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  1. #1
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    How to combat trail-building misinformation?

    Trying to make the long story short... A racing/volunteer group built a few miles of xc trail on a terrain mostly of decomposed granite, with some slopes exceeding 40% in some areas, no grade reversals, fall lines, in summary, old school bad trails. Now they are claiming on the media, Facebook, etc that the trail was designed by a person "qualified and endorsed" by IMBA and according to "US Fish and Wildlife standards", agency which as far as I know, doesn't have any bike-related specs. With only a few weeks of use and probably no more that 400 riders, the place looks like the end of the season @ Northstar, filled with brake ruts, dust, and roots showing in many places. We live in a region that sees more than 100 annual inches of rain, so when the rain comes...

    Most of the trails in the region are not up to IMBA standards, so almost everybody thinks they are well done, just because they have fun in them and haven't ridden anything better. The "it's better than nothing" mentality. I offered the volunteers help before the thing got started but was told they had their "IMBA qualified person". We are a company that is trying to improve the way trails are built here, I've been involved in other projects alongside well known trail builders from the US and Canada, been to PTBA summits and learning as much as we can. We are currently in the process of funding, permits, etc of other city projects, so there is no well made trail system to serve as an example.

    How can one publicly combat the mis-information without looking as if we were envious or trying to advertise our business? Our concern is that this type of wrongly built trail is considered the right one to build in this region, therefore we stay in the dark ages... Plus it's a waste of labor, resources and time, etc.
    Last edited by Relayden; 07-03-2012 at 07:17 PM.
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  2. #2
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    If the trail is that bad, it'll become obvious at the end of the season.

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    DG? Bummer. I'm guessing you are in SoCal? DG is worse than pumice. You have to be pretty hard up for good dirt to build on that shite!

    Do you mean "side" (or cross slopes) slopes exceeding 40%, or "grades"? Grades steeper than 40% is pretty bad trail building unless they are on rock (armored or natural) and intended to be directional (down hill).

    That said, IMBAs trail building standards are extrapolated from USFS standards. They are pretty good, but very conservative and are generalized to help people anywhere in the world who don't build trail professionally. Like any other theoretical model, you can't apply those standards without some advanced knowledge and site-specific information. Also, I personally know of some so-called "IMBA endorsed" trail builders who totally suck at building trail. (More specifically, they are very good at a certain type of construction, but call anything that they don't understand, or are not interested in, "unsustainable.")

    To answer your question: Those peeps that built that bad trail are a good volunteer base, but need led in the right direction. Try getting in touch with the land manager and talk to them about it (without bad-mouthing those builders) and see if they can help get the effort more organized. Make a plan, on paper, for what you want to build. Learn the lingo of that particular agency and explain how you will jump through all the hoops. Get them on your side and the other guys will appear "rouge" and unprofessional.

  4. #4
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    Get your grants, build your trails. See what people ride. They will likely abandon the poorly done trails, and learn in the process. Forget about trying to change attitudes or combat poorly build trails. It does not work, since trails tend to be an emotional issue for most riders, and not a logic issue. Just build it, and they will come. A cliche, but a true one.
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  5. #5
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    So you run a trailbuilding company? Why not set the standard in your region by building a real, quality trail system? Not only you'll showcase your company work, but you'll also define a sustainable trail system to show to land managers. Maybe work in partnership with IMBA or a PTBA member to help cut some red flag.
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  6. #6
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    The builders and designers and land managers need to know you and need to see how you would have done it. You may want to volunteer to add some grade dips or reversals in sections most likely to deteriorate from fast moving rainwater.

