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Trail Lab

We travel around the country bringing trail building classes to people in a new town every weekend. At the Sid Richardson Scout Ranch on Lake Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Texas, the classes stay put and the students come to them. The Lonestar Trail Building School is put on every year by the North Texas Mountain Bike Patrol (NTMBP). This year, they partnered with Groundwork Dallas in putting on the three-day event. Rick Buckley, Director of the NTMBP, brings in Ryan Spates and Susan Stormer of S&S Trail Services each year to instruct beginning and advanced trail building classes.

This year, we participated by teaching the beginning class, while Ryan and Susan taught the advanced course, in which students learned to construct a bermed turn and a rolling crown switchback using natural rock as well as concrete bags for the retaining walls. The beginning class cut in a new trail leading to the advanced class’ constructed turns. The dirt excavated when cutting in the new trail was hauled over to be used as fill for the turns, so the projects complemented each other well. We also presented the first-ever land manager training at LSTBS.

The weekend was well-attended by members of the NTMBP; youngsters from Groundwork Dallas, who are in training to become crew leaders in the Great Trinity Forest; and volunteers from DORBA (Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association), Frisco Cycling Club, Shawnee Trail Cycling Club, and other groups. We were also pleased that the City of Plano’s Natural Resources Superintendent, Kym Hughes, attended.

Sid Richardson Scout Ranch provides the school’s laboratory, which consists of 2500 acres of beautiful rolling, rocky terrain that juts out into Lake Bridgeport. Students apply their newly acquired trail building skills on this blank canvas that just screams to have singletrack gracing it. Over the past few years, students of LSTBS have created trail and features that serve as a gallery of their work. Stroll or roll through this gallery, and you’ll see bench-cut singletrack, rock armoring, a boulder causeway, a curved wooden boardwalk, and now some sweet elevated turns.

The focus of the weekend is on learning. Taking what you read in the books, see in the slideshow, and hear in the presentations, and applying it all out in the field. Eyes in clinometers, flags and tools in hands, boots in dirt. Thinking through the plan and design and making sure it will be sustainable, will flow well, and will provide the desired user experience. Deliberating, debating, measuring, flagging, bending, digging, sweating. THEN, you look at what you’ve made – a fresh, flowy, inviting ribbon of singletrack – and you can’t wait to get your bike tires on it. Graduation.

Big thanks to Rick Buckley and the rest of the NTMBP and to Groundwork Dallas for putting on this enriching weekend and inviting us to be a part of it. We were actually students at this very same school just last year and had a great experience. Many thanks also to the Sid Richardson Scout Ranch for the great lodging and meals. You all know how to put on a training weekend!

 

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