How Are Mountain Bike Trails Built And Cared For? | MTB Trail Advocacy

How Are Mountain Bike Trails Built And Cared For? | MTB Trail Advocacy


Have you ever
wondered how trails are built, maintained and funded? This is Bristol, a city in
the south west of England. Home to 460,000 people
and just a couple of miles outside of the city
center is Ashton Court. A public set of mountain bike trails but have you ever spent much time thinking about how these trails appear? How organizes it? Who designs it? Where does the money come from and who actually builds these trails? So today we’re gonna meet some pretty dedicated individuals who are here on a really horrible winter
day to make these trails. (Relaxing music) Alright Matt.
– How you doing, mate? – What you doing? Raking away? So, Matt, what is your role in all this work that’s going on here? – I guess I’m just making it up and I’ve sort of fallen into a bit of a project manager role
where I’m fundraising in order to get the money
to do what we’re doing here. We put a steering group together and basically, once we’ve got some money, we sit on the group, we work out where it needs to be spent and then
we have dig days like this and then that’s all
about getting volunteers to come in, barrow stone,
to help this place survive. – How hard to you find
it to raise the cash that’s necessary to build these trails or even maintain the trails? – This phase of maintenance is gonna cost around £5000, just under £5000 and that’s mostly on tipper
hire and digger hire. And we raise that in about six weeks and that’s all from the
general public giving. People giving through our webpage and that goes straight into a pot. All our money then goes
straight into the trails we don’t take any of that. – What about local support? Things like the materials you need, have
you found that easy to come by? – Yeah, so there’s a quarry
just over the way, actually. Durnford Quarry and so
that’s run by Tarmac. So they given 100 tons of type one stone. Type one stone is kinda the
slightly bigger aggregate that we’re using to build the features and then there’s a
local lad whose given us 20 tons of dust which is the top surface that goes on the trails as well. So all of the materials have
been paid for for this job. – We’re really close to
a really big urban center so potentially lots of
people come and use this. So it’s gotta be designed
and built to withstand a lot of riders, that must actually take quite a bit of thought to actually how you position the trails,
where the corners go, the materials you use as well I suppose. – Yeah, so we’re really lucky
to be working with Architrail who, I mean, that’s their
job so they know there stuff. They built this trail initially and so we’ll continue to ask them for their guidance around that stuff. So the methods that we use to build trails essentially are taught from Architrail. What we’re doing here is
cutting out their labor time which essentially makes things cheaper. – Come on then, come on then, come on. Stick it over there. – Come on, mate, it’s going
on the end there, lovely. – Have you never build a ber? So as Matt said, there’s
fees involved with building these trails, there’s volunteers as well as materials but also, there’s some professionals
and this is Architrail. – Alright, Duncan.
– Hello. – So, tell me, what is Architrail? – Architrail, well we’re
a Bristol based company that design and build
mountain bike trails. We do it all over the country
and internationally as well. Luckily this week we’re
in Ashton Court in Bristol which is our local
trails, which is great to help out and do some
work on the local trails that we get to ride all the time as well. – I was gonna say, I know
your background of course but for our viewers who may not, you’re a professional racer
or you used to race a lot at least.
– That’s it yeah. – So, this is passion as
well as business, I suppose. – It is yeah, I mean, what’s not to love. I get to build some mountain
bike trails in the woods and I get to go and enjoy them afterwards. – What about, you’ve got a volunteer group helping you today, is that a normal thing? Or is that, you know, unusual? – No that’s pretty
unusual, it’s great to see sort of, the local community
giving back to trails really. We’ve spent a lot of time
working all over the country just putting mountain bike trails in and we don’t get to
see the local community so it’s great to have them come and help. – You also design the trails as far as grading them on how easy
or hard they’re gonna be but also using the depository of the land, is that quite a complex job to make sure that that trail rides as
well as it possibly can? – It can be, we spend a lot
of time trying to work out the best line of the
trail, create great flow, use those natural features,
use the natural ground shape. It can be a really satisfying job especially when it all
comes together at the end. – Somewhere like this,
you’d probably expect this to be ridden a lot, as well, so that must influence the way
you build the trail as well. – Of course, yeah, so
like, this kinda trail here is built with loads of
stone and imported materials because it gets so much use, so. I think they’ve had,
when they first opened they had almost 900 passes
in a day up here, before. So, you can’t really
build a trail with natural ground conditions when you
get so many riders a day being close to Bristol city center. – Of course, people ride all year round in these conditions, it is supposed to be an all weather trail.
