The answer to your prayers….and a bit more frustration:
I’ve been working with David Gordon, Ridge to Rivers Trial Coordinator these past several years to find a place within our trail system to build or incorporate into an existing trail all the features you have been so yearning for. Together we have identified trails or areas that might support these features. Ridge to Rivers has recently completed what might be a called a new Operations Manual. Within this document is a short section addressing the growing demand for more challenge on our trails along with the how, the where and the guidelines these features might be built to. This document was distributed among the RtoR associated land management agencies for comment. No negative comments were expressed regarding the “Technical Trail Opportunities” portion of the document.
Good News – Yes! But don’t grab your shovels and expect to start digging tomorrow. Based on the recommendations BLM still has to do the NEPA study(s) for their specific locations (first on my personal list) and any other land management agency involved with the specific site must give approval before dirt can be turned.
The following is my short edit of the document and some clarifying interpretive questions I posed of RtoR:
Technical Trail Opportunities
The desire for technical trail opportunities has increased in recent years. Features such as log skinnies, rock drops, table tops and jumps, which were once considered on the fringe of trail riding are now becoming mainstream..
Policy for Adding Technical Opportunities along Existing Trails
The addition of technical opportunities along existing trails will be evaluated on a case by case basis as proposed by interested public volunteers.
All spurs containing technical features must have a technical entrance (a “qualifier”), so that it is clear to trail users that the spur is more difficult, as well as a technical exit back on to the main trail so that users re-enter the trail at a safe speed. Spurs will not exceed 150’ in length.
Trails identified as having the possibility to add technical features alongside of existing trail tread:
Rock Garden #16A
Table Rock #15
Table Rock Loop #16
Table Rock Quarry #17
Castle Rock Loop #19
Hard Guy #33
DB Connector #123
Mr. Big #124
Big-Stack Cutoff #126
Elk Meadows #94
Policy for Providing Technical Opportunities on New Trails
When this is done, a cross country ride or walk-around will always be provided.
Any and all technical features will be built following the most current accepted standards and guidelines. No feature that requires mandatory air (free-fall) will be permitted. Don’t get upset just yet…..
After reviewing the portion of the document addressing technical trail elements, policies and standards, I posed several interpretive questions as follows:
RtoR Document says; Any and all technical features will be built following the most current accepted standards and guidelines. No feature that requires mandatory air (free-fall) will be permitted”
My interpretation is –
• A jump can be constructed as a table top or set of rollers as long as the rider can reduce speed on approach and roll over the feature without being forced to catch air. The rider is in control of leaving the ground or not, when riding the object.
• A ledge type drop can be constructed which gives the rider the opportunity to leave the ground or roll the bike over and down the face of the drop.
RtoR Document says; “All spurs containing technical features must have a technical entrance (a “qualifier”), so that it is clear to trail users that the spur is more difficult, as well as a technical exit back on to the main trail so that users re-enter the trail at a safe speed. Spurs will not exceed 150’ in length.”
My interpretation is –
• A jump or drop (as I defined above) can be placed at the entry to a spur trail as (the qualifier) and the technical exit back on the main trail can be a series of rocks, log skinny or other challenging and speed reducing element.
• Also a jump, or series of jumps (as I defined above) can be placed between the entry and exit elements.
RtoR agreed 100% with my interpretations. One other thing, the elements will be designed around the capabilities of a maximum 5.5” travel trail bike so as not to exclude the abundance of XC bikes and riders. If you want to use a 40 lb big huck machine, enjoy, but don’t be whining or complaining it’s not up to your standards.
This could open the door to some great new and bigger opportunities. Be patient and let the process evolve. I won’t be responding to any comments but I will post updates as we move forward.
It seems that the phrase "technical trail opportunities" appears more in-line with "man made features" such as lumber and jumps. Is there any talk about actually making these technical features more natural rather than looking like Ray's indoor mountain bike park? I love the idea, but I would much rather see more Bob's/Hull's type riding with natural rock elements than taking a spur onto a half pipe while riding down Bob's.
I had a good long conversation this morning with Larry Ridenhour, Outdoor Recreation Planner with BLM, Boise. He will head up the preparation of NEPA study and associated documentation for trail work on BLM ground. I did not ask him about trails on Forest Service Ground. Not knowing anything about interagency collaboration or acceptance of a NEPA study, I can’t say how a BLM prepared document might benefit or facilitate a project on Forest Service ground. This could be the topic of our next discussion.
