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JAM REPORT
TRAILDAYS BERLIN 2020

4 Days, 4 Spots, 4 Jams

Every year at acsencion day there is a long weekend of public holidays in Germany. The Trailheads in and around Berlin know what to do and organise one jam each day at the biggest spots Berlin has to offer. Even though ´Rona cut the amount of visitors short, there still have been solid session each day. We serve you this jam report in two slices. Starting with the jam at the 55trails and the mellowpark trails. We have a couple words from the digging heads of every spot. There will be a few fuzzy shots of Alessandros analog camera aswell.

 

DAY 1 55TRAILS BERLIN BUCH


 

INTERVIEW WITH PAUL MÜLLER
- PAULE ALTAH -

Hey Paule, please introduce yourself.
Everyone calls me Paule Altah, but my legal name is Paul Müller. Not many actually know my real name. I have been riding bikes for a long time already, must be about 14 years or so. I dig and ride at the 55trails for 12years, I just noticed that and was quite impressed.

Did you started the 55Trails?
The 55Trails were started in 1999. But everything was a lot different back then.

That means the 55Trails exist for 21 years, they must be the oldest trails in Berlin?
This is a good question, there are the Strawberry Trails. They have been around for a long time too. I am not sure which is the oldest spot but the 55Trails sure have been one of the first ones and they still exist. Last year we had a big jam with metal concerts to celebrate 20 years of BMX in Berlin Buch.

This is not really often that trails exist for this long.
To be honest, there have been a few years where with no one digging at the trails. That was the time I went here for the first time. I just started riding bmx and randomly came to this field and saw the dirts. I was overwhelmed. Actually the spot was in really poor condition, and you could tell that no one took care of it anymore. I came back a week later and brought my shovel. First of all I changed the doubles into tables, so we could ride them. There have been a few other kids with me. They also just got into bmx. After we have been at the spot a few times it got a bit of momentum. We were lucky that Lars established an association so that we got recognition from the town and could dig legaly. I remember that I almost spent every day at the trails and started to dig my own lines too. I was hooked to say the least.

Do any of the other people from that time still ride and dig?
No unfortunalty not. But one day I met the people who originally startet the 55Trails in 1999. I even have a picture of them where we all stand in front of the trails. They couldn´t believe what we made of it.

Do you have any pictues of the spot from the beginning?
I once saw some videos from 2000 maybe. The guys were riding super tiny bars and the whole field looked totaly different. We almost have a forest around the spot now and back then there was nothing, just a little bit of green with some small piles of dirt. I got goosebumps when I saw that. It makes me proud to know that the spot has such a long history and that I am now part of that.

That is really cool to see, you created a kind of oasis into the suburban region of berlin.
Did you know that Chris Doyle landed his first Tailwhip at our trials in 2001, it was the first time he landed it pedal to pedal, and thats the reason I am riding a Chris Doyle frame till today.

What?? I can not believe that, so now it makes sence that you ride the Kink Mudrunner frame.
Yes and also because the headtube badge is the best.

How is your everyday life at the trails? Do you meet up with Maurice and the dudes to dig or do you go alone?
There is not a specific pattern, sometimes I go digging alone in the morning before work, but sometimes I don´t have to work and then we meet at the trails to dig, drink beers or to ride. It also depends what kind of shift I am working. It rather happens randomly. Everyone has his obligations in life and that is alright of course. We still try to meet and be at the trails as often as we can. It will not be everyday like it once was, but I am happy when I can be at the trails a few times a week.

 
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With who do you do the digging at the 55Trails?
Maurice and me. We are the main dudes. Sometimes we get help from Shrat (David Shrat), Mario and some others that help us out. But I am digging at my projects alone, and I really want that. When I start a kicker I want no other hands on it.

That means when you start a kicker for example, you don´t want anyone to finish it for you the next day?
HAHAHA, they know that I don´t like that and would never touch my work. Too many cooks ruin the… you know what I mean.

How do you approach the design of a new line? Do you think about that on your own?
I definetly talk to a lot of people before. It is always good to hear a lot of different opinions and ideas. I don´t like to be the boss and just build my own ideas. We talk about this a lot and spend much time considering all the options. I also spend a lot of time just sitting at the trails and looking at it from different perpectives, that makes me really creative. Also when I work on the shape of a landing or a lip, I always take my brakes and sit next to it just looking at it from all kind of angles. Then I do notice if everything is alright or if I have to change it.

