My earliest experiences in trail maintenance and stewardship began around 15-16 years ago. I wasn’t part of any local trail advocacy group nor even knew of any. A local chapter might have existed but I had no connection. Instead, the trail network that I used regularly was my focal point. Every now and then myself with another mountain biking guide would go out and trim back branches and work on trails that were being washed out by the rain. The trails we rode and used were not built by mountain bikers, instead they were trails first cut by cattle and horseback riders. Erosion was a constant but I didn’t know any different as we worked to maintain the trails.
These trails were rough … and I mean rough. Rocky, eroded, and zero flow. That was all I knew and most of the other local trails were simply the same. Fast forward to today and many of the trail systems we ride today have been meticulously planned and with hard work painstakingly kept up. Trail stewardship has and continues to come a long ways. Therefore, whenever I go out and ride I can’t but help notice all of the love and care that goes into trails.
Yesterday was my first ride on dirt after my shoulder injury. I had done a few laps the day before at the local in-city bike park to see how I’d feel. Time and physical therapy have worked so far, but I was itching for bigger adventures. I brought my camera because I wanted to take it easy, enjoy the day, and stop frequently to take photos. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
All throughout my ride and numerous stops one of the themes I couldn’t shake was trail stewardship. Here I was riding on a beautiful and growing trail network maintained by my local trail alliance that I’m a member of. Since I wasn’t anywhere near “crushing it” I simply noticed and observed … the bridges, berms, signage, and the like. It was a stark contrast to the trails I used to ride even 15 years ago which had little to no maintenance then, no berms, no flow, and lots of rocks. Sure, some long for the “good ol days” but not really. With VERY short travel bikes those trails would beat you up. Instead, today’s trails are sublime and fun … VERY fun.
I’m excited that Loam Coffee at times plays a very small role in this (and I mean small). Apart from our Trail Builders Blend coffee on occasion we send coffee to different trail building work days. This coming weekend we’ll serve pourovers for the work crew at another trail building day and then dig. Is it much? No, not at all. But I think that’s the point too. It doesn’t take a gargantuan effort by the few, but instead a little bit by a lot of people. Thank you all who dig and build.
Words and photos by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager.