Trail building is a passion most mountain bikers possess. We see a potential line and instinctively pick up a shovel to carve away at the ground. When I first got into mountain biking I thought it was the coolest thing to build almost impossible to ride stunts. As the years went on, and mountain biking evolved, I learned trail building is an art and requires more than some tools and a day off. Trail building to me has become less a passion and more an expression of the things I enjoy. I spent the last year working on a new trail that focuses on the new and the old.
It's a shorter trail but when you live eight hours away from it you learn to make every minute count...I grew up in Nelson, British Columbia, and got into mountain biking at the age of fifteen. I heard some classmates talking about it and then watched my first mountain bike movie; New World Disorder. I was instantly hooked. My favorite section of the movie, and one of my favorites to this day, is Robbie, Joe and Blaise killing the local trails. Blaise's building skills were the best and the most unique. To this day I look back on the builders that have made the biggest influence on me; Riley
(R.I.P.) and my good buddy Dave. It's guys like these that keep the rest of us motivated.
I hit a snag after my first year of college. I was dirt jumping and went too big off the last jump. I ditched my bike and landed on the hard packed dirt. I knew something was wrong and later found out I had crushed my left heel. No walking for three months but even worse was no biking possibly ever again. Luckily my heel healed properly and I was back on a bike. This time I was riding a hardtail. I continued to build with friends but with little-to-no suspension I looked for ways to incorporate flow and smoothness to my stunts. That was the way mountain biking was going so it was easy to change my building style.
My friend Kam and I worked hard on stunts that were new school and "flowy". We built gaps with big trannies, large wooden corners and wall-rides all the way down our trail. However, we still used old techniques such as using 2x4's for slats and nailing with normal nails. It wasn't until I worked with Dave that I began to use split cedar for slats and nail with galvanized ardox nails. I continued to hone my building skills along side my friends until one day. The local biking club was getting reports of a disgruntled man near the trails. He had had enough of mountain bikers hiking to the trails near his property so he took matters into his own hands. He chainsawed many of the trails above town including mine. All of our hard work was destroyed in seconds...
I took a break from trail building and moved on to bigger things. I moved to the Lower Mainland, got a career, rode many new trails and made lots of great new friends. I occasionally visit Nelson and every time I do the trail building bug hits me. It wasn't until this year that I gave it the time of day. The bug would just itch and I would scratch here and there. We built fun lines around my old neighborhood but nothing that was worth driving or hiking to. We soon learned we were building on private property so we packed up and headed out to a place where we knew we could build without being interrupted.
As always we set off into the woods in search of a large natural stunt. After about an hour of pondering lines we came across what is now the final gap on our trail. We originally looked at it from the top and saw three rock faces in a row. Once we took a look from the bottom we saw the final boulder had a beautiful natural lip. It was perfect so Kam and I got to work building a box tranny. We rolled a large piece of Pine into place and nailed in the side pieces. We filled it with dirt and had our tranny completed. We smoothed out the roll in and rock armoured the bottom of the rock face roll in. We originally built a bridge that was the entrance but it didn't work so it was removed. After a solid week of perfecting the gap it was time to guinea pig it. After a few run ups I went for it. My back tire landed about a foot from the top of the tranny and I skidded into the brush (we hadn't cleared the entire run out yet). Over the next few days we came back and chewed in a skidder line up to the next logging road. It wasn't much but I could see the potential.
I had to come back to real life so once again trail building took the back seat. A couple months went by and I had another chance to get to Nelson. It was only for a few days this time but I left without hesitation. I got back and went to my trail right away. I walked it up and down and decided I wanted it to have berms. Berms are a great way to increase the length and flow of a trail and everyone loves them. I carved in five berms and before I knew it I had to return to real life once again. Two more trips to Nelson culminated in the completion of my trail. Complete with nine berms, a mini-gap in between two of the berms, a bridge to air, the final 15 foot gapper and some diverse technical spots the trail is finished. I came up with the name during my third trip. "Zesty Mordant" is from Trailer Park Boys but it relates to the trail in many ways. There are epic lines above my trail too so stay tuned next year for a new trail under the name "Dressed all Over".
I got to ride the trail, in its entirety, three times on this last trip. For many of you wondering where a movie is there won't be one until next year. The new berms are still soft and need to settle. While it is still rideable it wasn't worth filming and mulching up the corners. I will post directions to the trail next year with a movie. Check out my album for more pics of the trail.
A Big Thanks to,
Kam - You started this with me buddy. Wish you could have been there for more of it.
Jangus - Thanks for the chainsaw and signage. Looks sick!
Cory - What are brothers for if not to dig dirt and make berms with?