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  1. #1
    rbs
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    No good Dumbing down the trails at Kelso

    Has anyone else noticed the dumbing down of the trails at Kelso?

    I ride there enough to notice when something has gone missing. Last weekend it was another rock in the Bruce Trail Connector near Rocky Road and the log acting as a water bar in Declined.

    Last year someone sanitized Fire, removing two large rocks. Someone has created quite a ride-around at the rock on Lora's Run. This was after they tried to build up the drop with some rocks.

    Xtreem has been 'updated' constantly. I would like to propose that we rename Xtreem to LCD - Lowest Common Denominator I rode it with my kids - on the tandem - with the trail-a-bike.

    What's the best way to handle this kind of thing? When some guy cut the trail on Xtreem to miss one of the ramps over a log I called out that he should not cut the trail. I mean, hey, I'm on the tandem and I'm riding the feature as built

    So who does it?
    I assume that it has to be people who ride often enough to start to hate a spot, and probably honestly believe they're helping.

    I hope that it's not staff trying to get that Kubota through the trails.

    What can be done about it?
    Does anyone have any example signs that could be placed to remind people that their skill might need to come up to the challenge of the trail rather then the trail come down to their skill level. I was thinking of little coreplast tombstones that could be placed at the removed fetaures. Then we could all stop and have a little ceremony.

    Has anyone else noticed a spot that has been sanitized?

    rob

  2. #2
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    Last Sunday when I saw you on the tandem was my first time at Kelso in a couple of years. Though I would like to think that it was due to my better skills and fitness, the whole place seemed easier. I could have sworn there were a couple of more rocks on two descents on Rough Trade. I just remember the place having a few more rocks. They have built a few more features since I was there and changed a couple of others. I think that a couple of logs have also been moved on Xtreme. I just remember that section being a little more difficult.

    I have a couple of thoughts on why this is happening. First Strava. The same issue has cropped up at Albion and the Don with people that want to have fastest times on a section.

    I don't want to open up an old wound on the topic of clipless shoes. I ride both depending on conditions and trails. While there on Sunday, I had two different people hitch a ride with me. I was sessioning log rides or skinnies and they stopped to look. Both were fairly new and did not want to try the features. They were concerned about getting out of their clipless shoes. One guy avoided almost all the ladder bridges over logs and went around. He was also not committed to a lot of the rock stuff on Xtreme for the same reason. He did not say this, but I could tell. He did not go over the the rocks on Lara's either. I believe that it would be of great benefit to many new riders to ride on flats to get comfortable with many features and rocks. How can you learn them if you never go over them? If you fail on flats, the consequences are typically less severe. I don't feel comfortable on very skinny features or doing ups onto stuff or pedaling off of stuff in clipless shoes myself. I think this would lead to people looking forward to features. Flat can be like training wheels or a learning tool for people who don't do a lot of technical features.

    Maybe some people just don't want to slow down.

    There is nothing to be done about it.

  3. #3
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    I would venture to say, as is usual with these cases, it's that certain people simply don't know better and if they are uncomfortable with a feature, their instincts are to ride around it to avoid having to get off their bike, or remove it so they don't need to dismount the next time.

    If you build a trail system to a specific difficulty and do not update/maintain it regularly, it will inevitably distill down year after year. If you get new people entering the sport on a yearly basis (and often they come in, then leave shortly afterwards) there are constantly new faces to continually alter trails in the manner they see fit (often not knowing they are doing anything wrong). Even if only a few of these people choose to alter the nature of the trail, it will slowly get 'sanitized'. Education is important, but in reality you cannot reach everyone and effort has to be made to continually maintain a system to the standards that the users have.

    The best bet, if the trail system has a manager (in this situation Halton/Kelso) make them aware that the trails are being altered and as a customer you are not happy with this. They will either respond with maintenance, or potentially make it aware they have made these changes for whatever reason to enhance what they feel better serves their users and their business.

  4. #4
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    To clarify my opinion....I don't understand human nature when it comes to mountain biking. You are out there to bike. I've ridden trails where people will make a 'short-cut' to avoid like 50 m of fun, non technical trail (no hills, nothing!). You are there to ride, I could at least see making it 'easier' as somewhat logical to a begineer (though don't agree with that).

    Saying that, I just don't think you cannot rationalize what some people are going to do. So the best best is to be pro-active.

