout. Then I assign tasks. Work when you can and keep us up to date with what you've done so the others know where they need to go to find something to do. This works very well as long as they understand that any design changes need to be discussed. This is done on private land and is not officially sanctioned by anyone.

    The second situation is in a public park. There are 4 or 5 builders in their late teens and early 20's. No work is allowed unless you are an official volunteer. Again, I train the builders in basic safety & design (most of these guys/girls know design, flow, risk management). We discuss the plan for the trail. Then I contact the regional district and approve the individual. Then they are turned loose and magic happens.

    I love working with kids because the enthusiasm is boundless. A couple of those kids have turned out like me. Haven't got time to ride, too busy building.

    The major problem I ran into is easily fixed. "This is a great spot for a huge tabletop!". ... "Not really Erik. This is a beginner trail for 8 year old's to learn to ride. Or, this is a tech singletrack for XC bikes." It doesn't take long for the volunteers to start to get the idea of "flow".
    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.

  3. #3
    I <3 Dirt
    Reputation: mealsonwheels's Avatar
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    I was an average Joe.

    Had ridden for years and done brushing, building jumps at a local DJ spots but had never built singletrack. A few years ago I got a chance to spend a day with a local mtn bike association trail maintenance day and I learned volumes and fell in love with trail building. I nearly always work solo due to young kids that are busy with sports on many Saturdays and church commitments we have on Sundays which usually conflicts with sanctioned trail work days.

    I collaborate with a team and occasionally we meet up to discuss maintenance/building ideas for a particular trail. I've shadowed a couple of the guys and learned a lot even as recently as this week. If I'm not confident that I know what to do in a certain situtation I'll skip a section and move onto an easier section until I get a chance to discuss my ideas with other guys or seek their direction. So far it's worked great, but you have to make sure your volunteers have at least a rudimentary understanding of trail building. When I helped one day I received a free trail building guide which I've referred to many times. Handing something like that out may be helpful.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    . . .The major problem I ran into is easily fixed. "This is a great spot for a huge tabletop!". ... "Not really Erik. This is a beginner trail for 8 year old's to learn to ride. Or, this is a tech singletrack for XC bikes." . . .
    Are there other trails there (or near there) that do have tabletops? (I get that you're saying they're not appropriate in many spots . . . . but just checking if it's something that IS on the menu somewhere).

    I'm almost 39 and I still build table tops--so I'm very sympathetic to being 12-22 yrs old and wanting stuff that is rad, not built for 8 year olds and dirt roadies. (And a lot of 8 year olds and dirt roadies can actually ride over tables pretty well).






  5. #5
    I build my own.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmc4130 View Post
    Are there other trails there (or near there) that do have tabletops? (I get that you're saying they're not appropriate in many spots . . . . but just checking if it's something that IS on the menu somewhere).

    I'm almost 39 and I still build table tops--so I'm very sympathetic to being 12-22 yrs old and wanting stuff that is rad, not built for 8 year olds and dirt roadies. (And a lot of 8 year olds and dirt roadies can actually ride over tables pretty well).
    Oh yes. We have everything in the area (central Vancouver Island). A sanctioned dual slalom race course(Top Bridge Park), a Provincial class downhill course (Hammerfest), enduro XC race courses( Rowbotham Ramble & B.C. Bike Race), two BMX tracks and hundreds of miles of unauthorized but legal to access singletrack. There are at least 4 good dirt jump areas that are renegade but the landowners look the other way and many more "secret" dirt jump areas. Some on private property only accessable by invitation and some just well hidden.

    The two main areas I built and maintain are the middle school trails which are on private property and are designed for beginners to learn and hone their skills (about 20 miles of singletrack) and a MUT in a regional park (about 5 miles of singletrack).

    The area has produced some well known riders. Darren (The Claw) and Ryan Berrecloth, Jordie Lunn, Dylan Tremblay & Dharma Fontain (Drop In TV) to name a few.

    Edit: BTW I'm 55 and I still build tabletops too.
    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.

  6. #6
    Formerly PaintPeelinPbody
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    Trail Ninja, would it be ok if I come live your life for a week?
    I do custom ArcGIS and Google Maps, including data collection and sustainable trail layout. Ride Welsh Mountain

  7. #7
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    PH, up at HHE we are able to stash some tools along a new trail project, there are a few of us that have the gumption to put in a bit of work, before, during or after regular riding... but to see real progress, trail work days seem necessary... however, even with just 4 or 5 people, things can get done.

    I'd make sure that any folks you have working by themselves know what they should be doing... however, working by themselves is not necessarily best practice, due to possible injury, getting off track, or destroying your vision of what the trail should have included...

    sometimes when you get too many folks out there, and you haven't done a good job spreading and matching the workers together, you may get a lot of chatting about bikes, and very slow progress with the mcleods.

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