04 December 2006

Build by Riders

Sunday morning, 3rd December 2006, this was my first time learning and building mountain bike trail properly. It was at Forest Reserve Institute of Malaysia (FRIM). Previously, I just maintained and improved the existing trails, especially at Bukit Kiara.

There were 6 of us, Pat, Karen, Tony, Rebecca, Nigel & me. At the moments, the trail location is still a secret until the work finished.

Pat & Karen had the necessary tools for trail buildings. I admired the custom-made wheelbarrow. The body was made from aluminium and the handlebar was from titanium. The wheels and tyres were mountain bike standard equipment i.e. they were adopted from the front wheels and tyres and even had quick-releases on them. The tank was industrial-grade fishing composite (plastic not carbon fibre though..) box. It is one very light and tough wheelbarrow. Damn genius.

Crossing the MTB-purpose bridge. Notice the wheelbarrow

Part of the trail: Before.
[This part of the trail is about 10 meters after the bridge. Notice the soil in the wheelbarrow]

We started by searching some rocks for the cribs (retaining walls). The rocks must be big enough to hold the trail. Then, we filled the trail with soil. Moving the soil was the hardest part, manual labour to excavate the exiting soil and another physical extension labour to transport the soil to the right place. We made about 33 trips. Finally, compact the soil.

Of course, do some basic planning first before you started. For example, the flow of the trail, the run of the water and estimation of rocks, logs and soil needed.

I also learned about outsloping and insloping. They are techniques to cut the terrain to build trails, and at the same time provide water path to avoid erosion. To know exactly what they are, come and join this noble voluntary work.

Part of the trail: After

Part of the trail: The turn and the downhill
[Riding tips: Just move your body and don't skid]

I also got biten by the leech. It wasn't pain, just itchy. I was lucky that Karen had this special spray to make the leech let go its glue-biting blood sucking action.

In about 3.5 hours, we built about 25 meters of trail. Tired but utterly satisfied. Some tips:
1. Bring proper working gloves, and optional knee protection pad
2. Mosquito and leech repellent
3. Lots of water and isotonic drinks
4. Food, preferably PowerBar Gel or similar
5. "Cangkul"
6. Rake
7. "Parang"
8. Lots of sense of humour