Swansea Trail Day- May 2010

by Aaron

As usual the weather in Calgary sure can rock and roll in the spring. Most of the month we saw above average temperatures and were able to really get a head start on all those trail projects that got left unfinished from the fall. However when we get blessed with good weather in Alberta usually things need to balance out. The last week of the month we paid! Heavy snow, freezing rain and winds reaching 100km/hr. Our trails got buried under a few feet of snow. The old saying “April showers bring May flowers” sure does not apply in this part of the world. We got word that the weather was good in the Invermere valley and our brothers out west were throwing their first trail day on the 1st of May. The Columbia Valley Cycling Society has organized to take responsibility for many trails in the Valley. They have been working hard behind the scenes trying to bring a legitemacy to the pirate trails we’ve all come to love. We loaded up the red tide and left Calgary at “balls o’clock” in order to make it to the base of Swansea Rd at 9:30am. The drive out was effortless at this time of day. We cruised along the HWY 93 and made good time. When we got to the base of the hill we were greeted by a group who has provided us with a home away from home. With all the years we’ve spent in the Columbia Valley we’ve come to make some great friends. People who you are stoked to see, people who are stoked to see you, stoked to hear how life has been treating them and stoked to share your blood sweat and tear with.

Meetin up with old friends

After quite a bit of catching up and some new introductions everyone got to work on the projects they had in mind. I decided that there was a step-up that I would re-slat. Just off the road. This feature is a staple at Swansea and sees a ton of traffic. I’ve ridden it for years and loved it. I thought it could use a little sprucing up as it was getting on in years now and starting to show signs of wear. The initial idea was to remove the 2×4 decking and replace it with some free cut slabs. As we tore the slats off it became quite apparent that we were going to be biting off more then we bargained for. Like all renovation projects, sometimes they quickly become a complete rebuild. The framework underneath showed signs of age and stress. With some discussion we decided that we couldn’t just toss new slats on an old frame we’d need to do a complete tear down and rebuild. Now I sure wasn’t planning on spending that kind of time working out of town on a weekend off, I really wanted to ride…BAD! But what do you do when you have just ripped down a staple feature on a hill? You can’t leave it lying on the ground. You got to stick to your guns, tie up your boots and get to work.

"By the sweat of your brow"

As with anything things start off slow in the beginning. It was a big project and we had a timeline of the weekend as we were going back to Calgary Sunday night. It was time to use my experience and really get moving. We measured everything and decided on a complete copy. The jump was really perfect as it was, it set you onto the landing effortlessly. We measured heights, widths, angle degrees of the takeoff and began to carbon copy the jump with a proper frame. While I went to town cutting up material Simon led a charge to rock amour the berms following the step-up. Once the materials were cut and dragged down, we cut them to length. We dug the supporting posts in with a death spike on the end, then pounded them in deeper with a sledge hammer. We hauled over longer pieces for the stringers and placed them on the frame. The day was long and by the end of it we had completed the framework as well as the rock armored section. There was still a ton of work to do but I was fried and needed to shred. Off to Steamboat we went for a few laps before dark.

Thanks A&W for the Sirloins

Had a few hours of sleep and needed to get back out to the hill to get this puppy done before the weekend came to an end. “All that was left” was left was to mill up some slabs and install them. I went to work milling while the rest of the dudes helping buffed and armored. It was pretty interesting working on a trail with so many riders coming down. Everyone would stop and see if things were ready to tee up yet but cutting your own decking is a tedious chore that takes time. Once we had enough milled slabs some old friends stopped in to help bang them into place and my work was complete. I tidied my gear and grabbed my bike. I let the others give it a go, I was beat. 8 hours on Saturday and 3 the next morning left me needing a bit of a beer break. I sucked a few cold ones back then grabbed my bike and went to check out how this thing ran. Just like Danny said “the thing jumps for you”.

"New Hotness..."

Drop'In Danny Casing =)

We all had an awesome weekend visiting the valley. I love every trip there. Great people, great trails and great weather. What more can anyone ask for? Maybe to stay and not come back to more snow this week! Huge thanks to the Columbia Valley Cycling Association for putting this on, Thanks to A&W for sponsoring this event with tasty burgs and teaching us that the Uncle Sirloin burger is best cooked at the trail head. Huge thanks to all those who have created these trails for us to enjoy whether it be riding or helping.

Bruce Blasting it

Life’s a Trail, Dig It!”