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  1. #1
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    Gripe aimed towards Reforestation Camp trail builders

    Let me start off by saying I am very grateful for this awesome trail. I ride it often and have a season pass. It kicks ass.

    With that said, I just rode the trail today and was very disappointed to see that the three climbs that are actually somewhat technical have been filled in and raked over smooth. Why on Earth was this done? Why are these people spending time and resources putting gravel, wood chips, and sand on the good parts of the trail and removing the few rocks that exist and THERE ARE STILL A MILLION STUMPS WAITING TO SMASH MY FEET AND SEND ME FACE FIRST INTO THE GROUND???

    How about cutting down some of those stumps that make the trail more DANGEROUS and leaving alone the parts of the trail that make mountain biking FUN??? Spray painting a stump does not make it go away.

    Had to vent.

  2. #2
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    I can say from experience that criticism of a trail system is better received in person...at a trail work day.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by inteq9
    Let me start off by saying I am very grateful for this awesome trail. I ride it often and have a season pass. It kicks ass.

    With that said, I just rode the trail today and was very disappointed to see that the three climbs that are actually somewhat technical have been filled in and raked over smooth. Why on Earth was this done? Why are these people spending time and resources putting gravel, wood chips, and sand on the good parts of the trail and removing the few rocks that exist and THERE ARE STILL A MILLION STUMPS WAITING TO SMASH MY FEET AND SEND ME FACE FIRST INTO THE GROUND???

    How about cutting down some of those stumps that make the trail more DANGEROUS and leaving alone the parts of the trail that make mountain biking FUN??? Spray painting a stump does not make it go away.

    Had to vent.
    As a trail builder, I'd have to agree with your comment about the stumps. I'm to the point where I discourage people from using saws, because they always end up being used to saw off small trees. If it's too big to hack out by the roots, it's big enough to alter the trail to go around it. Tree stumps are dangerous to riders.

    I don't know the situation with rock removal and can't comment on it.

    In my experience, a lot of hack work gets done on trails because too few people show up to get the job done correctly. Venting your frustration is a joke. Get involved with the trail work and you will have an actual effect on how the trail is built. That will make your ride better instead of making you "feel" better.

    My philosophy is that people who show up for trail work get input. Everyone else is a whiner and should be ignored.

    Walt

  4. #4
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    XC ski trail?

    Is this also a ski trail?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjohnson
    Is this also a ski trail?
    I believe that there is quite a bit of singletrack at the Reforestation Camp also.

  6. #6
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    This vent is clearly aimed at the green loop, which is about 90% singletrack. I find that the camp (aka stump farm as posted earlier this summer by someone) isn't a very technical trail at all. I go there to enjoy the fast pace of some relatively smooth rolling, flowy track that gets technical only when I get it to that speed and the trees start reaching out to punch my shoulders.

    I really welcomed the changes to the one climb you're probably most upset about. It was a bit of an annoyance before to have that section bog you down at that point in the trail. Of course everyone is going to enjoy their own type of ride, and you're welcome to your opinion. I like the camp a lot. There are a few maintenance changes I would put in there too myself if I were the one doing the work, but I'm not....so, like others said above don't bother whining about it.

    In regard to the stumps, I don't see how many of them can be addressed. There's a couple I'm glad to see rotted aawy and no longer a problem like they were last year, but I don't see how removal of all of them or changing the course of the trail is very feasible. They're just one of the few hazards that you expect at camp.

    I'm looking forward to riding there a lot this and next week gearing up for the ramble. Hope to meet some good new people out there!

  7. #7
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    Those are some good responses. Yes you guys are right - on one hand, I do not work on them myself so its hard for me to complain. On the other hand I still pay to ride them. That would be sweet if trails had suggestion boxes.

    I would be more than happy to attend a trail building day up there. Anyone know if there is one? I'll go in there with a chainsaw and start murdering those stumps! Safety first of course...

  8. #8
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    Murder and safety in the same line...I like your thinking! I bet you could find out by contacting the county, or just asking around at the race on the 30th.

  9. #9
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    The long-winded answer

    I'd like to take this opportunity to be a little bit less of a d!ck and give a more thoughtful answer to the original poster of this thread.

    In my opinion, the reason we fail to agree about the issues of trail maintenance and decisions about what gets priority and what does not comes down to economics, strangely enough.

    You and I and almost every one else in this country are fairly well educated in the workings of the free market. We have been told that, in return for our money, we consumers can expect to have the provider of goods or services pay attention to our complaints. Capitalism is a highly efficient system that tends to work well for everyone. Providers who pay attention to what consumers want will prosper. Consumers can help the provider do a better job by speaking up about what meets their needs.

