The Heroes Behind The “Hero Dirt”
Ask any mountain biker about their favourite local trails, and you’ll probably get more than you bargained for. We love to talk about it, sometimes without being asked. Ask a trail builder about their favourite trails, and you’ll be treated to stories and knowledge only they could share. Insights into the highlight features of a project, absurd stories from when a trail was being conceived, and maybe even the history of it from the days of rigid forks and bad haircuts. In the Nelson & Kootenay Lake region, we want to celebrate these heroes of dirt, these keepers of knowledge, these “trail fairies” that ensure the rest of us have perfect rides. Let’s celebrate our trail builders!
When speaking with builders from Crawford Bay on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, Kaslo, and Nelson, each one had a unique take on what they love about their trails. Some were passionate about backcountry epics, some appreciated the variety that a single trail could have, and some preferred hot-lap friendly flow trails. But we found that each one, without fail, loved the process. Trail builder and machine operator Taz Archembault from the East Shore Trail & Bike Association says, “It’s very intuitive. The less you think, the smoother and faster it goes… usually within a couple of feet what you need is right there.” The first step is a “clip and rip”, as Mark Holt of the Nelson Cycling Club calls it; this involves the removing of branches, unwieldy stones, and deadfall along the path of the future trail. From there it depends on the nature of what’s being built; a machine-built flow trail would potentially see small excavators, whereas old-school DH singletrack will call for smaller, human-powered tools.
Connecting with nature in a sustainable, positive way carries importance as well. Here in the Kootenays we pride ourselves on taking care of our backyard; we know how much it gives to us and we want to give back. Our towering mountains immediately meet the shores of our beloved lake; sprinkled in between are gorgeous hidden gems of creeks, viewpoints and old-growth forest. When you take it all in, there’s no doubt it truly is a magical, one-of-a-kind place. As she builds trails, Marie-Ange Fournier Beck of Kaslo Mountain Bike Club gets a “really good feel for (her community) and how (she’s) situated”, creating a connection with the forest as she works within it. It’s this feeling, when combined with respect for nature and community, that drives us to build world-class, sustainable MTB trails throughout our networks. As Farley Cursons of the East Shore muses; “I really feel that we need to come back to nature… so we can make sustainable, exciting trails that take you to a variety of landscapes.”
As we celebrate our trail builders, our MTB community, and the beautiful landscapes of our region, we hope you’ll support the clubs with a donation or membership, and come take it all in for yourself. Our “Legacy” video encapsulates everything about mountain biking and trail building in the Nelson and Kootenay Lake area; come find awesome amongst our lands and upon two wheels. We can’t wait to see you on the trails.