The Trail Building Fairy
I hate to burst this bubble, but there really isn’t a Trail Building Fairy. It’s a nice idea for those of us who love riding dirt, but I think that it is time for many of us (myself included) to put our upper body muscles to work and give the supposed fairy some days off.
Grand Junction drives the point home
I spent last weekend in Grand Junction after participating in their second Walking and Biking Summit. While I went to present on our youth education programs, I stayed to ride the trails. I did two wonderful rides in Fruita and an awesome one at the Lunch Loop trails in Grand Junction with the best tour guide ever—a local bike advocate and trail builder extraordinaire—Amy Agapito.
Trails are surprisingly controversial
Amy told me about some of the tensions that they have amongst their mountain biking groups. Some want the trails to be super technical and some want them to be rolling, fast and relatively rock free. It turns out that trail building can be highly controversial, though dealings have definitely improved.
While I think it’s great that different groups of riders are engaged in the process, the unfortunate part is that people who do not help to build anything can sometimes be the ones raising the loudest ruckus. My take-away from the conversation is, “If you don’t help build it, you can’t complain about it.”
Some local riders drove this point home. At the summit, the room was filled with incredible citizens who took that day (and likely others) to learn how they can help to improve biking and walking in their communities. I was so impressed. They were so committed!
But, the next day when I went to Fruita and started talking with a bunch of people who clearly use the trails all the time, it was abundantly clear that they had no idea about the politics or the work involved in establishing their cherished trails. I felt critical of their lack of involvement…until I realized that I was not much different.
A selfish chord was struck
This struck home to me. I have always been quite selfish with my time and I am not good about volunteering—even though I really respect that others do it. The irony is that when I am not volunteering to help build trails, I am likely instead on my mountain bike riding other trails.
But after being involved in bike advocacy for over six years and having experiences like this one in Grand Junction, I realize that it is time to do my part. Many of you out there may feel the same way.
So what should we do?
Mostly, I’m writing this because I want to encourage all of us who love and cherish riding to be aware of the immense work that a few dedicated people put into building these trails and keeping our roads safe. For all of us mountain bikers out there, I think it is time that we get out and dig. No more leaving it to the Trail Building Fairy.
Some upcoming trail work opportunities
(This is not a comprehensive list. Please share other opportunities in the comments below!)
Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA)
May 2-3: Trail work at Buffalo Creek
Colorado Plateau Mountain Trail Association (COPMOBA)
April 11, 12, 16 and more!
April 11 and 12: Trail work season kickoff and tree planting event
Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates
April 8, 12 and 15 and more!