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  1. #1
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    Why there are qualifiers at the Vortex

    This is a repost of the information given by Rob Ern from OMBA:

    Managing Risk With Trail Design | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    A trail filter, sometimes referred to as a gateway or qualifier, is a high-skill-level, low-consequence obstacle that demonstrates the difficulty of the upcoming trail or trail feature. Now, if you all recall, and maybe some of you newer riders don't, there were a rash of injuries in the Vortex area of the trail, including more than one broken vertebrae, and a lawsuit filed against OGT, Marion County and OMBA. At the recommendation of IMBA, and their paid experts, a qualifier was constructed at the entrance of the Vortex section of the trail, as mandated by the OGT. If you are not capable of riding the qualifier, you should not ride the trails beyond the qualifier. It's as simple as that. So, is there any confusion as to why that qualifier is there? If so, follow the link above and read a little about managing risk.

    Basically, if you can't ride the qualifier (either one) the rest of the trails are over your head. Man up and learn to ride, or swallow you pride and continue your ride elsewhere.
    '08 GF Montare
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    (Most) always down for a ride in the Gville area

  2. #2
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    Are qualifiers at Vortex a recent addition, recent being within the last few months?

  3. #3
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    No, been there as long as I've been riding (a whopping year). There is one skinny bridge going over the fence at the gate in the beginning, then one going into the Vortex trailhead, and a boulder-hop qualifier (which may be more suited to the Vortex) at the back entrance off of Twister/Dog Bone.
    '08 GF Montare
    '10 Rockhopper SS
    Semper Fidelis
    02-10 SSGT of Marines
    (Most) always down for a ride in the Gville area

  4. #4
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    right on. I'll be out there early next week and was hoping to find something new.

  5. #5
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    Are these the qualifiers you speak of?


    100_2523 by Ga_Kush, on Flickr


    Santos12hour08 081 by Ga_Kush, on Flickr

  6. #6
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    I fell on the qualifier and hurt my pride. You'll be named in the lawsuit Orion.....see you in court.

  7. #7
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    Did you slip on the bridge walking the Pivot across? Long way to fall, hope no one saw you.
    '08 GF Montare
    '10 Rockhopper SS
    Semper Fidelis
    02-10 SSGT of Marines
    (Most) always down for a ride in the Gville area

  8. #8
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    I hate sue-happy ******bags. When you go mountain biking, you are taking a risk just like many other active sports. You should not be allowed to sue. There is a law pertaining to equestrians: you are taking the inherent risk by being around the animals and cannot sue if you are injured. The same should be applied to mountain biking.
    '14 Scott Genius 730 650b
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    Stir it up O

  10. #10
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    Agree

    I agree - I broke my collarbone there a year ago and walked out. I knew what I was getting into and made a dumb mistake mid air. Funny thing is, I started a new job the next day (broke Sunday, worked Monday).

    People just do not like to take responsibility for their mistakes these days, especially young kids.

    -Kris

  11. #11
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    I'm offended by this 'qualifier'. Its discrimination! Who do I send the court summons to?

  12. #12
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    People are always going to think that they are better riders than they actually are. It also may be the people they ride with too. I have a friend who has been riding years and does loads more difficult stuff than I did when I first started and he would always say everything was easy, even double black diamond stuff. Luckily I learned quickly that what was easy for him was difficult for me and I learned my limits and have progressed after 2 years to being able to ride all that he can now.
    I've ridden the vortex twice and I can say that it is not for those not willing to take a risk. It sucks that those who get hurt trying something that is stated as difficult cause problems for the riders that understand their own limits and the terrain they are riding.

  13. #13
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    The problem is that the people who will read the OMBA Facebook page, or this post, are probably already accomplished riders. The people who just don't get it are the ones who show up riding their Walmart bikes with no helmets and bring 60 kids with them into an advanced skills area to get in everyone's way. Miles crashed HARD because somebody's kids were hanging out on a lander to one of the drops. He broke his collarbone because he had to bail to avoid splattering some kid.


