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Back Your Builder: Heather + Dirt = Space
Trail Builder shoveling dirt.

Back Your Builder: Heather + Dirt = Space

28 | Nov | '23
Jarrett Ziemer

And not like outer space. Not like spaceX. Not even like Space Jam (not even the good one from 1996). Heather DeChoudens plus dirt equals holding space, for everyone.

Heather is Evergreen's newest trail builder, but she's been working for Evergreen as an educator for years. And Heather, a natural educator and trail builder, is embracing her new role wholeheartedly, although she would be the first person to tell you she never dreamt she'd actually get paid to build trails. And build trails she does; just go check out Dirt and Debauchery, a trail at the new Port Gamble Ride Park Heather helped build.

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 Photo by Sarah Vaughn

Dirt and Debauchery was a tech trail build led by women, a trail built by everyone, and a trail for everyone. That approach to trail building exemplifies Heather's ultimate "why." See, though officially a pretty damn good professional trail builder, Heather will always be a teacher, always be a group leader, and a ride leader. One of Heather's favorite things in mountain biking is going on a group ride where everyone's not split up and riding different trails, where everyone gets to ride and feel challenged in the same space. Heather loves a trail everyone can ride a million different ways. A trail that is green/blue/black. All mixed into one? With Dirt and Debauchery open, we're all seeing Heather's vision come to fruition. 

That vision, from build to ride, of progression, of holding space, of creating space, of the art of the build and freedom of expression. Seeing yourself on the trail in every way. With Dirt and Debauchery, that vision is all there. And because that trail build and getting to build more trails like it means so much to Heather, because she's so grateful to have found a space, her only hope is that the community she gets to create with Evergreen can mean as much to someone else, that everyone can find a space in the community and see a place for themselves on the trail. 

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 Photo courtesy of Heather DeChoudens

Next time you decide to take a class with Heather or join her at a work party, really listen to what she says; she's full of little gems you'll want to carry on your rides with you. But more than what Heather says about how to properly pack a lip or help clear a drain when you have extra time, or how to bike more better-- how to level the pedals in a berm, where and when to shift your weight when it gets steep, listen to what Heather says about what biking means to her. And to you. 

At the start of an Evergreen mountain biking course, Heather likes to ask the class, "What does mountain biking mean to you? What does mountain biking look like to you?"

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 Photo courtesy of Heather DeChoudens 

 "What does mountain biking mean to you? What does mountain biking look like to you?"

To Heather, it looks like digging in dirt, giving back so much that you start getting paid to build before you even know it. It looks like learning new ways to shape soil every day and moving away from a job that means sitting tight, back arched, and cracking. 

To Heather, Mountain biking and the good dirt means and looks like every kind of trail and every type of rider. As a builder and an educator with Evergreen, that translates to a focus on creating safe spaces in every space for everyone to ride. 

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 Photo courtesy of Heather DeChoudens

Back Your Builder: Heather + Dirt = Space