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  1. #1
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    Colonnade Beginning Skills Level Trail

    Hello.

    i've been involved with Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park in Seattle for a long time. i was asked by the Project Manager to take ownership of the Novice Trail (which we are currently calling The Learning Trail). When we built what's now known as Limestone Loop (the first phase of the park) we tried to make a trail that would satisfy a multitude of riders on a challenging cross country loop. In order to create sustainable trail in impossibly dry sifty soil we used alot of rock. That along with the steep terrain made some of the trail a little daunting for some folk.

    So, initially when i was approached i was a little apprehensive. But after thinking about it for a day or so, i realized that it would be a great extension to the Park, and a necessary addition. There was probably nobody as qualified to do the job. i was familiar with the in's and outs of the park, and was responsible for some of the carpentry work at the park, and ultimately if i chose to do it, i would commit to getting it done.

    It was an opportunity to be creative. To utilize my knowledge of what it takes to be a sound technical rider and apply that for basic lessons for a beginning level rider. And to provide an element that is essential to our recreation, bringing in new riders of all ages, encouraging groups of riders and families to ride together, create a trail that will support our clubs Bootcamp program, and provide a trail that people can simply warm up at then go ride some of the more aggressive trails at the park.

    So after only a month i'm happy to say work is coming along very nicely.

    Feature 1 is a Sand Feature. My thought was to provide a feature that would simulate riding on a loose surface. Similar to a leafy trail or a muddy trail, this is a great introductory feature that introduces persons in the quick realization that trails are not pavement.

    We built the decking so that riders can have ample time to advance their speed on the approach of this feature, instead of being forced to tackle it shortly after a climb.



    Feature 3 Skinny is included within this feature. Not only does it double as a divider from the sand and river rock feature, it also utilizes space along the center and border of the feature to be ridden.

    i'm trying to keep my features well spaced within the trail so as to give the rider ample time to adjust to each transition. However with this feature i made the exception.

    Here you can see the easy line includes sandstone pavers to the left, and about 4 feet of sand, the line to the right is 10' of sand. The easy introductory Skinny borders to the right.



    As you can see the sand is currently wet. Making it super easy to ride. What can i say, many materials we get for free by scouring Craigslist, and this sand was used to protect a house a few miles away from a flooding creek. We'll see how it reacts when it dries, and we can always add a different sand.

    Hey innovation you have to allow for some tinkering.

    After the rider rolls through this feature there will be a turn back to Feature 2 the River Rock Feature. Based on the same principle as the first, but now we're taking the rider to the next level by rolling them through a hard loose surface. Much like riding along a riverbed, and slightly simulating loose shale sections of trail.

    Again to the left we have the beginnings of an intermediate Skinny, which will run for number of feet beyond when complete. The line to the left is the easy line with sandstone pavers and a 4' section of rock, then the 10' section to the right.



    The 2 features are tiered, with the Sand feature having a drainage ditch cut beneath it. We have the sand at nearly 1' deep, and the river rock at about 8" deep.

    Rides just a little washy, just like it should. Test run.



    i asked Joel and Sarah to build me the next feature. They are doing a bang up job so far, and i'm very excited to see how it turns out. Roller Coaster Corner came from a request by Mike to have a bump structure that taugh riders to get off of their seat. Similar to a pump track, i decided to take the idea to a turn, and add some inslope. This will probably be a feature for an advanced beginner, prior to this feature i will have a mini wall ride and berm with dirt bumps, so it will be something fun to work towards.



    Also in this picture you can see the drainage work we have. The space is ideal, covered by freeway deck. However the rain from in between freeway decks, and water from a silly palm tree art feature drains right into the flat where the features are. So after a day of caveman trenching and another day of Ditch Witching we have 120' of drain and catch drain established.

    So much work ahead, but it's coming along splendidly in it's first month. With any luck by the end of January we will have 5 out of 17 features completed.
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  2. #2
    Just roll it......
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    Nice work, Skooks. You know that by posting this info. here on mtbr, you are forcing some bbtc'ers to have to register to see your pics!! Oooh, the drama of that group sometimes.

    Hey, I know you're taking time off the bike to keep the momentum high and make it happen. Serious kudos to you on the effort......folks are going to need a true learning area at Colonnade since the "beginner" line is more of an intermediate line, imo.

    Anywho, besides giving back to the riding community, I think building makes you a better rider. It allows you to look at terrain differently....or maybe a better vision for the terrain? Or......maybe I'm justifying my own building habit, but it's absolutely affected my riding in a positive way over the last few years.

