‘Giving people a place to go outside is vital for my kind of happiness’

November 13, 2019

Philip Ruckart is a video producer, father, and self-professed outdoors fanatic. Having lived in six different states, he’s happily called NC home for the last 27. He spoke with Triangle Land Conservancy about mountain biking at Brumley Nature Preserve. TLC is working on an expansion of the preserve. Learn more here.

How often are you out biking at Brumley?

One to three times a week on average.

When did you get into mountain biking, and what do you enjoy about it?

I got my first true mountain bike in 1989. At the time that meant a rigid steel frame 3 x 9, 1.8” tire setup. (I enjoy) the combination of being outside, exercise, and exploring trails with friends, while occasionally encountering wildlife. Often, riding with friends turns into mostly talking with friends, meaning we’re talking longer than we’re actually riding. So, if we spend 45 minutes riding and an hour and 15 minutes not riding it’s because we periodically stop, or run into other people and are talking to folks, so it’s a social activity as well.

Do you do any other activities (walking, running) out there?

I enjoy Brumley North for hiking and dog walks. The trails are smaller, and it’s quieter except when the occasional train passes by. The North section is designated footpath only so it’s an easier place to walk dogs and hike.

How did you first find out about Brumley, and how long have you been going there?

I heard about it through Triangle Off-Road Cyclists (TORC), and the president at that time, David Housekeeper, who was in touch with the folks from TLC and vice versa about the development of the trails. I attended the public grand opening of Brumley. TLC hosted the opening with a multitude of activities, including guided trail rides by TORC members.

What draws you to Brumley? Why is it a special place to you?

Partly to some degree the proximity of Brumley to my home. I live just west of Hillsborough, and work in Raleigh, so I ride on various trails and various surfaces, from greenways, gravel, and single-track trails in-between home and work. Brumley has a nice variety of terrain. There are a few small rock sections, loops, ditches, bridges that go over ditches, short climbs — it’s not just one single continuous type of trail, so it’s always kind of an engaging environment. TORC-sponsored and led night rides are also a lot of fun. At night the trails have a uniquely different feel and we usually encounter — if not see than hear — deer not far off the trail.

What is your favorite trail on the preserve?

Probably Buckeye. It has some of the best features. Big ditches, bridges, some things you can speed jump, slightly technical rock sections and then the natural terrain flow berms. Those flow sections you can carry speed through and glide down the hills. The tail end of Springhouse, down toward the bridge, the rocky off-camber cliff side, that’s fun too. The Finger, it’s on the trail map as the Conservation Corps Loop. We call it the Finger because it’s an out-and-back loop shaped sort of like a finger. That section, it’s short, but has two fun dips through it and a lot of people try to achieve personal records or beat somebody else’s times on that segment.

What are you most looking forward to about the expansion at Brumley?

Currently there are approximately 9.8 miles of trails if you do everything, not including the connecting fire roads. Often what friends and I do is ride all lefts and then all rights, so we do one lap all around everything one way and then repeat in the opposite direction, and that can take about an hour and a half or so. If more trail is developed more with an expansion, it could help disperse crowds or give us the opportunity to make a half-day out of riding Brumley. If the terrain is similar to the current trails, it would be just a super fun large trail system.

Why do you support TLC and/or expansion efforts at Brumley?

TLC is doing fantastic work, striving to conserve green spaces, and that’s something that all too often doesn’t get a priority in the development of neighborhoods and communities, whether it’s commercial or residential. Giving people a place to go outside is vital for my kind of happiness. It’s great to see a lot of families with young kids coming out to Brumley. More and more you see the apparent consequences of spending too much inside in front of electronic devices and not getting kids outside to appreciate what’s around them. So, it’s refreshing to see families show up with minivans and bikes piled on the back and young kids having a good time with it.

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