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What is a Pick, Dig, Ride? With A-TEAMer Ali Hair

Image by Rich Baybutt. Words by Ali Hair

For anyone reading this blog, you’re probably familiar with trail cleans – you are on the Trash Free Trails website after all! And for many more of you, you’ll also be familiar with mountain bike dig days; those afternoons on the tools (and usually in the rain if like me you’re in Scotland) where new singletrack appears, turns are cut, and braking bumps are smoothed.

Here at Cambu, in the central belt of Scotland, we’ve been doing both for a while. One (dig days) done with the aim of maintaining and building sustainable trails on our hillside, and the other (trail cleans) done with the aim of instilling environmental stewardship in our mountain bike community. We’ve been doing it for over 3 years now, and you can check out what we get up to here.

Image by Pete Scullion

However, amongst all the events, the rides, and the good times, we started to notice something. We’ve always had the vision of promoting our MTB community as a real enabler of positive change. But the two events we hosted always seemed very distinct…one looking after the environment, and the other our trails.

But are trail cleans and dig days really that distinct? Are they really separate things? Well in our view, when it really comes down to it…no, they are one and the same.

So last year we decided to take a more ‘holistic’ view of our woodland based shenanigans, and to call it by its more formal name, a more ‘holistic’ view of trail advocacy.

What I mean by that is we see trail advocacy as a triangle of three things – sustainably built trails, environmental stewardship to protect those trails, and enjoyment in and connection to nature. The latter is mainly, in our case, riding bikes!

Cue the creation of a new event called PDR (Pick, Dig, and Ride) which we piloted here at Cambu in 2023. It’s an all day event which combines all the aspects of ‘holistic’ trail advocacy, and to boot, it's an insanely fun day of trail love in the wild places we cherish, on the trails we ride almost every day.

We also believe that this PDR approach, which combines a trail clean, dig day, and ride out all in one, can improve the behaviours and attitudes of our trail users to nature. After all, during a PDR event volunteers help BUILD, and PROTECT, and ENJOY their trails in one sitting. In doing so that surely increases the possibility of better outcomes for our local environment - right?!

Put simply, PDR is an extension of a lot of things our mountain bike community does already. We know and see amazing things from all over the UK with people building incredible trail systems, and others coming together to protect our environment both as individuals, and at scale.

Now, imagine a future where the two were intertwined as default - and imagine the positive trace we could leave on our wild places every time we venture outside to improve or maintain our trails.

In my view it’s not actually that hard to imagine, as it’s happening right now, and we call it PDR!

PDR returns this May with our biggest event yet at Deuchny Woods in Perth, hosted in conjunction with the Tayside Trail Association and Orbea. Sign up here.

Maybe we’ll see you there, or maybe you’ll take PDR to a trail system near you soon!



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