    Anyway, I've put in my suggestion for a sign that simply says "IF YOU CANT RIDE THIS FEATURE, THESE TRAILS ARE BEYOND YOUR SKILL LEVEL." and it needs to be posted RIGHT next to the feature, or even above.
    Ocala Mountain Bike Association - www.omba.org

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311 View Post
    The problem is that the people who will read the OMBA Facebook page, or this post, are probably already accomplished riders. \
    This is the bottom line unfortuately.



    I say we dig trenches on both sides of the qualifiers and fill them with rattlesnakes. Anyone who bypasses the qualifier gets to wade through snakes.
    "That which does not kill you makes you stronger"

  15. #15
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    Do you say something to people skipping the qualifiers?

    I was at Santos two weeks ago and came upon a couple of helmet-less teens walking the Vortex qualifier bridge. I've seen this happen a lot so I thought I would let them know what they were in for.

    As I passed by I said "If you have to walk that you might want to rethink the trail. It gets really hard here on out". I overheard some under breath comments, "******bag" and some giggles. Seriously? The qualifier is probably the easiest part of the trail. I really wasn't trying to be a dick but the last thing I want is for some punks to get hurt and now my trails have to be closed because they cant read.

    I dont want to be a "trail cop" either so I am kinda torn about it. Do you guys ever say anything? Is there a way to get some signage that explicitly says "If you cant ride this you cant proceed" or something like that?

  16. #16
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    I'd like to hear about the incident that brought this post into fruition?

  17. #17
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    I have been riding out at Santos for a while before the accident happened. My remembrance could be a little off so I suggest digging around on OMBAs site or through the forums in order to find more accurate information.

    AFAIK the lawsuit wasn't a frivolous sue happy affair like a lot of people like to claim. For those of us that were around at the time the Vortex area was pretty much just a free for all. Ramshackle stunts and poorly constructed trails abounded everywhere. People just showed up with shovels and tools and built some really crappy ladders, jumps and what not. Trails were blazed everywhere you could huck your bike with no thought towards sustainability. Water routinely washed out the trails and conditions changed on a weekly basis. Several injuries got some parents concerned especially when you consider that there was no ambulance access and the really crappy workmanship of the stunts out there was just begging for broken arms or worse.

    The office of trails and greenways were forced to address the situation be removing any man made construction from the area. The lawsuit stemmed from the fact that they never told anybody about it, put up any signage and got about 1/2 way through before someone broke their neck. It happened on a downed tree that was in the trail over by where the bridge step down now is. People had just hammered old 2X4's along the trunk so it made a really cool skinny all along it. You could ride out of it in several places and drop a couple of feet onto ramps. OGT removed the ramps and transitions without removing the ladder ride.

    The kid that had the accident was a good rider and familiar with the area. He rode the ladder and hucked off only to find the lander missing. As a result he endo'd head first into one of the huge branches and broke his neck. The lawsuit was about changing the trail conditions with no signage and making the trail dangerous. It wasnt about the known dangers inherent in the sport and then suing anyway. The whole area was an unsustainable mess that just invited these kinds of accidents.

    Anyways, it is a total miracle that OMBA managed to get buy in from the community to allow IMBA to redesign the area in a way that still has challenging features but still as safe as the sport allows. Fencing off the red trails and putting in qualifiers helps keep the right skill levels on the right trails.

  18. #18
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    Why are there no qualifiers for John Brown or Anthill and all the other reds on the other side?
    I wish there were more qualifiers threw out the park it would keep some of the walking traffic off the reds.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by orion_134 View Post
    This is a repost of the information given by Rob Ern from OMBA:

    Managing Risk With Trail Design | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    A trail filter, sometimes referred to as a gateway or qualifier, is a high-skill-level, low-consequence obstacle that demonstrates the difficulty of the upcoming trail or trail feature. Now, if you all recall, and maybe some of you newer riders don't, there were a rash of injuries in the Vortex area of the trail, including more than one broken vertebrae, and a lawsuit filed against OGT, Marion County and OMBA. At the recommendation of IMBA, and their paid experts, a qualifier was constructed at the entrance of the Vortex section of the trail, as mandated by the OGT. If you are not capable of riding the qualifier, you should not ride the trails beyond the qualifier. It's as simple as that. So, is there any confusion as to why that qualifier is there? If so, follow the link above and read a little about managing risk.

