The talk of the Australian MTB Summit this year was undoubtedly trail. So we thought it would be great to grab hold of the two guys that are responsible for looking after Mt Buller’s epic trails — and we are not just referring to the Alpine Epic itself, we’re talking about the whole lot.
Dave McCoombe and Anthony (Bocky) Bock are the trail maintenance team and lead environmental officers at Mt Buller. Dave and Bocky are responsible for ensuring that existing trails are well looked after, and continue to be awesome for many years to come.
Where to Begin
It’s not an easy gig (although if you ask us, it sounds like a dream job) digging in the dirt, but Bocky and Dave are clearly passionate about their trails and the environments within which they build them.
But how do you even begin to build something like the Australian Alpine Epic Trail?
Bocky says it all starts with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) guidelines set out to ensure that trails are not only amazing to ride, but preserve the integrity of the natural environment as well. Adhering to these guidelines is a good place to start for first-time trails builders (or those that would like to begin building them legally…).
“We really try and integrate our trails into the environment..."
Image courtesy of Mt Buller.
The IMBA website has some awesome resources available to anyone interested in trail design and construction; from the ‘Ten Most Common Trail Building Mistakes’, to their various hard copy publications on building trails available on their online store.
Working in conjunction with World Trail, the guys at Mt Buller have managed to create a network of trails that are the first in Australia to become internationally recognised by IMBA as one of the best mountain biking destinations in the world.
Down Came the Rain…
One of the key steps to ensuring that a trail has longevity is creating good drainage. If a trail doesn’t enable water to drain away efficiently, it’ll soon be taken away with the tide. Destinations such as Mt Buller naturally have a unique problem...snow. The first couple of weeks just after winter present Dave and Bocky with the daunting challenge of checking that the trail is in good nick after the snow has had a chance to melt and drain away. As snow melts it can slowly erode areas beneath trees and vegetation that often act as keystones for mountain bike trails. Worst case: they will need to completely rebuild sections of trails where snow melt may have completely knocked out key structures. Once everything is checked and rebuilt, the summer season of mountain biking can begin safely.
Image courtesy of Mt Buller.
What Can We Do to Help?
Well first and foremost…pocket those gel packets! This is a problem familiar to anyone who works on trails – unfortunately, not all riders are as careful with their nutrition. It’s a simple, yet incredibly helpful thing that we can all do to make sure that the trails we love to ride are maintained and continue to be rideable in the years to come.
Another tip that you might not have heard before is to make sure that your bike is clean before coming to destinations like Mt Buller. Foreign plant species – in particular weeds – can cause massive trouble down the line for environmental officers like Dave and Bocky. As weeds begin to flourish in a new environment, they create undesirable competition with native species of flora.
So clean you bike thoroughly before you load up the car, and make sure that you clean it just as well before you take it out on your local trail network when you get home — you don’t want any of Buller’s weeds getting into your local network either.
Throughout our time at the Australian MTB Summit at Mt Buller, what impressed us the most was just how passionate mountain bikers are about the environments their trails explore. It starts with guys like Dave and Bocky, and it ends with us, the riders who enjoy those trails and who can all work a little bit harder to ensure that they are there in the future.
A big thank you to the team at Mt Buller for putting on a fantastic event and to the Mt Buller Chalet for accommodating us.