Editor’s Note: Specialized has taken its support of trail building to he next level by hosting dig days around the country. Trail Fund has been fortunate enough to partner with them on a number of these days.
If you have been wanting to have a go at digging trails but are not sure how to go about it or whether you will have anything to offer – a Specialized Dig Day is just the ticket!
The bike company has been running the dig days for two seasons after going along to a Trail Fund NZ conference and talking to people about trail building.
Specialized NZ’s Marketing and Operations Manager James Elvery says obviously it’s in the company’s interest for people to be building trails – because more trails means more people riding, and more people riding means more people needing bikes.
“There were a few volunteer days happening, with 20 or 30 people coming along, but we thought that we could use our marketing reach to get the message out to a larger audience and make it a more inclusive and friendly day.
“The idea is to get people who haven’t been to a dig before – but who love mountain biking – rubbing shoulders with people who dig on a regular basis. This helps break down some of the stigma around people being too nervous to come along to dig and, as a result, hopefully they’ll keep coming out.”
Specialized provides the tools, manages the volunteers and organises the structure of the day, finishing by putting on some food and drinks.
The Dig Days have been held in Wellington, Queenstown, Wanaka, Auckland and Rotorua so far, with some attracting more than 100 keen volunteers.
James says a huge range of people come along.
“We’ve had tourists in campervans roll up, families with kids come along – there’s all sorts of work to be done so there is something for everyone to do.
“They are almost all people who want to give back, but haven’t really known how to do so; because of our connections we can generally drum up a good number people to come.”
James says that while they are definitely looking to draw a crowd, getting the right balance is key to ensuring a safe and productive dig day.
“You don’t want the number to get too big as you might run out of tools, and you need to make sure everyone is safe – you need someone who knows what they are doing for every five who don’t.”
James is actually a triathlete more than a mountain biker, who (strangely) enjoys digging in a forest more than riding.
“There is something cool about walking off into the bush with some tools over your shoulder on a Saturday or Sunday morning and chopping into some fairly physical work for a few hours.
“You build something that is pretty cool and you get to try it – and as you are building it you are thinking about what it is going to be like to ride.
“You do your work, have a BBQ and some beers afterwards and you’re home by mid afternoon.”
James says Specialized is looking forward to getting more Dig Days rolling with Trail Fund later this year.
“We as a company see big growth in mountain biking, and that wouldn’t have happened without all these trails popping up all round the country.
“A lot of that is coming from the work that the guys and girls at Trail Fund are doing and we are looking forward to working with them again this spring.”