 

I like that you mention that, I noticed different digging techniques. Some people start and finish their project not leaving it once, and others spend more time taking a step back and looking at it from all possible angles.
I definetly belong to the second group.

You prefere working on a lip or on a landing?
Lips for sure! It is the supreme discipline. Most fun and most rewarding. If you mess up a kicker it can have serious consequences for somebody, so I always make sure the kicker works fine.

Can the weather be too bad for digging?
Yes, when it rains none stop.

Then you do not go out.
It depends. When it is pouring rain, I stay at home. But having some drizzle can help a lot. You don´t have to water and the clay sticks just right.

How is your plan for the season, can you dig and ride all year?
We are located in the middle of Germany, so riding trials is not possible in the winter. But it is also not too wet so that we can get a lot of digging done in winter, spring and fall. Two years ago I only had 3 days I was not able to dig in the winter, that was the winter I built the big line. We ride in the summer of course. Unfortunatly we have no shades here at our spot, so in the summer heat it can get too hot. I avoid digging at those days.

Thats fairly understandable. When you go to the spot only for digging, you still take the bmx?
I have an old ladies bike that is perfect for the job. It has a nice little basket in front and I go shopping before and fill it with nice stuff and have a good time at the trails.

Water or beer while digging?
Beer. But I start to fool myself and drink malt beer every now and then. Because it is not the best for my body to drink beer every day. I rarely drink water to be honest, sad but true.

You ride more or you dig more?
I dig more.

Are you happy with that?

 
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Yes, because it is my decision. If I want to ride more, I ride more. I don´t ride as much as I used to and I feel okay with that. For me the wild days slow down as I am getting older, but I could not live without bmx. So I keep going.

Do you prefer digging in the sun without a shirt or in the rain with perfectly sticking clay?
Hoooo duude, thats a tough one. I take the perfect sticking clay. But normaly the first thing I do when I get to the spot is taking my shirt of. 

 

Do you butter with the shovel or with the surfacer?
I use the brick trowel for the finish. And thats the best feeling in the world. It saves a lot of time too. Impossible to get it as good with a shovel. I give it a good amount of water then do the work with the trowel and finally let it rest for a day. Then it´s done.

Do you have problems with cracks proceding like that?
It depends on the clay you work with. We never had problems with cracks a lot, but we have a bit more with the new clay that we just got delivered. This is crazy good clay, really sticky and unfortunatly also cracks a bit faster while it drys.

Did you ever have problems with a collapsed kicker or landing?
This question hurts in my heart. Of course we had it a few times. The fourth landing collapsed a few times and that costed me a whole winter. Also the landing of the first hip in the big line, three times. I almost gave up on this one. My friend Boby helped me out and we made it step by step. It is necessary to let it dry inbetween, which is the hardest part, because when you see it is looking nice, you get hyped and you want to carry on stacking.

No one can see the work that actually went into a set of trails unless you have been digging it by yourself.
That is true, I guess most people can not imagine how much work goes into a spot. One day I let kids repair what they have destroyed, they had to bring three full wheelbarrows each. I felt bad because I forced these young kids to help me, but it actually paid off and they changed their behavior and appreciate the spot way more after this. Everything at the 55Trails was built without machines, most people passing by won´t believe that.

Does your satisfaction start when you finished working on a new jump or when you rode it succesfully for the first time.
It makes me extremely happy to finish a new jump. Pulling the cover over a new jump is a huge reward for me. I then go to the top of the lines just to take a look and it makes me proud and happy to see the new addition amongst the other jumps. That itself is my motivation. Even if something takes weeks or months, standing beside something that I did on my own from the beginning to the end is a wonderfull feeling.

What about the test rides?
The golden rule is „Wer baut der haut“ (means who builds has to hit it). I stuck to this rule in the past, but this year I needed a little help for the big line. But it is no problem for my ego, I stand beyond those things and I am happy when the lines work out and everyone is having fun. I got to a point where I enjoy seeing others ride my lines almost as much as riding them myself, typical traildad you know.

What is your motivation to dig, do you also dig more to have everything dialed for the annual jam in the early summer?
It is always a big motivation when people visit the 55Trails. And of course the jam takes a big part in that. Sometimes I am stressed the whole winter because I want to finish a lot of projects for the jam. When I have people here, I want everything to be perfect so they can enjoy the trails as much as possible.

