This weekend we had the awesome opportunity to attend a full weekend of events in Sedona presented by the Suburu IMBA Trail Care Crew (TCC), Jake and Jenny. The Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition brought the TCC to Sedona, where they have a passionate mountain biking community and a lot of gnarly trails. I have just started riding in Sedona and I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet other local riders and get another perspective on the trails.
Jake and Jenny presented three workshops, Club Care, Land Manager Training, and Sustainable Trail Building. IMBA has devoted a lot of time and resources to identifying the best practices in trail design, building for sustainability, and club development. They train two TCCs who then travel the country spending almost every weekend passing on that knowledge to club leaders and land managers. As many of our regular readers know, Jay and I are applying to become the next TCC. Not only did we learn a lot this weekend about Sedona singletrack, we also had the unique opportunity to see a TCC in action. It was busy and tiring weekend, but we definitely ended the weekend hoping more than ever that we are chosen as the next TCC.
On Saturday, after a morning classroom session on designing and building sustainable trails, we actually had a chance to re-route a section of the Slim Shady Trail. The Slim Shady Trail was built by locals and was not part of a planned system. The Forest Service, who manages the land, has been evaluating these unauthorized user built trails and deciding where, when, and how they can be incorporated into the trail system. In this particular case Slim Shady serves as an important connector from the Village of Oak Creek to Sedona and therefore the Forest Service decided to find a way to adopt it. In order to incorporate this trail, some sections needed to be rerouted because they had the potential to damage cultural sites or protected wildlife. We had the opportunity to re-route one such section. With the help of the TCC the new trail was laid out along the contours of the hillside and was designed to have some fun natural challenges to keep it in character with the rest of the trail.
For the actual trail work we had a large group with several experienced trail builders. We were able to divide up into small groups and work on small sections of the new trail segment. I got to work on a lower section where the trail transitioned from large juniper trees with a base of duff to a sandy dip. As the trail dipped into the sandy drainage we decided to reinforce the low point with rock armoring. I really enjoyed working on this challenge with the only other female volunteer, Jodi. Together we found rocks that were the right size and shape, dug out a hole for them and fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle. This was Jodi’s first time doing trail work and I think she appreciated the chance to see that trail building is a good mix of problem solving and playing in the dirt.
After classes on Thursday and Friday and trail building on Saturday, we finally got to actually ride our bikes on Sunday. I am used to riding alone or with Jay, so this group ride was intimidating at first. Not to mention it’s Sedona, and as Jenny and Jake pointed out, an intermediate Sedona trail is a black diamond advanced trail most other places. Luckily, Dave, a local mountain biker and former mountain bike instructor at Whistler, was acting as the sweep and therefore as my personal support system. Dave was not only patient and encouraging, but he was also a great teacher. I probably learned more in a two hour ride with Dave than I learned in the past six months biking alone. Note to self: participate in more group rides and look into classes.
Overall the weekend was a huge success. The TCC visits serve as a catalyst for mountain bike clubs and land management agencies to gather together. Connections were made and important conversations were started at this TCC visit that will have a lasting impact on Sedona. We were thrilled to be a part of it. Thanks Jake and Jenny and IMBA for this opportunity!