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Take Care Of Your Trails – A Call To Arms

Shred, slash, roost! What are we doing? Attack that corner, detonate that berm, what did our gentle trails ever do to us?

We, the media, are most at fault. Magazine covers parade the latest hotshot excavating a wheelbarrow’s worth of dirt with their back wheel. Yes, we all love a good roost shot, mud, and debris flying skywards after the assault of a hard charging rider. But, with this weekend being the IMBA ‘take care of your trails weekend,’ it’s perhaps time to give something back, it’s time to start thinking rebuild rather than attack.

We are all on a never ending hunt to find fresh turns, but let’s not forget what we already have.

Shred Till it’s Gone, Then Move on

As mountain bikes we love our scars, boasting in the pubs about this crash or that broken bone, it unites us in our passion. But what about the scars we leave on the mountainside, the long forgotten trails that have succumbed to disinterest, erosion and water damage, once glorious but now about as much fun to ride as juggling hedgehogs blindfolded. A mindset of ‘shred till it’s gone, then move on’ pervades the riding community. Roosting the life out of a berm before scandy flicking someone’s labour of love all over the hillside, without a care for the next rider to hit the trail.

It’s Time to Think Rebuild not Build

With the birth of STRAVA and Trailforks there are no secrets anymore, as soon as a new red line pops up on the digital map, hordes of cutters and skidders descend like a cloud of locusts, eager to straighten out all the corners and ‘foot out – flat out’ round carefully built flow lines. When puddles form, we cut around them, making the hole bigger and making the situation worse. We skid into corners, dragging the trail with us, and when it’s muddy as hell and the trail finally breathes a sigh of relief, we slap on a big spiked mud tyre and paddle steamer our way to the bottom, leaving ruts deep enough to hide a body. It’s time for us to act more responsibly, we need to change our mindset from ‘build’ to ‘rebuild’, we can still shred, but with one eye on sustainability.

What about those long forgotten trails in your area, could they be restored?

Giving Something Back

The ‘Take Care Of Your Trails’ weekend seems the perfect time to rebuild some trail karma, so why not give your local trails some thought. It could be anything from restoring an old trail back to it’s former glory, or simply draining some puddles. Imagine if the mountain bike community took more responsibility for our trails, giving a little back each ride, well wouldn’t that be a flowy, berm rich nirvana? To get you started here’s some tips to try on your next ride to give your trails some love.

If we all spent 5 minutes a ride working on the trails, we would make a huge difference. Go on, be a flipping hero!


Water is the death of trails, left unchecked, it will eat through weeks of hard graft faster than a hungry dog locked in a cake shop. One of the best and easiest thing you can do to help your trails is to improve the drainage. Next time you dodge round a puddle, have a look and see if there’s a solution. Of course, you can cut a little channel to drain the puddle, but the best way is to ‘knick’ the trail. If you create a depression on the outside of the trail to allow water to run off this will stop water pooling in the future. Thinking long term will not only help the trail survive but also grant you some ‘trail karma’ points, that are known to prevent punctures. If we all did one per ride, our trails would be a happier place.

Draining piddles is as therapeutic as popping bubble wrap, though for a long term solution a bigger depression should be cut.

Skids are not Cutties

This is one for the Instagram heroes, yeah you know who you are! Skidding round a corner is not cool, it may make you look like you are so pinned that you are defying the laws of physics, but all you are doing is ruining the trail for everyone else. Have fun, enjoy, get wild, throw shapes, but learn how to corner properly.

Every Trail Deserves Rest

Do you know, there are people out there who do not ride when it’s wet? Yes, there are people who live in climates where the sun shines 90% of the time, here in Scotland we call those people ‘Lucky Ba@~ards’. When you live somewhere where it rains a lot, it’s hard to avoid sensitive trails when they’re wet, but there is always some trails that are more resistant to weather than others. So before you go and stick on a big mud spike and tear the life out of that fragile natural trail, if the conditions are sloppy is there a more sustainable alternative. Think sustainability and our network will grow and grow.

If the trails are wetter than an otters pocket, perhaps it’s time to ride something less sensitive.

Cover the ENDURO Lines

Looking at some of the lines that pop up in our local woodland, you would be forgiven for thinking that most mountain bikes seek nothing more than a 5 km descent, in a perfectly straight line. These ‘enduro’ lines or desire lines are the bane of proper trail builders. Now we would certainly not recommend actively blocking trails, doing so is only recommended if you enjoy fighting. However, we can hide developing lines with leaves, and certainly not use them ourselves while in a KOM seeking red mist.

Don’t be lured into cut lines.

The Power of Numbers

If you want to really make a difference, then get a group of buddies together and form a trail repair posse. Rather than build something new, what about the trails you already have? You know, what about that trail with the sketchy landing off that drop, or that berm that used to be epic but is now blown out. A bit of spade and mattock work can rebuild tired and forgotten trails back to their former glory. Are there official trail building parties working in your area? If so, give them a call.

See if there are any official trail building work parties you can join, make friends and give the trail some love at the same time, win-win.

Spending 5 minutes every ride sorting out a trail feature will not only make your rides more fun but improve our reputation with the other trail users. Now if only horse riders would do the same……

DISCLAIMER: ENDURO do not promote illegal trail building, always seek the landowner’s permission before undertaking any trail building activities.

To find out more about the IMBA Take Care Of Your Trails weekend, check out their website to see what’s going on near you.