As any builder will tell you, trails don't make themselves. That sweet ribbon of singletrack, rocky downhill course, and burly jump line were very likely made by relatively few people who were armed with a couple of shovels, some buckets, and a few other hand tools, and it probably took a lot longer to get the job done than most riders would assume. Their hard work is appreciated by all of us, no doubt about that, and many towns have a solid turnout of volunteers at their trail days to lend a hand. Nevertheless, it's probably fair to say that the number of riders who regularly pick up a shovel is pretty small compared to the total number of mountain bikers out there.
Shovel work on a new line in Sun Valley, Idaho. If you build it, they will come.
In a perfect world, all riders would contribute to building in some way, however small, but that whole ''life'
' thing can get in the way. If you've got a proper adult job, travel often, have a family to spend time with, or other grown-up responsibilities that only let you get on the bike a few times a month, how eager are you going to be to spend one of those days moving dirt? Intimidating trail bosses, not knowing what you're allowed and not allowed to do, or simply being lazy can also conspire to see you do more critiquing than constructing. But shouldn't you contribute to the very thing that make those few days on the bike every month so damn fun? I'm the absolute last person to shame anyone when it comes to building given that I only get out to a couple of trail days each year, and I can't stand the holier than thou attitude that seems to radiate off of some builders, but anyone who's spent a few hours helping the cause by carrying buckets of dirt or clearing bush knows how rewarding the feeling can be, not to mention that you get to leave tire tracks on your work soon after.
With all that in mind, I'm genuinely curious what the numbers look like: how many who answer the poll do weekly trail work? How many never pick up a shovel?