​For me, my early years of riding BMX started on dirt. I raced at the local track, throughout the state, and then moved onto racing nationally. During that portion of my riding, I would hit up the trails at any chance I got. A lot of time was spent behind the shovel creating fun things to ride. Some of my best memories are from a dirt track I had built in a miniature backyard at a house I lived in growing up. After I decided racing wasn’t for me anymore, my riding later developed into riding street and ramps, but I always maintained a love for dirt by hitting a random race or session at the jumps.

There was a time dirt jumping had taken a step back from certain parts of the media spotlight. However, in the last couple of years, it’s been increasingly evident that people have been taking notice again - which is a great thing in my opinion. Through all of the ups and downs, one thing remained the same - the die-hard trail riders didn’t go anywhere and continued along their path of passion for trail riding. The work ethic and dedication within the BMX trail community is something I’ve always admired.

Indiana has a lot of BMX history that a great number of people don’t realize - especially in Fort Wayne. A big part of BMX in Fort Wayne has been the trail scene. It’s been home to a few sets of well-known trails, including the 4910 Trails that currently stand today. I decided it was time to catch up with a few of the main guys who have been around the scene since the beginning to help shed some light on their own trail scene, as well as spread a bit of knowledge on what to do to score a set of trails of your own.

Steve Crandall and Mike Tag (RIP) at the infamous Ravine Trails in the early 90s.

"One of the unique things about the early days in BMX, and a place like Fort Wayne, were that things were so undefined. You could really make your own way. In the early 90s, FBM was housed in a bad neighborhood in Fort Wayne called the Fat House, which became the home for many great names in the world of bike riding, as well as trail riding! On any given day at the trails or on the porch you could find the likes of Stew Johnson, Jeremy Reiss, Mike Tag, Colin Winkelmann, Josh Orr, Scotty Yoquelet, Wilbur Barrick, Jody Donnelly, or myself. On weekends, riders from Columbus, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Bethlehem, and beyond would convene on the local trails known as the Ravine. This was a spot where you might see riders like Jeff Harrington, Jimmy Levan, the Striebys, Mike Lausman, Chris Moeller, Groundchuck, Ron Wilkerson, and who knows who else. These guys would all be riding with the locals in the scene and getting stoked. Fort Wayne, in many ways, is proof that you could build your own fun and trail scene, creating a lasting ripple effect of stokeage."

-Steve Crandall

Brad Geisleman, Scott Yoquelet , and Rich Hoppe.

Brad Geisleman - Owner of the 4910 Trails:

When did the 4910 Trails start and how did they come about?

In 2006, my wife Laurie and I were looking to buy a house. I knew I had to have land with it because I pictured myself building jumps at some point. The house needing a septic tank upgrade is really how it all began. I asked for the extra dirt dug up from the job to be left in the backyard, which quickly became the first jump. Not too long after, word started going around that the infamous Ravine Trails would be getting shut down. In 2007, no trespassing and no riding signs were posted at the Ravine. At that time, my homie Johnny B said "Let's turn this single jump in the yard into a real set of trails." If it wasn’t for John, I think this place may not exist like it does today.

A basic set of rules for everyone to abide by is essential and helps keep the trails operating smoothly.

What’s the rules and guidelines to abide by at your trails?

I hate rules, but they are needed. It’s not a free for all and we have certain days to ride. Since this is not a business and I fund most of it, there are rules such as cleaning up after yourself and respecting all aspects of the property. Other rules we have are no walking on the jumps, no skidding, and you have to sign a waiver. For the ones who come on a regular basis, I expect them to help out digging or chipping in for something such as digging tools. Lastly, it’s a family atmosphere here so don’t get too wild… at least most of the time, anyway. Haha!

Looking back, has all of the time and hard work been worth it to you?

Hell yes it’s been worth it! If you’re dedicated, hard work equals big rewards. I’m having a blast riding and we are in full control of it.

Brandon Wolferman, one of the many locals who kill it, with a stylish 360.

Scott Yoquelet - Former double A pro racer:

You’ve ridden a lot of dirt in your day and have seen many trail scenes. Can you touch on a little bit about the brotherhood commonly found within the trail community?

The love of riding is where it all starts. Dirt, to me, is my favorite by far and usually those feelings are shared by a majority at any set of trails. Hanging with all of the guys, digging, and riding is a great environment to be a part of. I've had the opportunity to ride all over the world due to racing and I tried to ride trails in all the miscellaneous places I would travel to as much as possible. Each set has its own scene and meeting all the great people behind those scenes is priceless. Our scene at the 4910 trails is awesome! Sometimes we have ten to twelve guys just digging. Afterwards, we session when everything is dialed in! Good times, always!

Give us a rundown on the essential things to do in order to properly keep a set of trails in good riding condition…

Without a good group of individuals to maintain the trails, you will be lost. Therefore, the people you ride with is the most essential tool you can have. Then, of course, you’ll need the common shovels, brooms, and plenty of water. Also, worth mentioning is no drama!

