J Bone hit me up a while back about an idea he had for a interview series revolving around trail builders who have heavily impacted the scene around them. It should go without saying that I was immediately onboard with the idea, especially when he told me that the first person he had in mind to interview was the Beltway Trails’ Denny Ward. Denny may not have started Beltway, but since he took over the reins a few years ago, he’s built both the trails and the scene around them up to a level that I don’t think anyone could have ever imagined. It’s nothing to go out there on an ordinary Sunday and there be a couple dozen people in the woods, digging, riding, grilling, and just enjoying the camaraderie of being part of the reemerging Baltimore, Maryland trails scene. Sure, a lot of people have contributed to it, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone of them who would disagree that Denny is the person who not only rekindled the trails flame in Baltimore, but is the one who keeps it stoked and growing!
Name: Denny Ward
Hometown: Dundalk/Baltimore, MD
Years riding trails: 18 years. Started with trails, then mixed in some park, and have been hitting it hard for the past six years.
Local spot your involved with: Beltway
How did you first discover BMX trails?
There was always some kind of ditch jump in the neighborhood, then me and my friends stumbled upon this set of jumps behind a 7-Eleven that we would ride. It wasn’t until the guys at the local bike shop told us about a set of trails nearby called The Ditch. At this point I’ve only seen a few jumps in videos but what we were about to experience would change our lives forever. I remember walking into the woods and seeing jump after jump in a rhythm section with transfers, speeds sets, and berms. The only person in the woods was this guy with no shirt, big sideburns, listening to a walkman, and slapping a lip like it owed him money. This ended up being the trailboss named Wally and later that day he was folding over one of the best tables I’ve ever seen over that same jump. The very next day we went straight to the 7-Eleven spot and started building our first rhythm section.
With BMX divided up into different types of riding , what is it about trails that captures your interest?
What grabs my interest most is the flow, speed and roast! You can’t get the feeling of ripping a berm and then roasting a big jump at the skatepark. Also, I really enjoy the creative side of building and designing trails. When I was younger I used to draw up skate park designs but they would never get put into motion. With trails all I need is a shovel, some cold beer, and wet clay.
What does it take to build a trails scene?
People. It’s really hard and discouraging to do it by yourself. I know there are a lot of people out there digging alone, and I give them a ton of credit, but if you can get at least one or two others guys it makes the world of difference. Once you have a few guys in the crew it’s best to set certain days of the week that you plan to dig that way everyone can coordinate their responsibilities around that. Food and beer help too!
Trail riders are a breed of there own, what do you feel are some common threads between them?
Passion, creativeness, and energy.
Besides the satisfaction from digging and riding, what other benefits come from being involved with a trails scene?
Enjoying nature and being in the woods with a bunch of friends. I could easily hang out at a friend’s house or go to a bar, but being in the woods you get all of that plus the fact that you’re riding and building at the same time. Exercise is another benefit, trails keep me somewhat in shape and healthy. #trailsfit
What can we do to keep trails alive and assure there will be trails for future generations to ride and enjoy?
With so many different riding options these days we need to make trails a fun and positive environment. There is only a select few of us who enjoy digging so it’s really important to get people stoked about riding first and over time they will be hooked. It’s easy to spray salt on the dry guys but if you approach it with patience and appreciate the small things people contribute you’ll have less stress and a better scene. Now I’m not saying let people ride without contributing, let people prove who is willing to do work and who isn’t before jumping to conclusions. The way I look at it is I’m happy building new stuff and appreciate it when people pick up trash, tarp, dry pits, and do maintenance. Let me and the crew build new stuff and let the non-locals get everything ready for the shred sesh.
Just want to give a shout out to the crew that keeps Beltway alive and thriving: Dorsey, Chris, Zane, Sean, Forney, Russell and Jesse!! Would like to thank my sponsors Home Depot, HDX Plastics, and Razorback for always keeping my gear fresh!