Dirt Art Announces Club Grants for Trail Building Services

IMG_3378Dirt Art are the crew behind some of Australia’s most successful trail projects, including the new Hero Trail at Bright (watch the vid), the Hollybank MTB Park (vid here) and the upcoming Maydena Bike Park. And now they’re giving clubs the chance to secure their expertise for free.

Read on for all the details below:


Dirt Art are pleased to release their first club grants program, offering Australian not-for-profit groups the opportunity to apply for free design, consultancy and construction services.

The grants program formalises Dirt Art’s long history of donating significant resources back to the Australian industry annually. The grants are open to any Australian not-for-profit group, who has permission from relevant land owners/managers for the visit and/or construction works to occur. The grants on offer are;

  • –  Two individual one day site visit grants to assist in the provision of design and/or consultancy services. These grants are perfect for helping groups begin the process of pursuing a mountain bike development.
  • –  One construction grant, providing one week of construction services from one of Dirt Art’s skilled trail crews (including an excavator)

    The grants include all travel, accommodation and staffing costs.
    Interested groups can send a one page PDF summary of your project, noting key

    benefits the grant will provide, to [email protected] Applications close 11am Monday May 10th.

World Trail Release New Trail Building Tools to the Public

The World Trail Kuranda.
The World Trail Kuranda.

Developed and tested in the harshest trail destinations throughout Australia, both the “Kuranda”and “Singletracker” Trail Tools have stood the test of time: being used to shape and construct the 2017 MTB World Championship courses, along with the unique and aggressive Tasmanian terrain for the upcoming Enduro World Series round in Blue-Derby.

The Singletracker and the Kuranda have helped sculpt some of Australia's finest trails.
The Singletracker and the Kuranda have helped sculpt some of Australia’s finest trails.

World Trail’s international team of trail builders have collaborated in the design and development of these final iterations, rigorously testing and developing the products you see released today. Both the Kuranda and Singletracker tools feature a world first in patent pending internal bladed stepped tines, which compliment the external dual angled blades.

The blades make quick work of small shrubs, vines, lantana, roots and ferns, by collating and cutting all nearby foliage. While the external blades make light work of the in-ground roots and other organic problems commonly associated in trail building.

The two sides of the Singletracker and Kuranda cover a variety of trail building situations.
The two sides of the Singletracker and Kuranda cover a variety of trail building situations.

100% hand made in Australia, both the Kuranda and smaller Singletracker trail tools are manufactured using state of the art cold cut water jetting technology, intricately cut from of 3.2mm Hardox 450 steel, producing a lightweight, yet powerfully strong head unit to tackle the rigors of trail building abuse day in, day out.

The World Trail signature is a nice touch.
The World Trail signature is a nice touch.

Available to the public March 1, World Trail are taking pre-orders of both the 6 finger Kuranda and 4 finger Singletracker tools exclusively via their website at http://www.world-trail.com/shop/.

Fresh Product: Rake N Bake – Adelaide Made Trail Tools

Born out of the frustration from too many tools bending and breaking, Adelaide trail design and construction company founder Garry Patterson set to make the toughest and versatile tools that they could rely on. Specifically aimed at building mountain bike trails, these are not your average rake hoe.

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The right tool for the job, the Rake N Bake ain’t messing around.

“We could not accept that the current rakes were bending and breaking with their first use and that having to repair the tools after each work day was normal.”

The fire rake or rake hoe, is the number one tool for any trail builder and there’s no doubt it gets a workout, especially in rocky terrain so it didn’t make much sense that it was made from average quality steel. So after a few beers, the Rake N Bake and Half Baked were born on a scrap piece of paper.

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Multi-purpose versatility with mountain biking trails in mind.

The aim was to design two tools:

  1. An incredibly versatile smaller tool that was easy to carry and suited for a range of tasks: Like doing the back cut, raking vegetation, chopping small roots, compacting, etc. It would end up being called the Half Baked and is the weapon of choice for trail maintenance.

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The lighter and smaller trail maintenance tool – Half Baked.

  2. The toughest, ultimate trail building hand tool, perfect for cutting fresh trail, and shaping and compacting. This one has become the number one seller – the Rake N Bake.

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The big one – Rake N Bake.

They’re supplied to some of the best professional trail building companies and trail builders around the world, volunteer groups, and anyone who likes to dig trails. They’ve also been popular with fire crews, landscapers and four-wheel drive enthusiasts.

[divider]Manufacturing Details[/divider]

We are very proud of the fact that our tools are entirely made in Australia of Australian materials.

The head is made of mining and military spec bisalloy steel (high strength steel) and the handle of Australian hardwood spotted gum.

Manufacturing anything in our country competitively is challenging but the belief that doing it any other way would compromise product quality. So here’s how these babies are made.