Seeing your trails every year makes it no surprise that you say this. Everything is more than perfect and we can only imagine how many hours you have spent here. Actually I think this in general is a big part of trailsriding, because it rarely happens alone, and sometimes it feels like preparing a brunch for your friends or something similar.
Yes exactly, I also really like to cook. But not for myself alone, but when I have friends coming over I spent a few hours preparing something. The same with my trails, just on another level.

Awesome! Is there anything else you want to say?
The jam was a big highlight for me, like it is every year. It almost feels like holiday in your hometown. Thanks to everyone who showed up and made it happen. Ride trails!

Thanks for the interview Paule!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

     

 

DAY 2

MELLOW

PARK
TRAILS

 

INTERVIEW

SVEN, NICO, WOLF
MELLOWPARK TRAILS

Please introduce yourselves.
Wolf, age 33 Sven, age 36 Nico, age 30 all living in Berlin

When did the “trailslife” started for all of you? And since when have you been in the mellowpark?
Wolf:I began real trailsriding around 2012. My first experiments on digging trails started 2013 in Mellowpark. When I moved to Berlin in 2014 this became my homespot which I already had some plans for.
Sven: I started BMX pretty much as a kid but began digging and riding trails quite late, mid twenties I think. I became a local at the Mellowpark around 2013.

Nico: Riding trails became interesting for me around 2016 at Mellowpark. At this time I also became a local at this spot.

How is the story for each one of you getting into the mellowpark trails?
Wolf: Easy...it was the most logical one for a spot to ride and dig. I mean it's a safe place, the jumps were already built the way I could most identify myself with and there was enough space for new stuff to dig.
Sven: Jan (longtime local at the Frohnau trailsspot north of Berlin) and me were fucked up with vandalism (burned tarps, emptied water canisters, etc.) at our trails and decided to call it a stop. Jan did quit entirely. I was friends with Hans and Lars at the DRK Trails at the Mellowpark and decided to move on there, mainly for the security of the spot as I was really fucked up these days with all these dumb kids having nothing to do.

Nico: In 2014 I moved to Berlin and was looking for a new local spot to ride. The Mellowpark was the only outdoor skatepark which came in consideration because it was the most famous and also the biggest one in Berlin. But at this time I wasn’t riding my bike so much because of an injury, the indoor skatepark at my hometown, which is nearby Berlin – I commuted often, was closed and most of the time the ramps at Mellowpark were just too crowded, specifically with scooter kids. This really fucked me up haha (no hate). So I decided to try riding the trails around 2016 because most of the time there were only a few dudes.

Each year in May the whole country of Germany has a few days of public holidays. Traditionally the Mellowpark celebrates the “Highway2Hill”, what basically is a bmx festival. Several contest, jams, partys, camping and burning ramps. Since your trails are part of the mellowpark, you also use the chance and hold a big jam. Are you guys involved in the rest of what is going on at the mellowpark, or do you focus on the work at the trails?
All: First and foremost it's the trails. We all are working full time with digging in our freetime, so there's usually not much left. It's quite a lot of work for 3 guys, especially with the redesigning of the place which started 2019 and is now finished. Of course we do care about the Mellowpark and try keep up with what's going on. Maybe let's put it this way. We take care that the Mellowpark has some decent trails in good shape and that's our contribution to the whole Mellowpark project. There's really quite a lot of history and story around the Mellowpark that's good to know. May we do something on this right here later...

How is your opinion on having your trails as a part of the mellowpark? Everything is behind a big red fence and you can use some of their infrastructure.
All: Like with almost everything it's pro and cons. The biggest pro, by a mile is the safety of the location and people being there all the time. All the Mellowpark girls and boys know about the trails and keep an eye on it, even if we aren't there. So it's almost impossible to come around and find the place thrashed. The cons come also with the Mellowpark. Everyone is allowed to ride, when the lines are open and the locals are there. But it can get quite exhausting to deal with some people. Also you have to explain (plain and calm!) to some parents why the doubles are not a playground for their kids. Why tarps aren't slides etc...
That said, the rest is usual trails policy. You have to pay a little, so called „usage fee“ to ride the ramps but you can't pay to ride the trails. No locals, no ride. You have to contact us (best over instagram @mellowpark_trails) and ask when it's possible to ride. At the spot, respect the trails and the people there. Be kind and everybody's happy.

