IMBA Trail Solutions Mark McClure joined volunteers from NEABA (North East Alabama Bicycle Association) to take part in the first trail maintenance day of 2014 at Coldwater Mountain, near Anniston, Alabama.
The morning started early, Keith Lyles from NEABA collected the tools for the work day from the IMBA office in Anniston. There had been little maintenance done to the trails over the winter months and the tools had been stored and seldom used. Our first task was to use a grinder to sharpen the tools heads and sandpaper to take off any burrs or splinters from the tool handles, ensuring they would be safe and easy to use for the work party.
By 9am there was a growing number of vehicles in the parking lot of the Coldwater trail head, over 20 volunteers had turned out to take part in the work party, it is great to see members of the community pulling together to work on the trails in their area.
Following a safety briefing the group were shown the basic techniques for maintaining the trails. Starting with the wider trail corridor Mark explained how small branches encroaching on the trail should be cut back, the cuttings would be placed down slope of the trail and no sharp stumps would be left on the trees. The next task would be to ensure that the fall zones in the area around the trail were clear of debris, rocks, branches, etc. this assists in preventing harm to any riders who find themselves out of skill and off the trail. Over the winter leaves had fallen and blocked some of the drainages, these would need to be cleared, allowing water to move off the trail. Finally the trial tread its self would require some attention. Loose rocks would be removed from the trail surface and any voids would be filled with fresh dirt and then compacted.
The information imparted to participants empowers the local riding community to maintain the routes, ensuring that the trails at Coldwater Mountain will be in great shape for the forthcoming SORBA summit https://www.imba.com/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=384 on March 21st-23rd in Anniston, Al.
After the demonstration of the basic maintenance techniques the group split into two. Keith Lyles and Preston York from NEABA would lead the main group in the maintenance of the Baby Bear and Momma Bear loops and a small team would assist Mark in the construction of a new berm on the Lower Hare trail.
The small unit of volunteers working under instruction from Mark identified that a berm would aid in the flow of the trail and increase rider safety and enjoyment. The group used pin flags to mark out where the new berm would be built. Once the alignment was decided upon the group worked hard to collect large rocks which would form the foundation of the berm. After all organic material was removed from the work area a trench was dug in the trail tread that would allow the group to lay in the rock. The heavy rocks would provide a stable base for the dirt surface to be laid upon. On completion of the foundation the group extracted dirt from the inside of the corner and started to cover the rock, this material was compacted, giving a stable, smooth trail tread. Grade reversals pre-ceeding and following the new berm were constructed, allowing the inslope turn to drain. After 3 hours work the group had completed the construction of the new berm.
Returning to the Coldwater Trail Head the groups came together to enjoy pizza and beer in the afternoon sunshine and share tales of their experiences maintaining and riding the trail network.
The first maintenance day of the year was a great success, trails like those at CWM require the involvement of the local riding community to ensure their success, a few hours of labour on a Saturday morning from this group of committed volunteers will vastly enhance the experience for everyone using the trails.
Many thanks to all of the NEABA crew who came out to the work day and made the event a great success.
If you would like to get involved in future trail maintenance events at Coldwater Mountain please contact ktlyles [at] gmail [dot] com