We’ve been having so much fun encouraging the mountain bike community to get out and dig with our Dig To Ride Fund and Photo Contest that we thought we’d take a moment to step back and answer your #1 question: how do I get involved with my local trail alliance and dig trails?
One of our own local trail alliances is the Truckee Dirt Union. We caught up with founder Matt Chappell to get his take on how, and more importantly, why we should all take part in building trails:
“The first step is to show up for essential volunteer work days. This is where you will work with hand tools for clearing, repair work and routine maintenance. At TDU, we take pride in creating a volunteer experience where our Trail Force of volunteers enjoy a labor of love, connect with people and share a passion for the forest.”
In order to participate in a trail work day, find your local trail alliance online or through your town or county chamber of commerce. Sign up for newsletters, follow them on social media or email the organizers directly. Trail work days happen most often in the shoulder seasons when the dirt is easiest to work with, but peak-season maintenance trail work days are also important.
Expect a day of hard work with a whole lot of return. You’ll make friends, learn how to improve trails and, most often, the whole family is invited. Be prepared with gloves, sturdy shoes like our TNT, sunglasses or eye protection, and a helmet or hardhat. The trail alliance should provide necessary tools and instructions on how to use them and where.
Another trail alliance that’s doing great work on the Oregon coast is TORTA. TORTA board member Moria Belsey describes how mountain bikers can support trail alliances that haven’t yet been approved to begin a trail project:
“New trail projects require so much hard work before digging and machine time even begins. Volunteers are needed for grant applications, accounting and fundraising. Community support is fundamental to a sustainable trail program. Consider rallying your riding buddies, family and colleagues to join you in promoting public trails in your area. Share your first-hand experiences about how public access to trails is great for community-wide health and the local economy.”
Seek out and participate in events, gatherings and auctions that benefit your local trail alliance. Remember, public trail access is paramount to a riding everyday, so please respect your local land owners and stakeholders such as the Forest Service and never build sanctioned trails. Land owner relationships are essential to long-term trail building.