Tools of the Trade

17 10 2007

In this article I am not recommending wholesale clearance or wanton vandalism however…. Just about everyone I know who rides a MTB regularly is sooner or later faced with either a trail or potential trail that is overgrown or blocked by fallen trees or branches. At such times there are only a couple of choices find an alternative trail or clear the route.

  • A sharp axe/mattock
  • A saw
  • A folding spade

I have found that the best way to clear brambles and nettles etc is with clippers and a big stick and just bash them out of the way. Fallen trees and branches are a different thing with two riding options go over them or clear them. If the branch is too thick to ride/hop/muscle the bike over then try building a ramp, lay a few sticks up against both the approach side and the descent and ride over with commitment. A ramp such as this may only need to be a couple of sticks – we are not talking major construction work – to be effective and is very easy to do. Use the spade to infill the spaces between the sticks and you have a ramp that makes a simple jump or rear wheel drop. Folding spades can be bought in most Army/Navy stores for £10-30, get one that is robust and that will fit into your back pack when folded up.

If the branch needs cutting then a folding saw is indispensable. Get a good quality one with a 6-8 inch blade length that if possible ‘locks’. I can confidently recommend the FELCO 600 it folds up small (easily fits into a back pack), is razor sharp and has been used to cut through branches of approximately 12 inch diameter without much difficulty, I bought mine on-line for £9-99 reduced from £23-00.

Clearing the multitude of small side branches from trees (eg conifers) can be done with the saw but the best way is with an axe/mattock, remember the sharper the blade the easier the job is. Buy one that has a protective cover for the blade (a leather cover is ideal) and is small enough to fit into your backpack without the handle sticking out of the top. A sharp axe and a folding saw are an awesome combination.

When Muddy@rse return to St Leonard’s we may take in the ‘Festive Treat’, a trail with some great technical challenges and heart in mouth moments that a couple of us cut in an afternoon using an axe, a folding saw, muscle and imagination.

Mike

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