River City Cycle Club wanted to celebrate the construction of their newest mountain biking trail a bit differently.
They were planning to have a ceremony, thanking all of those who lent their time to the construction of the trail, and have a few beers after taking a lap or two of the completed project. However, they had to resort to making the finishing touches and acknowledging each other for a job well done.
The new trail, called the Rotary Rock and Roll trail, is a 1 km intermediate flow trail in the Snowden Demonstration Forest. The trail was partially funded by Rotary of Campbell River, with the rest of the money coming from the RCCC trail fund. The group has had their eye on building this trail since November last year, and were finally able to get their shovels into the ground in September. Though RCCC has been working to maintain the trails in the forest since 2008, this is the first trail that they have build start to finish.
“You might have to get in line to try it,” said RCCC president Bryan Yells.
“We’ve always been looking at building a new trail, so we went through the approval process with government,” Payne said. “We applied for the trail, it goes through an authorization, it’s referred to other user groups that may have an interest in the area, then the recreation officer either approves or doesn’t approve the trail based on where it is and the other factors that may be involved. That’s where the trail got approved or started.”
Trail building is an important way for mountain bikers and other users to give back to the trail networks they love. Most mountain bikers start out building a few jumps in their backyard, or somewhere in the bush where it won’t be noticed. However, for an organization like RCCC it needs to be much more professional.
“[Trail building] goes on all over the area, the region and probably everybody doing it could give you a slightly different version of what that means,” Yells said. “For us as a bike club, because of our agreements it means that any work that we carry out, we need to build to the IMBA or the Whistler Trail Standards. We cant just go out in the middle of a public trail in Snowden and build a massive 20 foot jump. It’s not that easy for us.”
Those standards help ensure the trail is sustainable, environmentally friendly and can stand the test of time. They also include things like ensuring the trails are ride-able to a majority of users (depending on the difficulty rating) and that they are not infringing on the other trail area users.
“There’s actually a science behind trail building,” Payne said. “Bryan referenced the Whistler Trail Standards, which talks about trail tread, how steep they can be, what sort of features you can have, and one of the things that RCCC has done is put on trail-builder workshops. We’ve put on seven or eight now since 2008.”
Trail builder workshops give people the chance to learn these skills. They can then come and join the club on trail building days, or just have a few more skills they can take out into the trails and help keep them maintained throughout the year.
“If we could get every rider out there to spend one hour a year, the impact on the trail network would be unbelievable,” said Yells. “Every fall after the first big rain when all the leaves wash into every little drainage area. If everyone jumped off their bike for five minutes and kicked the leaves out of the way so the water can get off the trail or picked the branches off. It would make an amazing difference.”
Though the pandemic has changed the trail building system at the club this year, Yells and Payne do want people to come and learn these skills to be able to help out in future seasons. They are hoping — if things improve in the next few months — to be able to hold another trail building workshop in the spring. Club memberships are available online to those interested in being part of the cycling club, and people can make donations to the trail network at trailforks.com.
For now, however, they are just going to have to be happy with a job well done, and a few good rides in the woods.