WOOO! You feel that ladies and gentlemen, the warmth of the sun, the gentle breeze in the air? Do you hear the birds chirping and the whir of bike chains in the distance? That can only mean one thing! Riding season is officially a go!
There’s no better feeling in the world than being totally in “the flow”, zen-ed out crushing it down a trail or side of a mountain, no thoughts just technique and survival, and the best thing about it? You can get that feeling totally for free!
Free? Yes, more often than not, MTB trails are totally F-R-E-E!
Well.. we shouldn’t say free, because nothing is free in this world… MTB trails, while technically “free”, requires maintenance to keep them from getting destroyed, overgrown, or trashed.
MTB trails experience high traffic, with hikers, trail runners, hunters, mountain bikers, etc., unfortunately not every trail user treats the trail with respect... but if we all take part in the maintenance of a trail we can keep the trails ready to ride and the environment pristine!
Here are some tools and tips you can take and do on your next ride to keep the trail better than you found it!
- LEAVE NO TRACE, pick up your d*mn trash. Yes, even those little corner pieces of foil that you rip off your granola bars. Leave what you find, that flower or rock is really cool and your girlfriend or wife would probably love it but please leave it… I guarantee you it looks better in its natural habitat than in a plastic cup in your kitchen.
- Pick up trash, if you see trash on the ground please pick it up. Don’t wait for the next man to pick it up. Shove it in your pocket or even better bring a backpack or a plastic bag and spend 30 minutes looking for trash to pick up! If we all did this, the trails would be loads cleaner!
- Clear pathways and trails when you can! I know it's hard and sometimes dangerous to stop in the middle of a descent, but it could be extremely dangerous for a child or inexperienced rider to catch a branch in their spoke, pitching them forward onto sharp rocks. If you see an obstruction, clear it!
- Trim the brush! Managing vegetation can help maintain a path! It doesn’t take too much to bring a pair of hand clippers. It also opens up your field of view for faster riding… and who doesn't love faster riding? Great brush trimming also keeps plants from grabbing ahold of your limbs or bike parts. On your next ride spend 5-10 minutes trailside trimming OVERGROWN foliage. The word “OVERGROWN” is key, DON'T widen trails more than needed.
- Destroy invasive species. If you really want to be a maintenance professional you can go the extra mile by taking care of invasive species that may be destroying your trail. This will take a little bit of extra research like which ones are invasive, when to remove them to avoid spreading their seeds further, and which plants are poisonous but this ensures that the surrounding plants are healthy.
I know we all have priorities and may not have time to spend extra hours to clean up or maintain our trails but if we all did a little work before, during or after our rides we can keep our trails in good condition and ensure the safety of riders in our community.