On Wednesday night I joined Jeff P and Oli for a little trail maintenance. After an exhausting ride into the wind to the top of the creek trail, I found the other two up on the hillside already working. I had an apprehensive feeling when I saw Jeff P messing with large boulders so far from the trail…
The project of the night was to put in a choke. There was a section that was becoming rutted from people skidding into an upcoming downhill turn. A fast straightaway in the trees would allow people to get their speed up, but when they came around the corner, they’d notice that they needed to scrub off a lot of speed quickly.
Since Oli had just taken a header off the rock drop and broken his helmet, he was on rake duty. Lucky bastard. Jeff P led me through a choke cherry patch, and up the hillside where the “good” rocks were. To get people to slow down before the turn, we started narrowing the trail coming into the turn with some large rocks. We also added a couple drains to divert water off the trail.
The larger rocks had to be jacked up with smaller rocks, using a pick for a lever. They crashed down the hillside as far as gravity would take them, and then we he had to lift and turn them the rest of the way to their final resting spots. Luckily there was a thorny thicket of choke cherry at the bottom we had to get through before reaching the trail. We’d work together for a bit, and then take turns. At one point I felt a funny tearing sensation below my belly button. Probably nothing…
Oli had a nice hole dug for the step by the time we got the rock down to the trail. After the rock was in place, and the fill dirt put back in, things were starting to look pretty cool. These guys do nice work.
There wasn’t much time to test out our creation, as it was about 8:45 and starting to get dark. We hopped on the bikes and made our way down the trail. We didn’t have lights, but the pace wasn’t what I’d call slow. Jeff P had his BOB trailer attached, and still made pretty good time down the trail. He didn’t even slow down much for the log crossing, the trailer bouncing wildly into the air behind him. The clamor of the tool laden trailer reminded me of a chuck wagon. I imagined pots and pans banging together as he descended, and it made me laugh. There was even one time when sparks shot off the back of the trailer when he took a tight corner and the trailer hit a sizable chunk of granite.
By the time we got to the Postal Route and Jackrabbit, it was completely dark. These trails are almost completely smooth though, so it was easy to ride by memory. I rode home for a quick shower and a tall glass of Mirror Pond Pale Ale before immediately passing out for the night.
I got to ride the trail the next day. I was only able to appreciate our handiwork for about 1.25 seconds, as the trail is pretty fast. Still, I think the new obstacle did it’s job, because I got my bike down to speed in time as we had intended. Although not necessarily challenging, this new obstacle makes the trail more interesting.
I’m looking forward to the next trail maintenance party. Although I wouldn’t mind doing a little rake or shovel work next time!