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  1. #1
    The Next 100 Miler
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    Brown's Ranch Trails Survey

    I posted this link in the Brown's Ranch trailhead thread, but want to give it a separate thread because many may not be subscribed to the other thread.

    If you have ridden the new built/rebuilt trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, northeast of Pima and Dynamite, please complete the survey linked below.

    The City of Scottsdale (COS) has plans to build/rebuild an additional 100 miles of trails north of Dynamite and they want feedback on the trails that have recently opened. This will help guide future trail development.

    Trails North of Dynamite Survey

  2. #2
    My other ride is your mom
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    I responded......urged the powers that be to respect 1st naming rights in trail building/reroutes and to bring MTB'rs into the trail planning process. Also indicated that question 2 is sloppy survey formation and that it implies that there is more interest in equestrian use than reality. Lastly, I urged them to include progressive trail skill development as part of the process, because all of the trails as built cater to the lowest common denominator....which is great for beginners....but leave no room for them to progress their skills within this area or for folks who want more of a challenge to utilize the area

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maadjurguer View Post
    I responded......urged the powers that be to respect 1st naming rights in trail building/reroutes and to bring MTB'rs into the trail planning process. Also indicated that question 2 is sloppy survey formation and that it implies that there is more interest in equestrian use than reality. Lastly, I urged them to include progressive trail skill development as part of the process, because all of the trails as built cater to the lowest common denominator....which is great for beginners....but leave no room for them to progress their skills within this area or for folks who want more of a challenge to utilize the area
    That's a nice idea, but I wouldn't expect much to come from it.

    I was part of a group of people that met a few times to discuss how the Brown's Ranch trail system should happen. There were hikers, horse people, and mountain bikers represented. The idea was to get input from all interested groups. The meetings were cordial and it was a good group of people.

    We looked at the existing trail system out there and decided which trails should stay, which needed to go, and where some new trails would need to be cut. Some hard decisions were made on some trails that I liked, but overall I thought there was reasonable compromise and that we'd end up with a good system.

    I was quite surprised when the trails were actually cut. Pretty much none of the existing trails were used. They just went in and created all new trails. The plan that we had spent time putting together was apparently ignored

    I was initially impressed with Scottsdale for including the user groups in planning. However, when it came to actually building the trails the results of that planning where not used. Feels like I wasted my time.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtownmtb View Post
    That's a nice idea, but I wouldn't expect much to come from it.

    I was quite surprised when the trails were actually cut. Pretty much none of the existing trails were used. They just went in and created all new trails. The plan that we had spent time putting together was apparently ignored

    I was initially impressed with Scottsdale for including the user groups in planning. However, when it came to actually building the trails the results of that planning where not used. Feels like I wasted my time.
    The did exactly the same thing regarding climbing over in the McDowells. They can always say they "sought input from user groups", though.

  5. #5
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    If I were a bike shop owner, I would be loving this... More options for begineers means introducing more folks to the sport...
    Below Par on the Gnar

  6. #6
    Give it a crank
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    Completed the survey, suggesting mtb-related improvements.

    No place will ever satisfy all riders.

  7. #7
    parenting for gnarness
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    wow Jeff sorry to hear of your negative experiences. That is too bad, and counter to the encouraging conversations we heard beforehand. Any reasoning as to why your input was not used?

    My wife rode out there yesterday, she's done it several times now and likes the system for fast fun, but acknowledges its limitations. She says its actually harder than advertised, for new riders, cause of the penalties for failure with all the cactus. And for that reason is leery of taking our daughter out there. Irony right there, yo...

  8. #8
    Just another half mile...
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    I think one of the issues out there was that the two contractors that were contracted to build the trails were not given any detailed direction. They were given a map where the trails should go and the City trails standards and a way they went. They built the most miles with the least amount of work for the least amount of money to make a better profit. Each contractor had different take on how to build to the City trail standards. The western trails have a different flavor compared to the eastern trails. I suggested that the City hire a separate trail consultant, one that is not connected to the trail construction contractors, that knows how to layout and flag a multiuse trails that are more mountain bike specific. Hire this person based on qualifications and experience, not based on a bid price (this is how most govt agencies hire engineers based on quals to design roads, and construction is based on lowest bid price from a contractor after it is designed by a qualified engineer). This trail consultant could also be an agent for the City to supervised the trail construction contractors to make sure the contractors and building according to standards. This is the process the BLM used to build the Black Canyon Trail. BLM hired Troy from Trail Recreation Solutions to layout and flag the trails, and then he supervise various hired trail crews over the years to make sure they were built to BLM trail standards and his vison.

