Wednesday, April 8, 2009

IMBA, SF Urban Riders, Mt Sutro Stewards trail building course

So though I am a total gimp right now with a busted wing I refuse to sit around on my butt lamenting my inability to ride a bicycle. I figured it's about high time I took a break (no pun intended) from screwing up all these wonderful trails we have here in Norcal with my shoddy MTB skills, and focus on what it takes to make sure they will even still be there the next time I go riding. At least it may give me incentive to stay off the brakes in the turns. While on one of my very last rides at Tamarancho before my surgery we ran into a group from the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin who were doing some trail maintenance and got to chatting a bit. It hit me like a slap in the face. These trails don't form or maintain themselves. It takes alot of seriously dedicated effort and uncomfortable physical labor by a very small group of individuals that allows us to enjoy these wonderful open spaces week after week. Out of sight out of mind right?
Cue in The IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) The SF Urban Riders and the Mt Sutro Stewards who were nice enough this past weekend to host a FREE! day long trail building course at the UCSF Parnasus campus and in the Mt Sutro Open Space area on Saturday the 2nd.

Not knowing exactly which conference room the event was being held in I was happy to step off the Muni bus and find myself next to some friendly faces and fellow teammates Sasha and Kalleigh. Andrew was also my guide through Skyline park some months back.
The conference room filled up fast and the draw of FREE! hot Noahs coffee and bagels was irresistable. It was estimated that over 50 people attended both the classroom session and the trail work portions of the course. The classroom session was very eye opening. Short of the hard physical labor and bureaucracy involved the basic principles of building and maintaining a fun sustainable and environmentally friendly trail are relatively simple.
After the very professional classroom presentation we all made our way up to the staging area just outside the trails of Mt Sutro. We were greeted by more of the Mt Sutro Stewards and FREE! pizza which despite the vast quantity managed to dissapear rather quickly. We were going to need all the energy we could get for what was coming next.
Jason Van Horn from IMBA gives us a crash course on safety and tool use before we hit the trails.
It was time to hit the trails. I don't think most of the attendee's knew what they were in for. IMBA and SF Urban Riders weren't going to give away all that food and beer for free. 4+ hours of heavy labor among some of the thickest poison ivy growth I've seen is what greeted us at the top.
We weren't up there doing trail maintenance. We were carving a large fresh trail out of thickly overgrown densely rooted earth with fallen trees and PO everywhere. See the jungle Kalleigh is standing in? This is how it looked when the work began...And 4 hours later a rough but distinctive trail had been cut out. My beerkalometer tells me it was at least 100 to 200 yards long.There were a few minor obstacles...It is absolutely amazing to see what the focused efforts of even a group of amateur trailbuilders can do in under 5 hours. Alot of change could be made in the local MTBing community if volunteer efforts like these were more frequent. If the hikers and equestrians saw as much of this as they do our dust clouds then the hostile environment we encounter might indeed change drastically. I intend to continue helping when I can and hope that more of us MTBers will take time out to volunteer so that we all can enjoy these trails for many years.

Though I wasn't much use physically I'm glad I was there to document this event and share in the knowledge and good times that were had. A very productive and rewarding day indeed...


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