Tell you about a friend of mine that you don’t know. Lives way up a road that’s lost in time. Don’t know his name or where he’s coming from, only thing you know: he’s a real gone cat, this friend of mine. He don’t have no uptown friends that drive a cadillac, but he’s got cool bikes and a crosscut saw. All his downtown friends like me ride around on his trails cuz he’s a real cool cat- yeah he’s a real gone cat, this friend of mine.
Trail vato. Square cat. Say, caramaba- partners where’s the party at?
Riding trails is my favorite. I mean, I like it all (and if you aren’t having fun on a road bike you ARE doing it wrong #place #time) but trails are where it’s really at. For me. And so, but you’re flowing along and then you’re forced to come up short on account of some obstacle that isn’t and cannot be part of the flow. So you do what you gotta and clamber over, heaving your bike along, to regroup and continue. It’s not a big deal. Unless it is…
To wit, this big assed log. By the time this photo was taken, that log had been down for several weeks and I’d been chipping at it with minimal effort pull-saw chips and thinking it was too big for me to tackle all alone and with the equipment I call my own. I’ve got a 3’6″ (that’s about a metre for y’all outside the US) crosscut saw which I
“knew” thought would work but dang that’s a big chore to take on. It’s worth mentioning that this trail is not officially open to bikes, so power tools (even if I had them which I don’t) are a bust = no go. So I just said “fuck it”, like you do, and settled for clambering over the damn thing. After removing the poison oak which was vined up along it. Damned if it didn’t eat at me every time, tho. I could have been flowing.
In my trail equipment quiver there is also the Trail Boss. It is boss. One of the mainest parts of trail maintenance is clearing the area, and this is a real usable tool for that. Also, I like to drink beer(s) while I’m maintenancing. And before there is the same old tired chorus of #thatsthewrongbeer, fuck you.
Thus, having bitten the bullet of decision, I pulled the trigger and performed some mother fucking action. Check it out.
And here’s a bottle of whiskey. For scale. And, to leave under a nearby log so it’s to hand whenever needed on that section of trail.
That was one work trip, but it felt like several on account of hours of sawyering is tiring. One cut down and I was feeling sore and important.
A couple weeks went by before I was able to swing another session. That’s fine, it’s a process. Look at that bike! Look at that set-up! It’s not an advertisement or a how to- it’s what I’ve got that works for me. There’s a lot of ways it could be done. Here’s a picture of what a cheap can of beer looks like after being rallied around like that:
The 2nd go round found me up there in the dark, with my 12year old son camping out and trail maintenancing on a school night. Doin’ it, you know. We made the full 2nd cut, and the saw got stuck as the kerf collapsed. What a drag. I cussed, and opened another beer, and jumped up and down on the log until it dropped and the saw came free. And that’s how the log sat for another week or so.
I’d attempted to sway the cuts so as to allow the middle section to easily fall out, but you know how plans go. Like: there it is wedged in there like a big shining mistake, showing how much effort and stupidity had gone into the whole mess…and I couldn’t help but feel like a loser.
Well, as they say: if you’re gonna be dumb, you better be tough.
So I went back up there a 3rd time.
I tried to lever the cut out. No go. So, I cut an angled wedge out of one end. And the log dropped and wedged itself into place. Again. I cussed, and opened another beer, and jumped up and down on the log until it became clear even to me that that wasn’t going to work. Then I re-positioned the lever, under the wedge and tried again. Then I re-positioned the lever, under the wedge and tried again. Then I re-positioned the lever, under the wedge and tried again. Then I dug out some more earth, and I re-positioned the lever, under the wedge and tried again. Then I re-positioned the lever, under the wedge and tried again..and the wedge popped out!
I was so glad. After plenty more levering, I got the cut out off to the side, and I could fill in the gap with all the busted rock and soil I’d dug out. Telling you: that Trail Boss is legit.
And the beauty part? Riding thru that gap, you’ll never even know any of this effort was undertaken. It’s not even a cool feature, it’s just another in a series of moments flowing along the trail, on the way to the “good stuff”. Without the blockage there’s nothing to draw your attention to the spot at all.
That is strangely satisfying to me.