Madly in Love With the Maah Daah Hey

Via our Keepers of the Outdoors series, we’ll introduce you to other folks that shield and fancy our wild locations.


Contain you ever cherished something so noteworthy you can crawl 200 miles for it? Via heavy brush? With a push mower? Slash Ybarra has.

“It became here that the romance of my existence began.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt became usually given to waxing poetic about North Dakota’s Badlands, and it’s easy to peek why. The earth rises and plummets in sepia folds that bring collectively dramatic buttes and canyons, dotted with sad pine trees. Prairie grasses bend and twist in the ever-existing wind and mingle with the shimmering reds and muted browns that make up noteworthy of the clay-heavy soil. Roosevelt is identified to get cited his time in North Dakota as being the motive he fell in delight in with the outdoors and negate him on the traipse to turning into President.

It is that this associated North Dakota landscape that became Slash Ybarra’s first delight in.

Ybarra has wide, sad eyes and a easy smile. A black ball cap emblazoned alongside with his company’s logo appears completely affixed to his head, and acts practically adore a weathervane, rotating alongside with his temper. When he’s serious, the cap’s invoice factors straight ahead as he leans to chat. As he begins to relax, his hands appear to unconsciously rotate the cap’s invoice moderately to the aspect, giving him a ultimate younger look. At 34, Ybarra has a behavior of quoting our 26th president. Ybarra describes himself as an life like man, quoting Teddy Roosevelt, ‘“an life like man … nevertheless I work more challenging at it than the frequent man”’.

Slash Ybarra | Picture: Chad Ziemendorf

Ybarra fondly remembers transferring to shrimp nevertheless prosperous Watford Metropolis, North Dakota, from Bismark after the oil train of the early ‘80s. Though he consistently cherished North Dakota, it took two wheels and miles of sprawling grasslands for him to plunge in delight in. He became fair 18 years ragged and the closest bike store became over an hour away (so he rode a hundred-greenback bike from a obliging-box retailer), nevertheless from the moment his tires hit the traipse, Ybarra became curved.

Since transferring to Watford, Ybarra has spent 1000’s of hours and practically on daily basis both utilizing or caring for North Dakota’s premiere lengthy traipse.

“Mountain biking is my favorite sport, it’s my hobby, it’s my voice understanding, it’s my lengthy-term successfully being insurance protection, it’s my sanity, it’s my passion.”

The Maah Daah Howdy Path is greater than a hundred miles lengthy and winds via rolling grasslands, dramatic plateaus and tall valleys of the Badlands. Native riders joke the most technical factor of the MDH is dodging the cow patties that blossom on the traipse in the summertime months. The traipse gets its name from the Mandan Indians, a North Dakota tribe whose name ability “something that can be around for a very lengthy time.” A easy depiction of a turtle marks every of the traipse’s indicators and mileposts, a image of resilience, dedication and perseverance that signify the traipse.

Picture: Zoe Rom

After Ybarra’s first tour on the MDH, he did every little thing he would possibly also to bring collectively support out on the traipse. One of his first dates alongside with his now partner, Lindsey, became on the traipse. He took a job on a drilling rig in 2010, working for two weeks at a time and utilizing the MDH throughout his two weeks off. He cherished the solitude he came across on the twisting prairie singletrack, the frenzy of adrenaline that got here with nailing a descent or the breathless exhilaration experienced after a grueling climb.

“Mountain biking is my favorite sport, it’s my hobby, it’s my voice understanding, it’s my lengthy-term successfully being insurance protection, it’s my sanity, it’s my passion,” mentioned Ybarra.

In the summertime of 2011, the MDH started to go. After a particularly wet spring, tough prairie grasses began to sprout on the traipse, all nevertheless obscuring the already faint singletrack. Ensuing from funds cuts, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which manages the Shrimp Missouri Nationwide Grassland whereby the MDH winds, became unable to assist with the encroaching prairie—the MDH became in hazard of vanishing altogether.

“No longer now not as much as half the traipse became ineffective, long past, extinct and the the rest of it became now not very delectable, now not find it irresistible as soon as became,” mentioned Ybarra. “I became interesting to invent practically about something else to build the MDH from disappearing ceaselessly.”

So, he did what anyone whose correct delight in became threatened would invent. He got a garden mower.

Ybarra mows the a hundred-mile Maah Daah Howdy—in both directions. Picture: Chad Ziemendorf

“You know, Roosevelt mentioned the suitable thing in existence is to work flat out at work worth doing.”

The MDH would possibly also even be slim and winding, and it traverses sections of barren location and grasslands that limit the use of motor vehicles, requiring that Ybarra use a push mower to decrease the grass on all sides of the traipse—totaling successfully over 200 miles. Though a handful of shut chums ultimately helped Ybarra with the mowing, he logged successfully over a hundred miles himself. Terrain that’s intended to be relaxing for horseback utilizing and mountain biking is less welcoming to the unwieldy grass-chopping instrument, rendering descents moderately frightening and uphill pushes extremely laborious. Worship every little thing that lives in North Dakota, prairie grass is tricky. If truth be told hard. And a sturdy blade and persistent mower is required to decrease it.

