Lise Diebel


July 08, 2010

He picks up trash, trims overgrowth while cycling and hiking city greenspaces:

His workout: Peter Mueller’s exercise equipment includes pruning sheers and garbage bags. The Hamilton resident hikes trails near his home two to three times a week to pick up garbage and trim back overgrowth. His motivation: “When I’m out hiking and cleaning up, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction and community contribution,” says Mueller, 53. He concentrates his efforts on single-track trails close to his east-Mountain home. Single-track trails are so narrow, people must hike or cycle them in single file. Hiking is a low-impact form of exercise with health benefits that can include managing weight, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Mueller gets added fitness benefits by bending over, twisting and turning to pick up trash and trim overgrowth. “I’ve always done this with the mindset that it’s good for me and the community,” says Mueller. He started trail cleanups in his spare time six years ago after noticing garbage and overgrowth when riding his mountain bike along trails. Mueller mostly finds discarded paper coffee cups and plastic water bottles. One of the oddest discoveries was a broken skateboard deep in the bush. “You could never ride that thing in there.” Occasionally he comes across fire pits left over from bush parties and disassembles them. “Without fail, around these fire pits, there is tons of garbage.” Where trails are overgrown with prickly nettles or poison ivy, he trims them back so they won’t brush against the legs of hikers and cyclists. His passion: Mueller is an avid mountain bike cyclist.

SPEC-peterx400These bikes with wide, knobby tires are ideal for cycling over rough terrain such as single-track trails. “I can’t think of any better way to get outdoors and feel healthy and alive, than biking or hiking,” says Mueller, who recently launched a website — hammertownmtb.com — to promote mountain biking in Hamilton. “I can pedal right from my home to an incredible trail network here in the east escarpment,” says Mueller, who rides four times a week with a group of friends. He also frequents trails on the west escarpment, the Dundas Valley and Waterdown. “Hamilton is one on the most comprehensive places to ride in Ontario,” says Marc Risdale, mountain bike representative for the Hamilton Cycling Club. Risdale estimates that there are between 100 and 200 kilometres of single-track trails in the Hamilton area, including trail systems from Grimsby to Waterdown. It’s difficult to know exactly how much single track exists, partly because it’s spread over such a wide region, adds Risdale. “When cycling, there is a great sense of being one with the bike and the trail. I see and feel every rock, root and obstacle along my path,” says Mueller, who prefers trails over roads. “Your mind and body work in unison as you navigate along the route — steering, peddling, switching gears, constantly changing your body’s position and breathing in nature, not exhaust fumes.” Group rides: Freewheel Cycle in Dundas and Bicycle Works in Waterdown host free group mountain bike rides suitable for beginner and intermediate riders. Here’s what you need to know: * Freewheel Cycle, 9 King St. W., Dundas Tuesdays, 6 p.m. Meet at Freewheel for a beginner men’s and women’s mountain bike ride as well as a beginner ladies-only ride. Thursdays, 6 p.m. intermediate ride for more experienced riders. Participants must sign a waiver. For more information call the store at 905-628-5126. * Bicycle Works, 316 Dundas St. E., Waterdown Wednesdays, 6 p.m. Mountain bike rides for beginner to intermediate riders. New participants should call the store to register, 905-689-1991.

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