Video: The Story Behind the Creation of a Fresh Slab Trail in California

Mar 29, 2022 at 16:45
by Liam Donohue  

Trail building is one of the most overlooked parts of the sport. More times than not the builders are some of the most solemn and stoic figures that don't want any attention for their hard work. When this trail build was shared with me I felt it was something people could really find interesting and jumped on the opportunity to film it. The terrain on this mountain was truly one of a kind and that alone would have probably caught people's eye but partway through the project I felt it was maybe even more important to share the story behind the builder and the build itself.

This trail was near impossible to film being on an extremely steep hillside with cliffs all around limiting my ability to shoot certain parts. I quickly realized what a challenge this would be having never created anything like this. None of the building is rehearsed. There's no "Can you do another take" like a riding video so capturing everything in real-time was a must. My goal was to show the essence of trail building. Why it's done, why it's so difficult, and the insane reward when you finished.


70 Comments

  • 12 0
 Beautiful trail, nice work all! The monotone script at the beginning and the Suron had my finger hovering over the close window button...but it worked out in the end there Beer
  • 12 2
 So rad!! Video does not do this trail any justice... I can confirm, it is insane! Well done Mark and Liam on a trail building masterpiece . Socal does not have many build videos of this status and we definitely need more!
  • 13 4
 I’d also estimate that more than half of the good trails in CA are either questionably or fully illegal. So it’ll get ridden for sure.
  • 1 0
 questionable tr
  • 8 2
 Nice work out there.. Now how do we get you out here in Ventura Simi to build better legit trails?
Without the hassel of Rancho Simi Park Rangers ready to ticket and Equestrians think they own the area..
We need to separate MTB riding from horseback riders and hikers..
  • 2 1
 It’ll never happen, I’m actually kinda scared that the new development at the end of rocky peak will hinder access to those trails
  • 5 0
 Do you mean trails that are legal? IMHO Simi has some of the best and gnarliest trails I've found anywhere. Especially if you count in that one canyon a little more west.
  • 3 0
 @mariomtblt: I think it's just going to mean more dipshits "looking for the swings" while hiking up purpose-built mtb lines with headphones in.
  • 52 1
 Yeah hey, head of Sage Trail Alliance here. Wondering where the 5 miles of legal singletrack at Harmon in Ventura came from? There’s a 3 mile downhill directional trail there going in now by our mini ex. We also maintain and restore trails that are World Cup caliber in Santa Barbara and ojai like Tunnel, cold springs, and arroyo burro. If you want to see legal trails, help fund legal builders. Become a member of the nonprofit so we can fund our guys working on the trails 5 days a week to keep up with increased demand.
Past two years we’ve restored 40 miles of trail, maintained over 200, and built 15 new miles. And yet membership hasn’t really increased. Likely my fault since I’m not a marketer, but seeing your comment about wanting support your local trails gives me hope.
Cheers
  • 7 1
 Better legit trails wont ever happen on public land in California. Private property not managed by any advocacy groups or government agencies is where you have to go.
  • 5 0
 @cycling-trivialities: Awesome info! Joining soon and hope to learn more about trail build/maintenance days.
  • 2 0
 @mariomtblt: The new housing at rocky peak already makes it a bitch to ride back out to the cul de sac. Especially odd is still the no parking signs...never been ticketed before though.
  • 3 0
 @cycling-trivialities: Can’t thank you enough for your hard work. Good legal trails are a rarity, and you guys make it happen!
  • 2 0
 MRCA kind of throws us a bone and looks the other way while we build at Rocky. Would more worry about stuff like Chumash or Rattle Snake going bye bye before I see things like Undertow getting closed down. Even though if they keep air flighting people out they might start closing it.
  • 1 0
 @Awhite251: man I better enjoy these trails while I can Frown
  • 11 5
 Is pinkbike turning into Reddit ? Please leave politics out of mtb. They are two wings of the same crap bird anyhow. Just ride
  • 5 0
 Looks like what the RADS were doing in Laguna 20+ years ago. Nice to see it done 'legally' elsewhere. 10/10 would ride.
  • 5 0
 Well done!!. Not sure if i could ride it, but very well done!!!!
  • 7 2
 but will it stay open? because you know, California...
  • 61 15
 There's sort of two Californias. Coastal, where you can't pull a weed without asking for permission first and getting a weed pulling license. And east california, where places like Slab City exist and people go to shoot guns, blow shit up, and pretend they're not taking advantage of socialist CA gov policies while putting a Biden i did that sticker at their local gas station.
  • 2 6
flag eteyber (Apr 3, 2022 at 6:29) (Below Threshold)
 Isn’t this in Yucaipa/San Bernardino county? Not really CA
  • 7 14
flag mtbneill (Apr 3, 2022 at 6:57) (Below Threshold)
 One of the main reasons why I left CA for the PNW.
  • 14 2
 @lepigpen: wow, absolutely nailed the ridiculous nature of both sides in two sentences.
  • 24 31
flag youngFR (Apr 3, 2022 at 7:40) (Below Threshold)
 @lepigpen: It's hard to forget anything about socialist CA anytime we have to buy gas, or I can't go to my LBS because someone set up camp in the front entry way, or when you can prove who stole you bike but the cops hands are tied because some law, the crumbling infrastructure and the potholes, but I digress.
  • 2 0
 @eteyber: “looks at map”….??
  • 2 1
 @eteyber: those places are in the STATE of CA. Maybe you meant SD county.
  • 2 0
 @lepigpen: sounds like someone couldn’t hang with the city slickers. Poor guy Frown
  • 22 7
 @youngFR: "crumbling infrastructure and the potholes"

