OPINION: Big Red Ted on the trails

Ted Tempany. Big Red Ted. BRT as he’s known to some. This unmistakable red-haired guy has called Squamish home for 20 years, and in that time he’s contributed countless hours to one of our greatest assets — the trail network.  His work building and maintaining trails, both as a volunteer and through his trail building company, has helped make mountain biking what it is in this town. 

As many may know, Tempany’s machine-built trails like Half Nelson have earned an incredible level of notoriety, topping the global Trailforks charts year after year. In addition, keeping the main access trails running smoothly is always his priority, and he’s the man behind Full Nelson and Panda Connector, DP, Two Smoke Stroke, The Legacy Climb with all the split cedar bridges, (Stl’lhalem Sintl’), Tinder, Fools Gold, Cake Walk, and Blow Out Yer Candles.

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Tempany got his start in trail building in the “extreme 90s in Whistler.” As one of the first guides doing lift access for downhill biking at the time, trail building was part of the job. As he says, “It was a really great time in the history of Whistler biking, things were changing fast.” He also started building trail with the “Evolution Gang” on trails like Crazy Train and South of Heaven, which helped him shape his approach to building. “It was almost always about pushing what we thought was possible.”

In the late 1990s, Tempany decided to make the move to Squamish since he was commuting down to ride bikes all the time. “The people living in Squamish were awesome and welcoming,” he says.

Tempany has worked with the many different local user groups to help keep the trail network healthy for everyone to enjoy and also served as vice-president of SORCA. “It is important that anyone and everyone can responsibly enjoy the outdoors safely on our high-quality trails. Building trails specific to each use has taught me valuable lessons about trail design with good site lines and good layout in tough coastal terrain.”

Tempany isn’t just a familiar face around Squamish — his work has also earned him a reputation as a great trail builder overseas, shaping what mountain biking is today. He’s built trail segments for contests and films around the world with Red Bull, Pinkbike, Freeride Entertainment, The Collective, Anthill Films, Scott Secco and others. A man of many talents, Tempany also raced bikes in World Cup Down Hill, built the first mountain bike slopestyle contest and helped bring the Red Bull Rampage event to the mainstream.

However, Squamish is still where his passion lies and he likes to work close to home whenever he can. For the past 20 years, he’s been trying to make a jump park in Squamish and now he’s building one in partnership with others. Volunteering his time, equipment, expertise and resources for the project and the best part is that it will be free for anyone and everyone to use. Get ready to ride at the new dirt jump park this year.

He’s also responsible for the recent rework on Pseudo 3 and Lower Legacy Climb, which he hopes you enjoy. This work was funded through SORCA memberships.

“Over the years I’ve built with both paid and volunteer trail builders. Everyone I have worked beside over the years has taught me something.  It doesn’t matter how many hours, days, weeks or years you’ve spent trail building there is always more to learn. It is something that keeps me interested and motivated to build better trails. Thanks to all the other volunteer trail builders (you know who you are) out there working on improving our network.”

Editor’s note: Helen Beynon is the executive director of SORCA.

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