    I built numerous over-sized grade dip drains in 2002, that took as long as 5 hours each to construct. Maybe 40 wheel-barrows worth of soil moved for each one. They still stand and still are diverting water today. The local volunteers and organized trail builders, and Forest Service trail crews have all studied my designs and have copied them over and over. Their are still paid crews who try to scratch a drain off the edge of some trails in a few minutes, oblivious of how quickly they will fill with sediment and clog and force water back onto the downslope of the trail. They have unqualified supervisors who skim an IMBA trail book and then tell their crews; "that's good enough", "let's move on". If crew supervisors and land managers are not mountain bikers who have built trails, they will never understand the needs for most of the design features created for safety and sustainability, and fun. You need to be pro-active and find a way to get on that trail and make improvements that showcase your skills and show others how to preserve trails.

  7. #7
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    I would highly recommend NOT touching anything the other group has built until, and if, they or the land manager ask you to do it. We (all of us, group or individual) are not happy when someone changes our work, especially without talking to us first. If they ask, then yes, otherwise, build your own.

    Their is also the issue of putting lipstick on their ugly pig, you will eventually get tagged with their crappy builds.
    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Prodigal Son View Post
    If crew supervisors and land managers are not mountain bikers who have built trails, they will never understand the needs for most of the design features created for safety and sustainability, and fun.

    Volunteer to add some grade dips or reversals in sections most likely to deteriorate from fast moving rainwater. The builders and designers and land managers need to (first get to) know you and see how you would have done it. Make improvements that showcase your skills and show others how to preserve trails...(edited)
    Believe this ^^^ highlights the key issues, and TPS is spot on. +1

  9. #9
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    40% grades? "according to US Fish and Wildlife standards"? (USF&W has nothing to do with trail design beyond how the alignment effects wildlife habitat) None of this sounds like a legitimate trail building organization. Who are these folks you're talking about? Didi they do it with the blessing/guidance of the land agency?

    It's always undesirable and tricky to get into public pi$$ing matches with other groups or public land agencies but simply getting the word out about sound trail design/construction practice and maybe get a statement from IMBA re: whether this trail is "endorsed" by IMBA or not.

  10. #10
    trail rat
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    Steep, think about it. A ~40% grade is a ~22% slope, meaning it climbs 1 foot for every ~2.5 feet distance traveled. That means you would climb over 2100 feet vertical in a mile distance! That is not a sustainable trail anywhere but the rock of Moab or Sedona.

    Slope - Degree, Gradient and Grade Converter
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Relayden View Post
    How can one publicly combat the mis-information without looking as if we were envious or trying to advertise our business? Our concern is that this type of wrongly built trail is considered the right one to build in this region, therefore we stay in the dark ages... Plus it's a waste of labor, resources and time, etc.
    My $0.02: You can't fix this. At least not right away. Your analysis of the situation is probably correct, that unless you are invited to help, your efforts will be seen as an attempt to interfere. Pointing out the obvious flaws in the design of the trail in question after it has been built won't fix it, but will give the builders someone to shift the focus of the discussion to.

    My $0.02: Do your work well and your credibility will soar. The poorly built trails will bring disgrace to everyone associated with them, unfortunately the flaws may take a few years to become obvious. If anyone asks your opinion, be discrete, but honest. (Few things makes me more suspicious than a businessman bad-mouthing someone else's work. On the other hand, if I ask someone why the other guy doesn't seem to know what he's doing, and he has a plausible explanation, that is different and appreciated.)

    My $0.02: It's hard to watch someone screw up something you know how to do well. However, part of being an adult is staying out of other people's business.

    It seems fairly likely that you may be called in to fix the problems at some point. Having established your credibility and adult good sense will give your assessment of the situation authority.

    (I'm not a trail building professional, so take my opinions for what they are worth.)

    Walt

  12. #12
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    When they say they are working with "someone" who is an expert, always ask for a name. You can ask it like you just have a friendly interest ("What's his name? I may have met him at a trail conference"). If they give you a name, a quick Web search will usually give you enough information to judge their expertness.

    They can't very well say the name is secret, because people who are working with a true expert usually want to brag about it, so they either end up giving you the name or you catch them in a lie because their expert doesn't really exist. Either way, you know more than you did before you asked the question.

