Transitioning into biking season
By Owen Dudley
People have all kinds of reasons for using trails. Whether it’s hiking, horseback riding, hunting or mountain biking, trails allow users access to new areas and terrain. But, before people can use a trail, it has to be built. Enter the trail builders.
Trailbuilding is a long, arduous process. Weeks turn into months, months turn into years, sometimes spent in one section of the woods. The first step is scoping out possible locations for the trail. It’s a bushwacking experience – climbing over logs, hiking through thick brush in rough terrain, and imagining what it would be like to ride a bike through a particular area.
After the location is chosen, the real work begins and lasts seemingly forever – hiking, sawing and digging, building ladder bridges, dead ends and route changes, all draw out the process. However, the reward for the time you spend in the woods is a new trail to shred with your best friends.
My main motivation for building mountain bike trails is to be able to spend time out there, in places away from civilization. A day spent building is an easy way to go for a hike, build cool stunts and spend time with friends.
As the trailbuilding progresses, sections become rideable, giving builders an early preview of how it will flow with the rest of the trail. This is the fun part because it means the builders get to ride their trail before anyone else and, most importantly, also means they get to ride, which is, after all, the reason for trailbuilding in the first place.
Once a trail opens to the public and others discover it, the trails need to be maintained. Ruts and holes form, roots become exposed and falling trees block the riders. As obstructions occur, new routes form. As a trail grows old, it evolves. It is always fun to build spurs and re-routes to an existing trail.
Finally, as trails get ridden, washed out, overgrown or logged, the ride stops. New trails get built, new areas discovered. The best part about the Mt. Baker region is the local trailbuilding scene and land holdings that support the large number of riders in the area.
Whatcom Trails Co-op and the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC) are two local organizations that promote communal trail building efforts.
To find out when Whatcom Trails Co-op’s next trail builds are, visit www.whatcomtrails.com or contact Matt Shelton at 360/305-8504. Get WMBC build day and local event info on their website at www.whimpsmtb.org, and check out Galbraith Mountain at www.ridegalbraith.com. X
Owen Dudley lives in Bellingham and frequently enjoys the foothills and mountains of the Pacific Northwest.