You might be surprised to learn that this is hardly unique to left-leaning governed areas.
  • 8 7
 @jayacheess: lol just look at the shithole flyover states. Nobody wants to live there, they’re forced to.
  • 4 17
flag jrocksdh (Apr 3, 2022 at 10:39) (Below Threshold)
 @lepigpen: Reagan Californians vs not.
State is ran(to the ground) by the north folks.
  • 35 4
 @youngFR: If I had a dollar for every time someone misused the term socialism, I'd be a rather wealthy capitalist.
  • 11 1
 @SterlingArcher: or Texas with its massive power grid failure last year.
  • 15 4
 @jrocksdh: lol the north is what keeps the nation alive. I know I know “but but the libtards!” Cry me a f*cking river already and quit being losers.
  • 12 2
 Hey everyone, Please keep arguing about trail advocacy and communism so we get more views! Best regards, Liam
  • 5 0
 @jayacheess: Absolutely, one political party isn't to blame for everything, I was just mocking the " taking advantage of socialist CA gov policies" as if it is offering something superior to other states or countries. California looks like a utopia because of the great weather and a ton of tax dollars from the almost 40 million residents.
  • 5 3
 @liamdonohuemedia: if I had a nickel for every time someone misused the word “communist” I’d be a rich capitalist.
  • 1 0
 @liamdonohuemedia: Shit's sick, Dude! Love it.
  • 3 2
 @SterlingArcher: the north keeps the nation alive. Lol who's that Pelosi; newsome; silicon valley?
  • 5 0
 @jrocksdh: No its called, water.
  • 2 0
 @lepigpen: Nailed it.
  • 3 0
 Amazing video. I cannot imagine the time and commitment it took to build that trail in that time with no heavy machinery. Just inspiring.
  • 4 1
 Because of the NDA - All I can say is thanks Mark! Everyone buy a Trail Fire Grill! You should also have a trail side cooking show!
  • 4 0
 proper trail building is like writing a good song with picks and shovels
  • 3 0
 Where is the Strava?................Just kidding. Wink
  • 7 5
 The spacing on that ladder is a bit wide...
  • 4 3
 Always see that in riding areas where store bought wood is hauled in to emulate the natural tree fall ladders and cedar shakes of the North Shore. Just doesn't work out doing it artificially in the end for one reason or another.
  • 5 4
 @50percentsure: Wider slat spacing and store bought wood can work out really well in Southern Ca. The wider spacing allows for good braking traction without having to add wire mesh or traction enhancement and the store bought/pressure treated wood will last a very long time out here. In this terrain there often is no option other than store bought wood. UV and desication are the wood feature killers here.
  • 8 0
 @adrussell: OP was just saying rule #1 of bridge work is to make the slats tight enough that you can't easily drop a leg in there and have it torn from your body.

Bridges are everywhere on the North Shore because of the cedar littering the forest floor.
  • 16 0
 Will discuss at the next board meeting
  • 1 5
flag adrussell (Apr 3, 2022 at 16:09) (Below Threshold)
 @50percentsure: Irrelevant. We have amazing "Covered California" health care subsidies...
Also, can't risk litigation for "leg girth discrimination"...
Slat spacing needs to be wide enough to maim everyone.
  • 6 7
 @50percentsure: you are worried about someone dropping a leg on a ladder on that trail? WTF. Did you not see the trail? (nevermind the fact that there's no other option in So Cal for bridges, it's a desert) You win the stupid comment of week award on Pinkbike.
  • 3 4
 @DigRideParty: They probably think it's a Multi Use Sanctioned trail build. They don't understand the Southern California MTB scene. Private trails on private land.
  • 6 4
 @DigRideParty: There will be limbs littering the trail.
You can point out the people that dabbed because of their stump and make fun of them.

It was an attempt at an exaggerated joke my man, sorry it didn't land.

Hoping my prize is you coming up to the Shore to put on a clinic on how to build bridges and make difficult multiuse trails. "We" wouldn't know anything about that.
  • 7 4
 @50percentsure: Not even sure what you are saying here mate? You made a dumb comment on pinkbike. Got called out for it, now you are puffing your chest about North Shore mtb trails? Even if you are the most legendary trail builder of all time. You come off as 100% pure kook. Maybe just say, "Cool vid bro" next time? It was a cool vid. The ladder was irrelevant. 50% sure of that.
  • 5 4
 @SoftSoilSampler: You laugh now. It's all fun and games till one day you find yourself riding down the trail with no arms or legs due to an improper ladder incident.

It's a bit of an inside joke, for those that haven't been the riding in Vancouver is ladders everywhere and ridiculously hard multiuse trails.

Early post for SAST time eh
  • 1 0
 @liamdonohuemedia: best reply ever
  • 2 0
 This is really neat!
  • 1 0
 It is very amazing how well can end the vision on the man!!!
  • 2 2
 Why is there no Trailforks link in the description?
  • 1 0
 Yes, please
  • 1 0
 mmmmmmmmmm slab porn
  • 1 1
 Hmmm where is this?
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