Water, a key ingredient to a great set of trails.

Why all the work? What are the rewards?

We do all the work for one simple reason - to ride what we were able to create. Dirt has no restrictions, so changes can be made as we see fit. Sometimes the weather will make the work a pain in the ass, as we experienced this summer. Heavy rains and a huge weed problem had us starting over four times, but by end of the summer, the 4910 Trails were running great. The reward is the awesome feeling you get when you hit each jump. When you’ve built something new and then are able to be the test dummy. Then, most importantly, the sessions you get with great people. It’s always a fun time.

Scott Yoquelet - Classic Table

Rich Hoppe - Riding since '85, one of the main riders and driving forces behind the Fort Wayne scene:

How big of a role has dirt riding played in the scene from the early days to now?

The dirt scene started in the 80s for a lot of guys around here. At that point in BMX, everyone was racing. The guys that were doing tricks during the races were the ones who really defined modern day dirt jumping. In 1988, I believe we had our first local dirt jumping comp on the second jump at Rockhill Park - an NBL race track here in Fort Wayne. Bill Nitschke won the contest with a tailwhip to frame stand lander!  We all did it for the fun of it and we loved to see dudes trying new moves.

I visited the Ravine Trails for the first time in the late 80s. The only place I had "dirt jumped" was at the track. The Ravine, at this point, was just that - a ravine that we dove into, then jumped out of.  It was a fly out jump for the most part - and only one jump at that.  As time moved along into the 90s, the FBM crew came to town and set up camp at the Fat House. No one worked real jobs during this period, so real jobs became using shovels to build dirt jumps. They built a ton of them. This was the heyday of dirt jumping. Not only for around here, but all over the country.

Fort Wayne has had four primary sets of trails over the years. The very first ones I rode were my own, which we had built in some woods near my parents' house as kids. They were super fun and showed me and my buddies that with a few shovels, you can have a really great time creating and molding the earth into the ideas that you had in mind. We also had the Roller Dome Trails, Pinkey's Trails, and just 45-minutes away was the BMX trails mecca known as the Strieby Compound. Brian, Adam, and Nate Strieby always had a good setup with plenty of big stuff. I once jumped over a Camaro and a mini-truck on the infamous twenty-five foot set built out of pure Strieby BMX passion. The 4910 Trails are our spot now and have been since 2007.

When I look back at all the fun and awesome times with friends riding trails over the years, all I can do is smile. Trails play a huge part in my personal BMX story. Trails also tell the story of BMX itself. I absolutely love the fact that it takes a few creative ideas, shovels, some hard work, and just like that, anyone can have a trail scene right in their own backyard.

Dirt Jumping has played a massive role in Fort Wayne BMX - especially when you look at all the dudes who contributed to our scene over the years and realize that most are still involved in BMX in some way. Some have carved their very own way in the sport and have managed to make a living from something that seems so simple. BMX dirt jumping is here to stay and I hope that more people get back to the shovel.

What are some suggestions on how to maintain respect at the trails?

Each set of trails will typically have their own set of rules. The one rule you should always remember is "No Dig, No Ride." This means that you must put in your time before you enjoy what everyone else has put countless hours of work in before you. However, usually you can ride without digging if you are a newbie or are just passing through town. Mainly, respect everyone there and don't act like a jackass while at the trails.

I personally make sure that I speak with the “trail boss" when visiting a new set of trails to make sure that my crew of dudes don’t overstep any rules they may have. Another big rule that I think is important to remember is “staying off the jumps,” meaning no walking on, or standing on any of the lips and landings. That is a common issue. The lips are very fragile and can be ruined quickly when someone tries to stand on top of a launch.

Riding at your own skill level is very important. You do not have to come out and act like your king of the woods. Just come out and have fun. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone from time to time, but I think it is always a good idea to start out on the smaller lines and work your way up to the bigger lines and jumps. No one is gonna crack on you or call you out if you start small. People will scream and clap for you when you do get out of your comfort zone and you should do the same when you see it happening with a fellow rider.

Wearing a helmet is a good idea. While trails are super fun, it’s my policy to wear a good helmet when riding them. Remember, we are here to have fun and, while getting hurt is part of the game, wearing the proper gear is always in your best interest if you want to continue riding trails well into your 40s and beyond.

Chris Gerber - Backflip One-footed X-up

What words of wisdom can you leave for the younger generation for encouragement to build trails of their own?

Thirty plus years of being involved in BMX is a wild thing to think about. Jumping BMX bikes is nearly as much fun as you can possibly have at any age. Build what you want to ride and share it with others. You will have a lot of critics while building jumps, like you’ll have a lot of critics throughout life. Stick with your guns, do what you think is best for you and your scene, and things will naturally begin to come around and your scene will start to thrive.

Here is the premiere of the 2012 Deluxe Jam at the 4910 Trails. The footage was lost and recently found. This features all of the locals, various pros from around the Midwest, and Glenn Salyers (RIP). Filmed & Edited by Teddy Pieper.

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