They did their one-day IMBA Trail Building School on Saturday for a couple dozen MORC members. The 3-hour classroom session in the morning focuses on:
Trail building theory
Essential elements of sustainable trails
Designing a trail
Constructing the trail
Rerouting and reclaiming trails
Advanced trail construction techniques
Since I started mountain biking in 2011, I’ve showed up to help a bit on a few local trail work sessions (2013 sessions here, here, here, and here) but I’ve been mainly a clueless laborer who retreated behind a camera whenever I got tired. I took this IMBA Trail Building School because I wanted to have at least a beginning understanding of the art and science involved. As a newbie, I came away very pleased with the experience. I thought their rapid-fire presentation in morning session was well done: lots of photos and videos, a few quizzes, hands-on with a clinometer, and thankfully, no Powerpoint slides of deadly text-only bullet points.
The afternoon field session was held at the Bertram Lakes Singletrack near Monticello. After a quick demo by Jesse, we divided up into 3 teams of 8, each led by a MORC dirt boss (my team was headed up by Jeff Leech). It was very helpful to have the hands-on experience and coaching. I don’t know how many feet of trail the crews created but I think we more than marginally adequate as we finished early.
On Sunday morning, a group of us did a group ride with Lori and Jesse at Elm Creek Singletrack led by local Dirt Boss C.J. Smith. ‘Twas a fast, flowy ride on a gorgeous autumn-like day and a fitting send-off.
To the mountain bikers riding past this group of MORC dirt bosses (Drew Diller, Jeff Leech, Porter Million, Reed Smidt) on Friday night on the far west loop of the Carver Lake Park Off-Road Cycling Trail, it probably looked like they were discussing the best place for a picnic. Only partially true.
They were mainly doing planning for an elaborate technical feature in an area called the Playground, using many of the logs that the City of Woodbury graciously piled nearby at their request. Photo on the right: that’s where they’re planning to eventually put a picnic table.
[Apologies to the young whippersnappers reading this who are all WTF? about the title of the blog post. My geezerly brain sometimes shifts to ancient song lyrics like this one when I have to think of a title.]
Those of us who love to ride have endured a miserable spring here in the upper midwest, with the trails closed due to wet conditions as often as they’ve been open. The weather has also taken its toll on the trails indirectly because so many of the weekly work crew maintenance sessions have had to be cancelled.
This section of the trail had become hazardous because it’s at the end of a relatively fast downhill. Riders were often hitting the tree or sliding out trying to go around it on the left. MORC Dirt Boss Porter Million and Matt Walkowiak removed the tree, and then dug up a lot of roots and moved a significant amount of dirt to both make a small berm and provide two places for rain water to flow away from it.
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew was shoveling, hauling, and hand tamping a lot of dirt to build up three troublesome, off-camber, eroded corners on another section of the trail.
With a couple of coaching sessions from Porter, the crew reshaped the problematic corners into berms. I later emailed Porter for an explanation and he wrote:
These berms were carefully constructed to avoid puddling in the instance of rain. By taking the slope of the turn into consideration, and by also adding a roller, the crew was able to design the berm to direct any water flow to a specific drainage area off the trail. By adding the properly constructed berms to this section, a rider should be able to carry their speed through the turns, and have less fear of washing out on what use to be a couple of loose, off-camber turns.
And the crew saw everything that they hath made, and behold, it was very good. Right photo, L to R: Porter Million, Zach ?, Drew Diller, Matt Walkowiak, Aron Braggans, William Sweasy, Viv Jones, Jeff Leech, Ray Schwarz, Joel Hampton