I’ve come to the realization that, outside of my 10-20 hours of training per week, communicating with/promoting sponsors/potential sponsors, and taking care of an occasionally vigorous schedule of domestic duties that include (but aren’t limited to) cooking, cleaning, and wrenching on bikes, I’ve got enough spare time that I can use it to try and make a difference somewhere important to my community.
As most of you have noticed, I’ve somewhat recently started getting in to more trail work. It’s a product of always wanting to do trail work combined with finally having someone to do it with. Nothing against the local group that typically plans/executes work days (they did a huge work day last weekend and cleared a couple of miles worth of corridor), but they’re usually working on Saturday mornings, which is when I’m usually racing or training.
To expand on that, I’ve joined the review team that’s being formed to plan the rebuilding of the abused/worn out Tour de Wolf trail in Shelby Farms park near my house. The trail was once the site of a huge, national-level mountain bike race back in the late 90’s/early 2000s. Now, it’s the trail that everyone in the city of Memphis rides/walks/runs. It’s extremely high-volume, and, in many areas, the trail is not built in a way that is resilient to either the weather and/or the volume of use. So, later this month, I’m going to the first of the meetings to make plans for restoring the trail.
Also in my plans is a similar call to action for the Syllamo trails. While they may be nearly 4 hours away from Memphis, the Syllamo trails (an IMBA-designated “epic” trail) are where I’ve effectively learned how to ride technical terrain. Unfortunately, given its remote location and the continuing encroachment of logging operations, the small, dedicated group of us who have been trying to do trail maintenance are grossly overfaced. Not only are there the usual needs of maintaining 50+ miles of trail corridor, the loggers are destroying parts of the trail by clear-cutting them, running over trail tread with heavy equipment, and leaving logging debris down the length of the trail area they clear. Even when the debris is cleared and the trail re-established, the logged-off areas become an impassable jungle in the spring/summer.
About two weeks ago, it was reported that they clear-cut part of one of my favorite sections of trail. I’ve spent hours- literally- riding that one section, because it’s incredibly difficult, but it’s totally clean-able. I was somewhat devastated. Then, I decided to stop being devastated and start trying to fight back. I talked to the others about what we could do for help and, last Sunday morning, while I was sitting in the woods waiting for the High School race to start, sent an email plea to IMBA about our need for assistance.
They were very quick to respond (one of the guys in the Trail Cleaners group had recently met/told the new regional IMBA guy about the problems of the trail), and after a lot of group emails and whatnot, a few of us are meeting with the Steve, the regional IMBA director, and Jay, the Sylamore Ranger District Natural Resources Specialist at the USFS office a week from today.
I’m not writing this post to brag and say, “HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF I’M DOING.” I’m writing it more to profess my commitment to acting rather than just talking. Anyone can sit around and complain or be upset and hope that someone else does something to change it. I know, because I’ve done it myself. It’s easier than action. Way easier. However, taking action yourself rather than waiting for someone else to do it is the fastest route to change.