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  1. #1
    blet drive
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    leaf blowing thanks

    That you to all that were involved in blowing my local trails. the place looks great.
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
    Thank your local Sierra Club.

  2. #2
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    I hate leaf blowing! It's bad for the trails.

  3. #3
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    ^^^
    How much trail work have you done?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    ^^^
    How much trail work have you done?
    Enough to spend 3 hours riding on trails that I've either built or do lots of maintenance on. Why do you ask?

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I hate the way leaves and organic matter hold moisture, and digging down to the real surface below them is a pain. TBH, I don't do a ton of trail work, but keeping them from getting buried under organics seems pretty win-win.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    How is it bad for the trails?

  7. #7
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    Can increase channeling of run-off. Also, as leaves degrage they turn into dirt. Dirt is good; we're leaving the leaves on some of our older trails this season and just riding them down. I find leaves can also be used to help bring the trails back down in width (the narrower the trails, the better IMO). A lot of people leafblow trails way too wide and they end up taking on that characteristic.

  8. #8
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I hate the way leaves and organic matter hold moisture, and digging down to the real surface below them is a pain. TBH, I don't do a ton of trail work, but keeping them from getting buried under organics seems pretty win-win.
    Touche.

    A quick summary on why it's good to clear trails:

    Leaves typically trap moisture which means that after a heavy rain or a spring snowmelt, the trails stay wetter longer. Soaking wet trails are much more likely to get torn up or eroded when people ride on them which exacerbates the problem and often results in permanent damage.

    Over time leaves decompose and become dirt, but it doesn't happen overnight. The leaves first decompose into a loose organic matter that resembles a sponge-like consistency and traps and holds moisture much longer. Dirt is a more suitable tread surface because it can be packed down and once packed water will drain off. Typically when I build trails I perform a bench cut to get down to the good dirt and remove the loamy surface material. These trails can be ridden shortly after a rain storm with no resulting damage. I build trails that are designed to hold up to frequent use and last a long time with minimal maintenance. Removing the leaf cover is key to their longevity.

    So to summarize, while leaf blowing might not be necessary everywhere it certainly isn't BAD for the trails. Every area is different but this is in the Massachusetts forum - if we were talking about BC or Moab or Florida the case would be very different.

  9. #9
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    In my experience, it really matters most what the terrain around the trail is, and how well prepared the trail bed is prior to becoming leafy. If it's a rake and ride, on flat terrain or poorly draining soils, blowing the leaves off to both sides, or creating a leaf-berm downhill on side-slopes, creates a nasty channel than never drains, and causes ice mid-winter, mud in the spring. On a side hill, even on a half-arsed bench, with the leaves generally blown up-hill, or well off the trail down-hill, this is not a problem. Left on-trail, leaves can change the composition of the soil for the worse, high concentrations of organic matter is something we remove from the surface of a trail during construction...
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Can increase channeling of run-off. Also, as leaves degrage they turn into dirt. Dirt is good; we're leaving the leaves on some of our older trails this season and just riding them down. I find leaves can also be used to help bring the trails back down in width (the narrower the trails, the better IMO). A lot of people leafblow trails way too wide and they end up taking on that characteristic.
    ^^^^^ Some tasty organic material mixed with the more mineral soil helps hold everything together and mitigates erossion. At least that's the story I'm going with. Besides, riding on leaves is another challenge; similar to riding on snow. We're mountain bikers, right? Isn't challenge what we're after?

  11. #11
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    Leaf Blowing vs not is a tricky argument. Too many variables.

    Example 1: No leaf blowing: a trail system I frequent that gets a lot of MTB use, rarely if ever has been leaf blown. Trail surface is primarily granular rocky and firm packed dirt, and not loamy at all. The trail is well defined by the piles of un-rideable granite, trees etc, and are easily identified even when covered by leaves. The leaves are primarily oak. Oak leaves are crispy and break down quickly in the fall/winter, especially with all of the use this trail system gets. By mid spring, the trails are back to open & clear dirt. No leaf blowing needed.

    Example 2: Too much leaf blowing: A trail system I also ride (albeit less frequently) gets a regular leaf-blower bath during the fall. Although it is pure awesomeness to be riding dirt in the middle of the peak-defoliate-fall season, I cant help but notice that the over-use of leaf blower is widening said trails. Also an "untrained" leaf blower operator can and will remove the tiniest of minerals to the edge of the trail as they try to make the trail squeaky clean, causing unintended breakdown of the surface. I've seen it.

    Example 3: Leaf blowing for trail identification: a leaf blower used properly in a forest of mixed deciduous trees and many open areas that leave certain trail sections hard to find when covered, is an appropriate use. It is so important not to blow the trails 5 feet wide, but keep single track single. Keep the blowing to a minimum of 1-2 times during fall.

  12. #12
    blet drive
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    This has become a great read thanks for all the input.
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
    Thank your local Sierra Club.