  13. #13
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    Define "true expert"?

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    Define "true expert" is exactly right. I've been building and maintaining trails since the late 80's and maybe I'm a little slow but I'm still learning new stuff everyday. I've yet to meet a "true expert".

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    The big problem with posting on forums is you try to capture something in a couple of sentences that probably requires several paragraphs. Then someone wants to have a sematics discussion about the meaning of one word, which was used in an attempt to replace several entire sentences with just one word.

    For the purposes of this discussion, a "true' expert is someone who can build a sustainable trail using the IMBA rules and has a sufficient background of work that their competency can be determined by either asking other trail "experts" and/or searching for their name on-line. In the case being discussed above, the said "expert" either doesn't exist or is entirely unaware of how to build sustainable trail. So a true expert is someone who actually exists and has lots of relevant experience, in contrast to a fictional, non-true expert.

    What constitutes a true, "true expert" trail builder might make for a very interesting new thread.

  16. #16
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    bweide, I know what you were saying and that it was a summary comment.

    I guess apart from developing skills over time, the concept of true expert was really a way of saying that affiliation with an organisation like IMBA or a professional building company can be seen as a definition of expert, whereas it is really a means to an end; or not in this case. Some builders, like those identified in this thread, build first and think later. Interesting though that a career builder can be put in the position of watching a train wreck and not knowing how to deal with it. Somehow this seems to be one of the cracks in the floor that is yet to be closed. Logic seems to say fix it for the sake of the bush, yet rules and politics make people question that logic.

    The true expert needed is one expert in protocol.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bweide View Post
    The big problem with posting on forums is you try to capture something in a couple of sentences that probably requires several paragraphs. Then someone wants to have a sematics discussion about the meaning of one word, which was used in an attempt to replace several entire sentences with just one word.

    For the purposes of this discussion, a "true' expert is someone who can build a sustainable trail using the IMBA rules and has a sufficient background of work that their competency can be determined by either asking other trail "experts" and/or searching for their name on-line. In the case being discussed above, the said "expert" either doesn't exist or is entirely unaware of how to build sustainable trail. So a true expert is someone who actually exists and has lots of relevant experience, in contrast to a fictional, non-true expert.

    What constitutes a true, "true expert" trail builder might make for a very interesting new thread.
    What also makes for an interesting discussion is "who gets to decide". Right now in Sedona the number one FS volunteer trail builder gets to decide where the new trails are going to be initially routed then re-routed when the archeologist gets to take their look. As the person who has built more new trails than anyone else, that person gets to pretty much decide where the new trails are going to be routed.

    Some of the other people in the mountain biking community feel like there should be some kind of democratic process that should be gone through to figure out the actual final routing of the trail. The number one volunteer trail builder doesn't like to waste time, so with his girl friends approval (she is in charge of Parks and Recreation) he puts the trail where he feels it will work best.

    It is interesting watching the other people who want to be involved because they feel it should be a democratic bottom up process. Until they get some actual successful trail building experience I think they are out of luck for the time being.

    In Sedona if you want to be one of the deciders you better have some successful projects that you have designed and built before you are going to be considered for one of the decider positions.

    We also have our own local trail building standard that the FS has embraced. When IMBA did their trail crew workshop in Sedona a couple months ago, they were told very quickly that we don't build trails like that in Sedona. The IMBA trail crew leaders were kinda miffed, but they did their best to adjust to the number one volunteer FS trail builder's Sedona standard of building new trails.

    It will be interesting if there will be any new Sedona trail route deciders in the near future.Trail routing in rugged terrain is not something just any garden variety trail router can do successfully without a lot of previous experience.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by traildoc View Post
    When IMBA did their trail crew workshop in Sedona a couple months ago, they were told very quickly that we don't build trails like that in Sedona.
    Can you describe what they do in Sedona that is different than what IMBA recommends? What is their justification?

