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  • morgan580

Shepherd Mountain

It isn't everyday you hear the words “Missouri” and “bike park” in the same sentence. But stashed in the foothills of the Ozarks about 2 hours south of St. Louis, is a collection of 3 communities: Pilot Knob, Ironton, and Arcadia known as Arcadia Valley. And while you might assume Missouri couldn't offer a legitimate bike park, this valley has been rallying behind the idea of building a system of trails that will entertain riders of all levels and to top it off - shuttle year round.

Our crew showed up knowing little more than there were 5 proposed trails to be completed for phase 1 - 2 black, 2 blue, and 1 green. And after taking one look at the terrain, we knew it was going to be a rocky summer.

June 1 we hit the ground running and started in on the first Black trail. With some way points in mind we started the process with large portions of hand cut sections mixed in with some corners and jumps stacked with our mini excavator. For about a month we leap-frogged the machine and handwork down the line building up a couple of the trails more notable features including the cedar roll-in, a pair of boulder up-and-overs, and a bed rock spine / drop.

By July things were getting toasty and most days after work we couldn’t wait to go for a swim in the pool at the Academy. July also brought Alex and Kelsie into town for some back-up on a couple new projects. All at once we went from having just one crew of 3 working on a single trail to 4 different projects being worked on all over the mountain. We got Seth, from Backyard Trail Builds, to guest build with Taylor (one of our in-house champs) a big ol' cedar corkscrew feature that will ultimately be a staple on Black trail #2; Mike, long time friend of Jagged Axe, came to town and helped us start stacking the big hit jumps at the end of the first Black trail; Alex broke ground on the dirt highway of a green trail; all the while final touches were being put on the black trail by yours truly. Long days, high humidity, ticks, and several trail side repairs made the grind extra gritty but we all knew come August we’d get to peace out to the desert for an unofficial-annual trip to Glorieta, NM.

After about a week in the desert we came back and tried some new process ideas we had come up with while all hanging out in New Mexico. We would consolidate everyone back to one central crew that would tackle the green trail full force until it was done. We also started a new machine process that would hopefully mean more productivity as well as less hand work for a our follow crew. With a larger excavator up front and a smaller one behind to dial in tread, rock work, and borrow pits progress on the green trail picked up and continued through August. And while conditions have been pretty dry all summer, we know winter will be a different story so extra attention was given to drainage solutions.

As August wrapped up we finally got a taste of the rainy weather and had the opportunity to check our water management work. Rain days also gave us the chance to catch up on some machine maintenance and with a new crew member to help out it was all hands on deck. Excavators got oil and filter changes, buckets were repaired and reinforced, the 4 wheeler got some leaky tires patched up and a new ignition, side x side coped a 500 hr service and new tires, chainsaw outfitted with a new air filter, and the hand tools got sharpened. Around this time we had a visit from some race organizers from the Big Mountain Enduro Series. They came to check out the soon-to-be park and decided the terrain here was worthy of a race!

We’ve gotten to know this community and can’t wait to see what a big race + year round park does for the folks here. Even though the riding community has yet to take off, the locals are pumped on what's happening "up on the mountain".

The leaves are clearing out and we’re still working on the Green trail but we’re closing in on the end. With so much surface area to create and manage we knew the beginner trail would take the longest and the crew is both excited on the product and looking forward to moving on to the next step in making this mountain a park. Once we button up the green, work will start on the next black and blue trail.

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