    Basically, if you can't ride the qualifier (either one) the rest of the trails are over your head. Man up and learn to ride, or swallow you pride and continue your ride elsewhere.
    High skill level low consequence?

    My story:

    Im new to all this. Have cleared Dr. Ruth. Couple of feet down on sinkhole and cowbone.

    Thought I was "accomplished". Not ready for Whistler Mtn however.

    So 2 weeks ago I head to Vortex. i had no thoughts of jumps just a trial on the Vortex trail. I had seen it before from Dogbone and "thought" i was good to go.

    I parked at the lot off 25th Ave and rode over the narrow bridge along side the locked gate. no problem. Vortex was tough so I decided to go back where I belonged. Approached the wooden bridge to ride out , too slow as i crested the bridge I looked down, big mistake. Went off at like 1 MPH ENDO! Result ? Not low consequence: third degree shoulder separation, 3 fractured ribs and lots of contusions. See what 255 pounds will do to you.

    Of course if i looked ahead and kept up my speed no problem.

    Lesson learned!! Sue OMBA or Florida? Never. My bad!! risky move and I alone am at fault!!

    Anyway Im healing and will be back soon. This time Ill play on the blues, and work on skills at trailhead where I should have honed skills before being a dumbass.

    BTW: I LOVE SANTOS.

  20. #20
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    Spartacus - thanks for the background information

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus Rex View Post
    The lawsuit was about changing the trail conditions with no signage and making the trail dangerous. It wasnt about the known dangers inherent in the sport and then suing anyway. The whole area was an unsustainable mess that just invited these kinds of accidents.
    Based on the below...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus Rex View Post
    For those of us that were around at the time the Vortex area was pretty much just a free for all. Ramshackle stunts and poorly constructed trails abounded everywhere. People just showed up with shovels and tools and built some really crappy ladders, jumps and what not. Trails were blazed everywhere you could huck your bike with no thought towards sustainability. Water routinely washed out the trails and conditions changed on a weekly basis. Several injuries got some parents concerned especially when you consider that there was no ambulance access and the really crappy workmanship of the stunts out there was just begging for broken arms or worse.
    ... the trail, and conditions were constantly changing with a varying degree of workmanship and(let me know if I'm wrong) signage was probably not a huge part of the norm out there at the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus Rex View Post
    AFAIK the lawsuit wasn't a frivolous sue happy affair like a lot of people like to claim.
    I can see why people would say it was frivolous...

    You have what was basically a bootleg section of trail being blazed by whoever with a hammer. It was being changed constantly and what was present should have been approached with caution as far as safety and structure were concerned. So finally an organization made changes(without notifying the riders - which it sounds as if un-notified changes were the normal at this location) and someone got hurt.

    So to me... the lawsuit was made because they had someone to pin the lawsuit on... as opposed to in the past where changes were made from random, unnamed individuals.



    It sucks the rider got hurt, but there needs to be some personal responsibility taken into account in any sport like this... It could have just as easily been Joe Dirt(without anyone knowing) with a crowbar that pulled the ramp out from the poorly engineered stunt... then there would nobody to point a finger at... It sounds to me, at that location, it would be prudent to make fairly regular walk arounds on the stunts you plan to take, in order to see what had changed or in what kind of condition things were in...

    I could see where the lawsuit could be taken as frivolous. Rider got hurt on an uncontrolled bootleg trail.

    Trails and Greenways should have shut the entire thing down until they could get everything into a controlled conditioin since thats what they were tasked with... to protect themselves from stuff like this.

    ...but I'm sure the area riders wouldn't have liked that either.

