Today’s story comes from Grass Valley, CA, by way of Santa Cruz.
This is Liam Ruff, a graduate from the Nevada Union Miners team in Grass Valley, CA. He took the trail work photo above, and posted it to Instagram.
We caught up with Liam and asked him a few questions about his involvement with the Miners in NorCal, and learned what he’s up to these days.
How many years did you ride with the Miners?
I rode all four years.
What’s the backstory behind your trail work photo?
That was our team helping out at a trail work event in our local community. That was on private property, and we were helping build a race course for the middle schoolers. In Nevada County, there’s an organization called YBONC: Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County [Check out YBONC’s great work here!]. They put on races for middle schoolers as well. A lot of people on our team raced in middle school, so it was cool to create a course for middle schoolers to race on. It was fun to just get out as a team and do some trail work.
How often did your team do trail work?
We did it three times last winter–not a ton, but a few times.
In your words, how does that image reflect your experience as a team?
The bike team was really just one part of our whole bike community. It was a cool way to be involved in the greater community. That happened a lot actually, we were part of that larger community, and other organizations recognized us. Trail work was a cool way to get younger riders involved, and get more people riding bikes.
How do you think NICA could inspire more teams to do trail work?
I’d say to let people know that this is really the only way you’ll get trails built. There’s not a lot of places where trails are just being built by land managers on their own; it takes outreach, it takes user involvement, and it’s super fun. It’s one of my favorite things to do when I’m not riding. Also, you can count it as community service–which it is. And it’s rewarding!
That’s a great segue to the next question: what was your favorite part about participating in your team?
Basically the team atmosphere, hanging out with people my age who were having the same experience racing in high school. Other than that, just being outside and being able to race bikes on the weekends was really fun.
So now that you’re in college at Santa Cruz, what are your riding plans?
I’m on the collegiate team, and during the summer I do the California Enduro Series as well as other enduro events. So I’ve continued to race. Also, last summer I worked on a trail crew with the US Forest Service. I’m pursuing trail work in a more professional role, which is fun. Talking to land managers as a mountain biker is really interesting. But yeah, as far as riding plans, just keep having fun and racing!
What do you think NICA or NorCal could do to make programs even better as we go forward?
I’d say expanding high school mountain biking to more people in general especially to different types of people. Mountain bike racing is awesome, but the one drawback is that it’s super expensive. So I’d say that NICA should reach out and get more people on bikes who wouldn’t be mountain biking on their own, more people from low-income backgrounds, making school bike racing more diverse and accessible. Seeing more kids from all backgrounds on bikes would be really cool to see over the next few years.
Follow Liam on Instagram: @sierraruffrider
Thanks Liam–we really appreciate your time!
Did you know: the Teen Trail Corps offers student-athletes a chance to earn recognition for the trail work and advocacy they’re doing.
Help NICA leagues provide programs in their regions.
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