Most of these guys looked familiar, but at first I couldn’t place it.
Bike stickers on their cars – and an actual mountain bike – soon gave it away, though. I’ve crossed paths with these guys on the trails – them on bike and me on foot.
Today, though, we were there for a different sort of workout. There was dirt to move; rock to carry and put into place; trail to build.
The Trail Masons, a trail-building group at Wyandotte County Lake Park that was founded by trail-runner Jim Megerson and mountain bikers Cliff Jones and Shane Jones around six years ago, have built all of the single-track trails on the east side of the park. Basically, if it’s not a bridle trail then the Trail Masons probably built it.
The Trail Masons are not a mountain bike group, although a majority of their trail-builders happen to prefer taking the trails on two wheels rather than two feet. Today, they welcomed some trail-building newbies from the trail-running community, taught us a few easy tactics, and then we worked together to bench a new section of trail behind Shelter 9 and turn it into a single-track rock garden.
The entire section covered maybe .05 of a mile, and a crew of 15 people built it in three hours. It’s not finalized yet – the rocks in the rock garden will need a chance to settle, and then some touch-up work will take place – but the small new section is going to be a nice new treat for trail-users.
While sipping post-work beers, Cliff pointed out that a runner would cover the new section in maybe 30 seconds and a biker would go through it in 15 seconds. It provided me with a dose of perspective about how much volunteer effort has gone into building these trails that I enjoy running so much. Today’s group was considerably larger than work days tend to attract, and our team effort built just a tiny piece of the trail system.
I found it fascinating to watch the more experienced trail-builders identify the ride and run lines into the new section of trail. The thought that goes into what I’ve always taken for granted is impressive. There is considerable creativity that goes into the planning, with the hopes that what is built will bring deep enjoyment to all of us who use it.
What I enjoyed most was the sense of personal fulfillment that I felt during and after putting in the work to “earn my dirt.” I absolutely can’t wait to go run through this new segment of trail. I hope it sneaks up on me so I can feel surprised when I see it.
I also enjoyed taking time to actually get to know some of the guys who I’ve crossed paths with on the trails. There were a lot of good dudes with a great sense of humor and a vision for what is being built at WyCo. They’re happy to teach newcomers how to build, and they’re happy to share beers once the work is done.
Today wasn’t a lazy Sunday. Instead, it was an incredibly satisfying Sunday filled with good people, good dirt and good times.
INTERESTED IN HELPING BUILD TRAILS?
Join the Facebook pages for the Trail Masons, Urban Trail Co., and Earthriders Mountain Bike Club to find work day postings. I’m sure there are others, but these are the pages I am following at the moment.