Dig Day Facts:
1. It’s not all digging and barrowing but lots of fetching and carrying, advising, revising and honing so we get a fun ride that will last.
2. The doughnuts are good.
3. Dig days are usually at the weekend, in other words, riding time so it’s perfectly understandable that people are reluctant to give up free time to dig. However, don’t feel you have to volunteer to work all day, even an hour is a big help. Just stop off in the middle of your ride, flex some different muscles and then ride on. See it as a rest….
4. Dig days are a really good chance to meet other riders and talk mountain biking all day.
5. See it as cross-training.
6. Ride Sheffield’s influence on land owners is considerably enhanced every time we contribute volunteer labour to trail maintenance. We volunteer more consistently than any other outdoor user group and our influence on how trails are maintained is growing all the time.
7. There are over 800 Ride Sheffield members so if everyone offered to do only a day a year, it would be more than we can handle so don’t feel that you have to come every time.
Me and Trail Building….
Up until a couple of years ago, I’d never turned my hand to trail maintenance, never shaped a berm or drained a boggy corner but now I attend every dig day I can. I do it because it’s always a good laugh even when the weather’s foul and for that warm, squidgy feeling you get when you ride a trail you’ve had a hand in repairing.
The latest dig day on Devil’s Elbow was a perfect example. Although we had a plan, none of us had any idea just how much material we’d have to move to make it happen and how the trail would evolve as a result. The boggy area we were tackling had all the consistency of porridge so we had to build a base layer of rock to prevent the gritstone aggregate top layer dissapearing into the mire. Luckily, one of our number, Nick, is a geologist and has a truffle hound’s nose for gritstone. Heaving mighty blocks of stone into place threatened a few hernias but left us with a solid base to build on.
Next we had to tie that into the existing flow of the trail. We’d got a good run into the new section, but needed to shape the repaired area to ensure riders would naturally stay on firm ground. The proof of the pudding is in the riding however and, in spite of all the barrow-pushing, boulder rolling and shovel wielding, we still found the strength to ride the trail when we finally finished.
Digging is the yin to biking’s yang, a bit of honest, sweat inducing toil that leaves you with a healthy, righteous glow for days. Give it a try….