Many riders see a mountain bike trail as a place to explore, exercise, or rid themselves of the day's stress. However, to builders, a trail is so much more. For them, trails are an outlet of creative expression. It's an art form where they get to start with a blank canvas and carve their creativity into the dirt for others to enjoy. Trail builders, like artists, have a unique style, and many times you can tell who built a trail just by riding it. Behind every ribbon of singletrack or flowy jump line is a trail builder with a vision and hours of dedicated dig time. Meet the WTB ambassadors who are committed to creating trails that allow all of us to enjoy the sport we love so much.
Welcome to WTB's Build With Purpose.
Name: Cody Wilkins
Current Location: Bellingham, Washington
Favorite WTB Product:
Vigilante 2.6 x 27.5 and a Volt saddle in medium width and chromoly rails.
Coastal Cruise at Coast Gravity, but anywhere with a loam steep run up top into flow jump lines.
Favorite riding buddy:
My little brother Henry.
How did you get into biking?
We grew up in rural upstate New York and mountain biking was the best way to get around the woods. For us it was so similar to skiing, but in a way far more convenient. We grew up racing BMX so the transition to mountain biking was easy and opened a whole new world of riding.
What does a perfect day of biking look like to you?
Wake up, iced latte, a medium-sized pedal to get the blood flowing, followed by shuttles in one of the many insane PNW shuttle zones. Ending the day with a dirt jump session and cold beers at the truck. Luckily we can make this happen in Washington every weekend.
When did you start building trails?
I started at 14. Our local ski hill and bike park, Plattekill, had a small trail crew, so early season you could come build and trade the labor for bike park passes and race entries. You would build until 2pm and then they would run the chairs for a couple hours on the days you worked too. Plattekill had/has some of the gnarliest trails out there as well, so it was the perfect place for us to cut our teeth as DH riders and builders.
What has been your favorite trail building project so far?
We built a flow trail in Florida that got 18,000 laps on it in the first month (the state put a counter on it). It was amazing to see a thriving bike scene somewhere you don’t assume to have great riding. Good dirt, good people, and super stoked riders everywhere.
Favorite trail building tool:
I’m going to go with an excavator. It's amazing what you can do with one of those.
Favorite type of trails to build:
I love building trails that introduce people to “modern trails”. Any trail that has berms, rollers, and small jumps. So many places only have multi-use XC trails and when they get their first bike-specific trail and it can open minds.
Why is trail building important to you?
It gets people out there. There’s not many sports where you get to create your venue. It’s a lot of work but when it’s all said and done it’s truly enjoyable. I find myself digging on my days off just to experiment with what is possible and what’s fun. That’s unique to our sport.
If you had to pick one thing every rider, and company, needs to start doing today to support trail building, what would it be?
I think there should be a “trail tax”. When you buy a bike, a small percentage goes to the local trail organization or one of your choice. Most trails are free to use and with an increase in riders the past few years, people should know how much time, money and effort goes into the trails they ride. Go to volunteer days, if digging is not for you. Remember you just spent thousands on your bike and it doesn’t hurt to chip in more for the trails. I don’t expect everyone to pick up a shovel but it’d be nice for people to know how hard it is, paid or not!
What does the future of mountain biking look like to you?
More people getting into biking from other sports (skate, snow, surf, bmx, moto, etc) and therefor more mtb-specific trails.
Follow more of Cody on Instagram!