Green Trails, Greenways, and an Ecosystem of Trails
For mountain bikers in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, the Frederick Watershed provides that big mountain stoke. Rock, gnar, and steep technical terrain make up most of the Shed ride experience.
The Shed started out with rogue trails built by local riders. The trails came under threat after the City of Frederick caught wind of them.
This story is about how a local enduro race is strengthening the local mountain biking community and celebrating the partnership between local riders and IMBA Local Chapter MORE to preserve the much-loved trails. This blog is repurposed from MTBer and photographer Korey Hopkins’ account of the 2022 Sheduro, with photos by Korey Hopkins, Bach Duong, and Jonathan Tran.
Without friends, riding bikes would get boring. While occasional solo missions on the bike are good for individual cleansing, riding with friends, both old and new, is part of the thrill in mountain biking. In the context of bikes, racing has long been a surefire way of connecting people on both sides of the tape.
Competitors will give it their all when the time comes, whether it is for a shot at the top step or being a better version of themselves from the day before. When the clock isn’t running, jokes and food get exchanged on the transfers. Tips and trail intel get passed at the stage start with hopes that stoke from a good run is returned at the end. Even when things go sideways, a friendly “do you have what you need” gets shouted before one can properly assess a situation.
For some, competition isn’t appealing. Hanging out with friends to spectate, sharing jokes, heckling racers, or sharing the sport with their young ones is what fills the cup. Further, helping racers and competitors with nutrition or even some mechanical support is more than enough to get satisfaction from a day in the woods.
On August 21, the fourth edition of the Bike Doctor Sheduro in Frederick, Maryland went down. Located an hour north of Washington, DC and a stone's throw away from the Presidential retreat that is Camp David, the Frederick Watershed plays host to this rapidly growing local enduro. Regionally known for technical terrain that challenges beginner to advanced riders alike, the contours of this portion of the Catoctin Mountain range also give gravity fueled riders thrills every time a negative grade is encountered.
The Frederick Watershed has similar origins to a number of other trail networks worldwide. Some people enjoyed riding bikes, found some cool terrain, and started building trails without permission. Once the City of Frederick found the rogue trail network that was home to an underground community of early freeriders, the legacy of the trails came under threat. Thanks to a number of vocal advocates in the community fighting to preserve these trails, most of the early trail network has become an official part of the trail network.
The local Shed community and the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE) worked for years to secure a 15-year stewardship agreement with the City of Frederick and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
With the agreement in place, trail inventory, planning and stewardship continue to build good will and cooperative stewardship projects in the watershed with multiple user groups and prove value to the community as well as government land managers. Community, advocacy and stewardship are tied together with a social fabric.
This edition of the Sheduro also served as a final send off for several trails. As part of preserving the Watershed’s legacy for future generations of riders, some of the early trails that were built on sensitive habitats are slated for closure. Thanks to a solid working relationship between MORE liaisons and the City of Frederick, stage 2 on this year’s race course gave the community one last chance to enjoy some perennial classic trails in the area that won’t be able to be replicated elsewhere in the park.
Change and growth is inevitable. Sheduro has helped bring new trails to the park thanks to the race's fundraising efforts. Sheduro has also helped close chapters in the park's history. While trails come and go, the riding community behind it is here to stay and gets bolstered every year by the race.
More of Korey's photos from Sheduro can be viewed here.