We did not address the timing of the NEPA, but currently it is not at the top of his list of priorities. This is understandable since the subject is new on his radar screen. To help push the Technical Trials issue to the forefront and actually begin to see progress I expressed the growing need and a desire being voiced by the MTB community for the construction of challenging features. Also my belief we should be able to assemble a group of riders willing to step up to take ownership of and responsibility for construction and maintenance of the features. Maintenance is going to be an important part of the equation. For now Larry has suggested we direct our suggestions to him personally. He has agreed to accept emails expressing your support for the Technical Trail Features Project. So here is what he wants:
• Prepare a short and concise document explaining your desire to include technical tail features within the local Boise trail system.
• If you have been to other locations where this need has been meet you might include a reference to the location, very short description of the general features and why the location or features appeal to you.
• Include illustrations or photos of good challenging features you would like to see. This will help in the BLM’s understanding of what you want and what they might eventually progress toward. This will also give them a better level of comfort regarding how a feature might be constructed to address their safety and sustainability concerns. Include jumps, drops, big banked berms, small interconnected bermed turns, step-ups, step-downs, skinnies, ladders, rock technical features, wheelie drops, wall rides etc.
• Along with the good stuff they want to know what our opinion is and understanding of a poorly designed and constructed feature. They want to know our general attitude toward unacceptable trail/feature construction, trail erosion, poorly built wood features, and unnecessarily dangerous or hazardous manmade features, wood or dirt. Also maybe include a short explanation of why the feature is unnecessarily dangerous and how the unnecessary dangers might be remediated.
It is critical to the future success of this project to show big support. Numbers are important right now, the more the better. Once the study is complete and the first features are in place other projects can be brought on line if the MTB community proves they can accept ownership and provide maintenance of what they are asking for. We cannot expect Ridge to Rivers to take over 100% of the maintenance. The Adopt a Trail system by individuals or groups will likely be needed to keep this program alive.
My goal here is to develop a means and a method for the process to begin, get the first few features constructed then step aside so others can lead projects of their own. After that, change focus toward the development of a downhill one-way bike specific trail incorporating berms, jump lines, drops and the necessary ride-arounds so the trail appeals to many skill levels.
Since I’m not getting any younger and don’t want to wait for the NEPA studies I have suggested a couple alternate locations for trail features. I have an on trail meeting scheduled with Ridge to Rivers to discuss the possibilities and locations for trail enhancements along the new Red Cliffs Trail #39. They include enlarging some of the existing berms, adding new ones and creating rolling dirt mounds in and out of corners. After that, a ride up Lower Trail #14 and #16 on Table Rock to look over existing trailside rocks and features that could become great new techy elements, or with slight modifications can be bigger and badder.
The results may take some time to report, but I think it creates opportunities to move forward on a shorter construction timeline. These efforts have always included a presentation to other city officials by R to R. High traffic trails get shot down but the lower traffic trails, as these are, stand a better chance of approval.
And I mean it......this is great.......much appreciated. I am with Bombin 4X on the Sam Brown RIP thing.........am in Nelson, BC right now which is still home to that crazy ass disconstructed wheel, hoping to venture up and see it this Summer.
Listen closely at about :43 - the key is that BC has a division of tourism that specifically focuses on mountain biking and developed policy aimed to develop these trails in a manner consistent with drawing more bikers to the area. BC "gets" that mountain biking is a tourism draw. Idaho hasn't embraced that concept - yet. I stressed during my testimony to the legislative committees last year (for the license plate) that study after study definitely proves that the development of purpose-built mountain bike trails (not multi-user trails) foments economic development. Fruita and BC are perfect examples. Bottom line - FIRST, you have lay the governmental relations groundwork before you're ever going to get the kinds of trails you guys (and I) want.
Again, this begs the question of whether anybody is involving IMBA. If you look at my two recent posts relating to new trail construction - one of which (Punchline) was built in Hailey on terrain very similar to the Boise foothills - IMBA was directly involved. Why not use them as a resource? Wheelbender, you should contact Anna Laxague with IMBA and see what help they may be able to provide, even if it's just initial assurance to R2R that purpose-built bike trails are a good thing.
