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The Birth of a Trail

Congrats! If you are reading this post you've stumbled upon one of our older posts from the old website. This one made the cut to find it's way here, so enjoy!

What was one of the best, yet also one of the worst classes of the Mountain Bike Operations Program at Capilano University that I recently graduated from? I'd have to say that the Trail Building classes are the answer to that question.

Before and After - a solid morning of climbing trail construction

Why? Non-teachers teaching a class (Jay Hoots and Daniel Scott) meant a non-traditional approach to teaching, which for a group of mountain bikers with ADD such as myself, is definitely a good thing. Classrooms are like torture. Spending long days in the forest are pretty rad, and learning how to build awesome trail is even better.

So if it's so great how could it also be one of the worst classes at the same time? One reason, and one reason alone; spending so much time building means almost zero time on the bike for the duration of the class. But it's only 3 weeks, so it's not too hard to suck up and deal with.

Unfortunately, many times while telling people about the trail building class it is met with a response of "Oh that must be easy. Just lots of brush-clearing and riding/walking in the trail, right?"

You could get away with this for a personal trail, hidden somewhere far away from heavy traffic - although even then I think you'd probably want to do a little more. But the trail-building we were learning was IMBA-certified singletrack of a professional level. To simplify it more than necessary, this means clearing the trail, digging away all the organic, and building the tread with mineral, all while engineering complex drainage every 5-10 m along the way to keep erosion and mud at bay.

The project area for our Advanced Bike Park/Trail Design and Building class was in Sprockids Bike Park in Gibsons; somewhere that proved to be a great place for building. A perfect grade and amazing dirt made for a trail that we could let our imagination run wild with. The trail was an extension of 'Doug's Detention' for those familiar with the area, which meant our trail was a one-way downhill trail, giving us even more freedom to make the flowy, bermed trail we envisioned.

Progress on the mainstay feature (complete with a ride-around for riders like me not looking to send it...

Originally, I was going to write a quick sentence or two on each step of building our trail, but I decided against that. If you want some inside tips, advanced techniques, and just an overall idea of how to build a sustainable trail, take part in a local trail-day. All kinds of non-profit associations put these on, and there's no better way to build up your karma than a day of digging!

Select shots of the finished product. Fun trail!

A handful of weeks of hard work later, and we finally had a trail, and a fun trail at that! It always feels good to come to the end of a project and realize that you have built something awesome. So if you're ever in the area, stop by and check it out!

Trail Location: Dougs Detention, Sprockids Bike park, Gibsons, BC.