Monday, January 22, 2007

Trail Building with CAMBA

This past Saturday (Jan. 20), I attended a trail building session organized by the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA). This was the third trail building session that I've done since I moved to this area a couple of years ago. I know, I should do more, but we all do what we can manage.

At this latest session, we worked on the new trail in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, near Cuyahoga Heights. This highly-anticipated trail will be the first legal mountain bike trail in Cuyahoga County.

Despite the frigid temperatures, close to thirty people showed up to help out. CAMBA provided the rogue's gallery of tools needed to built a trail--each of us selected our adze, mcleod, rhino, or rake, and we headed into the woods. It's amazing what you can accomplish by just getting a group of people together. Many of us had little to no experience; they just pointed us in the right direction and gave us some guidelines, and we got to digging. You concentrate on your little area for a couple of hours, then look around and lo and behold, you're standing in the middle of a couple miles of sweet singletrack!

One really cool aspect of helping to build the trail that you will someday ride is that you have a hand in shaping how the trail will flow and feel. As you look at a section of planned trail, you think to yourself "Would I ride this?" Then you dig and scrape to make it something that you would enjoy riding. When I've done trail work before, it's a great feeling when you are riding it with your friends later, and as you pass a certain section you can say "I made that!"

What I saw of the trail in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation is making me really look forward to riding it when it is ready later this year. Several more sessions will be held to finish this trail, plus sessions in other parks where CAMBA helps to maintain the trails. Check out the link for their full schedule.

The vast majority of mountain biking trails that exist are built by volunteer groups just like CAMBA. If you like to ride at all, you should consider joining them if you have not already. If the sense of accomplishment in helping to maintain the sport you love is not enough, then the free lunch provided by CAMBA would be enough for me! This past Saturday, chef Mike Farley served up kielbasa, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes; some other CAMBA members supplied cookies and brownies.


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