    Quote Originally Posted by traildoc View Post
    It is interesting watching the other people who want to be involved because they feel it should be a democratic bottom up process. Until they get some actual successful trail building experience I think they are out of luck for the time being.
    Yeah, and as long as the current power structure is in place those people will never get the opportunity to develop any experience. When the current trail god finally moves on there will be a huge vacuum since nobody will be prepared to step into his shoes. That's too bad...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    Yeah, and as long as the current power structure is in place those people will never get the opportunity to develop any experience. When the current trail god finally moves on there will be a huge vacuum since nobody will be prepared to step into his shoes. That's too bad...
    Yes, agreed! The problem with most "trail layout designers" no matter whether it is one or a crew of 10, I'm talking volunteers, unpaid, here, is they are not open to allowing new people in to learn the craft and continue on into the next 20, 50, 100 years. I see it in so many places, very sad that the egos are so huge that they cannot pass it on to the next generations of trail builders.
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    Hey Trail Doc, I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps rockier, less erosive soils allow you to tweak the more conservative IMBA guidelines? But you make it sound more like you are doing things completely contrary to IMBA and not just modifying a bit for local conditions.

  21. #21
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    We like designer trails and encourage qualified* individuals to develop routes. Nothing worse than a system full of committee trails, all neatly benched to IMBA standards, and what I suspect was Traildoc's point.

    An expert is one who is experienced** enough to produce a predictably excellent product. Experts bring wonderful things to a project and are fun to work with. Experts can successfully break the rules even.

    *experienced builder/rider with a passion for that particular route.
    **I would say a minimum of ten years, much the same as any other trade. We gain expertise by encountering a wide variety of situations and observing the long term effects of how we handled them.
    I ride with the best people.




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    Understood, I don't really like overbuilt trails either. Around here, the FS wants all trails to accommodate horses. They don't really understand that bikers enjoy minimalist rock slab trails that are much less impactive on the environment. While I think IMBA appreciates the minimalist style, most of the photos in their books show rather heavily constructed trails.

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    I constantly wrestle with that when I'm laying out trails. I love putting in rollers and fast, banked turns for bikes, but hikers find that kind of thing annoying. Equestrian friendly design basically blows away making a trail fun for bikers, not to mention that horses usually grind up features that are fun for bikes.

    I usually am asked to help out on multi-use trails, so I have to find a middle ground. I suspect that IMBA is trying to encourage the whole get along with your neighbors concept, so I bet that is why they tone down most of their examples.

    I'm currently involved in one project that would be awesome with an 18-24" tread, but, because the land manager wants to have the possibility of allowing horses (even though none are allowed in the park now) he wants a 36" tread, which on the 50-70% sideslopes where the trail is being built, more than doubles the amount of earth that has to be moved to build a good tread. So, a project that we originally thought might take maybe five years using volunteer labor may just never get done since the volunteers will burn out from heaving yard after yard of dirt down the hill. Yeah, I know, something that big should be machine built, but there is no money for that...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    Can you describe what they do in Sedona that is different than what IMBA recommends? What is their justification?
    +1...bump
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  25. #25
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    Wow, good input, thanks to all that took the time to reply!

    Trail was really badly built, I mean perfect example of don't do's. However, this didn't mean that it was not fun to ride, it was for most users. To me, the fun areas were shadowed by their build, and to me that's priority #1. SUSTAINABILITY I want to ride good trails again and again, not good today, so so next month and awful or gone next year. And here's the thing, I guess that 90 to 95% of users here don't realize that! On top of that, and seeing the big picture here, if it's not sustainable, it erodes, therefore carrying the whole lot of consequences of it. Man it's really frustrating.