    Also recommend that the City consider a stacked trail system with trails getting progressively more difficult the further away they get from the trail heads and leave the current new trails alone (except fix areas that have sustainability issues). The trails built so far are good for the first tier of difficulty (easy to moderate). New trails to be built further north could be a combination of moderate and more difficult trails using terrain features and incorporating alternative lines over rock features. This will take a lot more manual labor to build the more difficult trails...can't rely solely on using a machine to build more difficult trails.

    Due to the terrain limitations, the best we can hope for is trails with more flow with technical bits here and there where there are rock out croppings. Those expecting SoMo tech, itís not going to happen. Those who still want to ride crappy washed out fall line moto trails, there is still plenty of that farther north on Tonto.

  9. #9
    parenting for gnarness
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epicrider View Post
    I think one of the issues out there was that the two contractors that were contracted to build the trails were not given any detailed direction. They were given a map where the trails should go and the City trails standards and a way they went. They built the most miles with the least amount of work for the least amount of money to make a better profit. Each contractor had different take on how to build to the City trail standards. The western trails have a different flavor compared to the eastern trails. I suggested that the City hire a separate trail consultant, one that is not connected to the trail construction contractors, that knows how to layout and flag a multiuse trails that are more mountain bike specific. Hire this person based on qualifications and experience, not based on a bid price (this is how most govt agencies hire engineers based on quals to design roads, and construction is based on lowest bid price from a contractor after it is designed by a qualified engineer). This trail consultant could also be an agent for the City to supervised the trail construction contractors to make sure the contractors and building according to standards. This is the process the BLM used to build the Black Canyon Trail. BLM hired Troy from Trail Recreation Solutions to layout and flag the trails, and then he supervise various hired trail crews over the years to make sure they were built to BLM trail standards and his vison.

    Also recommend that the City consider a stacked trail system with trails getting progressively more difficult the further away they get from the trail heads and leave the current new trails alone (except fix areas that have sustainability issues). The trails built so far are good for the first tier of difficulty (easy to moderate). New trails to be built further north could be a combination of moderate and more difficult trails using terrain features and incorporating alternative lines over rock features. This will take a lot more manual labor to build the more difficult trails...can't rely solely on using a machine to build more difficult trails.

    Due to the terrain limitations, the best we can hope for is trails with more flow with technical bits here and there where there are rock out croppings. Those expecting SoMo tech, itís not going to happen. Those who still want to ride crappy washed out fall line moto trails, there is still plenty of that farther north on Tonto.
    Did CGI build the trails too? At least the city's website works.

  10. #10
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    I agree with the trail renaming. Why rename a trail? They've been numbered for decades, but now have names. It's becoming as ridiculous as Sedona's trails. Keep the number designation, only reroute where absolutely necessary, and don't remove technical features. If you can't ride it, walk it. If you can't walk it, go buy a road bike or a beach cruiser. IMO the area has suffered a great loss of some pure desert trails. Not to mention the impact of destroying natural habitat and animal trails to build new people trails that were completely unnecessary. AAHHH the dumbing down of America.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by berzerker View Post
    I agree with the trail renaming. Why rename a trail? They've been numbered for decades, but now have names. It's becoming as ridiculous as Sedona's trails. Keep the number designation, only reroute where absolutely necessary, and don't remove technical features. If you can't ride it, walk it. If you can't walk it, go buy a road bike or a beach cruiser. IMO the area has suffered a great loss of some pure desert trails. Not to mention the impact of destroying natural habitat and animal trails to build new people trails that were completely unnecessary. AAHHH the dumbing down of America.
    Didn't they used to have names before they had numbers? I recall riding Dare-a-Sara, Bail Out, Metate, Roller Coaster, etc in the mid 90s before the city got involved. I still have the original 100 miles of singletrack map for the area.
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  12. #12
    Just A Mountain Biker.
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    Pima and Dynamite Trails Survey

    Quote Originally Posted by chollaball View Post
    At least the city's website works.
    LOL, +rep coming for you when I get back in front of a real computer
    26" isn't dead, it just got FAT



  13. #13
    Just another half mile...
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    The trails have not been numbered for decades. The trail numbering on the state land sections was done by the State Lands Dept a few years ago. Only a few of the trails up in the National Forest area have a numbers most are not number and do not have names. As Rockman stated, Mike Thompson made the first map of the area back in the early 90's that had trail names on them, but there were a lot more trails that were not on his map and did not have names. The park has the right to rename the trails as most the new trails in the park area have been mostly rerouted and the old moto trails have been obliterated.

