While Digger is a familiar face to those who frequent Fromme, we’d like to introduce you to a few others who toil in the dirt to keep our trails in tip top shape. Whoever you see caring for our trails, remember to smile and say thank you! We’ll start with our Trail Academy team, Martin and Penny.
How long have you been riding? Building?
Martin: I got my first mtb in 1990, a fully rigid Marin with toe clips. I started working on the trails after attending the Trail Academy about 5 years ago. My first project was rebuilding Severed from top to bottom. As it changed from mud pit and creek back into trail, I changed from eager volunteer into an NSMBA builder.
Penny: A (now ex) boyfriend took me out on Cypress for my first ride, in 1995 I think. Ultimately the relationship didn’t work out, but I was hooked on mountain biking. The first trail day I attended was with the NSMBA on Coiler on Cypress in 1999, but I never attended trail days regularly. When Martin started working on Severed, I offered to help out, found it fun, and then took the Trail Academy to learn more.
How did you get into trail building (that project)?
Martin: I’ve always ridden through the winter, but felt very bad riding the muddy mess that was Severed at the time. I always attended trail days but I wanted to do something more specifically on Severed. After taking the academy, I asked NSMBA if I could do some emergency maintenance work, and then spent the next 18 months working on it.
Penny: I really didn’t like Severed. The top bit was fun, then there was a muddy mess, followed by another fun bit, and it ended in a trench that resembled a creek more than a trail. I preferred the steeps of C Buster. Helping Martin transform the mud and creek into fun pumpy single track was really rewarding. I enjoyed the challenge of fixing a trail that many told us was unfixable.
Favourite place ever ridden (not the shore)
Penny: Ooo, tough one! I definitely want to go back Finale Ligure – sweet single track and wonderful people; plus it’s Italy, the wine and food are incredible. Closer to home, Farwell Canyon, Williams Lake is always a favourite
Martin: Away from BC it would be Chamonix, France. Amazing technical trails, breath taking scenery, and a real cool village for apres. But it’s hard to favour anything over Whistler and Squamish, oh so good.
What trail building feature or project are you most proud to have worked on?
Penny: I’ll confess I’m pretty stoked to see so many people enjoying Penny Lane and Good Sir Martin, but overcoming the challenges of revitalizing Severed and everything I learned through that project edges out the climb. Top of the list though is working with the Trail Academy and seeing others develop a passion for trail work too.
Martin: I try to take pride in all the trail work I do so there are many projects I’m proud of; but with a gun to my head it would have to be the new Seymour climbing trail we put in a couple years ago. It isn’t perfect, but I learned a tremendous amount, and people love the trail and the connections it opens up. Who knew a climb trail could be so popular!
What’s one thing you’d like to see in in the future of the North Shore trail network?
Martin: Our network is pretty amazing and I love it, but I think extending the single track climbing route on Seymour all the way to the highest trail head would be amazing.
Penny: Yeah, a single track climb to the top of CBC would be sweet. I’d add to that a blue descent from Mushroom (Seymour picnic area). Adding a few key connections to link up existing blue lines would help diversify the network.
What’s your favourite trail building tool? And why in three words or less.
Martin: Mattock: strong, versatile.
Penny: Haha, what he said. If I could only have one tool, I’d pick a mattock.
After “have fun”, what’s the best piece of advice to people riding trails?
Penny: Support your local trail association! There is strength in numbers, your membership counts not just in dollars. Come out to a Trail Academy, a trail day, or volunteer to help in other ways. There’s always lots to do and it’s an inspiring community to be a part of.
Martin: Join NSMBA? I’d say, be gracious to every trail user you meet; bikers, runners, hikers, families, animals. Be an example to others, in a good way!
What’s your favourite trail building catch phrase?
Penny: No ferns on a powder day! We’ve been known to be out working in the snow. And, well, the snow isn’t so great for re-naturalizing areas (transplanting ferns and moss).
Martin: Never build flat trail, you’re just building a future puddle, always slope the trail somewhere.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of trail building?
Martin: Seeing people’s enjoyment of what you created.
Penny: Me too. I like hearing the laughter and whoops and hollers.
What’s the most frustrating aspect of trail building?
Penny: When trail users lack respect for the trail or other users. Seeing hard work put into the trail wrecked. Seeing one user make another uncomfortable.
Martin: Same. Disrespectful riders, be it to other trail users, or to a volunteer working hard on or for the trails.
Who’s your trail building hero, and why?
Martin: Digger. What a pioneer, totally selfless and totally dedicated. And Ewan Fafard. Builder of Squid Line and Arduum DH track; two very very different trails but so wonderfully crafted. True talent.
Penny: I’ve had the honor to work with and learn from many of the NSMBA builders and all are my heroes. But I also want to thank the behind the scenes heroes – advocates working with land managers to get permission and ensuring we have the trails to build, maintain, and enjoy for years to come.
Which part of your body suffers most from trail building?
Penny: I have tendinitis in my elbow and the occasional very painful sciatica flare. Regular stretching and strength training seem to keep me going though.
Martin: My back. You get strong quickly doing trail work, but that’s no reason to lift heavy rocks. Take it from someone who knows! I learned the hard way to use the muscle between my ears to ease the strain on the others!
Photo Credits: Penny, Martin, and Peter Lonergan