    Now, some criticize IMBA and their standards as they may seem conservative. Well, they are for a reason, they work!. They're basically a compendium of field observations and experience mixed with common sense and understanding of basic physical laws. I arrived at some of the same conclusions before I even knew IMBA existed. One can always stretch them depending on terrain and weather. However I think our perception of what a trail should be, shouldn't go above of it's sustainability, that is, if you really care about it. If you build were I do, were we get regular big downpours plus (storms and hurricanes) you'd quickly learn to appreciate those ''standards''.

    I have built a few miles in different trails around our island (on my time and expense), and while people really enjoy them, few realize how well they stay in good shape over time, and the difference can be quite big. We are currently about to finally see a project's first phase come to light (government can really be bureaucratic) that will showcase a skills park along with a few miles of beginner trails (currently non-existing in the whole island) that will set a benchmark down here. Hopefully, new users will really notice a difference and support us.

    As for the trails mentioned above, they already had to re-route the 40% climbs because of rain damage...well, may wisdom shine inside their heads rather than ego...

    And I completely agree with this ''We gain expertise by encountering a wide variety of situations and observing the long term effects of how we handled them'' bsieb... However, if you learn from others mistakes, you can and should prevent making them yourself.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpressnall View Post
    Hey Trail Doc, I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps rockier, less erosive soils allow you to tweak the more conservative IMBA guidelines? But you make it sound more like you are doing things completely contrary to IMBA and not just modifying a bit for local conditions.
    b:

    Just for the record, I always build to a sustainable standard, whether it is the NEW Sedona standard or my own standard. I learned about sustainability from taking two IMBA classes, but what I also learned from the IMBA classes I took is that they are more conservative in their building style then what a lot of more advanced riders are looking for in a more challenging trail.

    If you have a steep very technical section of trail on solid rock that is unrideable by 80% of the riders (who have to walk that section) the trail can still be sustainable.

    Some trails that are 99% rideable by 85% of the advanced riding crowd have short technical sections that may be unrideable by 15% of advanced riders. If there is 1% of the trail that can't be routed to be totally rideable by everyone, does that mean the whole project should be disbanded if that short section is sustainable because it is routed on rock?

    Obviously areas like Sedona and Moab that is very rocky can have trails like the one mentioned above where other areas that don't have a rocky subsurface can't have such routing.

    In Sedona we have some trails that are routed on a 6" this sandy layer of soil that is totally not sustainable to trail building until you get through the 6" layer to solid rock. The FS has a manual that says that area of Sedona is unsustainable to trail building due to the 6" layer of sandy soil.

    I say that isn't really true due to the solid rock under the the 6" layer, but because of some manual there is always a problem getting the person who goes by the manual to see that the manual is sometimes wrong, if you provide plenty of rolling dips in your routing, especially on the sections near in-sloped turns. Once you get down to solid rock the trail is obviously sustainable, but the person with the manual just can't accept that the manual is wrong, why is that?

    They can't accept it because of their lack of experience in actually building trails in those conditions and seeing over time they are sustainable. They never saw the initial trail build and they only looked at the existing trail once and deemed it unsustainable when the trail hasn't changed for years.

    If you read this far you get a gold star

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  27. #27
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    An interesting thread. We started a non profit trail building org for our region. We have built over 50 miles of trail and invested in machines and lots of training. I think this is a working formula due to how cheap we can build trails and that trail users, who are properly trained, have the creativity and inspiration to make killer trail much more than a county employee with another hat to wear.

    Way too many landmanger's who have no training who are producing bland trail contracts for trail contractors to build. Many contractors are not riders or have any incentive beyond what they are paid to correct errors in design or make a trail more fun. A lot of tasteless mush produced.

    IMBA Trail Solutions, while costly, has been a fantastic option for ski resorts and other proactive communities to plan contracts that are properly funded and creative.

