Well the first instalment. Kinda like Meet the Farkers but hopefully without the fictional references to the Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll lifestyle that we all allegedly lead. Who better to kick it off but “FR Drew” a man I promised not to call a fairy.
Read, Consider then Post (in that order)! Sorry for the delay, we had some teknikal issues!
Name: Andrew Pearce
Location: Canberra ACT
Style of tracks: General advocacy, singletrack, northshore (timber TTF's), dirtjumps
Background: I spent years riding trails around Canberra, was lucky enough to get a few chances to ride the old Stromlo before it was burnt out and even one field trip out to the Blue Range Nationals course (back when I was riding a crappy old Mongoose hardtail with 20mm of front suspension). Eventually I decided around a year ago that I ought to put something back into the sport, joined CORC and got onto the Trails Advocacy team
Mistakes made?: Probably spending the time from 18 till 28 off the bike. I'd be a hell of a lot better a rider if I'd continued riding. I'm also cynical and get shirty waay too quickly.
Favourite Tool: I've got an old vintage hoe with a blade about 50mm in front of and at right angles to the end of the handle. The blade is about 75mm across and 250mm wide. With it I can cut narrow 75mm slot trenches, V trenches, pull soil off of mounds, shift low edging berms, flatten trail humps, smooth track... Lots of folks here rave about "MacLeod" fire rakes but the little hoe works great for me. She's getting on a bit now and the blade is starting to flex
Free Fairy or Pro Fairy Nah, I'm a free fairy. I get paid to preserve large technology war relics at the War Memorial.
Online Resources: www.imba.com is pretty much where it starts and finishes. For "Shore" it's worth checking out some of the stuff at www.nsmb.com
Your Topic: Illegal Dirt Jumps
This one is tricky to talk about. I'm kind of torn on the topic. Cards on the table I can't jump to save myself. I don't think any of my bikes have ever been more than two and a half feet off the ground. I see kids hitting up spines at the skate parks or some of the shots we have here in Phat Snaps and it truly blows my mind. I'm not sure if the gravity that they work under is about half of mine or what the story is... I'm busting myself to get off the ground at all and they just effortlessly float around.
Anyway, in the ACT we have a problem in that there are NO legal dirt jumps anywhere. If you find dirt jumps, you can bet money that they aren't there with the permission of the landowners. Canberra Off Road Cycles (CORC) is forever fielding irate complaints from various environmental and government bodies about how all mountainbikers are bad and evil and will be the death of delicate endangered flowers and tiny marsupials. They rant and rave and publish press releases and newspaper articles about how people build illegal jumps and trails while at the same time there are no legal riding facilities provided in the local areas.
Canberra is a great city with loads of national parks but it's also very spread out geographically and the public transport system simply isn't set up for bikes. We have heaps of bike paths but the distance that most riders need to go from their home suburb to get to anywhere where they can ride legally is ridiculous (and even then there are no dirt jumps). Small wonder then that when there's a bit of bushland within a stones throw of every Canberra suburb, folks head over there and cut illegal trails and jumps.
Funnily, people just don't get it that when there's no alternative provided, simply applying prohibition to a problem like kids riding and building trails and jumps just doesn't work. I don't know what they expect, maybe that everyone will go home to play tiddlywinks on their loungeroom carpets or something? It's ridiculous to have such a head in the sand attitude from authorities. I'll bet that all of them when they were kids, went and rode bikes in the nearest bit of empty land. They suddenly think that kids now are somehow different?
So, CORC is stuck in the middle a bit at the moment. On the one side we have the irate authorities, on the other side we have the dirt jumpers who get pretty shitty when the authorities bulldoze their jumps. While we can't condone the illegal building, we also think it sucks that there isn't more access for people to ride. The other thing is that we get the argument from the dirtjumpers side that CORC never speaks for them or advocates on their behalf, we just build XC and DH track and run XC and DH races. At the same time, no-one will admit to being a dirt jumper or building trails and so, while that sector of the sport is cladestine and illegal there are no venues and no participants even if we were to try and run an event.
At the moment, although I'm doing my fair share of Stromlo working bee stuff, on of my biggest projects is to do a proposal for the ACT's first legal sets of dirt jumps. We've had some great advice and help from Zoli who does a fair bit of work on the jumps in Adelaide, and also Ray at the Adelaide City Council who was involved with the "legals" over there. We're looking at and learning from photos in here in the Phat Snaps section (How awesome did that groomed dirt spine in the WA jumps thread look?) and talking to a few folks here and there in the MTB and BMX dirt jumping community.
Once I get the first phase of the approval through and we've got access to the land then we'll be getting to the serious design side of things and we'll be doing a lot more liaison with riders as to what they want, what they think will work and so forth.
I can see huge advantages in legal jumps. For starters the work that goes into building them isn't going to be all down the drain as soon as the authorities find out about them and bulldoze them. Additionally, with dirt being trucked in, there's a lot less digging to be done, no pits to dig which cause drainage problems, you can get nice clay soil that is perfect instead of making do with what's on the site.
Even better, with legal jumps, you don't have to stay hidden so you can actually run public competitions. I mean, you look at the magazines, Dirt, Decline and so forth and there are dirtjump comps all over the world. It's a huge growth sector of the sport and there's almost nothing happening in Australia.
I fully understand why people are building illegal jumps but it's going to be awesome when everyone can emerge from the shrubbery and get dirtjumping in public at last...