Part #1 - Volunteers and caring
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Just caring about the park and wanting to keep it a great place to ride is the first step. Congratulations you've already completed step one!
Most dirt jump builder build their trails deep in the woods and only let their closest friends know about it. Usually it is considered very uncool and could result in physical harm to ride someone's secret dirt jump spot without being invited. This is because typically the builders work many long hours shoveling, sweeping, and watering their dirt creations only to see them destroyed by kids climbing on them, four wheelers jumping them, non-skilled riders rolling over them, or by municipal workers removing them (due to their illegal nature).
The Plainfield Bike Park is a unique experiment in recreational facilities that defies the tradition of keeping these riding spots under wraps. We feel that legalizing these riding spots will result in a much better riding facility than the hidden spots, and a legal park will last much longer, but we still face the traditional problems of four-wheelers, kids climbing and rolling them, plus the added wear and tear of all the additional riders that a free public bike park unique to the entire Midwest brings.
With the increase of publicity and visitors to the Plainfield Bike Park comes the increase of needed maintenance to keep it in decent riding condition.
While CAMBr West has volunteer workdays scheduled that are a great opportunity for volunteers to learn about how to maintain the park. Not everyone's schedule corresponds with our schedule, and there are many tasks that should be, or can be performed daily that only take a few minutes to do.
Part #2 - Lips
The biggest problem with maintaining dirt jumps are the lips. The lip of a jump is where the front of the jump or take-off meets the top. Basically the take-off is the part that sends you in the air. The take-off of the jump transitions from the flat ground in a curved radius to an almost vertical surface forming a near right angle with the top of the jump called the lip. While the entire shape of the jump is important, the lip is the crucial part that makes it a dirt jump rather than just a pile of dirt.
Due to gravity and the laws of physics, dirt does not like to stay in the shape of a vertical wall that a good lip requires. Wind, rain, and gravity all work against vertical walls of dirt. If lip gets too dry it will crumble and fall down. If it gets too wet, water will wash the dirt away. Besides the forces of nature, un-informed human behavior can be just as damaging if not worse. The nice right angle shape of a lip is designed to shoot the rider vertically in the air. But if riders roll the jumps (riding up without the tires leaving the ground) the nice square shape of the lip get rounded over and gets turned into a radius.
Usually rolling a jump is caused by riders who feel self-conscience about riding "beginner" jumps. They attempt to ride more advanced jumps without having the necessary skill or speed to get airborne and instead of getting air, they end up rolling over the tops. Sometimes riders don't even have enough speed to roll the jumps and end up dropping their bike on the face of the jump resulting in pegs, pedals, and handle bars gouging and digging holes in the face of the beautifully manicured take-off. Ouch!!
Riding the jumps backwards or using the take-offs for landings has the same effect as rolling the lips. Also walking or climbing up the lips will knock dirt loose and down to the ground.
The proper way to ride the jumps is to clear each jump. You should get both tires in the air on the take off, tires should not touch the top of the jump, with your tires contacting the dirt again on the landing transition. It's ok if you come up a little short and your back tire touches the top a little on the landing. Of course we all make mistakes now and then and might accidentally roll a jump here or there because you landed squirrelly on the previous jump. That's OK. We are trying to educate people to prevent constant rolling and dumping bikes on the lips because riders are on skill levels that are way too advanced.
Part #3 - Work anyone can do.
While we love when people come help at our volunteer work days, not everyone can make it on our schedule. Here are some things that you can do on your own outside of a volunteer work day.
a. Lightly water the take-offs and landings and then ride them. This will help keep the dirt from crumbling down, and riding them will pack the dirt in. Too much water will leave ruts, too little and they will crumble away. We try to leave a few buckets by the container for hauling water from the lake. Please sprinkle it on lightly with a water bottle or watering can. Dumping water from the bucket could erode the jump and wash the dirt away.
b. Sweep dust and rocks off of the track. This will make the track faster and safer.
c. Repair lips, fill in cracks. Small holes, cracks, holes left from rocks, someone dumped their bike and dug holes in the face. Throw some clay on there to level it out nice and smooth then water and pack it in by riding it. Stick with the original shape and just patch the holes. Try not to change the shape of the jump. If a CAMBr West Trailboss is around, you can ask them to borrow a shovel. We have plenty in the container, but we must lock them up before we leave. You can bring your own shovel in case there are no trailbosses around, just be sure to alert any riders that the section you are working on is closed.
d. Pick up garbage. I always try to pick up what I walk by.
e. Educate other riders about the fragile nature of the park and encourage them to respect the rules. A few friendly words can make a big difference.
Part #4 - Maintenance guidelines
Any modifications to jumps, building new features, or changing the layout of the park are prohibited. Any modifications, additions, or changes to the park must be approved by CAMBr West. But if it's a good idea, let us know, we might just agree that it needs to be done and do it.
Two great ways to support the Plainfield Bike Park are to become a member of CAMBr West and to volunteer some time to help with trail work. Your membership dues help pay for the tools and materials needed to operate the Plainfield Bike Park as well as help build new parks at new locations in the future.
Sometimes it seems like one person can't make a difference and there's too much work to do, we've all felt like that at one time or another. But just remember the entire Plainfield Bike Park was built by volunteers doing their small individual parts. It all adds up, and your contribution does make a difference. Thanks again, and we'll see you at the park.