Mountain biking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. If you’ve got the bike and the skillz, nothing beats a sunny afternoon on the X70 hammering down single track, or working your way through a rock garden. Even if you’re just out cruising on the X50 on something a little more tame – say a path in the local park, or a fire road, or if getting up a grinder on the Paratrooper Pro is more your speed – whatever kind of riding you’re into, you couldn’t do it without regular trail maintenance.
If you ride at a mountain bike park, trail maintenance might be taken care of by park staff. In fact, many ski areas officially open their trails to mountain bikers during the summer months. Depending on where you go, there may be rental equipment available, as well as instruction, kids’ camps, and a trials course. Since these converted ski areas are usually privately owned and maintained, it’s a pretty good bet that the trails will be in good shape.
But if you’re riding singletrack in your local backwoods, chances are the parks department can’t keep up with all the trail maintenance that needs to be done – either because they don’t have the resources, or because the trail is an unmarked, unofficial route, known only to smaller groups of riders. If so, then it’s generally up to those riders to take care of the trails themselves. If you’re looking to do some trail upkeep in your area, a good place to start is with your local chapter of the IMBA. In addition to possessing the tools and the know-how, these folks also organize trail maintenance events, so it’s a great way to meet other MTB riders (and maybe even other Montague owners) in your area. But if you’ve got some trails your working on yourself, here are a few trail maintenance tips.
Clear the Way
Especially in spring and summer, it’s important to keep on top of branches protruding into the trail. You want to keep your line clear – everyone likes a good vegetable tunnel now and again, but it’s no fun to clothesline yourself on a low-hanging branch. Keeping the line clear also means looking out for large fallen branches and moving those out of the way. You may want to try and prune back nettles and brambles growing close to the trail’s edge as well, since these aren’t so nice to land in if you take a fall.
Reinforce Your Corners
Over time, both nature and repeated riding take their toll on trails, especially in the corners. As a bike turns, the wheels push dirt from centre of the trail to the edges, which can create deep and dangerous ruts. While some of this wear and tear is what makes a good trail and working with more difficult terrain helps you progress as a rider, you don’t want it to get out of hand. And if you get a lot of heavy rain, if you don’t keep up with the corners, you may find sections fall away completely. You don’t want the trails to deteriorate to such a stage that they’re unrideable, or otherwise impassable for others who use them.
Ensure Proper Drainage
Perhaps nothing erodes a good trail faster than a heavy rain and standing water. To keep your favourite trail intact, it’s really important to make sure water runs out of the trail, instead of sitting on it. Again, you might want to pay particular attention to the corners, where water can pool, and dig little drainage canals so that water will run out of the corners, instead of creating potentially dangerous dips. When you’re doing routine maintenance, you should check that your drainage system is in good shape, that it’s not blocked by debris, and that the channels are deep enough.
What are your Trail Maintenance Tips?
How do you keep your local trails in top riding condition? Do you have any trail maintenance events planned? Are you getting out to work on those trails this weekend? What’s the most overgrown/eroded you ever seen? How did you repair it? We’d love to hear your MTB stories –have you done any cool rides on your Montague folding bike recently? And as always, ride safe!