Too often, I take for granted the fact that I can load up my bike, and drive a short distance from my house to one of several nearby trails. I rarely think about the time and efforts others have spent creating and maintaining the trails I enjoy.
As riders, we should all lend a hand to help preserve the trails we frequently ride, so that they will be around for future generations to enjoy. If you don’t know where to start, here are five ways you can give back to your local trails.
Be a good steward
The easiest way you can give back to your local trails is by being a good steward of them.
- Don’t ride trails when they are muddy.
- Don’t litter when you ride, and pick up any litter you see.
- Alert the proper authorities to any major obstacles or damage, such as a downed tree or broken bridge, that you can’t remove or repair by yourself.
- Obey the rules of the trail, and be respectful to others that use the trail.
None of these things involve a lot of time or effort on your part, but they can go a long way toward preserving the trails you love to ride.
Participate in trail work
We all love to ride, but we can’t expect to do so if the trails are not properly maintained.
Trail maintenance is essential in order to keep riders safe. That’s where you can help.
Our local mountain bike club organizes work days nearly every month. They recruit volunteers to trim back trees and bushes that have overgrown the trails, repair erosion damage by filling in holes and smoothing out rough sections, and even build new features or obstacles on trails.
By spending just a couple of hours a month working on your local trails as part of a group, you can make a big difference in the ride quality of your local trails. Plus, it will allow you to spend some quality time with others who are just as passionate about mountain biking as you are.
Be an advocate for your local trails
Riders should never take their local trails for granted. The local government could revoke access to trails at any time. Mountain bikers need to be proactive, and continually highlight the benefits of mountain biking to local officials, especially the revenue it can produce from tourists who flock to the trails in search of a new riding experience.
Additionally, check local government meeting agendas to see if there are any plans or proposals up for discussion that might affect your local trails, or the ability to create new trails in the future. When new parks or recreation areas are created where you live, encourage your local officials to build new trails within them.
There is always strength in numbers, so don’t sit idly by and rely on others to advocate for you.
Volunteer at local bike races
Another great way to give back to your local trails is by volunteering at a local race.
We have two big mountain bike races in Tallahassee every year. These two races bring in a lot of riders, and money, from out of town. However, these events could not take place without volunteers who perform a variety of tasks before, during, and after the races.
Volunteers mark out the courses, man hydration stations, and perform trail cleanup. These volunteers contribute greatly to the success of the races, which, in turn, helps to spotlight our local trails and bring in more visitors from out of town. Consider volunteering at the next event in your area. You’ll have a blast doing it, and will help your local trails in the process.
Be a trail ambassador
The other week, I had just finished my ride and was loading my bike on my truck when a guy rode up to me and asked for help. He was from out of town, and needed instructions on where the trails were, and which way to ride them.
For the next few minutes, I did my best to map out the trail system for him, and tell him about the unique features and obstacle that make the trails fun to ride.
We can all do our part to promote our local trails, either through a chance encounter like the one I had, or by just writing a review on Singletracks.com. Additionally, if you see someone asking about your local trails on a mountain bike forum, take the time to respond to them, and even offer to ride with them when they are in the area. By doing so, you will help bring more value to your local trails.
We all need to give back to our local trails
Mountain bikers should never take their local trails for granted, or assume that someone else will always look out for them. All of us bear the responsibility of preserving and maintaining our local trails. There are a number of different ways to do so, but the most important thing is to at least do something.
Don’t wait until a “Trail Closed” sign is posted before you take action. By then, it just might be too late.