    I think this analogy works well from road racing. If you aren't constantly working to make your way to the front of the pack, you'll be spit out the back quite quickly. I think keeping up with trails needs to be the same. There is no resting, equilibrium states rarely exist, it actually defies the laws of nature.

  5. #5
    rbs
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor View Post
    The best bet, if the trail system has a manager (in this situation Halton/Kelso) make them aware that the trails are being altered and as a customer you are not happy with this. They will either respond with maintenance, or potentially make it aware they have made these changes for whatever reason to enhance what they feel better serves their users and their business.
    I went this route last year and didn't get much of a response.

    I do understand that there are different levels of trails users. Better signage might be key. I saw a family with kids on 12" wheeled bikes on Xtreem - and not having fun. Is there enough signage to allow people to make informed decisions about which trail to ride?

    Certainly the upper parking lot has opened Kelso to an entirely different set up users. You don't have to climb the hill anymore. On the other hand, I'm hesitent to take my kids on their own bikes because there is no trail that's completely beginner. Even the Old Bell School Line/Old Farm Lane devolves into a rocky down that I know is going to end in scraped knees and tears

  6. #6
    rbs
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor View Post
    So the best best is to be pro-active.
    No argument there. What is proactive though? Does Kelso need a dedicated user group who can provide input?

    Following up on my other post, it occured to me that maybe there aren't enough indicators of which trails are difficult, and maybe there needs to be a nicely sculpted loop at Kelso that leads out to the cliff and back to the upper lot that a family could ride. The step beyond the paths in town, but before the rocks and roots. Something tailored to 16/20" wheels and too hard gearing. (Don't get me started on kids bikes).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    I went this route last year and didn't get much of a response
    That is disappointing to hear. Though like any business, they have a right to run it how they see fit and we have the right to support it or not. (not sure how much public funding they get, but if there is some, there would have to be a channel to get your voice heard/do something. Not to say it would be easy).

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    No argument there. What is proactive though? Does Kelso need a dedicated user group who can provide input?
    Not sure if it would fly, but a 'friends of kelso' type group that did regular maintenance in collaboration with park staff. I would be a way to monitor the trails if the park was amenable to that.

  9. #9
    rbs
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    I've heard that the bulk of operational income is from the ski operation - mountain biking is secondary. But then it's harder to track who buys a season pass for MTB/skiing/hiking. Skiing is easier to track because you need to get your lift pass. MTB/hiking/swimming are all general entry especially when the gates are unmanned.

    rob

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post

    Following up on my other post, it occured to me that maybe there aren't enough indicators of which trails are difficult, and maybe there needs to be a nicely sculpted loop at Kelso that leads out to the cliff and back to the upper lot that a family could ride. The step beyond the paths in town, but before the rocks and roots. Something tailored to 16/20" wheels and too hard gearing. (Don't get me started on kids bikes).

    Signage always helps. In my line of work I deal with large volumes of people, giving them instructions regularly. My rule of thumb is, if you want it to reach everyone, you need to repeat it/present it once for each person you are trying to reach (if their attention isn't 100% focused).

    That's me saying I wouldn't expect it to stop everything, cause people will just blow buy a sign, but it will catch more people.

    While prevention will alleviate 90% of the problems, 10% always relies on damage control.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    Certainly the upper parking lot has opened Kelso to an entirely different set up users. You don't have to climb the hill anymore.
    I like Kelso, don't get there too often these days.
    The trail system could do with a re-think though. The parking lot of choice is now that upper parking lot. The closest trail is the Extreme trail. It's going to see all sorts of traffic just because of that.
    Best option in my opinion would be to dumb that trail down to a beginner trail, while adding in progressive features to it (an easy, medium, hard and hot-chilli line choices).
    Then go ahead and work on a new extreme trail that starts down in the far south west corner ( as far away from the parking lot as possible and at the bottom of the hill ). Re-work the connecting trails and you have a trail system that might function a little bit better than it does now.
    It could be done eh?
    Cheers, Dave

  12. #12
    rbs
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    Quote Originally Posted by dskunk View Post
    Best option in my opinion would be to dumb that trail down to a beginner trail, while adding in progressive features to it (an easy, medium, hard and hot-chilli line choices).
    At first read, I didn't like that suggestion, but I understand the reasoning. Most of Xtreem is currently rideable by an average mountain biker. Lose a couple of rocky sections and it could be a fun ride for most families - close to the parking lot, with an easy return and not a lot of elevation change.

