Do you ever wonder about the origin of the trails you enjoy? Trails such as the Prefontaine Memorial, Colorado, Appalachian, Pacific Crest or Rails to Trails Conservancy have a well-known history and purpose. Although your local or regional open space and wilderness trails may not normally be traced to a tribute, historic path of travel and transport, or a re-purposed resource; they certainly still have a story waiting to be told. Trails significantly impact our ability to enjoy the outdoors and building even the smallest trail requires a full slate of desire, creativity, planning and hard labor – it’s a big commitment.
In Simi Valley, CA, locals play in the Santa Susana Mountains. The main point of access is the Las Llajas Canyon Trail. Eric Zubick and his family live in the neighborhood just a few minutes from the trailhead. He and his 16 year old son, Hunter explore the endless miles of trails on an almost daily basis.
They are members of a large community of recreational MTB’ers and they both race on local teams. As a family, the Zubicks (Eric, Jen, Aubrey, Hunter) spend most of their weekends in their RV racing local and regional MTB circuits. As a member of Crankbenders Race Team, Eric regularly podiums in 6 & 12 hour endurance challenges, has completed the BC Bike Race, the Breck Epic, the Vaportrail 125, earned a big belt buckle each of the 4 times he raced the Leadville 100, and in 2017 he successfully completed the self supported Stage Coach 400 mile Bike Pack event.
Hunter is a member of the SoCal Devo Team (Southern California’s junior development MTB team) and races in both the SoCal Event Series, where he is the reigning Champion, and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, where he has two second place finishes in the first two Junior Varsity races of the 2018 season. But if you ask him, his greatest achievements are stealing his dad’s Strava KOM’s!
On a recent “off” weekend (no work and no racing), Eric woke Hunter. Confused, Hunter reminded his dad that this was a rest day, no training. Eric replied, “Your rest today is building a trail – I need your help.” While initially giving in to the natural teenage urge to ignore a parent and go back to sleep, Hunter soon got in touch with the joy he has experienced helping to build a local bike park, and how much he would love to create a new trail to experience. Father and son grabbed their Macleod trail tools, a gravel tamper and hit the trail.
This is now one more commitment they work into their busy schedules. The goal is to build a connector trail between a highly used and not so highly used trail in the Las Llajas Canyon playground they call their own backyard. It’s tough to fit it all in, but they are putting in the hours: 4 to 6 hours per week and they expect it will take 250 hours!
While the initial moment seemed spontaneous, the idea to make this contribution to the local trail system had been brewing within Eric. He and Hunter recently fortified their trail building skills through Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA) Trail Crew Leader Skills certification program. Hunter has also been inspired by his commitment to help build the Sapwi Bike Park, where he serves on the board.
Eric is passionate about MTB’ing; he gives back to the community in many ways including coaching and mentoring younger generations of riders; he enjoys a challenge – especially working with his own hands; he is excited to have a new trail to ride and create better access for other trails and trail users; but the real motivation is about legacy – he wants to leave his name on the area because when the races are over and the podium pictures have all been taken, no one really remembers who you are.
Simi Valley is lucky to have these passionate athletes. Eric and Hunter Zubick are leaving a lasting mark in their community and in their sport – they are PhysioPhyx Champions.