    Cheers,
    EB

  3. #3
    dude
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    Hey, I think I was there with a buddy of mine that night. Was that you on the red bike?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebxtreme
    Nice work, Skooks. You know that by posting this info. here on mtbr, you are forcing some bbtc'ers to have to register to see your pics!!
    The pictures are hosted at Flickr so i don't think you have to be registered.

    i know what you're sayin though. Gotta find something to gripe about. i suppose if the advocacy boards were filled with things to actually justify whining about, it would be a downer and nobody would read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by joeyjoedotorg
    Was that you on the red bike?
    nope.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyjoedotorg
    Hey, I think I was there with a buddy of mine that night. Was that you on the red bike?
    that would be me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainblt
    that would be me.
    Would you be able to prove this in a court of mountain bike law?
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  7. #7
    dude
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainblt
    that would be me.
    ah. I was the guy on the Jamis Komodo trying to roll that line. I got it eventually.

  8. #8
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    that looks like so much freakin fun. Don't suppose anyone knows of anywhere like this in portland to ride? luckily seattle isn't to far away, 2 hour drive or so...post canyon and meldrum bar and the grotto are the only places I know of, excluding all the cool urban spots around the portland area.

  9. #9
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    Progress has been great, have been helped out everyday i've posted work for the trail.

    Was going to wait for the middle of February to post another report, but there is enough progress to share the current status.

    Finished grooming dirt for entrances for features and this round about. We'll look to define the trail with this extra granite. Not many places where this will be necessary, but using the tight twisty model to maximize trail distance, it's a necessity in spots.



    Finished the intermediate skinny, i wanted to extend it a bit further. It stretches to about 15 feet before you're atop the log round, and exit off the split log runoff.



    And from the prior picture you can see the Teeter Totter Feature. You can have a peek under the hood so to speak. Reinforces with 4X4 blocking, 2X8 stringer 1X4 treated runner, with a 1" steel pipe axle made from plumbing fittings. Neighbors rightly complained that it hit too loud, we fixed it with some 2" backing rod wrapped in some pvc roofing material. First teeter totter is 27.5" wide with a 15" apex, more difficult one is 18" with a 17" apex. Both are a few inches over 10 feet long.



    And we have completed the Roller Corner Feature. It came out a bit more difficult than first envisioned, but it's an outstanding practice corner. It's an undulating insloped corner with bumps. It's perfect for practicing turning fundamentals as you need to pre steer toward the corner on the approach, then steer wide as you round the corner. Otherwise your wheels fall off the structure. It requires balance, and forces you to maintain an even momentum in order to clear the bumps. You can't take it too hot or cold.
    It was a little bit of a mistake, but to me it's the perfect mistake.



    Another angle with a new trail we scratched. We don't have much water above but it does get a bit. So we got it dialed with proper drainage, but a little more aggressive on the slope, because we can get away with it.



    This trail will be the approach to the Log Rollover Feature. The trail will split into 3 trails each will have varying levels of difficulty. Finished the first level to the right. Rounds are 6"-7"-8" rounds. Spaced at 13' then 10' from each other. To the left have ample space, difficult lines will have log stacks aka log pyramids as well as wider logs placed at angles, and spaced closer together.



    Treated 4X4 some concrete, you could use rocks instead, Simpson tie with some wood screws. Easily maintained, and or replaced. If the logs get chain ring wear, you can turn them before you replace them.

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  10. #10
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    "undulating insloped corner"

    Fantastic work Tim.

    -Chris

  11. #11
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    Time for another report.

    With only a few more technical trail features complete the month of February seemed to come and go, quickly yet with good progress. The trail is taking shape, working out a few minor kinks, and anticipation that March should bring the project into the halfway mark where we can see the other side, a trail in working completion.

    Work underway on Wall Ride Feature, or what we're calling Wall Ride Jr. Setting posts in concrete, that make up the framework. With luck we should have it done next weekend.



    Mark of the trail workers.



    Minor adjustment was to reinforce the intermediate skinny by sistering a couple 2X4's along both sides. If someone per chance has an elephant tucked in their back pack it should hold. As i also widened the track towards the end of the skinny, allowing for more riders to have better luck completing the feature.



    Now for the completion of the sixth feature out of 17. Log Rollover Feature which is a feature emulating a common occurance of deadfall or blowdown of trees in the forest on our local trails. It was a feature that i wanted to do on the first phase of Colonnade but like other features it never came to fruition.
    So the ability to create this feature is special, and was a very slight motivator initially when i decided to take on the project. If i didn't do it, it wouldn't get done...