    But as you mention, there would have to be a replacement supplied.

    I don't know that there's much additional capacity at Kelso for trails. IIRC, conservation trumps recreation when it comes to conservation authorities.

    As far as I can see from Halton's online mapping tool, the S/W corner (near Steeles/Appelby) isn't part of Kelso.

    I had heard that there was a plan to move the swimming to the reclaimed quarry at the top of Kelso and add trails around the resevoir at the bottom. Unfortunately, I can't find anything online about a master plan for Kelso. And Kelso certainly has some unique challenges. The rail line certainly breaks up the park and would be a factor in integrating trails around the reservoir with trails on the escarpment.

    For the 'expert' rider (I'll borrow that designation from the expert group at the Tuesday night races), Kelso really isn't big enough, and never will be. I'd love to see a big loop marked out from Kelso through Rattlesnake, Crawford, Hilton Falls and back. There are definitely some challenges with that, but it would create an endurance ride unique in the GTA.

    Which sort of brings me back to your original point - if HRCA is going to have trails for mountain bikers, then there should be a master plan for trails the considers the needs of that user group. And that might take a rethink of what is available.

  13. #13
    rbs
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor View Post
    a 'friends of kelso' type group
    There are Trail Ambassadors. They help out at the Tuesday night races and I see them riding on weekends. I've spoken to them, but not about this aspect of things.

    Unfortunately Google does not give me any information on the Program. And if you can't Google it, it doesn't exist, right?

  14. #14
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    There is a bypass for the extreme trail from the summit parking lot. Maybe it should be signed better at the parking lot. That would be a start.

    These trails are managed by conservation Halton, whom I know to be a somewhat lawsuit-sensitive organization. My guess is that is the reason for the trails being dumbed down.
    Strava made me do it....

  15. #15
    rbs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unglued View Post
    There is a bypass for the extreme trail from the summit parking lot. Maybe it should be signed better at the parking lot. That would be a start.
    True. The more I think about it, the more I question is I've ever noticed much in the way of signage that a rider new to Kelso could reliably follow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Unglued View Post
    These trails are managed by conservation Halton, whom I know to be a somewhat lawsuit-sensitive organization. My guess is that is the reason for the trails being dumbed down.
    You don't have to be sued many times before you get that attitude

    But these are less 'this could be dangerous' and more 'I screw up on that rock every time' trail modifications.

    I mentioned it to AJ, the MTB coordinator last year and he said that it wasn't the park.

  16. #16
    rbs
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    As far as I can see from Halton's online mapping tool, the S/W corner (near Steeles/Appelby) isn't part of Kelso.
    Oh, and don't forget the rifle range. It's loud enough on weekends as it is - I don't need to be any closer.

    And, no, I am not worried about getting hit.

  17. #17
    rbs
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    IIRC, conservation trumps recreation when it comes to conservation authorities.
    Self quoting and replying to myself - these are the danger signs.

    Reviewing the "Master Plan for Hilton Falls Conservation Area
    Concept Alternatives and Management Considerations:
    Stage Two Report AUGUST 2010"

    http://www.conservationhalton.ca/upl...ls%20Final.pdf

    I see this statement (emphasis mine):
    The sustainability evaluation of the three concepts was based on a range of environmental, social and economic factors with the environmental factors being assigned a weighted value of two times that of the social or economic categories.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor View Post
    To clarify my opinion....I don't understand human nature when it comes to mountain biking. You are out there to bike. I've ridden trails where people will make a 'short-cut' to avoid like 50 m of fun, non technical trail (no hills, nothing!). You are there to ride, I could at least see making it 'easier' as somewhat logical to a begineer (though don't agree with that).

    Saying that, I just don't think you cannot rationalize what some people are going to do. So the best best is to be pro-active.

    I think this analogy works well from road racing. If you aren't constantly working to make your way to the front of the pack, you'll be spit out the back quite quickly. I think keeping up with trails needs to be the same. There is no resting, equilibrium states rarely exist, it actually defies the laws of nature.
    While it has always been a problem the Oxbowing of twisty singletrack and removal of basic log challenges. I think it has become worse in the last 3-5 years.

    Maybe some of it is Strava. Though I also blame it on the demise of the group ride. As it seems group rides have become sessions where people ride as fast as they can to the next meet up. while it is all good reality is not everyone wants that. And newbies end up left to fend for themselves. Just had that situation last week on the Wed group ride.

