Granby " Locals hone trail-building skills during clinic at YMCA of the Rockies
July 30, 2008
Creating expertly constructed mountain bike trails was the focus of a two-day clinic at Snow Mountain Ranch-YMCA of the Rockies last weekend.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) held its Trail Building School at the YMCA to help teach local trail enthusiasts the principals of building “sustainable” trails. Saturday and Sunday’s clinic was led by Anna Laxague and Jason Wells, two members of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew.
The most important concept taught by two instructors was to build trails that following the contour of the terrain to prevent water erosion. The worst mistake possible in trail building is to build it on “fall line of the slope,” which is the most direct route water will flow down a hillside.
“When building a trail, think water because water moves dirt,” Laxague said.
After the classroom lecture about the theory of trail building, the clinic’s attendees got outside to get some real “hands-on” trail construction experience. Several of the participants represented local organizations and businesses involved in trail sports.
“This is my first introduction to trail building,” said Lucinda Elicker, executive director of the Headwaters Trails Alliance, as she swung a pick to carve out the new trail. “I’ll know how to build them and what to teach our volunteers on how to work on our trails.”
The U.S. Forest Service also had a representative at the weekend clinic.
“I’m here to learn more about trails and trail maintenance,” said Gary McGraw, the Adopt-A-Trail coordinator for the Sulphur Ranger District. “You can always learn something new. And we at the Forest Service want to show our support for IMBA’s work.”
As he tamped down the soil of the newly cut trail, Brent Wolff of Young Life said the local Christian youth camp near Fraser wants to improve its trails.
“We want to build new trails at the camp and we want to do it right,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch that are not right and need to be fixed. I mountain bike quite a bit and I want good trails to ride.”
Others attending the trail-building clinic are just dedicated local volunteers such as Stephen and Chris Lee of Hot Sulphur Springs.
“We’ve helped do trail maintenance with the Grand County Wilderness Group and National Public Lands Day,” Chris Lee said as she cut away a piece of sagebrush from the new trail. “We do it because we love mountain biking and cross-country skiing here.”
IMBA, which is headquartered in Boulder, has designated the Fraser Valley as one of its “Ride Centers” that will become a model for mountain biking trail systems across the nation and the world. Its representative, Joey Klein, will be working with local organizations to build new trails and “retrofit” existing trails to bring them up to standard over the next five years.