Sandy Ridge Trails (SRT) is a network of mountain bike trails nestled between the town of Sandy and Mt Hood. These trails provide flowy tracks for beginners and pumpy jumps for the seasoned rider. This area is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and open year-round, although you should think twice about ripping it on a soggy track. Recently, SRT opened after week-long maintenance from International Mountain Bike Association’s (IMBA) Trail Solutions, an internal group of professional trail builders that are contracted by IMBA. They are internationally recognized for developing trails, and with the experience of diverse locations, they have a plan for the weather… And for Oregon, we’re talking about the magic that falls from the sky and pools up the trails.
None of this work is free though. Thanks to the NWTA community and its members, we were able to raise annual amounts of nearly $10,000 from Sandy Shuttle fundraisers in previous summers. Where did the work go? To the trails, of course! What part of the trails? Now that’s where this big discussion comes into play.
Quid Pro Flow, Communication Breakdown, 338, and Johnny Royal all saw some maintenance this year. QPF, CB, and 338 received routine maintenance such as drainage fixes and smoothing out trails to make them flow better. Johnny Royal, however, took maintenance to fix some damage as well as finish the original intended build. Because of the time of year JR was originally built, there wasn’t much moisture in the soil, and it could not be finished. The builders knew JR would get a lot of action from riders since it was Summer, and knew they would have to come back for some maintenance after it got ridden in. Before they could come back and do the work, some well-intentioned riders decided they should modify the shape of some jumps, which negatively affected the landings and takeoffs, requiring them to do a lot more repair work than intended.
Shane Wilson of IMBA Trail Solutions described trails as you would a painting, metaphorically speaking. You need a canvas, paints, and a subject, and then the artist creates the vision for the piece. It’s true, and our role, as Trail Stewards and riders, is to preserve this masterpiece without changing the style of Picasso’s nose or putting ears back on Van Gogh. When people come and put graffiti on the work, it takes more effort to clean up the artwork while also doing routine maintenance.
The gaps on Johnny Royal were filled in this year, creating more predictable take-offs and landings. You should expect a smooth landing if you’re flying through the air on your sweet ride. All the extra dirt creates stronger takeoffs and landings that can hold their shape longer. Same height. Same distance. Just better structure.
We asked Shane what we can do as trail stewards, and he said If volunteers are interested (if they enjoy the trail), to get in touch with NWTA trail steward Brent Sullivan ([email protected] ) and discuss with him how they can contribute to the upkeep of trails. JR needs a crew of stoked people to keep it well maintained. Sandy Ridge has some world-class riding, and it can always use some help. That kind of quality riding doesn’t just materialize out of nowhere!
Our two pieces of advice. First, don’t mess with the trail’s structure. It could seriously hurt someone who expects the trail to ride as it was designed. It also takes more energy to restore it back to proper trail standards. This work costs a pretty penny, and that money could have gone into other trails that need work. Second, If you’re stoked on a trail and want it to keep its shape, then donate, volunteer, or help with small drainage fixes when riding.
“The donations and the Trail Stewards make it happen,” said Wilson. We are truly thankful for the support in the community for making this happen. Well said, Shane. Thank you all! ***NWTA Volunteer activities are still on hold due to COVID. Also, stay tuned on when we open trail workdays again*** #LetNWTAhelp