“As humans, now we get got this timeless passion to invent every little thing we can to build what we adore,” mentioned Ybarra. So, he negate out mowing every bikeable allotment of traipse. He started at the CCC trailhead shut to his place of delivery of Watford Metropolis and mowed the total ability to nearby Medora, the build President Roosevelt had his ranch.

Increasing up around ranches and working on an oil drill, Ybarra has never shied away from hard work and manual labor.

“You know, Roosevelt mentioned the suitable thing in existence is to work flat out at work worth doing.”

Nevertheless, Ybarra realized that single-handedly mowing greater than 200 miles of traipse became hardly a sustainable ability to build his cherished traipse. The categorical ability to withhold the MDH became to portion it.

One thing that makes the MDH so stunning to riders adore Ybarra is the solitude it affords. Its far away location and relative obscurity get earned it the nickname “North Dakota’s most involving saved secret.” In insist to draw attention to conservation and restore the MDH to its historical glory, Ybarra determined to host a flee.

A put up shared by MaahDaahHey100 (@maahdaahhey100) on

In 2012, Ybarra held the first MDH a hundred—a grueling flee that would possibly take riders via Ybarra’s favorite sections of traipse. Silent working allotment time on an oil drill, Ybarra had no opinion prepare a flee. He lickety-split realized how complicated it would possibly also even be to prepare the form of mountainous tournament moreover scouting and marking the flee route himself, alongside the ability discovering that cows delight in to employ pin flags and ribbon.

Basically the basic 365 days, 60 riders showed as much as flee. The 107-mile route of far away singletrack wretchedness out and in of the grasslands, and several riders got lost on cattle trails that led them on miles-lengthy detours off route. Nevertheless, racers cherished the lengthy and scenic traipse, and North Dakota’s most involving saved secret became out. This 365 days, 560 riders rolled as much as the beginning line.

“I delight in sharing my favorite thing in the enviornment with assorted other folks. I delight in getting them in the market and seeing that glitter of their be conscious when it clicks and they bring collectively it,” mentioned Ybarra, “you bring collectively to plunge in delight in far and wide all over again.”

“I knew the most easy ability to build the MDH traipse to its historical glory became to roll up my sleeves and partner with the USFS.”

Watford Metropolis is a shrimp group with easiest a handful of local riders, and it’s a tight-knit group. Everyone knows when anyone else is utilizing, and bikes are inclined to circulate inner the shrimp group, buying and selling hands as group contributors upgrade. Watford Metropolis and the surrounding location is distinctly working class, with practically all of oldsters working both in oil extraction or on ranching operations. Ybarra hopes to bring collectively as many role residents out on the traipse as possible.

“I think in staying appealing, nevertheless I also think you in point of fact have to revel in it, and now we get got this improbable traipse only a tiny while from the build we are residing, and I desire to portion that,” mentioned Ybarra.

Though Ybarra became largely striking forward the traipse himself with only a handful of volunteers, he became gentle looking out to acquire the ability to bring collectively more other folks interested by his passion mission, whether via utilizing or conservation. In 2013, Ybarra founded Place the Maah Daah Howdy, a nonprofit that worked in partnership with the USFS to preserve the MDH. Previously two years, Ybarra has had the abet of 20-forty volunteers dedicating successfully over 1,a hundred hours of volunteer traipse work to preserve the traipse in shape for 365 days-round utilizing.

“I knew the most easy ability to build the MDH traipse to its historical glory became to roll up my sleeves and partner with the USFS to make the MDH findable, usable and delectable,” mentioned Ybarra.

Even so, it’s now not ample to preserve the traipse maintained, and Ybarra believes the traipse’s most involving chance at survival relies on bringing in riders from out of town. In 2016, Ybarra became in a region to stop his day job and begin work as a stout-time flee director. He now hosts eight events every 365 days on the MDH, including the a hundred-miler, a gravel flee, a Christmas fatbike flee, young other folks races, traipse runs and even a iciness flee that takes bikers, skiers and snowshoers down a frozen creek that traverses the traipse.

The North American Path Symposium awarded him an Prominent Path Leaders award in 2017 for his work restoring the traipse and constructing a mountain biking group dedicated to stewardship. Now, he has two young daughters who’re only ragged ample to delivery biking the MDH, and he plans to use as noteworthy time alongside with his favorite other folks, and favorite traipse as possible.

Acknowledged Ybarra, “Sharing the article that you just delight in the most with the folk you delight in, and seeing them plunge in delight in, man … there’s nothing find it irresistible”

Uncover the Maah Daah Howdy


The put up Head over heels in Esteem With the Maah Daah Howdy looked first on REI Co-op Journal.

Originally posted 2018-02-11 19:03:59.

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