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Duds on the axe September 30, 2006 Saturday

Trail Clearing in Marlboro Country

Sagada boasts a good number of potentially remarkable single-tracks any mountain biking enthusiast would salivate for, the operative word being potential. With the onset of the rainy season, much of the trail system has been given back to the forest by the overgrowth. A good example is Marlboro Country. The new road gave viable access to what was once steep portaging. Where the road ends, the single-track begins - that's where the grooming needs to be done. It's a tall order for just Steve and me to clear, but as fate would have it, 2 able-and-willing riders from Baguio, Ging and Duds, were at the scene to make the trail-clearing effort happen.

Road Closed
There's no escaping Murphy's Law. The newly opened road was closed. It meant we had to unload from the truck and carry all that heavy trail-clearing equipment and walk about 30 minutes uphill on clay ground until we reach the single-track section, where trail clearing could begin. It was that or groom the Kiltepan trail instead. Leveraging from the availability of added hands, it made sense to do Marlboro. We walked.

Can't Whistle While We Worked
It wasn't easy work. We had to rest a couple of times. The view begged for it anyway. The heat was scorching where it was not shaded and the thorns velcro their way around our wrists as we waded through. Deep narrow ruts had to be widened enough by shovel to allow the pedals through, logs too big or set diagonally were axed through or pryed with a bareta (oversized crowbar) to move it out of the way, and of course there's the indispensable machete we had to swing across to clear the path.

Machete Nuisance
I thought a machete was a machete. Hey, I've never used one in my life until now. We had 3 types. One was heavy and ideal for chopping branches, another one was long, relatively light and balanced for swinging and cutting down overhangs and twigs. A smaller one was more for wrist action, cutting down the smaller things that were missed out. A balanced and sharp machete made all the difference in the world.

Phase 2
We couldn't finish all the muddy sections that needed to be addressed. Some had sick drops that had to be left for next time. Either blaze a new trail to circumvent the mud hole, place layered logs to stutter along or if the job is simply too big, portage!

Ending Thoughts
The promise of continuous sweet single-track riding on Marlboro Country made the effort worth it. You kill yourself for a day clearing a trail system that's gonna put a smile on your face the entire season. That's what I call paying it forward to other trail users and earning your pleasure.

--- TheLoneRider

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