Trail Community Feature: Saint John Cycling Trail Miners

Saint John Cycling Trail Miners

Rockwood Park, Saint John, New Brunswick

July 2020

 

The Saint John Cycling Trail Miners have garnered a reputation of being one of the most dedicated crew of volunteer trail builders in the Maritimes. With over 1500 volunteering hours logged in 2019, the Trail Miners love to spend time moving the dirt and rocks that make up the amazing trail system of Rockwood Park.

Located within the limits of the port city of Saint John, Rockwood Park is just minutes from the city center. It’s no surprise then that the Trail Miners are often rewarded with a post-trail work pint and pizza at the Picaroons General Store and Pomodori hangout uptown. This is a fitting stop, as Picaroons is a sponsor of the Saint John Cycling Club.

Emilie Murphy has been managing Rockwood Park for the past 10 years as the Park Naturalist for the City of Saint John. Located on 2200 acres of municipal land, you can imagine that managing this massive park and its extensive trail system requires a dedicated team.

Keen to use Emilie’s expertise in Environment Management, the City agreed to let Emilie oversee the building of singletrack trails. At first, she was tasked with ‘wrangling in the rogue mountain bikers building features in Rockwood Park’. Rather than send in the Risk Management team to dismantle all of the wooden features, rock drops, and dirt jumps, she invited the mountain bikers to the table to be part of the conversation. Local trail builder Patrick Graves had been happily building wooden features and dirt jumps in the Park when he was asked to work with the City. This relationship between the City of Saint John as the park managers and the Saint John Cycling Trail Miners as the passionate trail stewards has resulted in the successful development and maintenance of nearly 50 kms of well-maintained trails for recreational use.

Emily, pictured here in the Interpretation Center, is the Park Naturalist for Rockwood Park. Photo: submitted.

 

Being a multi-use Park, not all of the credit for the existing network can go to one sport alone. It was the equestrians who started breaking trail in the Park in the 70s long before the mountain biking surge in the 90s. Today, the Park’s trails are used for mountain biking, trail running, horseback riding, hiking, and walking. Amoung other users, Saint John Cycling often collaborates on projects with the trail running groups as well.

We caught up with the lead trail builders from the Trail Miners to chat with them about their dedication to maintaining and building trails on the south shore of New Brunswick.

Volunteers carrying beams for a bridge on the newest trail, Millennium Falcon. Photo: Submitted.


For Ernie Campbell, trail building is a serious passion. Logging more than 200 hours volunteering on the trails last year, he is motivated by the satisfaction of sharing something he built with the community. Ernie’s favourite trail in Rockwood Park is IMBA Canada designed Bunny Rampage because it is a great example of sustainable trail building. Some of Ernie’s favourite features to build are berms because “everyone loves a good berm!” and favourite trail tools include the Rogue Hoe 70 HR or the 70 AR Travis.

It’s rewarding to give back!

Ernie has his eye on the trails. Photo: submitted.


For Laurie Robichaud, the naming of new trails and features he builds is always left up to his kids. Together they have named a double-black jump Reid’s Ridge and a 12′ drop B’s Bomber. Laurie had the area that would become Bunny Rampage on his radar for years before finally building something. It was designed with IMBA Canada along with input from his 6 year old son, who named the trail after finding the carnage of rabbits eaten by either weasels or stoats on the trail.

Beyond his trailwork in Rockwood Park, Laurie has been working with other local stakeholders to develop and sanction the Green Snake trail in the Fundy Region, and is an Advocate for Mountain Bike Atlantic.

It’s fun to see our community grow. We all win from having a good quantity and quality of trails

Laurie taking a berm on Bunny Rampage. Photo: submitted.


Patrick Graves rides by the philosophy of “no dig, no ride”. If you want to ride a certain type of trail, you might just need to build the trail yourself. His favourite features to work on include wooden rollers and jumps even though these features are generally discouraged and hard to get approval for as the City of Saint John prefers features to be made of dirt and rock.

There is huge sense of satisfaction and accomplishment seeing others enjoy the trails I build

Pat’s signature trail is Mama I’m Coming Home. This trail was named for both its proximity to his home at the time he was building it and its homage to Ozzy Osbourne.

Pat on a feature he built on Mama I’m Coming Home. With Pat is loyal trail dog, Obi. Photo: submitted.


For Emily Lennon, working outside toward the sustainable use of the park she loves and the satisfaction of riding on the trails she helped build or maintain motivates her to contribute her time into Rockwood. You can find Emily hiking through the trails with either a pickaxe or her toddler daughter hanging over her shoulder!

The appreciation from the community is a great motivator to volunteer my time

Emily is a Trail Miner, and a Mountain Bike Instructor for Be Rad Adventures and leads a mountain bike club at the high school where she teaches. Photo: Dose Media.


Shaun Wilson enjoys being part of the Trail Miners for the benefit of working outside and the challenge of learning something new.

My brother Brent and I relocated over 10,000 lbs of stone for the rock armouring work on Frying Pan. We loaded up a sled and travelled across the frozen lake that winter.

Shaun and his brother Brent relocated more than 10,000 lbs of stone for rock armouring a section of Frying Pan trail! It’s no surprise then that one of Shaun’s favourite tools to work with is a rock hammer and feature to work on is “anything built out of rock”.

Shaun enjoys being a trail steward for the trails in Rockwood Park. Photo: Dose Media.


Dean Price is a lead trail builder for the Trail Miners and also the Vice President of the Saint John Cycling. Dean is motivated to dedicate his time on the trails for both the joy of building something that people will enjoy, and because he knows that it means he can ride quality trails! Amoung the many tools Dean uses on the trails, his favourites are the mini-excavator and the Rokon.

Dean Price (5th from the left) helped secure funding for the Rokon motorcycle to help increase efficiency in the Club’s maintenance and building plans. Photo: submitted.


Recently, the Saint John Cycling club secured an investment of $50,000 from the City of Saint John’s Land for Public Purpose trust fund. This funding is going to be used for the development of new professionally built Shoreline Dirtworks enduro-style trails in Rockwood Park! The Trail Miners will no doubt be involved with high levels of stoke and tools in-hand!

Thank you to all the volunteers who contribute their time on the trails!

Wondering how you can get involved with your local trail crews? Reach out and join them for a build day!

There are jobs for everyone and every little bit help – Emily

Come join us and learn! – Ernie

Get involved and learn from those with experience. You’ll appreciate riding something you had a hand in building – Laurie

Reach out and get involved, even if its a few hours a year – Shaun

Trail building is hard work but it is fun and easy to learn – Dean

 

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