From day one, the Enduro World Series has been aware that our races, and the sport itself, can only exist thanks to the dedicated work of a huge network of trail builders. Our races impact local trail networks, and while we already have procedures in place to minimise that impact, we’re always striving to hold ourselves to higher standards. So earlier this year the series joined forces with Specialized on a new project to honor the people who build the trails we love to race, as well as promote sustainability and trail maintenance.
Fanie Kok is Specialized's Global Trail Advocate and heads up a project called Soil Searching, which aims to tell the story of the people behind the scenes who are out there building the trails we all love to ride.
Fanie said: “The role really started out as a global mountain bike product and rider market research program, but the more trail advocates I met, the more apparent it became how disconnected the whole industry is from what’s happening at the grassroots level. We’ve literally built a whole industry with a few die-hard souls who get very little recognition, let alone compensation for their behind-the-scenes work. It’s time we change this, collectively.”
And so Fanie travels the world meeting trail builders and organizing dig days to encourage mountain bike communities to embrace trail repair and maintenance, it’s an ethos shared by the EWS.
One of the projects they’re working on is a number of dig days, where riders and communities can get together after an EWS and work on the trails that have been raced. To see what goes into one of these dig days check out the video below to see what went down on Billy Epic after round seven in Whistler at the Freehub Magazine’s Crankworx Trail Day.
Another aspect of the trail partnership is the Trail of the Year Award.
Fanie explains how the award came about: “I’ve been to a few EWS events and locations to meet the builders of these iconic trails. I found out that the EWS was keen on doing a special trail award and was looking for a partner. I immediately got on a call with Chris Ball. The stoke was bouncing off the walls for almost two hours and Skype almost crashed! The rest is history.”
In order to judge the award, riders who had been to all eight of this year’s EWS races were polled and asked to vote on their favorite stage of the season. There was a clear winner; Detonate, aka stage two from round two, the Shimano Enduro Tasmania. Built by World Trail, Detonate became famous for that rock gap that was only just wide enough to squeeze a set of handlebars though.
All trails that were nominated received a customised Trail Boss tool, but as the builders of the winning trail, World Trail will also be gifted £2000 to donate to a trail association or charity of their choice.
Glen Jacobs of World Trail said: “This award humbled me and our team. We realize the riders had some amazing tracks in iconic destinations around the world, all with challenging terrain to choose from. Awards are few and far between in the trail world. We have won tourism awards before but to be voted number one by the riders within our industry is what really matters.
“World Trail and myself have been building high-end race tracks for over two decades globally now, including numerous World Cup, World Championship and Olympic events, but building the EWS courses is so much more satisfying for our trail builders because the style of tracks needed for racing EWS sit at the core of mountain biking, it’s pure mountain biking, and because of this, I see the series having a massive future.”
Chris Ball of the Enduro World Series added: “Without trail builders, there is no EWS. This new partnership means we can continue to minimise our impact on trail networks as well as honor the trail builders putting in the hard work behind the scenes.”