 
 
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I can´t imagine anyone not being happy when he rides your trails. That was also noticable at the jam this year. Because of the public holiday, there were a few jams in the area of berlin. The annual highlight is the jam at your trails and the teambattle that is going on. How does it feel to have something like this happen at your trails?
All: So the Thursday before the Highway is a holiday in Germany which makes it easier for people to come to Berlin and enjoy a pack of Trail Jams. Beginning on Thursday it's 4 jams at 4 spots. At our spot it starts also as a jam on Saturday and turns out with an one hour contest cause of the „Highway2Hill“, which is like a jam/contest weekend. We enjoy the jam at our trails with our friends and don't have serious problems with other people riding it. But there can be annoying part to it...there's always a small tear in our eyes when we see non-trails-riders trying to get trough the lines. Especially when they ride insecure, brakeless or with pegs. But we are glad that we built the jumps in a pretty intense way with 2 or 3 times finishing. So the damage isn't really big.

 

It seems like this extra amount of work pays off. In the winter 2018/2019 there have been a big change at your spot. Tell me about what happened.
All: Yes we had to cut off the second half of every line and built it in front of the old start. We made a masterplan and took the opportunity to build some more trailslike stuff like waves and berms. Our strive is always that the jumps and lines fit together as smooth as possible.

I haven’t done any counting, but I would guess that you have more jumps than before. Everyone was so excited to try all the new lines. It was a pleasure to see everyone having a great time. What do you think about the big change afterall?
All: In one word? Exhausting!!! But it was worth it. There's is now more everything.

Do you want to have helping hands at the trails? Some trailheads prefer to dig alone.
Sven: Oh that's a hard one. Hahaha... Nico: Oh yes. Wolf has a special (“right?!”) way to build trails and my skills are rather more on beginner level. I really try to help him. He is the boss haha…
Wolf: My experiences with getting help are...Of course I (we) appreciate help from other guys and girls (!) a lot. Especially when there's much dirt to move. But as I mentioned before we have our own way or rather technique to finish our jumps which basically means that we work hard to compress the dirt as much as possible as well as repeating the finishing process 2 or 3 times. Consequently the jumps are pretty safe against damage and bad weather once they dried out.

What do you personally think about the Jam on Saturday at your trails? A lot of the new jumps have not been ridden by anyone else until this weekend. We could have called it a premiere in a way.
All: There were still a few things to do for this weekend like getting lines fit and finishing our new line which is an important thing to us. But on this Saturday we saw the sparkles in our friends eyes when they saw the place and then we knew we had done something right. We were really happy that we had all the lines open and everybody enjoyed them.

Do you plan to build more lines next winter?
All: The spot is pretty much done now as space is limited. We thought a lot (Wolf the most) about the place and lines when the redesigning became a thing. As it's a lot of work and we aren't in our twenties anymore, we really appreciate the idea of having a „done“ spot. Of course, some changes will be made but nothing major. Keeping the whole place in shape will be enough work in the coming years. The only things we've planned but not finished yet is the table line and a small pump track for warming up the old bones and maybe attracting some new people to the trails (hopefully).

Speaking for everyone who took at least a few laps at the jam, you three earned yourselves a good rest. Still everyone is eager to visit you again for the next jam. Are there any plans?
All: We have our annual „Diggers Jam“ which will be on September 5th.

Great! What is the best way to get in contact with you when someone wants to visit you at the trails?
All: Just visit us at the spot or contact us on instagram @mellowpark_trails.

Anything else you want to say?
All: Hmmm... For us it's a true trails spot even it's located at the Mellowpark. There aren't many straight jumps, most landings are steep, some bits can be a bit challenging, there're waves and berms and there's definitely no soft landing at the end or even a big jump. So, if you want to go for big tricks, either have them dialed mid line or don't come. We tried (and achieved for us) to make every line flow. Of course, it's still the Mellowpark and with it comes the vibe more of a trick-training thing and we know that. But if you're around, let us know, come and have a ride. We're sure you will enjoy it. Because we do!

Thank you for all the effort at the spot and for the interview of course.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Check back for part 2 in a couple days!

 
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