    Left line (advanced) has 2 diagonal logs. With borders so that the biker is forced to ride them honestly, and the third log is larger and off camber. Middle Line (Intermediate) has 3 logs spaced relatively close unlike the right line (beginner) which has ample space to set up. Second log in the middle line is a fatty.

    Log Stack awaits riders completing the Intermediate or Advanced line. Riders completing the Intermediate Line can choose the lower or middle tier on the pyramid. Riders completing the Advanced line can choose the middle or upper tier of the pyramid.



    Seventh Feature complete. Bumps! Yes bumps, they're not as easy as they look, and are great practice for people to get out of their seats and learn how to push their bikes, much like riders learn from riding pump tracks. We've got 4 of them created, 2 of them can be done then a beginner can defer by taking an easy out to the right, or the rider can continue to complete all 4 and then into the Roller Corner Feature.

    Bumps are retained with a post and some treated lumber, cobble rock base with crushed rock. Soil/Clay mix with a top off of thick sand.



    Some bordering with small logs, and adding some mulch for aesthetics, a cushy fall zone, and keeping the dust down. Building more inslope on the corner, and adding some crushed rock and sand that should mix in well with existing silty soil.



    Enjoying some well deserved ride time after a productive days work.

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  12. #12
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    Testing the begining skills level trail

  13. #13
    Just roll it......
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    Nicely done Skooks. Good progress, mang!

    Got a really nice day in the woods on Saturday doing some of the same.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nikonbiker
    Testing the begining skills level trail
    i need to start bringing my own bike for testing, that guy only had a rear brake and it barely worked haha.
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  15. #15
    I'm on fire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skookum
    i've been involved with Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park in Seattle for a long time...
    I've really enjoyed seeing your posts and build work at Colonnade. Wish we could borrow your build skills and ideas for a few weeks on the Right Coast....
    Sanity is the trademark of a weak mind.
    Cycle CNY

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trigger
    I've really enjoyed seeing your posts and build work at Colonnade. Wish we could borrow your build skills and ideas for a few weeks on the Right Coast....
    i would hope you would copy any ideas you like. That's a big reason why i'm sharing, so that other's can take ideas and put their own spin on it.
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  17. #17
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    this is such a cool thread. I can't wait untill the novice section is completely open, I live in Portland and I have friends in Seattle that I visit pretty often, I'll have to plan a weekend trip up there as soon as the trail is done.

  18. #18
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    This is awesome. Way to go!

    I was thinking about doing something similar in my back yard. Is there a website or book I can get that will show me the correct way to build this stuff? It looks so fun.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glynis27
    This is awesome. Way to go!

    I was thinking about doing something similar in my back yard. Is there a website or book I can get that will show me the correct way to build this stuff? It looks so fun.
    Study basic carpentry, then adjust to rules that make sense for what you're building. And remember it's always better to overbuild if you can.

    i am in construction, but i'm not a carpenter by trade. i'm sure there are books but i haven't read them. i would suggest you learn how to build a fence, and build a deck, as a starting base to learn. Then adapt what you've learned and keep learning. Even in the trade i'm in, doing it everyday you never really stop learning. As i'm sure other trail builders will find to be true, with the variation you find from project to project.
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  20. #20
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    Welp i can safely say we're halfway through the trail build. A major push with some very productive weekends with good volunteer turnout, it's good to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And we're at a point where it's starting to look like a trail now, and people are starting to understand what's been in my head all this time.

    3 more features for a total 10 out of 17 complete

    Wooden Berm Feature complete. After setting the foundation we finished the frame with Doug Fir logs as stringers. Split Cedar for slats.



    We filled in the base with dirt and a layer of crushed rock. Hidden we have a drain of cobble and crushed rock to prevent any puddling at the base.



    Also complete the Log Ride Feature. Again i wanted variable levels so we have 3 ways of riding. Lower is 10 inches from ground, Upper is about 18 inches, and combining the 2 we added a connecter. The connector is set where your wheel radius is such that your wheels barely make the connection.



    Of course you can ride it backwards the transitions are a tad different. The upper and lower log are the same as they are 2 halved cuts of the same round, although the perspective of the picture not show it. Nice beginner level log ride as the width of the tread is around 15".



