I Gave up Practice Race Runs, So I Could do Volunteer Trail Work

This is the story of how I randomly ended doing trail work for a local race.

I’ve been wanting to write this trail work story for some time now, but keep trashing version after version. So insert cliche tired cartoon character saying: “Take 737,852 rolling!” And let’s see if I can get it to where I like it this time.

A couple of weeks back we had the Primavera Enduro race here, and it was a big deal. It’s our local state park where we ride. Since it’s privately owned it’s pretty hard to do any trail work. New trails, fix up current trails, rehab abandoned trails, anything really is a pain to get done. Much less an enduro race is something so out there that it was a huge deal! 

So I signed up to race, I’m not much into racing and do about a race a year. This year I did two in a row, a big deal for me, but hey it was right here on my home trails! Support you locals and all that right?

The week of the race, I went up to ride, see if I could find the race trails. Get in a practice run in peace before Friday when trails would be marked and packed with riders practicing. Up the mountain I went to where I thought would be the start. Taking as many fire roads and shortcuts as I could to manage time and save energy.

Day 1 practice, turns into Day 1 trail marking

Mountain bike at the start of a trail inside small gully. Red stripe indicates stage start.
Found the real entrance to stage 1

After about 45 minutes, I arrived at the start of a trail I thought would be stage 1. Stopped to take took a couple of pics, so I could find the entrance again later. That’s when I saw a little red “YAKIMA” marker a little to the left and up another trail. Up I went following red marks. Turns out that about halfway up that trail they had reworked a turn into a gully. Adding a section that would connect to the trail I had taken a picture of.

Having found out where stage 1 started, and the new little extra cool section, I rode down in hopes of finding stage 2. About halfway down the stage I met up with some other riders, small talk ensued and I continued down a tech section. It was only then that my brain reacted and sent alarm bells: “Dude, those guys had a red YAKIMA tape roll!”

I waited for them to catch up and asked them if they needed any help. That’s when I saw the race organizer, and off we went tagging the rest of stage 1 and all of stage 2. It was really enjoyable, not because I had gotten an inside look at the half the stages but because it allowed me to do something and have a local impact. I felt so good to have helped, I volunteered on the spot to help out the next day in finishing off the remaining trail work before practice Friday started.

Day 2, Practice Turns Into Trail Work

Mountain bike riding over trail work wooden bridge over a ravine.
Testing out our work, making sure it’s stable

I sacrificed my Thursday practice ride and went up to the highest peak in the park (2202 m /7224 ft). With a shovels and hoes and volunteers I had just met. Building missing berms and putting the final touches on stages 3 and 4. Removing loose rocks, redrawing lines improving flow, draining puddles and taking out potential sniper roots. Real good, rewarding trail work. Honestly, I didn’t mind, it was an awesome track walk with lots of hard work. I learned a boat load on trail design and flow and made new friends and riding buddies. If that’s not what the spirit of mountain biking or cycling in general is then, it really should be.

No Dig, No Ride.

2 cyclists atop Cerro San Miguel doing trail work
Doing trail work at the start of stage 3

We as mountain bikers really need to get more into the “no dig, no ride” trail work mantra. At least here in Guadalajara we have a “never dig, only ride, complaint trail’s trashed” mantra. In order to have nice trails, we need to not only make trails, but maintain them as well. I’m going out to a hardware store, buying a shovel and a hoe and heading for those trails that need love and work. After this rainy season and with the sandy erosion prone soil we have here, they need as much love put back into them, as we put into our bikes.

And since you probably are wondering: “well, how’d you do in the race?” Good, solid middle of the pack result I can be happy with. Rode to my heart’s content and had no surprises since I had at least walked it all. However it did seem shorter barreling down on a bike, rather than walking it with heavy tools…

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