If you’re thinking of a change of job scene you could do far worse than consider one of the posts currently going up in Scotland as a mountain bike trail builder. A job like that takes you right out of the rat race and we’ve heard first-hand from Russell Burton that there’s a lot more going for it besides.
Three months ago Russell Burton was the highly successful manager of ‘On Your Bike’ in London, but after years in the bike shop business he’d done the lot and was sick of his commute from Bradford-on-Avon. A few months ago Russ chucked it all in and is now the trail-building co-ordinator at the new Cwm Carn forest project in South Wales. We rang him up yesterday to see how he was doing.
“I’m wandering up a trail in the rain. Nice and swoopy, nice and bouncy, nice and dry, very tight and twisty technical singletrack. Christ, this is awesome.”
Russell’s employed to work with volunteers and the Forestry commission to create the first phase a complete singletrack trail network within the forest. He’s taken a hefty hit in the pay packet, but what bonus incentives has he claimed since abandoning the rat race?
“I’m not on a train, not in London, not in smog. I’m totally full of life. I’m not just standing on the train looking at other people thinking ‘they look interesting but I’d better not talk to them, I’ll just keep my head stuck in my paper’”.
To say he’s loving the job would be a massive understatement.
“I just feel so alive. My lungs work, my legs work, I don’t even have to ride my bike as much because I’m outside all the time, which is a lot of what I rode my bike for. I’m still only riding twice a week but it feels like I’m riding ten times a week.”
What makes all this relevant to you as you sit there reading this, probably on your work computer, is that there are similar jobs out there for others.
The Forestry Commission in Scotland are looking for a team to do exactly what Russ is doing on their own “Seven Stanes” trail network. Here’s the official press release;
“You’ll all recall the recent great news from the Forestry Commission that £2million was to be pumped into creating seven mountain bike centres in the
South of Scotland, the Seven Stanes.
The plan is to link up the Mabie, Tweed Valley, Glentrool, Newcastleton,
Kirroughtree, Ae and Dalbeattie Forests into a mecca for mountain bikers. We
are talking 300km of trail!
The project is now gearing up for the tremendous workload to build all these
superb trails and is looking for skilled, enthusiastic and hard workers to
make the project the best it can be.
The project team is now looking for:
* One Project Site Manager for a fixed period of three years (£14,855 gross
pa). This person will lead a team of workers and create the biking trails
across the South of Scotland. The person will work closely with the
Project-Coordinator on site design and trail layout and supervise workers
building the trails to a specific specification and standard.
* Seven Trailbuilding Craftspersons (£10,431 gross pa each) to work as part
of a dedicated team creating the best trails in Scotland. It is likely that
the work/training will initially start around the Dalbeattie area near
Dumfries. The posts will be for a fixed term of three years.
If you are interested in the jobs and need more detailed information contact
the Personnel Officer, Barony College, Parkgate, Dumfries, DG1 3NE or
Telephone 01387 860 251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing date Friday 25 January 2002.”
To find out more about the forestry commission go to http://www.forestry.gov.uk.
We reckon trail development is one of the most exciting things happening in the UK mountain bike industry at the moment. You don’t have to give up your day job though, you can get involved on a volunteer basis as well.
Volunteer trail-building crews such as Singletrackmind (www.singletrackmind.com) in Afan Argoed, Singletraction in Dalby forest and others right across the UK are creating the basis for a big expansion of mountain bike networks. Following their visits to the UK last year, the International Mountain Bicycling Association ‘IMBA’ (imba.com) are also looking for volunteers. IMBA want regional rider representatives to act as points of contact between bikers and the authorities in order to encourage increased land access and to manage any trail disputes which mountain bikers might be involved in. The CTC ( www.ctc.org.uk) are also looking for off-road “right to ride” representatives to manage access issues as well as research legal rights of way for inclusion on the planned ‘definitive’ maps.
Anyway we’re compiling a big list of all the trail-building groups we know about, but if you know of any let us know and we’ll compile a complete contacts directory. Also expect more news about IMBA in the UK soon.