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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.

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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?

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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!)

Denver Area
Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA)
May 2-3: Trail work at Buffalo Creek

Grand Junction
Colorado Plateau Mountain Trail Association (COPMOBA)
April 11, 12, 16 and more!

Trails 2000
April 11 and 12: Trail work season kickoff and tree planting event

Colorado Springs
Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates
April 8, 12 and 15 and more!

Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.


Mike Pritchard - Reply

If you live or visit the Roaring Fork Valley, check out http://www.rfmba.org/events/ for trail work opportunities from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, and beyond. We have weekday evening events and all day Saturday/Sunday events too. This year we’re launching our 2015 Bike Giveaway program. The more you volunteer, the more chances you’ll have to win a Yeti 575 Enduro mountain bike this Sept.!

    Katie Bonomo - Reply

    Thanks for sharing that info, Mike!

Katie Bonomo - Reply

Upcoming opportunity with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado:

Join Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado August 15-16, 2015 in Summit County as they work to construct a new section of the Tenderfoot Mountain Trail. Volunteers are needed to construct one mile of new trail that will be part of a 21-mile motorized and non-motorized trail system set to be completed by 2017. The system will provide extensive recreational opportunities for hikers, mountain bikers, and motorcycle users. No experience necessary; free camping and meals provided; minimum age 16; learn more and register at http://bit.ly/1zePZ74.


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