Fellowship of the rakehoe

We all thought 2020 was a crazy year, but 2021 has seemingly just rolled on with similar challenges for us all. I notice more people are getting a little jaded, not the usual level of energy and confidence. Just generally worn down.
In a recent article by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, a business owner in Brisbane said “As a business owner my mental and physical well-being have been badly impacted by COVID. I have the pressure of finding money to keep staff in jobs and paid. This has gone on for so long the human body is not designed to handle this level of stress on an ongoing basis. I have put on weight, don’t sleep and now have high blood pressure from the stress. Having additional health issues makes it harder to work at my best levels which is critical in the current climate and now I’m stressed and my health”.
This statement paints a stark picture of how things are out there in the business world and for people in their jobs. Sadly many in the wider community can relate to these impacts.

So how does this relate to trails you ask? Give me some good news you say!
We started a project to build around 6km of new trail at Samford Conservation Park to the north of Brisbane when the first round of lockdowns hit in 2020. Around 4kms of the new trails was hand-cut by our volunteer crew. At that stage the ramifications of the pandemic were not really understood, to some extent the lockdowns were somewhat of a novelty, more time to ride our bikes.

Fast forward a month or two and people had lost their jobs, their work hours had been cut back, business owners were wondering how they were going to survive. Things were tough.

But we did everything we could possibly do to keep our little volunteer trail building project going. We created processes for managing risks, we spaced out the work, we had teams working at different times through the day and on weekends.

During the build a great thing happened, while we came together to build trail, we also came together to talk about what was happening in our lives, in our businesses, the challenges we were facing.

The build became more about having something else to focus on and a place to get together and talk, than it did about building some new trail. Corners and features created personalities of their own, The Wall of Paul, The Corner Named Sally, Steve’s G-Out, were all part of the experience.

For anyone who has undertaken volunteer trail building, you will understand how great the ‘Fellowship of the Rakehoe’ can be. The ability to get out with a crew of likeminded people to build something for nothing more than the satisfaction that you are creating something for other riders to enjoy is a great feeling.

Creating trail out of soil, rock and timber is somehow cathartic, it is good for the soul.

If you are struggling at the moment, please reach out for help. Also look up your local trail care group and join the Fellowship of the Rakehoe, you will love it.

Craig Meincke is a regular contributor to Australian Mountain Bike Magazine. You can read Craig’s article and much more in this months issue. https://www.ambmag.com.au/