    Next we're on to putting on the finishing touches of the trail. Whenever you're holding to a tight twisty trail you need to define the trail in order to keep people from creating rogue paths. And blazing in mach speed to surprise a rider from the opposite approach. Of course i expect this to happen at time, but with the introduction of rocks, logs, and mulch you greatly minimize this from happening. And introduce nice aesthetics as well.

    The correct path rolling Roller Corner clockwise.



    Having the benefit of watching people ride my trail i could see where they would bushwhack the trail. So bordering and making obstructions with some fencing and some strategically placed log round prevent people from blazing right into the Roller Corner to do it counter clockwise.

    Of course i don't expect people to not ride it backwards, but let's make them come in a starting a little further back on the trail. That way their approach is staggered and you won't have somebody hogging it over and over again.



    Again some more bordering we scratched out a nice S corner for our Beginner Switchback. Still needs a few tweaks with bordering and artsy definition, but it's come out nice.



    Onto a sneak peak at the 2 feature currently under construction. Climb Feature we're making 3 stair stepped spinner out of Sandstone Pavers. We dug out the bottom and flipped it up to build up the top, to get the desired transition.



    Pedal Pedal Pedal!!!!



    And finally we've got the start of the trail. Bridge Feature will be the first feature in the trail that will tie into the Sand Feature. So the connection will finally be made to the bridge approach which was one of the first things created on the trail.



    When i first started the project i would tell people what my plans were, and they would nod their heads in a somewhat vacant glazed stare, haha. i'm really happy to see that change now as stuff is coming together and i can demonstrate in physical form what was just rattling around in my skull prior.
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  21. #21
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    looks good dude! keep it up.

  22. #22
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    It's really odd how a bit of wood chips makes the place look less concretey and... friendlier. Who woulda thunk?

    Awesome work, Skoo!

  23. #23
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    Got to a point of feeling like one of those sprinters in a road race that just got brought back in by the peloton. i've been hitting the task with a blitzkrieg mentality putting in over 250 hours since X-mas. Well it was time to re-evaluate.

    So while progress may be slowed, the trail now know as Tqalu Trail will be finished. But probably sometime in the Summer instead of the Spring.



    Was able to finish the Bridge Feature. With over 40 of split cedar on top of peeled 4 to 6 inch round logs. With the thickness of both the rungs and the slats we were able to run the slats at 8 foot lengths and the rungs are varying from 2'6" to 3'4" wide along the corner. Got the proper slope, put up some fencing, and we were able to run a nice swath of dirt goodness finally creating a trail that ties all the first features together.



    Added fencing to define trail from the Bridge to the Sand/Skinny round about to the River Rock/Skinny, then back again to the Teeter Totters. Before we got the trail built people would shoot in from this angle, so we placed some rock to put a stop to that and add some aesthetics. People can still shoot in to strictly session the Teeter Totters, but now they'll do it on the other side of the column, with a better approach and with better sight lines for riders to merge toward the Teeters.



    Today was the last day for a while, and it really meant alot to have Art Tuftee there lending a hand today. He is the original designer of Colonnade so it was really a boost to have someone there who specifically understands the stressors involved in a project like this.

    i'm walking off for a bit, to get my life back, but i'm satisfied with what i've been able to accomplish. Inside i still want to see this trail to completion, but i can't do that being a tired zombie.
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  24. #24
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    Update time

    The first trail we completed included a hand sculpture from a fellow mt biker Jim N. i'm always thinking of ways to tie this trail to other trails in the park, so i asked him to make me a foot. He agreed and i'm absolutely stoked he created one for the trail. i only wish my mason work would be as up to par, but at least it will likely keep someone from running off with it.



    Finally found the time to track down some gravel appropriate for the sand feature. The first load was freebie sandbag sand we got from a Craiglist lead. It just packed up too well. So after a little running around i picked up near a ton of this Sandscrew Sand and it works great. Appropriately named if you don't carry your momentum you are screwed.



    Took some time off and i'm pretty happy. i put the word out that i was looking for someone to continue work while i was away and Mike C stepped up and completed a Practice Drop Feature.

    Approach and ramp.



    First feature that has been completed at this trail where i'm getting feedback it's too easy, which is a nice change. We'll keep on listening to trail users feedback, but we can lift if another 3 inches or so if need be. Taken from the Schleyer Drop model it can be rolled, and it's a great place to safely practice hucks and wheelie drops.

    Feature 12 out of 18 complete



    And progress on the Climb Feature is moving along, hoping to be complete next week and we'll look to take another short break from Tqalu again.

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  25. #25
    Moist and Delicious
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    Nice job, as always.

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