Hello, Trail folk!
This week we’ve got info about work parties, a chapter of Family Man history, and a report on this past weekend’s fundraiser at Post.
Fall work parties
The woods are dry, the trails are hammered, and it’s time to give them a little love. You can pitch in at our work parties on October 29. Just show up at Family Man at 9:30 a.m. with gloves, water, and a good attitude. Stay tuned for more work party updates, most likely in November after Family Man thinning is complete.
The Birth of Family Man
On a typical day at Family Man Staging Area, you might see friends enjoying a post-ride beverage, a pack of kids zooming by, and happy dogs loping behind their owners. It’s easy to think Family Man has always been here. In fact, it was once just a dark tangle of woods where two friends envisioned a mountain biking playground.
The year was 1999, and Jim Mudry, Dave Bisset, and their wives Heidi Mudry and Jen Bisset were leaning hard into mountain biking. Old-school cross-country was the style of the day, and they rode the dirt biking trails on the Hood River County Tree Farm. On a trip to Canada, the two couples rode Whistler and Vancouver’s North Shore and witnessed the evolution of a different style of riding.
“We noticed that the local guys were building skills areas. There were a lot of stunts—teeter totters, log rides, A-frames. It was so different, and we thought we could create something like that back in Hood River.” Jim said.
They imagined a skills park for people to practice the balancing and slower technical riding that was emerging. Dave coined the name Family Man to reflect the idea that the place was for your average person just getting into the sport.
At that time, there was no formal relationship with the county, so Jim and Dave just started building trail. Out of their early days came Family Man, Eight Track, The Boot, and other trails featuring log rides, A-Frames, and ladders to drops. They did everything by hand, slowly assembling a collection of tools and figuring out what worked. It was an ongoing effort of making trails over the winter, then traveling to ride other paces and adding in new features they saw elsewhere. Evenings were their only free time, so they’d usually end up working in the dark with headlamps.
“I guess it was a bit bootleg, but a lot of things were going on up there that were much worse,” Jim said with a laugh.
One night they were surprised by a group of local law enforcement officers who snuck up on them thinking they were poachers.
“They didn’t understand what we were doing, but they scared the hell out of us. They asked, ‘Do your wives know what you’re doing out here?’”
Their efforts continued for several years, and Jim is quick to note that many people helped during those early days.
“It was such a small crowd back then. You knew everyone on the trails. There were about ten or fifteen of us using it regularly back then,” he said.
Both Dave and Jim expressed appreciation for Henry Buckalew, who worked for the county forestry department at the time.
“He was our biggest ally and without him a lot of the Post Canyon bike trails would not exist,” Dave said.
Soon they noticed more novice riders using the trails and riding bikes that weren’t appropriate for the terrain and started to worry about safety. They changed their building style to accommodate the growing number of users. After several years, they phased out of trail building.
“We loved to do it, but we were trashed. We used to go up and dig for six hours then it was four then three and then one.”
They also felt the sport was changing and naturally made room for the next generation of trail builders.
“It was a special time. We got to be creative in a weird way. We thought of it as art. It was so fun to shape things out of raw lumber we pulled off the ground with chainsaws and hand tools,” Jim said.
Dave, who now lives in Canada, said he’s grateful to have been a part of such an awesome community asset.
“I’m really happy that there is a new generation of trail builders and advocates that will have the opportunity to write the next Family Man chapter and keep this great place going,” he said.
Jim still rides up in Post often when he’s not out on the river. He remembers fondly the long evenings of building trail, the comradery, and the conversations.
“We’re really excited that so many people are using it. Years ago, we would say this place is not going to be the same. We were fortunate to be here when this started. We got to see that magic.”
Thank you, Shuttlers!
Saturday, October 8, was a banner day for our second Shuttle Day Fundraiser. Donations for shuttle rides from the bottom of Post to the Binns Hill Staging Area reached $3,500 (including money brought in by the hardworking kids at the lemonade stand). This money will be used for the rebuild of Family Man in 2023 (Check out our plans here.). Many thanks to all who participated and to our generous sponsors—School of Send, Brave Endeavors, and Mountain View Cycles.
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Have a great week!
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