05 August 2010

Building Cross-Country Fences with Travers Schick

We left off talking with cross-country course builder Travers Schick of his own Cross Country Hardware discussing how he likes to work.  But what about where he works?  And what he likes to build?  Look no further.  We have the answers here plus an insight into the cross-country course building scene, his best friend, and his first deep-fried Snickers bar.

Q.  Where do you travel?

A.  This year so far I started in Florida at Rocking Horse in January.  Most of my friends winter there at Rocking Horse so it’s a good time to get down there.  Having to work there gives me an excuse to drive out of the way.  I have a lot of friends down there so I go hang out a little, work a little, golf a little.  It’s a fun place to be. Then we all met up in Louisiana, at Stirling Silver Stables owned by the Mosings, one of Will Faudree’s big sponsor.

photo by Joe Stylos

We found a phenomnenal music scene in Lafayette.  We found a little bar in town with music five nights a week and we were there 3 or 4 nights a week. And the food.  It takes years off your life but it tastes really good. Everything is deep friend or seasoned to perfection.  We were down there during Mardi Gras; it’s not nearly as crazy as New Orleans but there was a  parade every night for ten days and a fair. There wasn’t a meat you couldn’t find on a stick and I had my first deep fried snickers bar.  I could feel my arteries clogging, but, you know, whatever. Then we moved up to The Fork in North Carolina. They have a great farm and staff and they’re fun to hang out with. The owners themselves, Jim and Bernadette, were phenomenal hosts.  The event is quite a social scene.  We ended up shooting a couple days at the range; they still harass us about it since we were so awful. From there through the second week in April my two frindn went home and I went to Virginia to Loudoun Hunt Pony Club event at Morven Park. I’ve been working at Morven and it’s great place to be.  You can cruise into DC if you want to. I’m a sucker for a comedy club.  The piece of property is just beautiful.  It’s unfortunate how many subdivisions are around it but the property itself is quite amazing. From there I moved up to Jersey Fresh and a friend builds that and I go in every year for the last ten days to help them finish stuff up. Jersey was lot of work and not a lot of hanging out.  The event is again a bit of a social scene.  That’s a bit of the payoff otherswie you’d go insane.  The event rolls around and friends come in.

Then we flew out to Washington for the Aspen Farms event which is the second weekend in June. My buddy Joe works for me and was my childhood best friend.  We attempted to hike Mount Ranier but the weather turned on us and we weren’t able to make it to top.

photo by Joe Stylos

Here at Aspen we help out with other stuff which is a lot of fun. One thing we ended up tackling was one of the stabling sections out in the field was so wet you couldn’t drive trucks across it so we had to make a road.  We worked all the way through one night. We took shifts keeping the dump truck rolling.  Then we red-eyed it back to Jan’s event [Sure Fire] where I met you. Walking out of Dulles airport going from 65 degress and beautiful to 95 and humid.  We sweated it out there.  The evening ritual at Sure Fire was to get done with work at 6pm and hang out at the house and throw a Frisbee.  I took few weeks off and went up to New England then drove cross-country and here we are back in Washington.

Q.  Do you have a favorite kind of cross-country fence that you like to build?

photo by Joe Stylos

A.  Every builder has tendecies.  You can walk around a course and see construction techniques and can tell who built it. My favorite time is when a course is flagged and decorated.  There’s a slight moment of zen.

photo by Joe Stylos

As for my favorite part of building I know that Josh, Joe, and I all have strengths that are all different.  Joe’s super good with a chain saw and can carve anyting you want.

photo by Joe Stylos

Josh is a finish carpenter. All of it depends on event.  Sure Fire was a lot of logs and rails whereas at Aspen there are a lot of portables.  At The Fork everything is a portable, pretty much.

photo by Joe Stylos

A lot of what you’re doing depends on where you are.  I really try to keep things mixed up. Some builders build a lot of the same stuff, not that I don’t, but you can see different events that look the same.  It’s hard not to do that since we all get stuck in our tendencies.  It’s hard to avoid but I’m trying to change that.  You want people to recognize stuff as yours but don’t want everything to be the same.  That’s what I would like to accomplish.

Q.  Are there any big courses you’d like to work on?

A.  I’d really like to do the Olympics. Now that it’s not in Chicago in 2016 the chances are probably greatly reduced. That would be what I’d like to do. Ideally I’d like to be the best course builder in the country.  I’m no where near that right now but would like to be THE builder. There’s a lot of different things that go into what would be considered a good builder.  It’s a lot more to do than being good builder.  A lot of it is being easy to get along with and being personable.  You can’t really measure that.

Q.  What’s life like on the road?

A.  I’ve been on the road full-time about three years.  I bought an airstream and that’s where I live now.  It’s nice to have your own space at the end of the day.  It’s my dog and I and the airstream.

Q.  What’s the culture of course builders like?

A.  As for course building, I think I got really lucky.  I got in at the right time being so young.  The next course builders are probably ten years older than I am. I’m the baby of the pack. Most of the time I see another course builder with a beer in hand and they ask, “Are you old enough to drink that yet?” Most course builders get a along with one another, it’s a cordial group.  It’s a group that’s taken me under their wing a little bit.  There are quite a few course builders in their early 50’s and they’re a wealth of knowledge.  I’m lucky to be friends with them and to learn from them.

Thanks to Travers for taking the time to talk with all of us at Three Days Three Ways.  I liked getting insight from someone who’s out there creating the fences we like to jump so much!  Next time we walk a course he’s worked on we’ll be able to say oh-so-casually “That’s a Travers Schick fence”.  We’re so in the know.  Meet you at the airstream in ten!

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