Jeff Taylor, Trail Management (read more)
Who are you; family, where you grew up, what you do when you’re not riding?
I am a stay-at-home dad with 2 elementary school age children. I have a background in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. I grew up outside Brattleboro Vermont and moved to Potsdam New York for college. After completing a BS, MS, and PhD at Clarkson University I decided stay for a bit longer and pursue a professorship for 4 years until I decided to follow my wife to Burlington. She attended medical school and I worked for BioTek Instruments designing fluid handling robotics equipment for the automation of laboratories. In 2012, my family moved to the Middlebury area and I’ve filled my time cultivating a large vegetable garden, volunteering at my children’s elementary school and building custom alpine skis.
Are you involved in other organizations?
I am also on the Middlebury Ski Club board of directors.
What is your favorite trail/place to ride in Addison county?
To be completely honest, I haven’t explored many of the trails outside Middlebury. Chipman hill is probably my favorite place to ride. It’s close to home and it’s the perfect combination of climbing and technical descents for me.
How long have you been mountain biking?
I started mountain biking in 1986. I initially rode on a Schwinn hybrid bike. It was completely inappropriate for the terrain and the riding that I was interested in. A couple years later I was old enough to have a summer job and bought a Bianchi mountain bike. It was a little heavy, but it had sealed hubs, decent brakes and opened up a lot of terrain that I had not been able to ride in the past. By 1990, I had graduated to fully aluminum frame. At that point I was riding 6-8 miles each afternoon on old, over grown logging roads. In the summer of 1990, I started racing in NH, MA, CT, and southern Vermont. I raced for a couple years before heading to college.
How often do you ride?
I took a big break from mountain biking for about 10 years. Some of this was linked to trying to balance work and family time, but a lot of it was simply feeling disinterested in the direction that mountain biking seemed to be headed. There seemed to be far too much emphasis on the downhill aspects of riding. Bikes were getting heavy, suspension travel was increasing rapidly, and the people that I had ridden with in the past were trading in their cross-county bikes for free-ride bikes that they were taking to lift serve mountains, or they building trails that were just a successive series of drops and gap jumps.
This summer and fall I polished up my bike, had the suspension components rebuilt and started to explore around Middlebury. This fall I was riding 2 to 4 days a week. Usually averaging 10 to 15 miles per ride.
Do you race?
I used to. I loved it. But, I know that I’m very competitive and take a lot of chances in the pursuit of a race victory that are incompatible with taking care of my family. So, I keep that competitive fire tamped down a bit and only really let it loose on climbs when I’m with someone who’s talking smack and needs a little dose of humility.
What do you ride and/or how many bikes do you own?
I currently own 3 functional bikes – a road bike, a hard tail and a full suspension mountain bike. A also have a few frames floating around that I either can’t convince myself to part with, or haven’t taken the time to get rid of. My primary mountain bike is a yellow and black 2001 GT I-Drive Race. It’s old, but it’s light and provides just enough suspension travel to take the edge off the bumps.
What inspired you to mtn bike?
I grew up in a very rural area in Southern Vermont. There was 30+ miles of trails that I could access from my back door. I had ridden them on snowmobiles and ATVs for years before getting into mountain biking. With a mountain bike, I found that landowners were much happier to provide me access to their trails, and I could really get to know the forest in a way that was never possible with a motorized vehicle.
What gets you through that really hard ride?
Pride. I hate to feel like a trail has beaten me.
What do you hope to contribute as a member of ACBC?
I’d like to contribute some time and energy to improve our trail network. One of the things that has really been a stumbling block to riding in this area is a complete lack of maps or trail signage. This is a huge barrier to a lot of potential riders. I also have 2 strong kids that would love to ride some of the trails, but they’re not quite strong enough to tackle many of the trails that we currently have in Middlebury. The South entrance to Battell Woods is too steep. With a couple minor changes, the existing Chipman hill trails could be tweaked to make them more enjoyable to climb (more consistent slopes) for a wider range of riders. I’d like to help develop our trail system to grow the club and the community of mountain bikers in the area.
Share a cool, funny or bizarre story you had while riding.
Hmmmm… I feel like every ride has a cool little view, or event that makes the ride special. With that said, I’m having a hard time pointing to anything specific. Here’s an example. Earlier this fall I was riding on Chipman hill. It was 9am on a weekday, the light was streaming in sideways through the trees, and I was all alone. I climbed to the top of the Rehab trail and began my descent. As I came around a tight downhill corner I found a deer standing on the right edge of the trail. I slowed a bit and she just watched me go by. I finished the decent and headed back up. As I approached the top, the deer was grazing on the grass growing up through the access road. She was on the edge of the road and lifted her head to chew while watching me approach and pass by. There was no fear. I stopped a little way up the access road that took a picture as she continued to watch me between bites of grass. a few minutes later she had wandered into the woods and was again standing next to the trail watching as I was snaked my way down the north east side of the mountain. It isn’t a flashy story, but this is what I love about mountain biking.