    I think IMBA and their standards are a excellent first stab at concepts that need to be shared with new interested trail builders. The "type" of trail (technical, flowy, fast, etc), the user group(horse, hiker, biker...)and the environment (soils, rain volume etc...) are all examples of things that can radically change design standards. IMBAs contribution in federal lobbying and general promotion of trail building and cycling make them gold in my view. Beyond that, it is not their goal to be the end source for learning trail craft. I think they feel they can control outcome way better by promoting their services (TS is the largest trail contracting organization in the WORLD) vs training dorks like us to build trails right. This is why they do not promote trail building more successfully. I have attempted to inspire them to organize advanced trail building workshops, or promote a trail building forum or more advanced techniques. I can't even get them to discuss the rationality of pinning flags on the top side vs bottom side of where the trail is to be cut(my pet pea).


    The US Fish and Wildlife is the Federal Agency that leads all trail education for USFS, National Parks, BLM as well as other agencies and NGOs. I took their advanced 5 day course a couple years ago. There was only one other NGO among recreational managers from all over the country from various agencies. You can find out about this training at American Trails website. $$$

    I am a member of PTBA but frustrated that IMBA is the only Non Profit they will allow. It is a great organization though and one of the best places to rub elbows with the best builders in the world. I think having a conference for Bike Trail Builders is what we need. I have learned the most so far from working with others.

    In regards to relayden's issue, avoid controversy at all cost. I agree...let it go. Design the divine, leave the rest behind.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by zachi View Post
    An interesting thread. We started a non profit trail building org for our region. We have built over 50 miles of trail and invested in machines and lots of training. I think this is a working formula due to how cheap we can build trails and that trail users, who are properly trained, have the creativity and inspiration to make killer trail much more than a county employee with another hat to wear.

    Way too many landmanger's who have no training who are producing bland trail contracts for trail contractors to build. Many contractors are not riders or have any incentive beyond what they are paid to correct errors in design or make a trail more fun. A lot of tasteless mush produced.

    IMBA Trail Solutions, while costly, has been a fantastic option for ski resorts and other proactive communities to plan contracts that are properly funded and creative.

    I think IMBA and their standards are a excellent first stab at concepts that need to be shared with new interested trail builders. The "type" of trail (technical, flowy, fast, etc), the user group(horse, hiker, biker...)and the environment (soils, rain volume etc...) are all examples of things that can radically change design standards. IMBAs contribution in federal lobbying and general promotion of trail building and cycling make them gold in my view. Beyond that, it is not their goal to be the end source for learning trail craft. I think they feel they can control outcome way better by promoting their services (TS is the largest trail contracting organization in the WORLD) vs training dorks like us to build trails right. This is why they do not promote trail building more successfully. I have attempted to inspire them to organize advanced trail building workshops, or promote a trail building forum or more advanced techniques. I can't even get them to discuss the rationality of pinning flags on the top side vs bottom side of where the trail is to be cut(my pet pea).


    The US Fish and Wildlife is the Federal Agency that leads all trail education for USFS, National Parks, BLM as well as other agencies and NGOs. I took their advanced 5 day course a couple years ago. There was only one other NGO among recreational managers from all over the country from various agencies. You can find out about this training at American Trails website. $$$

    I am a member of PTBA but frustrated that IMBA is the only Non Profit they will allow. It is a great organization though and one of the best places to rub elbows with the best builders in the world. I think having a conference for Bike Trail Builders is what we need. I have learned the most so far from working with others.

    In regards to relayden's issue, avoid controversy at all cost. I agree...let it go. Design the divine, leave the rest behind.
    zachi:

    Informative post. I think you are spot on about about how certain agencies can be helpful with the trail building process. I just spent eleven days in Downnieville hanging out with Cosmo and Greg. The SBTS seems to be a similar model to what you guys have going on, but a much larger scale since they have their bike shop and shuttle operation included in the non profit.

    On a go froward basis it will be interesting where the funding will mainly come from on your new trail building projects in Forest City area. Due to the rugged terrain in your respective areas the type of trails you are building ain't cheap even if you can out work the competition.