    There is nothing wrong with building trails for all abilities, age groups and levels of riding interest. Not everyone is a young buck out looking to ride technical trails. I am actually glade to see that there are some more beginner friendly trails being built, the Phoenix metro area is lacking in beginner trails. Hopefully any new trails to be built will be built on a stacked system with trails increasing in difficulty the farther from the trailhead you get. .

  14. #14
    Just another half mile...
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    Don't know who were the two contractors were.

  15. #15
    The Next 100 Miler
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    I attended the McDowell Sonoran Preserve commissioners meeting last night. This is the public meeting between the commission and city staff where public comments are allowed.

    It was clear that the city staff has heard, loud and clear, from the MTB community about the tight turn radius' and poor sight lines in phase 1 of trail building at Brown's Ranch. The design standards for phase 1 did not include a turn radius standard for the contractors. All future phases of trail building will include a 20' radius standard.

    There was also a lot of discussion about building a 'stacked' trail system where easier trails are close to the trailhead and then they are more difficult as you move further out.

    There were three public comments made by MTBR's including the President of the Cave Creek Bicycle Assn. (IMBA). All were excellent, well thought out, on point and reflective of the concerns that have been expressed here and in other threads.

    I would say that the commissioners were very receptive to the concerns expressed as were the City staff.

    The audio recording of the meeting will be posted on the City website and when it is up I will add a link here.

    The trails survey linked at the top of this thread will be available until the 18th of this month.

  16. #16
    Meatbomb
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    Positive news.

  17. #17
    parenting for gnarness
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    I attended the McDowell Sonoran Preserve commissioners meeting last night. This is the public meeting between the commission and city staff where public comments are allowed.

    It was clear that the city staff has heard, loud and clear, from the MTB community about the tight turn radius' and poor sight lines in phase 1 of trail building at Brown's Ranch. The design standards for phase one did not include a turn radius standard for the contractors. All future phases of trail building will include a 20' radius standard.

    There was also a lot of discussion about building a 'stacked' trail system where easier trails are close to the trailhead and then they are more difficult as you move further out.

    There were three public comments made by MTBR's including the President of the Cave Creek Bicycle Assn. (IMBA). All were excellent, well thought out, on point and reflective of the concerns that have been expressed here and in other threads.

    I would say that the commissioners were very receptive to the concerns expressed as were the City staff.

    The audio recording of the meeting will be posted on the City website and when it is up I will add a link here.

    The trails survey linked at the top of this thread will be available until the 18th of this month.
    Thanks for the info, will look forward to the audio - please do bump this thread with the link when available.

    We shall see. we've heard good things before, had good discussions and good acknowledgements, felt like a good dialog and process was in place. Still comes down to how they decide to act, whether they will value the needs of bikers or feel that touron\beginner trails etc are more appropriate. Its subjective, and traditionally, we have not fared well. Let's hope...

    The 20' turn issue is interesting, as it cuts both ways. Some of the turns at the bottom of Granite were hard, and I liked them as they provided a skills challenge that a lot of the trail did not! The ones going up Cone -- same thing. I cant climb many of the switchbacks on Tom's Thumb, but the challenge coming down is what makes those tight turns so memorable and fun. Other times a tight turn blows the flow of the trail, and having smooth steady climbs with navigable turns or flowing decents is the perfect solution. I like a few of the challenges on Sonoran Trail (east side of the McDs) but would gladly see that whole POS rerouted to be steady and ridable. Good trail ultimately comes down to a good builder, based on standards but not rigidly following them. Which sorta reflects back on my feeling above about subjectivity, if the builder is a 'bike trail builder'. If its just a contractor with a dozer following the requirement...we'll have some good turns and some inappropriate ones.

    Anyway, I'm adding to the survey that I'd like to see public comments on Phase II plan, have it reviewed by local riders, have the trail flagging and layout reviewed by bike trail builders. If that was incorporated genuinely into the construction, that would be a big win for us.

    Did you get the sense that the Commission is partnering with any bike group - Cave Creek etc? That also would be a win, building a relationship with a bike org vs. just individual comments.

