Have you ever seen Chris’ ‘circle of death’? It’s big, especially when he’s wielding a 60”, hickory handled hoe. And you thought hoes were just for the garden…
As Trail Care Crews we travel with a bag of tricks. We give people the tools to help them become better mountain bike advocates. Want to become a more effective club? Let us tell you about building your community. Would you like to become a destination mountain biking area? We can show you how to develop your singletrack tourism. Do you need a lesson in how to build sweet trails? Come to the Trailbuilding School and we’ll show you the kinds of tools (literally) that can get the job done. Get the idea?
Our recent visit to Tuscaloosa was a stellar example of an area that is using tools to get everything they want. The local club (WAMBA) and their counterparts in Birmingham (B.U.M.P.) rallied an enthusiastic crowd for the weekend. Nothing says we support mountain biking in Alabama like 45+ people for a TCC visit.
And we were ready for them. On Friday we placed hundreds of pin flags in anticipation of a big crowd. Josh and Richard, from BUMP and WAMBA respectively, got a front row seat as we used one of our favorite tools, the clino to lay down a line through the forest. This little instrument, pocket-sized and lightweight, is invaluable when designing a trail. It guides us to the best grades (steepness) which results in the most sustainable route. Five hours and 3,000 feet of trail later we were ready for the next round of tools to take over the following day.
On Saturday afternoon, while we digested our lunch and the information from the morning, the clubs revealed one of the most interesting arsenals of trail tools we’ve ever seen. It was impressive: Pick and grub mattocks, rakes of every size and shape, pulaskis, mcleods, hoes, and one Puller-Bear. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that one later.
After Chris’ safety talk (and a nice demonstration of the world’s largest largest ‘circle of death’) we split into groups, gathered our tools and headed to the project site. As the new trail began to take shape, I overheard many conversations about tools. It’s no surprise that everyone had a list a mile long as to why their tool was the best for building trail. For us, we’re not really partial to any particular implement just as long as you don’t dig holes.
One of the most valuable tools of the weekend was the Puller-Bear. Best described as something that can extract woody plants (trees, shrubs, etc) with the flick of the wrist, the P-Bear uses leverage to do its job. As a one man show, Richard happily removed every woody plant in the new trail during the field session. You can bet he saved a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for the folks who do the same thing with a Pulaski.
So tools can be many things to help us get what we want. Work smarter, not harder, right? The folks in northwestern Alabama would certainly agree.
Thanks to WAMBA, BUMP, Tannehill State Park, Velocity Pro Cycles, Bob Sykes BBQ, all of the volunteers, and Alec Wheeler for a great visit.
More Pictures from the weekend: