A shovel tamps down dirt on a mountain bike trail.

Story and photos by Dylan Sherrard

It's nothing short of magic, this mountain of mind melting lines. 

The first chair ride of the season never disappoints - whatever the weather, we're happy to be here. But, long before the ragged hand of winter loosens its grip and the sharp breeze gives way to a gentle summer sway. Before we feel the solstice sun blazing between the pines where these intricate tracks weave and wind...

The trail crew moves the mountain.

Four trail crew members work on a mountain bike trial with the chairlift in the background.

They say it takes a village...

And this small crew makes a mighty arm wrestle to move the myriad of obstacles between us and our most treasured summer rides. 

A trail builder looks up and smiles, holding the handle of a shovel.

Two side-by-side images of a trail builder using an orange excavator to build a bike trail.

From the mess of a mud pit to manicured meandering lines. The machinery makes the process manageable, but never a mile is considered complete without the gentle touch of these rough human hands. 

Two hands held together showing dirt and calluses from trail building.

And then the trails sit there... Aloof in the woods. Awaiting us. 

The trails whisper tales of the lives they've lived, the seasons of changing shape and the tires they've permitted to pass. 

And we turn up to float, turn-to-turn, in a playful return to childlike freedom. Slash up the sides and feel the flow, it's all buff and ready to roll. Two side-by-side photos of trail builders smiling.

A trail builder in high visibility clothing measures a wood beam.

We take what's ripe for the picking and give a great thanks for the heavy lifting still happening behind the scenes. And soon we find ourselves shouting: "Wow I can't believe I'm still alive." 

For every lift from a roll and effortless transition into another, each accidental let-a-little-too-loose only to be saved by a flowing turn. Every grimy handshake or glorious high five, every hot turn hit with blinding light in the eye, or each hoop and holler that echoes in the forest... 

It's all a little magic made by the trail crew. 

A trail builder wearing a helmet and goggles give throws up a devil horns sign with her hand while riding in a side-by-side atv.A trail builder rests his chin on the handle of a shovel.

Chasing swift turns and blazing the benches that cruise from ridge to ridge. One turn floats into another and each day fades into the next. Life is loud but we're never more than a chairlift away from summer's sweetest singletrack. And we tip our hats (er, helmets), reach for a firm handshake or a snappy high five, and give a clink of every crisp pint as thanks to the trail crew. 

A Ballad of Belonging - short stories of the moments that define our ride. 

Two trail builders work on a mountain bike jump.