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Get Out!: Build It and They Will Come


Published May 24, 2016 at 10:01 a.m.

25 mountain bikers, including a few kids, spent the weekend learning about sustainable trail construction - SARAH GALBRAITH
  • Sarah Galbraith
  • 25 mountain bikers, including a few kids, spent the weekend learning about sustainable trail construction
Mountain biking is my reason for living. Or at least, it was, until I had a daughter. But it still ranks pretty high on the importance scale. Tackling tough terrain on two wheels gives me freedom, time with my friends, a clear mind and confidence.

After years of driving all over the state to ride my mountain bike on Vermont's excellent trails, from Kingdom Trails in East Burke to Pine Hill Park in Rutland and everywhere in between, my partner Tristan got the idea to build trails in our own backyard in Marshfield. Now we are collaboratively leading an effort to build out-the-door riding for ourselves and our neighbors by incorporating as a non-profit group called Riders in Plainfield & Marshfield (RIPM), a chapter of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA). In the past two years, we have built our first trails in the Marshfield Town Forest with the help of 50 volunteers who have collectively donated 460 hours of labor to the effort. 

We're building mountain-bike culture from the ground up in our community, and, as part of this effort, we recently hosted the annual statewide trail-building workshop, sponsored by VMBA and taught by well-known Vermont rider and builder, Brooke Scatchard of Sinuosity. Twenty mountain bikers attended the full-weekend workshop at our house, traveling from Bennington, Rochester, Rutland, Waterbury, Jeffersonville and beyond to talk about sustainable trail construction, trail repair, trail tools and more. Together we spent a day learning, both inside a classroom at nearby Goddard College and outside on the trail, followed by a full day working together to build a new section of trail in our town forest. Saturday night included a barbecue and outdoor movie at our house, and local families brought their kids to ride the trails in our yard and hang out.

Elise takes a break from trail work to play in a stream - SARAH GALBRAITH
  • Sarah Galbraith
  • Elise takes a break from trail work to play in a stream
Because we are a biking family, our daughter, Elise, joined in on the fun, including the trail work on the second day. I carried her on my back as we did light work, like laying the route for a new section of trail and planning a tricky section where a bridge will need to be constructed to cross a stream. I have learned from bringing her along on things like this that, while it's important for her to participate, it's also important that we scale it to her age by taking breaks for meals and playtime. 

As my daughter grows, I am proud to show her what her parents have built and created, and I look forward to integrating her into our bike-focused lives. Even if she doesn't love biking (which might break my heart, so let's hope that doesn't happen!), she will know that we all have the responsibility to create the environment in which we want to live, sometimes by building it from the ground up.     

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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