  21. #21
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    IIRC the reason that the original manmade stunts got pulled on the Vortex (2004ish?) was a kid that broke his neck on one of the stunts. It was a A frame type bridge with sheets of plywood up each side of a downed tree. Someone removed the backside of the A frame and this person went over it expecting the other side to be there, wham bam broken neck...

    I liked the "old" vortex, but it was rather ramshackle.
    "Listen here you beautiful *****, I'm about to **** you up with some truth"

  22. #22
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    That qualifier is a bit high

    Quote Originally Posted by drjay9051 View Post
    High skill level low consequence?

    ... Approached the wooden bridge to ride out , too slow as i crested the bridge I looked down, big mistake. Went off at like 1 MPH ENDO! Result ? Not low consequence: third degree shoulder separation, 3 fractured ribs and lots of contusions. See what 255 pounds will do to you.
    My wife wrecked on that same qualifier. Mind you - she can clean the Vortex & John Brown. We just got back from downhilling @ Northstar so it isnt a skill thing. The parking lot was pretty crowded that day and she hit the bridge and then slowed down to wait for some people F'in around at the exit. She didnt carry enough speed to clear the crest and couldn't unclip. That is at least a 3' faceplant. It wasnt pretty.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuPrBuGmAn View Post
    Spartacus - thanks for the background information

    I can see why people would say it was frivolous...

    ...It sucks the rider got hurt, but there needs to be some personal responsibility taken into account in any sport like this... It could have just as easily been Joe Dirt(without anyone knowing) with a crowbar that pulled the ramp out from the poorly engineered stunt... then there would nobody to point a finger at... It sounds to me, at that location, it would be prudent to make fairly regular walk arounds on the stunts you plan to take, in order to see what had changed or in what kind of condition things were in...

    ...I could see where the lawsuit could be taken as frivolous. Rider got hurt on an uncontrolled bootleg trail.

    Good points especially in regards to checking out the stunts before riding. When I hit the jump park I still walk it first even though it is meticulously maintained. You never know if any tree limbs or debris has fallen into your line and you'd hate to find out the hard way.

    I guess I was just trying to address most of the stories of the incident where people claim that the rider was just riding along, got hurt and sued to make extra cash. I thought some background info might be helpful but in the end you are right. It is all about personal responsibility. I was also under the impression that it was a younger person (16) and it was his parents that sued in order to make hospital bills.

    At least we were lucky enough that IMBA stepped in and saved the trail system.

  24. #24
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    I totally appreciate the background information, I'm in the panhandle, so was unfamiliar with the particulars of the event.

    By no means am I saying you're wrong on any of your points. Just as an outsider looking in, with the information given(thanks again), it seemed to me that the lawsuit was made only because the trails and greenways had just gotten a hand in it.

    Its kind of sad, because its exactly that kind of lawsuit that can prevent trails from being built, and others from staying open. I personally think that partaking in mountain biking, as responsible riders, we should be looking at what we're riding more carefully and waving any 'rights' to sue for any damages or injuries incurred while riding a mountain bike in the woods/mountains. That'll never happen in the litigous society we live in, unfortunately...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by drjay9051 View Post
    I parked at the lot off 25th Ave and rode over the narrow bridge along side the locked gate. no problem. Vortex was tough so I decided to go back where I belonged. Approached the wooden bridge to ride out , too slow as i crested the bridge I looked down, big mistake. Went off at like 1 MPH ENDO! Result ? Not low consequence: third degree shoulder separation, 3 fractured ribs and lots of contusions. See what 255 pounds will do to you.

    Of course if i looked ahead and kept up my speed no problem.

    BTW: I LOVE SANTOS.
    First time my wife rode with us at Santos she was fine riding the bridge qualifier in but did the same as you coming out....too slow, went off and cut her knee on the hard ground below. It could have been worse. In all reality we were not really planning to do any real riding in the area there at all.....just came in to watch people jumping their bikes. Lessoned learned. Anyway, other than a nice scar and the embarassment she still had fun and rode the blue trails the rest of the day just fine.

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