First, we buy the steel and have it laser-cut by the southern hemisphere’s biggest laser-cutter which is conveniently located in South Australia. 

Then it goes to the machinist, also in South Australia, who bevels the edges and who also happens to manufacture parts for some of the world’s leading motorsport teams despite operating out of an unsuspecting rusty tin shed. 

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Welded in Adelaide.

The rake heads then travel to in-house welder and Australian free-riding legend Dean Modridge who does all the final welding and jigging.

The custom handles are made in Queensland of Australian hardwood spotted gum.

If shipping is required, quick assembly is all you need. Put the handle in the rake head and tighten the nut and supplied bolt.

The result, after 7 different versions of the Rake N Bake and 6 versions of the Half Baked; the toughest and best trail building tools the Trailscapes team had ever used. And it turns out they weren’t the only ones to think so, the word got out and are now shipping them all over the world, from Australia to Norway, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland and Indonesia.

Both have an ‘in-built’ bottle opener too, perhaps this attribute is the main reason people buy them.

Opinion: The Five Trail Building Must-Haves

The legendary Kowalski Brothers are a trail building force of tsunami-esque power. They wash over the forest, picks in hand, and when the tide recedes only perfect singletrack is left behind. We thought we’d ask Des Kowalski (aka Alan Vogt – the man behind the Kowalski Classic and the Mont 24) what his top five items were for any epic trail building session.

 

Kowalski’s build trail the old fashioned way – hand-tooled and all delivered with that quiet, brutal finesse necessary to dig the dirt and deftly pluck big rocks from one spot to somewhere much better. It is physical work and hard on body, tools and clothes. I am known to go full stick when building trail and will often come home a little shattered, bruised and certainly bleeding (just like an epic day ride!), but over the years I have fine tuned a selection of must-have items that accompany me into the forest for a day on the tools. They make me happy and range from the simple to the downright essential. Like a seat belts, helmets and underpants, it now just feels weird to be without them. If you suffer from a trail building disorder, then these must-haves may help make your day in the woods be an even better one.

1. Sock covers.

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They may look bad but they have purpose.

A simple cuff of fabric (like the last 6 inches of a pair of pants) with elastic stitched around one end to hold them in place, these are the perfect device for stopping soil and little stones from getting inside your shoes as you clear the trail, dig holes etc. Standard uniform for landscapers, they are just the ticket to keep the grunge off your fancy racing socks too.

2. Good, grippy gloves.

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Get good ones.

Swinging tools forms a big part of my trail days and in the past I have lost the odd tool mid-flight due to crappy gloves. Those budget leather gardening gloves are the worst, especially if they’ve ever gotten wet. Once that happens, even simple fine motor tasks become awkward and frustrating. I wear out a lot of gloves and have tried pretty much every model at the hardware store and I have found that well made leather, synthetic leather or the ones with specially moulded silicon fingers are best for trail work. They allow you to get a firm grip on tools and boulders etc. and they have great dexterity making them ideal for random acts of English dry-wall (making nice rock berms). Right now my favourite gloves are Mad-Grip. They grip… well, like mad.

3. Steel cap boots.

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These are not steel toe and shortly after this photo was taken his toes were chopped off.

They might not be the most comfortable option for walking on uneven ground, but they are way better than MTB shoes, runners or Ugg boots on account of rocks. Kowalskis are known to haul disturbing amounts of rock around and many are the big heavy kind and they are not kind to feet. My toes might be stubby, but I kind of like the way they look so steel cap shoes are a must have. You can get away with sturdy hiking boots, but it helps to have reflexes like a cat if you do.

4. A tool box.

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The trusty old tool box.

Kowalskis don’t build trail with just one tool, so it helps that I have a huge van – it is the best tool box ever. Sure, it’s a bit heavy and has a rubbish handle, but it never leaves me wishing i’d brought this and that. EVERYTHING FITS! In there right now are thirty trail markers, a wheel barrow, a rock trolley, five fire rakes, two hoes, three saws, two pairs of clippers, two block splitters, two landscapers rakes, three picks, a crowbar, three shovels, post hold digger, a trail compacter, timber, power tools, a case of soft drink, 15L tub of water, a box of snacks, a partridge, bikes and all the gear I need for a ride (should the urge to test new trails overtake the need to push forward).

5. The ultimate Smoko kit.

Wagon Wheels: massively under-rated. For too long have these biscuits lived in the shadow of the Tim Tam.
Wagon Wheels: massively under-rated. For too long have these biscuits lived in the shadow of the Tim Tam.