    Like a road bike ride a mountain bike group ride is supposed to be fun. And where those who are better pass on to the newbies what we know. Where riders would stop to play on a log and help the newbies figure it out.
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    Depression...can eat a sack of manure and die.

  19. #19
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    I agree with some of your points about the group rides. I have a couple of like minded guys I like to ride with, but the last couple of rides that I went to were just like you mentioned. Guys just racing to the next trailhead. No time for trying a feature twice if you messed it up or taking time to help someone work over a log or patch or rocks.

    I also get the feeling people in many disciplines in biking have a sense of entitlement as to what the trails should be. I have seen people dig and build dirt jumps on single track. cut logs, move rocks and other such behavior. No thought is given to how the trails were conceived and the work that went into them. There is little respect to the builders or the environment. They figure it's just dirt out in the forest and that they can do whatever they want. For the most part they can.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    As far as I can see from Halton's online mapping tool, the S/W corner (near Steeles/Appelby) isn't part of Kelso.
    Ahh. My bad. I think I mean the N/W corner.
    But you get my point. The main thing would be to put in an expert trail away from that main (easy , no hill to climb ) parking lot and change the current "expert" trail into a beginner/learning trail.
    I'm going to leave work now and see if I can find my way home.
    Cheers, Dave

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enduramil View Post
    While it has always been a problem the Oxbowing of twisty singletrack and removal of basic log challenges. I think it has become worse in the last 3-5 years.

    Maybe some of it is Strava. Though I also blame it on the demise of the group ride. As it seems group rides have become sessions where people ride as fast as they can to the next meet up. while it is all good reality is not everyone wants that. And newbies end up left to fend for themselves. Just had that situation last week on the Wed group ride.

    Like a road bike ride a mountain bike group ride is supposed to be fun. And where those who are better pass on to the newbies what we know. Where riders would stop to play on a log and help the newbies figure it out.
    Strava is evil.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by osokolo View Post
    Strava is evil.
    But is it lawful evil?
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    Depression...can eat a sack of manure and die.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    I see this statement (emphasis mine):
    The sustainability evaluation of the three concepts was based on a range of environmental, social and economic factors with the environmental factors being assigned a weighted value of two times that of the social or economic categories.
    that's pretty standard...

    the problem will arise that people will start building unapproved trails to meet their needs as current trails are altered or shut down... the problem is exasperated by increased development in the area.

    also diversity of the trail network is important. unfortunately some past/current trail builders/clubs in some areas have followed rather dated building techniques of the mantra "to make it more tech you have to ride it faster". this mantra was what was heard by the land managers even though it only represented one homogeneous side of the larger spectrum of riders. trails where destroyed under this doctrine with no consideration to build new trails that capture the essence of the old trails. also these builders didn't know how to build these tech type trails (would have been a loss of face). i've cited many examples in the past on this forum and won't rehash them here.

    the end result of this was a growth of unapproved trails that met the more diverse needs. elsewhere in the country the land managers embraced these diverse riding styles and developed these diverse trail networks, though ontario fell way behind. there is change in the air even though there are still a few hold out spots. the key for a healthy riding community is diversity of the riding styles as well as a diverse trail network. both go hand in hand. it will also help keep people on the trail which will help protect the environment...
    Last edited by singlesprocket; 05-29-2013 at 09:24 AM.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbs View Post
    True. The more I think about it, the more I question is I've ever noticed much in the way of signage that a rider new to Kelso could reliably follow.



    You don't have to be sued many times before you get that attitude

    But these are less 'this could be dangerous' and more 'I screw up on that rock every time' trail modifications.

    I mentioned it to AJ, the MTB coordinator last year and he said that it wasn't the park.
    So shouldn't AJ have been concerned that people were coming into his sandbox and screwing around with his trails?
    Strava made me do it....

  25. #25
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    Full disclosure: I have not ridden Kelso since 1996.

    I don't really get how removing obstacles from a trail would help anyone hold onto any kind of Strava victory... I mean, unless the KOM has moved out to B.C. or something, they must know next time he comes around, he's going to easily re-crush them on the newly simplified trail.

    I guess you could remove the features for an afternoon, ride at full speed, and then carefully put them all back.... but that's not what we're talking about here.

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