Cool jobs: Mountain bike trail maker

Olympian, mountain biker or weekend hiker, if you’ve ventured into the wilderness, there’s a chance you have experienced the work of Queensland elite trail maker, Glen Jacobs. Specialising in building mountain bike trails, this guy literally makes adventure.

This job sounds too cool to be true. How did you stumble into this career?

I rode bikes as a kid and built trails in the backyard through the bush. Years later, I started riding mountain bikes. I joined the local club, became president and then started building trails to ride on.

Unbeknown to me, a couple of international mountain bikers rode my trails while holidaying in Cairns and recommended them to host a World Cup event. The events were successful and I was soon contracted to design tracks worldwide for the international federation.

Why do you think you have the best job in the world?

Nothing beats walking through and scoping huge mountains and valleys. I love imagining how a trail will look and what it will be like to ride before it has been constructed.

Describe the ultimate mountain bike trail.

The ultimate trail is sustainable and long lasting. It’s like nothing else you have ever ridden. It makes you smile, laugh and high five your mates at the end. With views and scenery that make you stop and take photos every time you ride it. And finally, its unique imagery and legendary status attracts riders from far and wide.

The 2014 UCI World Cup series is just around the corner, how do you prepare for such a massive event?

The Smithfield trails have been brought up to an international standard. The World Cup is viewed around the world by millions of enthusiasts who travel year-in, year-out to these core ride destinations.

Building a trail of this calibre in Australia allows us to manicure and shape the area to feature iconic images of the north throughout the race track.

Talk us through the trail-building process. Design to completion, how much work goes into the ‘perfect’ trail?

Firstly, the conceptual design crew determine if the location is sustainable and appealing. If the trail is sustainable, adds value to the region, offers an amazing experience via lookouts and features, or is simply functional enough to engage users – we move to the next phase.

With approved permits, we get started on the really fun part: micro-designing a trail around crops, boulders and trees. The critical flow and feel of the trail comes together while the trail-building crew construct the shape and deliver the perfect sustainable alignment.

Once the trail is built, we wait for the trail to naturally ‘bed’ itself and harden. Then we test it and adjust the ride-line.

Perks of the job?

I get to travel, explore and design new trails. Best of all, I get to create something that has never existed before.

Top trails in QLD – what are your picks?

1. Ridgy Didge Trail, Atherton
2. Wobigong Trail, Smithfield
3. Waterfall Trail, Atherton
4. Bandy Bandy Trail, Atherton
5. Catterpillars, Smithfield
6. Mt Cootha, Brisbane

Have you ever tackled one of Glen’s trails?