“Trails don’t build themselves.”
When you think about that statement, it makes sense. Right..? Trails don’t build themselves. Somebody made them. How they were made and how long it took are irrelevant concepts to most people. As long as there’s a trail to ride, you’re good to go.
I’ve been riding bikes and building trails for 28yrs now. While I’m not “old” by any means, I have been around the sport long enough to remember U-brakes and rigid forks and U-brakes on rigid forks.
“Work smarter, not harder.”
As I approach my mid 40’s, this statement rings true to me more than ever. I love riding bikes and I love building trails. But I don’t love spending all my energy lugging gear and materials into the build site. There’s only so much you can bribe friends and family to help Sherpa in the goods. And one day, when we’re truly old, our backs might revolt on us. Those long journeys packing in materials gave me much time to scheme about finding a more efficient way.
Since the late 80’s, many new technologies propelled grow in mountain biking. It’s hard to fathom how front suspension wasn’t welcomed with open arms when it first arrived on the scene. Before even pedaling around on a bike with this “newfangled” front suspension, the naysayers had complaints about the forks being too heavy or mucking with climbing. The bike shop I worked at as a teen brought in one of the original RockShox RS1. That fork sat for weeks before someone gave it a go. Can you even imagine resisting suspension in today’s modern era of riding?
“Building community by building trails.”
After moving to the Fraser Valley 13yrs ago, I became very active with the local ride community. I joined the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association (FVMBA) to help with Trail Building & Trail Advocacy. I’ve personally established relationships with Land Managers to keep trail access open on a large mountain of private land. With the support of the FVMBA, I initiated events to raise funds for trail tools and supplies. One of these events was a Toonie Series, which eventually morphed into the popular FVMBA TrailBlazer Series. At the Grassroots level, I also took the simplicity of Toonie racing and started the Saturday Morning CINCO Training Series. In 2015, after discovering a love for yet another cycling discipline, I founded ValleyCross, a Premier Cyclocross Series. As my wife would say, I’m big on community … especially when bikes are involved.
My various side projects have allowed me to build a strong relationship with Harv Bergen, owner of LifeCycle’s Bike Shop and with the local Specialized Rep. At a spring LifeCycle’s Specialized Demo day, I took their new LEVO for a rip. I’ll admit it, I was crank-based E-bike curious. Could this be the trail building steed I’d been scheming of?
LifeCycle’s and my Specialized Rep supported my pitch to Specialized Canada: introduce pedal assisted E-Bikes into the local ride scene.
“E-Bikes mean different things to different people.”
E-bikes have been steadily gaining a strong presence in the bike industry. Bike companies wouldn’t be investing heavily into battery technologies and frame design if there wasn’t strong market support.
In my local scene here in British Columbia, there has been some resistance and misconceptions surrounding E-bikes. Especially pedal assisted E-bikes. After that demo ride, I’ve been able to see through all the current rhetoric surrounding pedal assisted E-bikes. I now recognize the merits of an E-bike.
For over a decade now, I’ve been a strong supporter of the Specialized brand. XC, CX, Road, kids bikes… my shed reflects the N+1 bike happiness philosophy. Testing out the Specialized Levo convinced me to make room for another member in the bike family.
“The right tools for the job.”
After receiving the LEVO HT from Specialized Canada, I got to work figuring out how to transport my tools, etc. for various upcoming build projects. Because not all builds are the same, I needed to anticipate what different build scenarios would require what.
Some builds would require mattocks, rakes and shovels. Some builds would consist of chainsaw work to clear blow down.
“Crank Based, Pedal Assisted Building.”
The benefits of assisted pedaling while hauling a trailer, allowed me to think bigger. Because other builds would be more of the maintenance variety, a brushing trimmer and fuel would be required to combat stinging nettles on over grown trails.
Other times I’ll just need to haul material like cedar which isn’t always readily available near your build site. Packing ceder rungs is a common, laborious task for trail builders.
“Join a trail day – I’ll bring the tools.”
For the most part, riders do want to help with trail work but a killer ride with friends easily trumps digging dirt at a trail day. But who says you can’t do both?
“Ride-in & Build days” have become popular through the early season here in the Fraser Valley. Builders get the help they need, the trails get the much needed maintenance and riders can still shred, to and from the build sites. Win, win for everyone.
Having a pedal assisted E-bike to ease the load of hauling tools and materials into the trails will lead to more trail days and work on the trails. The misconception that crank based E-bikes will increase the wear on trails couldn’t be farther from the truth. By using an E-Bike to ease the burden of packing trail tools to different build locations, Pedal assist E-bikes have the chance of improving the quality of trails and helping to get riders more involved in their ride community.
Interested in what went into making the Specialized LEVO Builder Bike & trailer? Check out Trail Builders bike check – Part II.