Conor Macfarlane finds the Trail Fairies and salutes the great work they do…
You know those twisty, bermed, flowy paths that run through the hills all over the world? Well, it’s common knowledge that trail fairies materialise when we’re not around and maintain these paths we call trails, and sometimes, if we’re lucky, build us a new one! It’s very kind of them and I appreciate their work, no matter how boring or how much fun the trail may be.
Some of these fairies have never built a trail before, so who am I to criticise their work? They turned off the TV, got off their arse, spent some of their hard earned cash on some tools (probably Atlas ones if they were wise) and put in the hard yards to construct what the general public might see as a few mounds of dirt and some leaves raked off to one side. In saying that, some of the best tracks can be the ones the general public wouldn’t think are a track at all; they could be anything from an animal track to nothing at all, just someone with a good eye for where will flow best and balls big enough to hold on and hope there isn’t a rock behind that tussock you’re about to ride through.
With experience, a trail can be built in less time, due to the fact that it doesn’t need to be built as much. The contours will be seen differently by the experienced eye, the best line would be scoped out with flow and ease of construction in mind. Sometimes, the best trails only require a rake or removal of a few branches; who doesn’t like loam!
Trail fairies don’t always build flowy singletrack for us, but sometimes stack piles of dirt in such a way that we can launch from one to the other. This is what we call jumps. These can be incorporated into trails, be one-hit-wonders or be in a line which is again known as a trail, but with a slight difference. The magnificence of these piles of dirt is that they always offer progression that can be gauged; you can go higher, lower, further or more sideways than you’ve been before (or if you’re into it, perform some silly death-defying stunt). This may be rather biased, but who doesn’t love to see themselves progress right there and then, with none of this Strava stuff; how accurate is that anyway?
These trail fairies we hear about can often be found at the local watering hole after a hard session on the tools. They won’t talk much about it so you may not spot them, but if you do, buy them a beer or two; it goes a long way to saying thanks. So, what are you waiting for? Go pick up some tools, get creative and give us all something that can be enjoyed! You don’t have to tell us where it is though. If we’re keen enough, we’ll find it and appreciate the hard work that’s gone into it. Hell, it might even get you a free beer at the pub some time.