– Yep. That’s it, it’s supposed
to be an all weather trail so guys can come and
ride in the pouring rain like it is today and go home and they’ve hardly even got a muddy bike, so, and they get a good experience
of our mountain biking, so it’s great. – [Interviewer] Ashton
Court is a great example of local riders and business owners taking control of their trails. Fundraising between them
and then volunteering to make that money stretch. But that’s not where the complexity ends. What does it take to build a trail? – So, from the very beginning, I suppose, this area, Ashton Court in Bristol is a very sensitive landscape. – Kind of, rare Orchids and rare birds on the Ashton Court estate
which they’re tryna protect. Any kind of planning, to start off with, had got to go through four
different groups of people which is difficult.
– So we’d work on design and where the actual trail is going. The GPS line, we look at
features of the ground. There was an original trail here that people used to use
and ride back in the day and what the council and local
land users are worried about was wearing out too much
and damaging the trees. – They wanted to stop
people just cutting lines in any old place and make sure that people were staying to a desired
line in the trails and that’s how the got funding originally. – The physical trail you see behind me, how this was built, to
protect the tree roots, we actually come in with
a bigger stone layer, and we put that on two to 300ml depth. – What they’re doing is they’re
preparing the trail surface, getting a rough shape of
where things are gonna go. And then, once that’s been done, what we’re doing here begins so barrowing type one stone to build features
as and where we want them. That gets compacted and wackered, you start to see the shape appear then and then last of all is the
dusting which is that … – Stone dust on top and that
binds everything together. Creates a smooth riding surface. – Because I’ve been riding for years and I just wanna put
something back really. – How many people can you find
that are willing to do this? – So, we’ve got 65 people
who’ve said they’re gonna come. – 65 is good.
– And we’ve got another, I reckon we’ll have another
five or six on top of that. So unless the weather
really puts people off we should have really good turn out. Probably more than we might need, but it’s never too many.
– So, that’s a pretty big number of the local riding community to decide that it’s definitely
worth while, of course, to come and sort these
trails out, fix them. And of course, the whole community benefits from it, I suppose. – They do and even the
people who can’t come are really positive, I’ve
spent a couple of rides stopping talking to riders
as I was going round. Talked to well over 50 people and everybody was enthusiastic and most people wanted to be here. A lot couldn’t of course,
cause it’s the working week so they couldn’t get out of work but yeah it’s making it less dangerous, less sketchy for the
beginners, for the kids, which is great because you
need somewhere to build up your confidence and your skills and it makes it more fun for
the experienced riders as well because you can go a bit quicker, there’s more to challenge you. (upbeat music) – Man, it’s so much more different. It’s so much more fun,
you’ve got flow in the trail, you’ve got rollers where
there’s supposed to be rollers. You can gain speed off
these rollers, into turns. And it’s all riders who can ride this, there’s no crazy gaps
or drops of anything so right from a beginner to an expert can have fun on this
trail and being an expert, there’s loads of little bits
where you can double up, have a challengeable gap, makes this trail a little bit more spicy, I like it. – Well done to all the
crew that’s been involved in revamping this trail
and all the ongoing work. Now I’m sure a lot of you
who’ve watched this video are already involved in your local trails on helping them work out, do all the work to get those trails revamped. But if you’re not, hopefully
this has inspired you to get involved, ask some questions, donate your time, donate your money, dig a shovel out and
help build those trails. Come on, I think we should keep riding. – I think we should bed
this trail in a lot more. – That’s our part of the job is it? – That is a part of the job, yeah. – If you wanna see a cheap bike challenge, click over here.
– If you wanna see how to build a small beginner
jump, click over here. – Hit the thumbs up and
the subscribe button. – See ya.