  29. #29
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    Sorry I missed you in Dnvl. Such an awesome event. I usually volunteer but had a crisis du jour with our trail building effort that weekend in FC. SBTS is a great organization that I and many of us in FTA support. Their shuttle and Bike Store are for profit. SBTS is their non profit arm and they have done real well with grants. Their organization is about promoting and developing the area and they do it well.

    FTA, while similar, is all volunteer based with no paid staff. Its focus is about trail building and we have invested significant energy in training and equipment. While we have our base camp above Dnvl in FC, our focus is really about the lore of trail building rather than promoting a business or area.

    We have been building trail in FC since 1989 and things have come a long way. While most of our trails have been built out of pocket, we are now engaging in larger projects like the 12 mile descending trail to Dnvl, Mexican Mine Tr. That one is costing $21,000 just for the environmental. We are going to apply for a grant for that one. We have been working with other trail groups and agencies building trail for them for some of our capital, the rest has come in the form of small donations.

    I like FC as a quiet retreat. We just scored a house there for a membership crash pad. Being able to fiddle stick on trails with my friends is as complex as I like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zachi View Post
    Sorry I missed you in Dnvl. Such an awesome event. I usually volunteer but had a crisis du jour with our trail building effort that weekend in FC. SBTS is a great organization that I and many of us in FTA support. Their shuttle and Bike Store are for profit. SBTS is their non profit arm and they have done real well with grants. Their organization is about promoting and developing the area and they do it well.

    FTA, while similar, is all volunteer based with no paid staff. Its focus is about trail building and we have invested significant energy in training and equipment. While we have our base camp above Dnvl in FC, our focus is really about the lore of trail building rather than promoting a business or area.

    We have been building trail in FC since 1989 and things have come a long way. While most of our trails have been built out of pocket, we are now engaging in larger projects like the 12 mile descending trail to Dnvl, Mexican Mine Tr. That one is costing $21,000 just for the environmental. We are going to apply for a grant for that one. We have been working with other trail groups and agencies building trail for them for some of our capital, the rest has come in the form of small donations.

    I like FC as a quiet retreat. We just scored a house there for a membership crash pad. Being able to fiddle stick on trails with my friends is as complex as I like it.
    I think the shop and the shuttle may also be in the non-profit currently, that way all the funds go to trail maintenance and new trails.

    You didn't touch on the building of a turn on a steep slope with the mechanized equipment. I am still curious if you have any pictures of those projects. I didn't see anything special about the turn in the previous picture. I like the idea about the section of trail leading up to the turn slowing the rider down. It would be nice to see a completed turn on a really steep section.

  31. #31
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    zachi, I have not seen anyone suggest a builders' conference before. I am volunteer, not professional and have gone from "independent" to recognised by our local LM. While I have always firmly believed in public access to the (our) land, the way to achieve that best for MTB, walkers, bush runners etc has changed dramatically in our area over the last couple of years.

    Yesterday some of our volunteers had the chance to sit an IMBA seminar followed by a practical training day building a new trail re-route in the National Park. Parks and Wildlife made all the arrangements. It was sort of fun to watch the building fever take over from learning as the day went on. Punching out metres of trail became the dominant goal. Contours, grade reversals, outslope etc were obviously not so important. Easily sorted. Learning and doing are not the same thing. It is easy to see how even the keen and conservative and "educated" can go feral.

    However, from this IMBA skills day will come so much positive in terms of interaction with the LM. To our disbelief we are hearing enthusiasm for a new rim of valley view trail that we didn't even suggest! We are hearing infrastructure support including building materials and should funding be made available from government (we have a new one), also the chance of professional builders to do the deed. I have gravel rash on the underside of my chin!

