Volunteering Trail Stats

by Matt Hayes

An interesting infographic was published by Singletracks.com recently and among the various stats* were these related to volunteerism:

The most interesting stat is reporting that 54% of mountain bikers didn’t volunteer at their local trail systems to add mileage or keep the trails in good shape. I’d like to think that around St. Louis we have a good group of trail volunteers. However, I know there’s a huge untapped segment of the mountain bike population that could really help GORC expand the available singletrack opportunities.

One of GORC’s biggest limiters is hands-on volunteer labor at trail builds. The current project at Rock Hollow (aka Zombie Trail) could be built much faster if we had a larger, consistent turnout of volunteers. Our super volunteers – many of whom show up to more than 4 trail builds per season – could use some new faces in the crowd to learn the trail building ropes so that one day the torch can be passed on to the next generation.

Trail building and maintenance creates a self-generating momentum that we take for granted. For each passing year, our local races have consistently grown in length (mileage) and variety (increased mileage allows for course alternatives). This is true for both mountain bikers and trail runners.  On the flipside, trails that are cared for tend to be respected and protected by the community. Twelve years ago it wasn’t uncommon to ride (or race) in some nasty muddy mud. There used to be arguments about mud riding on the old stlbiking forum but the tide has turned. Now you’ll find many trail riders are concerned about the land agencies getting the trail karma ‘message’ out to the general public on kiosks and trail markers.

Volunteering at its core is the free giving of one’s time (forsaking a ride today) to undertake a task (make better trails). The sacrifice of today (a trail build is usually will cost you 6 hours of time including your average drive) will pay off in spades tomorrow (more / better/ scenic / ride-hike-run time). How many hours will you ride on the new trail after its built? Probably hundreds over the course of five years.

I hope you find the time to make it out to at least one of our fall trail building events. GORC has many expansive projects in store that are in dire need of strong volunteer turnouts to ensure they are built out in a reasonable timeframe. Both Greensfelder and Rock Hollow are slated to grow in available mileage in the coming years and they are part of the ever-expanding St. Louis county trail network that can be accessed via Al Foster and some pavement roads.

*Sources: IMBA and hansrey.com
Survey data based on 1,751 responses gathered in July via various Singletracks.com social media and online channels.