Having turned a crank since the mid 1980’s, we’ve seen mountain bike trails evolve from fire roads and goat paths to more highly engineered, cycling specific trails. Singletrack emerged out of riders desire for a more dynamic riding experience, and by the late 80’s enthusiasts were making their own trails. Our first trail building endeavor was in Durham Forest. With little knowledge, we bought some rakes and did what was intuitive, and to this day some of those trails are still being ridden. Much has been learned since those early days, and we now have a better understanding on how to make trails both fun, and less susceptible to trail wear.
Sean Ruppel of Superfly Racing has been building trails for Chico Racing events and over 15 years has developed venues at Dagmar, Ganaraska, and Albion Hills. Our knowledge has increased over the years, after learning what techniques work, and what don’t. Recently the education provided by IMBA* has been invaluable in helping understand the basics of sustainable design, and we often employ Scott Holmes of Holmes Landscaping to do sections of machine built trail. In 2012, longtime racing enthusiast and trailbuilder Ryan Atkins purchased a mini-excavator, and worked with Superfly Racing on some great projects. By using both hand built and machine-built methods, we strive to create interesting trails that will also last with little maintenance. This can be a tremendous challenge, especially on trails that are used for racing, where passing and steeper terrain are often needed to separate the skilled and fit riders. Our approach to trail building continues to evolve, as can be seen with recent improvements made to Albion Hills and other initiatives in Conservation lands.
In conjunction with Ryan Atkins of Ironwood Designs, the use of a mini-excavator to move soil on steep pitches and hand workers to smooth out the trail and work flatter sections makes for some dynamic, unique trails. Recently Ryan and Superfly Racing have worked together on improvements to Albion Hills, and will continue repairing and re-routing their trails each year. The fall of 2012 saw a 3 km section of trail completed for the Trans-Canada Trail, including some innovative retaining walls designed to take a trail with an overall pitch of 21 degress down to a 10 degree average. We have also created a great network of fun trails for Camp Wabanacki, located outside Huntsville.
While Superfly Racing remains limited to short portions of the spring, and most of the fall (the best time to build trail), Ryan Atkins of Ironwood designs (www.ironwood-designs.org) is available for year-round consultation. If you have a project on private land, government-owned property or municipal lands, make enquiries to Sean at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*IMBA, International Mountain Biking Association, www.imba.com