Trail Building with the Capital Off Road Pathfinders

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I’ll admit it, I’m not all that involved with mountain biking or off road cycling in general. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it or have interest in it. The fact is I’m fairly new to the world of off road cycling and I (sadly) don’t have a mountain bike in my stable.

Not owning a mountain bike has been an excuse for me to not be involved with our local trail systems or the groups who maintain them. It took attending this year’s Bike Summit to have a light bulb go off in my head..if I’m making excuses to not learn more about our trail systems and I’m a pretty involved cycling advocate, then what are other people using as their excuse?

I decided, there would be no excuses for me. I promised myself that I’d start getting more involved with our local off road cycling clubs and help spread their gospel.

Luck for me, the Capital Off Road Pathfinders (CORP) had posted that their last big trail work day of the season was coming up at the end of October. Great! I now had a time, date, and commitment to look forward to.

The trail work was set to start at 11am. Staying true to myself, I of course showed up at 11:30. I was glad to see three other ladies from our Spoke Haven/ Women & Bicycles Meetup were already hard at work. They of course gave me flack for showing up late and said they thought I wouldn’t show up. I showed them! 😉

Without skipping a beat, the work leader Nick gave directed me to help rake some of the fresh dirt laid on the trail. The city donated a huge load of it to help smooth out some of the rough patches on the trail.

We were working on the outside loop of the new Seminole Trail System to create smooth and fast riding sections. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt was poured along the section of trail. We continued to rake, tamp, and repeat. The one particular section we were working on had a lot of old plate glass and MDF chunks, so we spent a good portion of our time trying to remove as much debris from the area as possible. Most of it was buried off the trail, but we made sure to get a nice coverage of dirt and installed signage for riders to stay on the trail, so as to not run into the glass graveyard.

While we were working, there was a lot of shop talk going on between the volunteers. Discussions about various trail projects, what the goals for the new trails were, the history of CORP, and how to get more women involved in the group. Everyone was super friendly and  the CORP crew was glad to have a good group of volunteers. There were probably about ten of us total working on various aspects of the trail.

The day’s projects included pouring and raking the dirt. A couple of the guys built a berm (a term for part of the trail where a sharp turn is placed and a wall of dirt is built up to ride on to gain speed). We dug some sharp rocks out as well as smoothed out some rocky sections. Branches and trees were removed to help maintain a wide path. We did some weeding as well as work on evening out spots that would have drainage issues in the spring. At the end of the day we even worked on building a small feature riders could use to do a mini jump or just opt to roll over.

We spent about 4-5 hours working on various parts of the trail. Overall the group felt really good about the progress and after it was all said and done we were encouraged to ride the trail to help pack down the new dirt! Sadly I left my cross bike at home, otherwise I would have put a couple laps in. The outer loop is very beginner and was designed that way so new riders can get a taste of riding dirt. It’s also a family friendly loop for the little ones to take their push bikes or trail a bikes on.

Various cycling clubs have also expressed interest in hosting cyclocross events on the trails, so it will now be the premiere spot for new and intermediate riders to get a taste of dirt without having to leave the city!

I have to say, I’m really glad I decided to lend a hand with the trail building efforts. I learned a lot about the hard work and dedication it takes to create our trail systems. Hopefully we can continue to get a group of ladies out on the weekends or weeknights to continue to build and improve trails. Even if you don’t own a mountain bike, you can help build an opportunity for others in our community to ride.

Now I’m off to pick out more parts for my fat bike build to go enjoy the fruits of my labor 🙂