Kowalski’s burn a lot of energy as they ply their craft (especially our lot), so having an abundance of snacks on hand goes without question. But as with their taste for sweet flowing single track the Kowalski’s won’t stuff any old thing in their mouth – they know what they like – so we have it for them. Must-have foods: Weston’s Wagon Wheels*, Killer Pythons, sweet crunchy apples, bakers muffins, muesli bars and Chup-a-Chups. Must-have drinks: Coke, water, Up and Go and a thermos of tea with honey (that’s mine man, get your own!). Cafe furniture: milk crates, a plank of wood and tree stumps. These must-haves make for the perfect break wherever you happen to be working the trail. Note: Chocolate coated Scotch Fingers are a suitable substitute for youngsters who have no clue as to the mystical qualities of the Wagon Wheel. Kids these days…

Go with the flow son, go with the flow.

 

If you want to learn a little more about the Kowalski brothers then check out our feature on the whole crew.

 

 

Trail Fund NZ Launches

Trail Fund NZ is a not-for-profit organisation that has been set up in 2013 to help fund the development and maintenance of trails all around New Zealand.

It appears the land of perfect singletrack needs more of it because the goal for Trail Fund NZ is to raise awareness and support for trail building among the wider community, such as businesses, councils, community groups, and other public bodies.

One of the group’s ambassadors is XC Olympian turned enduro racer, Rosara Joseph. The well-liked racer hoped the national body, with proper governance structures and an identifiable brand, would be able to access funding from a wide range of organisations.

“We also want to share knowledge and experience about best practice for trail building and advocacy,” she said.

Rosara Joseph on the Deliverance Trail
Olympian Rosara Joseph above the Deliverance Trail in Wellington, New Zealand

Trail Fund NZ expects everyone to benefit from more trail networks of a higher standard along with an increased awareness of advocacy for mountain biking and the development of trails.

“Mountain biking is hugely popular in New Zealand and is continuing to grow, but it is unique in that we largely build and maintain our own facilities,” Rosara offers.

“We want to build not just sustainably-built trails, but awareness and recognition that deserves to go with them.”

Rosara has raced throughout Europe and North America and lived in the UK for a period of five years and she believes New Zealand has a unique mountain biking proposition.

“I enjoyed some fantastic trails in all of those places. However, I think that New Zealand is special in that trail building, and mountain biking in general, has widespread community and political support. That’s a big difference compared with, for example, the UK (where I spent nearly five years), where mountain biking and the building of mountain bike trails are both really difficult to get support for. I think New Zealand is also unique in that the past 10 years or so has seen an explosion of purpose-built mountain biking trails throughout the country.”

She said New Zealand riders were also very lucky to have great trails so close to and amongst the cities and towns.

“I doubt there are many capital cities where you can commute nearly right to your office via off road trails! In contrast to the established tracks in Europe and the US, many of which are existing hiking tracks that become shared tracks, many of the trails we ride here in NZ are purpose-built mountain bike trails. So, in a sense, I think most mountain bikers in NZ have more awareness of the time and effort that has gone into building the trails they ride on.”

Want to get involved in Trail Fund NZ? Visit trailfund.org.nz to buy a cool t-shirt, donate some money to the fund, apply for a grant to contribute to a trail building project you’re involved in and, of course, you can dig.

For Rosara, who is about to jump on a plane to begin her season racing and riding in Oregon and Colorado, with a couple of trips to Whistler, BC, and Utah also planned, the decision to support Trail Fund NZ was simple:

“I love mountain biking,” she smiles. “I hugely appreciate the efforts of those who have dedicated time and energy to building and maintaining the tracks that I ride, and I thought that helping out with Trail Fund NZ is one way I can support their stellar efforts.”

Singletrack perfection
The kind of singletrack perfection that Trail Fund NZ hopes to create more of throughout New Zealand.
Hamish Seaton cobblestones
Hamish Seaton places a stone in a cobbled section of trail.
Trail builder Gareth Hargreaves rips into a piece of trail on Snakes and Ladders in Dunedin.

Sidle Up

The good and kind folks from Ground Effect love to spread trail cheer around the country, so it was only fitting they hosted a weekend of trail building, riding and good times over a November weekend. Spoke got to head down and join in the spadework and ride some sweet singletrack as well.

A good sized crew of around 35 assembled on Saturday morning and got down to work on the Sidle 73 track, a short connector between the bottom of the Broken River and the Craigieburn skifield roads, cutting out the need to pedal along Highway 73 when busting out an Edge/Luge loop. From a flagged outline to completely rideable, the trail appeared before our eyes and there was a steady stream of traffic on it by Sunday afternoon.

Of course we wouldn’t go all that way and not take our bikes, and we rode some new to us trails after we’d ditched the tools. The descent down Mt Cheeseman was a highlight; a great mix of rocks, tussocks and a steep root drop through the pine forest. Rad. I also got to ride the Hog’s Back for the first time, and it won’t be the last. There’s some epic stuff down there and there are new trails popping up and in the planning as we speak.

Look out for a feature and photos in Issue 50 of Spoke.