Reader Profile: Brad Stone

Nov. 12, 2013

To be sure, grading and excavation is difficult work, demanding precision with an eye to safety. Brad Stone, owner of 402Trails, has another concern: ensuring that what he’s built will make people happy, even thrilled. Stone and four employees build commercial mountain bike parks and sustainable flow-based mountain bike trails. Many are constructed at ski resorts that are seeking additional revenue streams using their existing chair life infrastructure in the off season.

“Mountain biking has been the answer for a lot of these places,” Stone points out. Although 402Trails is based in Greenville, VA, Stone’s work has taken him throughout North America and even Jamaica and Mexico. One of his favorite projects: a 40-mile mountain bike trail his company-in conjunction with Gravity Logic-constructed from scratch for the Boy Scouts of America in its new high adventure base, the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Mount Hope, WV. The Summit is the new site of the annual National Jamboree and will be hosting the World Jamboree in 2019. “It’s the biggest project we’ve ever been a part of,” says Stone, adding that the slopes ranged from 60 to 80%. “When we started, there was nothing there. The mountain bike park is a small piece of a 10,000-acre puzzle that includes rock climbing and zip-lining.” To create mountain bike paths, 402Trails uses a PT-30 and two Terex PT-80 track loaders as well as a line of Kubota excavators ranging from 1.5 to eight tons. 402Trails uses the ski rating system to identify the difficulty levels: green is easy; blue, intermediate; and black is difficult. Blue captures the entire range and is one of the most difficult trails to construct to appeal to a wide audience, from a parent riding bikes with children to advanced riders. Safety is a prime factor in trail construction. “It’s not a free-for-all,” Stone points out. “There are specs and measurements we use to make sure everything is uniform. You know what to expect when you’re going into a blue trail, a green trail and a black trail.”

What He Does Day to Day
Stone is out in the field from the time the sun rises until it sets. He’s a hands-on company owner and is just as likely any other employee to be behind the controls of a piece of equipment, digging loads with excavators, grading paths, navigating the impact of any wet weather. He seals everything up at the end of the day. Working outside in nature’s beauty in a job that is an extension of Stone’s personal passion has been a terrific way of earning an income for him. Many people’s jobs require testing out what they’ve created or installed to ensure it works. Stone has to personally test out every trail his company builds. As such, he or one of his colleagues initiates the new trail by taking a ride on it to ensure its safety and its fun factor for the many people whose bike tires will follow. “The bike is definitely one of our most important tools,” he says. “We have to make sure it works before we can sign off on it.” Somebody’s got to do it.

What Led Him to This Line of Work
Stone grew up racing bicycles and was a professional-level downhill racer. During his travels to resorts, venues, and trails worldwide, he observed successful and unsuccessful sustainability and risk management factors. In 2002, Stone joined the Wintergreen Resort in Virginia to help form a lift-served mountain bike program, making it the first in the Mid-Atlantic United States. He then joined the team at Intrawest Resorts and Snowshoe Mountain to help develop a world-class mountain bike facility at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia. Four years ago, he started 402Trails.

What He Likes Best About His Work
“The best part is getting more and more people out on bicycles,” Stone says of the favorite aspect of his work.

His Biggest Challenge Creating trails on steep slopes? No problem for Stone and his crew. Their biggest challenge: water management. On one recent job, the Stone and his crew installed 75 culverts. “We have to manage the water so it doesn’t deteriorate,” he says. 
About the Author

Carol Brzozowski

Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to resource management and technology.

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