  13. #13
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    very educational. my mind has been "blown"

  14. #14
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    leaf blowing allows rain to erode trails more

    best to leave the leafs alone and let riding pack them down
    if you ride it a few times it packs things down. riding leafs
    and wet leafs is a skill to gain, not avoid

    source: I own 100 acres in NE and have 5 miles of hand built trails
    some I rake 100% some I leave alone.

  15. #15
    blet drive
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    I want 100 acers.
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
    Thank your local Sierra Club.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    leaf blowing allows rain to erode trails more.
    Only if the trails weren't designed correctly in the first place. Water runs down poorly designed trails - regardless of whether there are leaves present.

    Fall line trails and "rake-n-ride" specials aren't sustainable and are prone to erosion sooner or later - depending on how many people use them. It won't make much difference whether you rake/blow them or not.

    If the trail has rolling grade dips and/or reversals in place and it doesn't go straight up/down the fall line then someone who knows what they are doing doesn't harm the trails by "proper" leaf-blowing.

  17. #17
    blet drive
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    ++1
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
    Thank your local Sierra Club.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by berkshire_rider View Post
    Only if the trails weren't designed correctly in the first place. Water runs down poorly designed trails - regardless of whether there are leaves present.

    Fall line trails and "rake-n-ride" specials aren't sustainable and are prone to erosion sooner or later - depending on how many people use them. It won't make much difference whether you rake/blow them or not.

    If the trail has rolling grade dips and/or reversals in place and it doesn't go straight up/down the fall line then someone who knows what they are doing doesn't harm the trails by "proper" leaf-blowing.
    +111

    Yup, and not to mention, since the trails are 127.0.0.1's trails, "home court advantage" may help his reasoning immensely...OTOH a rider on unfamiliar trail = widening when covered with leaves...

    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    ...*snip*

    best to leave the leafs alone

    I have 5 miles of hand built trails

    some I rake 100%
    Do you still rake trails?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by berkshire_rider View Post
    Only if the trails weren't designed correctly in the first place. Water runs down poorly designed trails - regardless of whether there are leaves present.

    Fall line trails and "rake-n-ride" specials aren't sustainable and are prone to erosion sooner or later - depending on how many people use them. It won't make much difference whether you rake/blow them or not.

    If the trail has rolling grade dips and/or reversals in place and it doesn't go straight up/down the fall line then someone who knows what they are doing doesn't harm the trails by "proper" leaf-blowing.
    The majority of existing trails that people ride weren't designed or built 'correctly' (ie -to exacting textbook standards). I know of some rake-n'rides that have been in heavy play for more than a decade that are in just as good shape as the 'properly' built trails that connect to them - I'm willing to bet only the people that actually know when and how they were built would be able to say which is which. I also know of a number of places where the traffic and terrain doesn't necessitate extensive removal of material by hand to end up with a good sustainable trail; sometimes wheels build the best trails practically all by themselves.

  20. #20
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    leaf blowing thanks

    I am anti leaf blowing for purely aesthetic reasons. I ride the same trails day after day and like changing surface conditions to give me more variety. I also love the sound of leaves crunching under my tires.


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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.P. View Post
    +111

    Yup, and not to mention, since the trails are 127.0.0.1's trails, "home court advantage" may help his reasoning immensely...OTOH a rider on unfamiliar trail = widening when covered with leaves...



    Do you still rake trails?
    only 1 1800 foot section is blown or raked and every
    2 years or so we truck fill back in to restore 3, 100 foot chunks
    which tend to erode if there are no leaves

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    only 1 1800 foot section is blown or raked and every
    2 years or so we truck fill back in to restore 3, 100 foot chunks
    which tend to erode if there are no leaves
    Interesting. Sounds like a lot of erosion, leaves or not...

  23. #23
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    On the upside, we ended up blowing a couple miles of our stuff last week, and it's fun as hell to ride right now. Cold weather has the dirt set up really nice; you ride a bunch of slidy leafy stuff beforehand, which is definitely fun too, but it's pretty sweet ripping through the cleaned up section.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    On the upside, we ended up blowing a couple miles of our stuff last week, and it's fun as hell to ride right now. Cold weather has the dirt set up really nice; you ride a bunch of slidy leafy stuff beforehand, which is definitely fun too, but it's pretty sweet ripping through the cleaned up section.
    Yep! I rode at LDT today and yesterday (brrr) and someone did a PERFECT job blowing. Even with the cold my last two rides have been top 10 of the year no doubt.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.P. View Post
    Interesting. Sounds like a lot of erosion, leaves or not...
    ok forget the blanket statement 'blowing leaves erodes trails'

    it depends on the trail

    but it does not need to be done. I only blow trails that are
    often walked so that pedestrians don't slip and fall. they are all
    ridable dry or wet leaves. the ones i do blow or rake have sections
    that erode when it rains. they do not erode when leaves are
    a present to slow the water down

    ...except hurricanes and severe
    gigantic amounts of rain which will rip anything apart

    yes it all depends...most trails I see are not designed as 'mtb trails with perfect
    erosion control in mind'. they are cow paths and old school trails from days of
    yore. if most were blown they'd erode fast
    Last edited by 127.0.0.1; 11-26-2013 at 06:07 AM.

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