    In my opinion, this model doesn't work very well for the trail-use part of mountain biking. I think the rub comes in because the economics of trail construction and maintenance don't fit a capitalistic model. Actually, the whole idea of public parks doesn't work this way.

    Ideally, under a market system, you as a trail user would pay a fee that would reflect the cost of building and maintaining a given trail. The trail would be built on land purchased with the fees, by professionals paid directly from your fees, then a maintenance professional would be hired to keep things in order.

    If trails were actually run this way, there would be almost no mountain biking at all. I can't tell you exactly how much it would cost, but I can confidently state that trail riding would be a sport affordable only by wealthy individuals. Land is not exactly cheap, trail construction runs $3-$5 per foot (upwards of $15,000 per mile), and if I was to go professional as a full time trail maintainer, would not consider doing the job for less than $40,000 per year, plus benefits.

    The only way that this can be done on a basis that makes the sport accessible to middle income people is by a socialistic collective known as a park system. To a hard-core free market fundamentalist, this sort of arrangement is heresy. But if we're willing to be a little bit flexible in our ideology, we can make it work. But not in the way we are used to.

    The first way that this parks collective works is we get to tap your wallet directly through a system of taxes. Local, state, or federal, some of your income goes to run the parks. Your tax dollars help to purchase land and pay the salaries and benefits of the professionals who staff the parks.

    However, since every citizen pays for them, the parks are obliged to serve as many people as possible. The administrative staff of the park systems spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what people want out of their parks. This is, in some ways, similar to the consumerist function of a capitalist system. The analogy breaks down very quickly though, because the parks have very limited amounts of land and labor available to cater to their client's desires. If it was a strictly capitalist system, the family users, bird watchers, picnickers, and hikers would quickly push every one else out of the system due to their superior numbers and similar needs for infrastructure.

    Since the parks are a collective though, the managers do their best to make them appealing to as many people as possible. Including, strangely enough, fringe users such as mountain bikers. I call mountain bikers a fringe group not only because of their relatively small numbers compared to other park user groups, but also because their infrastructure needs are somewhat different than anyone else's. People who want to walk in a park seem to be satisfied with flat, boring, easy to maintain paths, but mountain bikers demand single track to ride on.

    You can probably see what this is leading up to. As a tax payer, or individual user of park resources, there aren't enough mountain bikers to justify (in most locations) the expense of building and maintaining single track trails. The amount you pay in fees at the park don't come close to bridging the gap. The state park where I work gives no money at all from trail fees toward building or maintaining single track with minor exceptions. They can't. They are perpetually short of money for other needs.

    But this is where the magic of the collective comes in. Since the tax revenues and general fees are already in place to cover the costs of running the park, it doesn't cost them anything extra to have a bike trail, as long as the users of the trails provide all the labor. Shazam! We now have a system where everyone wins! As long as we, as marginal participants in the collective understand our place everything is fine.

    There is one more tiny piece of the puzzle I haven't explained. In order to fit into the park's collective system, the tiny mountain biking community needs to have some organization too. You can probably guess that there isn't going to enough money in this end of things either to employ professionals. We're going to need a micro-collective to do the job, a mountain biking club.

    Backing up one step, the reason we can't do this as individuals is two-fold. One is that the parks collective responds much better to an organization with representatives they can talk to. That way they don't have to spend their precious resources trying to poll members of the group themselves. Also, if there are problems like conflicts with other users of the park, they can communicate the issues more efficiently though the club structure than if they have to spread the word through all the individuals of the mountain biking group.

    The second reason is that the parks collective can identify individuals in the bikes collective who will take responsibility for the construction and maintenance of the trails. Imagine yourself in the shoes of a park manager. You are approached by various individuals who say, "I'd really like it if you would allow me to build some trails in your park so I can ride my bike and have a lot of fun." How on earth could you have any assurance that any of these people would follow through?

    If, on the other hand, an individual says "I am part of a club with X number of members. In return for access to your park we collectively are willing to construct and maintain bike trails." After one successful project the club can even offer references.

    Whew, that's a lot to think about. Bear with me, we're almost home. The final piece of the puzzle is after the trail is built, remember that the bike club has to provide maintenance as part of its deal with the park. We've already allowed that that the bike club collective does not have the resources to pay a professional to do the work. My bike club is considering having a membership fee for the first time in its history, but the money will go toward purchasing equipment, fees for applying for grants, and providing refreshments (beer) for group meetings, and will not be used to pay professional staff.

    We cover the trail maintenance in two ways. One, for the most labor intensive projects, is club sponsored work days. In the wet days of spring before the trails are dry enough to ride, the membership of the club gathers at each of the parks we have trails on, and build new or re-routed sections of trail. Occasionally we get outside groups, such as trail runners or Boy Scouts who volunteer their time to help out. At my park, there is a lot of erosion damage that requires re-routes to be built. Also, our agreement with the park states that we will build additional new trail mileage. We're fortunate to have this kind of access. But it takes all of the time from the group members that I have available to me to begin to keep up with these demands.