  18. #18
    The Next 100 Miler
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    CCBA will be the communications conduit. We will be monitoring for trail flagging and construction after the first of the year.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    CCBA will be the communications conduit. We will be monitoring for trail flagging and construction after the first of the year.
    cool. check your PMs for my contact info. I would like to hear more, talk to stakeholders etc, maybe join the club if i like what i see. I have seen some BS in the Preserve, and I am quick to call out BS, but afaik this is new where the Commission is working with a local bike org and there is an actual communication channel. If they genuinely take biker feedback, given by regular local riders and not turned into a political IMBA football, that would be great. If they just want to give the appearance of taking feedback, it would disappointing.

    btw, I also joined IMBA last night which i swore i'd never do. I figured they do enough good things within their stated mission of national advocacy, that balanced my disappointment at them locally. I at least paid for $30 worth of complaining.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    The design standards for phase 1 did not include a turn radius standard for the contractors. All future phases of trail building will include a 20' radius standard.

    Yeah, I think someone missed the point entirely. Building trails based on specs is not how you get good flow. Trails should be built based on terrain and feel. It is more art than science, so applying random radius standards is unlikely to yield good results. sometimes a super tight radius is entirely appropriate and sometimes it is better to have a wide, sweeping turn.

    Trail design should be done by people who know what they are doing, not just machine operators following a spec. Take a look at BCT. It was walked off and flagged by someone who had a good "feel" for how a trail should flow. The results speak for themselves.

  21. #21
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    trails survey appears to be closed now.

  22. #22
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    OHHHHH Man......this is too rich:


  23. #23
    The Next 100 Miler
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    The recording of the Preserve Commission meeting is here. The discussion of trail standards starts at 49:20 minutes.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by maadjurguer View Post
    ohhhhh man......this is too rich:
    post your selfie!!!!!!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    The recording of the Preserve Commission meeting is here. The discussion of trail standards starts at 49:20 minutes.
    very good listen. Highly recommend it.
    most of the right things were said and recommended, from the POV of bikers - stacked systems, what bikers like, the need for a bike trail builder to consult on trail design and routing, the need for bikers to ride a flagged trail before its cut. These points were mentioned over and over. They seemed to get a good reception, people seemed to think that they are sensible.

    What will upset you:
    1. the people making final decisions, while genuinely listening, don't really grasp our needs. How do you convey a tight trail with great design to someone who has no idea what those terms mean and never ridden a bike? There is a cognitive gap, and while i think everyone is well meaning, you just cant explain some things that need to be experienced and subsequently fought for.

    2. We are dealing with a bureaucracy with established rules and processes. I generally think the staff in Scottsdale is better than any other city i've lived in, from planning to garbage collection to police...but they still have rules and processes and requirements. They have a need to enable access to the Fire Dept's rescue vehicles, for example. As MTBrs, we generally accept risk and are mostly self-reliant -- this somewhat stands in opposition to the city's need to be responsible, maybe even paternal, for its trail users. I think its kinda dumb to go out and not be self-reliant, and i think its really dumb to encourage people to be dumb unless you charge an entrance fee like National Parks, but, I do appreciate the city's concern here as well as their mission to provide access to all types of people.

    3. Employees - I sensed a lot of defensiveness from city staff about comments on the existing trails. One commissioner asked why there were these problems if the chosen trail contractors were so qualified, and he got a somewhat dodgy answer from city staff. They seem to think the current issues can be patched up in Phase II with existing resources. I dunno, if you let people pre-ride the flagged trail and accept comments, then maybe so. There seemed to be resistance to hiring an outside expert, which seems silly - its a small cost for a huge benefit.

    4. ~100 vehicles, ~450 riders were on jeep tours -- there seems to be a real appreciation of the moto tours, as a way to get people out nad provide an opportunity to enjoy the preserve. Personally, I think its fine as they are on dirt roads and not going to be on the more fun mtb trails. But, i am frustrated when jeeps are embraced but building an mtb specific trail is viewed as 'a park, not a preserve'. This distinction continues to be silly to me - same activities, same users, don't fight reality, better to get in front of it instead of continuing to look just plain hypocritical and discriminatory. They noted the 4-letter 'P word' had to be explicitly removed from some signage. There was resistance to having Preserve Events listed in the City's Parks and Rec's circular of activities cause they don't want to be associated with Parks Dept. *headscratch*.

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