Surveyed the trails yesterday with Ridge to Rivers and we agreed to the following rough outline:
Trail #39 Red Cliffs
We identified a number of corners, some with small existing berms some without, that are worthy of improvement. The trail footprint in these areas can be made wider and taller. Anyone who has railed a good berm understands the fun factor, but the downside is water retention. They will have to be built to hold some water on the low side and still provide a reasonable walking surface. We might be able to build some dirt rollers up-trail from the berm entry to assist with water diversion if it becomes a problem.
We can build jumps where the trail opens up to good visibility and a wider pathway. They will not be much more than big dirt water bars with long extended transitional landing zonings which do not hinder foot traffic. Depending on how the hikers respond to the jump, do they walk directly over it or widen the pathway around it, could result in a high side/low side right to left or left to right tapering of the jump. Hikers tend to take the path of least resistance around and object. R to R understands jumpers need wider landing zones to recover from any misjudgments of speed and distance. So the skinny single track rule will not apply here. The rider’s skill and bike will determine speed, height and distance, not the feature. Again, these features will be designed for the trail and XC bike, not the DH bike.
None of the work on Red Cliffs can begin until we get some moisture back into the soil this fall.
Trail #14 Lower Tram Trail
The big highlight here is the opportunity to construct one or more technical spur trails. These can include drops, jumps, skinnies, etc. One good location was agreed to with several other possibilities. We also may look at incorporating several trailside rocks into skinnies similar to the one off the top of Table Rock Trail #16. At the two big rock wall rides on #14 we can improve the exit transition from the wall back to the trail so a rider can attack the rock wall with greater speed to get higher and further out the wall. This won’t change the challenge at the second wall (rock with big diagonal crack) for the rider wanting to push off the wall and flat land back onto the trail.
Work on these features will require some digging, strong backs hauling big rocks and patience placing the rocks into a good tight fitting base. When done they must be close to maintenance free. Work can begin this summer after we have photographically documented the areas of work, defined the construction guidelines and work area limits. Looking at this realistically, I don’t see any work here until after the summer travel and vacation season is over or we get some dedicated early risers on weekends willing to put in a few hours to beat the heat.
• The reason both these projects can proceed so quickly is the fact they are both on land owned by the City of Boise……NO NEPA.
• Appreciate the positive input and suggestions regarding these trail opportunities. IMBA will be used at some point in this work. First I want to nail down the features, locations and limits acceptable to the local jurisdictions. I am looking to R to R for the suggestion as to when or if we need to get an IMBA person involved. I don’t want to step on, over or around the partnership I have built with them. We are not cutting in a big new $50,000 trail at this time. Hopefully that day may come soon. Right now we are just scratching in the dirt to evaluate the success or failures of these ideas and features. R to R has assured me nothing but quality work will be allowed to remain standing. They will provide documented construction guidelines and field observation. They want this to succeed!
• Any and all criticism of this process and final construction will be well received. If you don’t ever judge and discuss the merits and faults of anything, you or it will never improve. The problem with criticism is it usually perceived as negative.
• Larry Ridenhour tells me there has not seen a single submittal to him identifying the good and bad trail features he has requested from the rider community for his NEPA study. Little to no input from you means little to no motivation for him to get started. You guys have complained long and hard about not having access to technical trail features, the opportunity is now here, don’t let it slip away.
BoiseBoy, you make some good points. If the jumps (waterbars) are designed the right way they add to the flow of the trail and allow someone to double them up which is kind of fun or roll them without incident. When you make them steep and lippy like R2R does they are scary and possibly dangerous. I recently rode a trail in Southern Oregon where they build the "waterbars" in sets which allowed the user to jump one and land on the backside of the other. These things were great fun and not scary if you didn't choose to attempt the "gap" in between them. It is win win for all types of riders.
The lower foothill trails are not safe to build bigger burms and jumps/water bars. Too much foot traffic, very suprized to hear mr gordon is even entertaining the idea.
It's tough to build something bigger when they don't exist in the first place
The only thing that even exists now is steep water bars that don't really make great jumps.
My guess is that one of the reasons many people don't support jumps in the foothills is their only experience is steep water bars to flat landings that people call jumps around here. I've never met a person that doesn't like a smooth roller with a nice transition on the backside. You can direct water, catch air, and there's not nearly the consequence if you come up short or don't want to jump in the first place.