    That leaves all the other maintenance issues like cutting trees that fall across the trails. I have to have a safety certification to run a chain saw on state lands. The Friends of my park paid for the training, and bought me a saw, but I was required to purchase cut resistant boots out of my own pocket. They cost me $200. I had to take a vacation day from my job to attend the training session.

    I try to keep up with a bunch of other minor maintenance issues too. I keep a list, up to recently in my head, but I started obsessing over it and drew up a list in Excel that is about three pages long so I could mentally put it down.

    And this, finally is the point of this very long winded story. The reason that I, as a maintainer of the trails the you ride, don't respond to you in the way that you are used to is that I'm not running a business. I would be very sad if nobody used or appreciated "my" trails. I love what I'm doing, but it doesn't fit the capitalist framework we use to think about the things we do with 90% of our time.

    It's important to me that the trails I devote so much time to are satisfactory to the people who ride them. But in the collectivist mode I've spent so much time trying to explain to you, the individual consumer isn't king. In addition to making the riders of the trail happy, I also owe consideration to the park collective. One of the ramifications of that is I have to balance the wishes of the riders to keep the fun, rocky trails open versus the isolated places that have become badly eroded and need to be closed because they are degrading the value of the park, and reflecting badly on the property manager who in turn, has to answer to the other stake holders in the park collective.

    To sum it all up, your opinion about the trails does matter, but not very much because so many people have a stake in how the park is run, and how little you actually pay. In order to get more leverage for what you want done, you have to have to go about it differently than you are used to. To really make your voice heard, you have to put your time into it.

    Walt Hougas
    Trail Manager for CORP at Blue Mound State Park

  10. #10
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    I rode the entire green loop 1 1/2 times today. I dont think any of the stumps are much of a problem. Thats part of mountain biking, looking out for and avoiding obstacles..... At least I thought so.
    Sorry, not trying to sound rude either.

  11. #11
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    I rode the green loop today. This is my first time on this trail and only my thrid time mountain biking...........however, I found the trail to be an absolute blast! I will be returning may times. In fact I liked it so much I send the parks department an email when I got home.

    Perhaps you could do the same with your concern?

    Although I see how the stumps could be annoying they didn't bother me at all, just added to the challange.

    In my email I also asked about any "trail building/maint. days". I will post up here if I recieve a response. It may be entirely maintained by the county parks employees?

    I also enjoyed the many trees that are a tight squeeze throughout the trail, left a little bit of skin on one

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy
    .........To sum it all up, your opinion about the trails does matter, but not very much because so many people have a stake in how the park is run, and how little you actually pay. In order to get more leverage for what you want done, you have to have to go about it differently than you are used to. To really make your voice heard, you have to put your time into it.

    Walt Hougas
    Trail Manager for CORP at Blue Mound State Park
    Da*m Walt, I'm glad we met on the Levis Mound Trails-this rather lengthy post said about everything I have ever thought about Mtn Bike trails on public land and how they "appear" there. Well done! I agree 100% with your thoughts-a club, or group of dedicated riders is the only way the public land mangers will be willing to allow trails to be built for a "fringe" group. My situation is somewhat different, in that Mtn Bikers are one of the larger user groups at Levis / Trow Mound.....but, logging is king in Clark County, and brings in lots of dollars, so everything else needs to work around, or with that parameter. To mimic Walt-unless I see tools in the hands of someone, I really don't listen to the criticism. Do I think about it? Oh yeah, usually, like Walt, there is one person that really drives the trails and will take everything personally. We DO want every rider to enjoy their visit, but I think more so, we'd love it if more riders would ask to help, dig some dirt shoulder to shoulder (literally) and become friends, which in turn, makes the trail and the sport so much better. Walt and I chuckled over the recent "Best Trail Advocate" poll here in mtbr forums, that we were "arch- rivals"...no way, rather we appreciate each others work and what is successful, not-so successful, fun, exciting (grub hoes) and not so exciting (grub hoes) and just what makes mountian bike trails awesome and different from each other.
    now I'm getting long winded!
    Steve Meurett
    Neillsville Area Trail Association

  13. #13
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    Just raced the Reforestation Ramble. Even while seeing purple elephants on my last lap, I was able to avoid the stumps pretty easily. I feel it is a non-issue.
    G
    You can't depend on honest answers from dependant hands...

  14. #14
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    FYI, I did hear back from Brown County Park Management and he forwarded my email to an individual who is working on a volunteer trail maint. day towards the end of Sept. I am told that person will contact me with details. If he is not a member here I will post up the details when I hear from him......don't want to step on anyones toes.

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