    Back to zachi's suggestion of a conference: IMBA is without question a unifying influence in trail development. It breaks down the walls of bureaucracy and has established the benchmark for trailbuilding, like it or not. I have to say that good individual builders probably do have a right to feel dismissed by the authorities. After all, cows have been making sustainable trail with minimal training for quite some time. You don't have to be Einstein. A trail builders conference would put the builder back into building. Autonomy should not be a fading memory. Maybe IMBA would even sponsor it? I think it is a great idea and the networking benefits would be a major step forward over online forums and club work days. Great idea and good thinking zachi. It has international conferencing potential.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    It was sort of fun to watch the building fever take over from learning as the day went on. Punching out metres of trail became the dominant goal. Contours, grade reversals, outslope etc were obviously not so important. Easily sorted. Learning and doing are not the same thing. It is easy to see how even the keen and conservative and "educated" can go feral.
    Rp:

    How was the initial trail routing done for this new project. In Sedona we believe the initial routing is the key to developing a sustainable trail. Our routing guru does a painstaking layout of the alignment using blue masking tape about every 10'. That way even inexperienced trailbuilders can at least stay on course and develope a sustainable trail. Who was responsible for the initial layout?

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    I layed out the trail markers with my building buddy. We tagged about every 2-3m on the upper and lower tread line and added interval tags of a different colour to corral teams of workers within a zone they called their own. I don't want to make it sound like the work was done poorly - the trail was rideable and solid immediately. The IMBA trainer was there making sure things went smoothly while we were off in the bush with the senior ranger planning future, bigger things. If we didn't get 200-300mm rainfalls in a day, the trail that was finished would be just fine.

    What did happen is that while the 2 of us were away for an hour, the enthusiasm to make progress became dominant over the ability to assess contouring. We can see that in more extreme weather events, water will jump the reverse grades and flow down the trail as well as sheet off the trail. Even though the trai bed is very stony and durable, we don't consider this sort of surface as truely complete until after a number of very serious compactions, so it's no biggy as we will simply enhance the contours over the next few weeks and compact like crazy when we see some rain. It has been dry for a few weeks as it should be in our winter. Can't post a pic from here at work, but I'll get one of the newest section and a comparison from the previous bit of work when I get home so you can see I am being pedantic.

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    Ridnparadise:

    200-300mm rainfalls in a day, the trail that was finished would be just fine.

    You built the trail during an 8" rain event? That's dedication.

    What did happen is that while the 2 of us were away for an hour, the enthusiasm to make progress became dominant over the ability to assess contouring.

    What is assessing contouring?


    Can't post a pic from here at work, but I'll get one of the newest section and a comparison from the previous bit of work when I get home so you can see I am being pedantic

    I look forward to the pictures.

    I think you said the reversals were over run with water. Does that mean the reversals weren't deep enough to shed water during major rain events? If so do you make deeper reversals in the future on the rest of the trail?

  35. #35
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    Hi TD - I said we get those rainfalls several times per year. Last weekend was dry and sunny, but if it rains like that we are out there. It's the only way to know what is going on. We've spent hundreds of days like drowned rats in the last few years.

    By assessing contours I meant standing back and looking at what you are doing, matching that with the plan, considering what is likely to go down when it really rains and imagining that volume of water running down 30-60% grades onto a trail that fails to shed it immediately.

    The group that worked last weekend are not regulars. We hope they will be. There's only a short section of trail that needs some extra love. I guess I was trying to say that enthusiasm for building can overcome planning and reality.

    First pic is part of the latest work and the second is the bit immediately before - you may see the red tags in the background. Photos always flatten things out, but the grade changes are relatively obvious. Yes we will have to enhance the grade reversals along the latest bit, but that's OK, because until we get regular rains there's no rush to get to final product.

    Cheers
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to combat trail-building misinformation?-p1060389-1.jpg  

    How to combat trail-building misinformation?-p1060358-1.jpg  


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    Hi TD - I said we get those rainfalls several times per year. Last weekend was dry and sunny, but if it rains like that we are out there. It's the only way to know what is going on. We've spent hundreds of days like drowned rats in the last few years.

    By assessing contours I meant standing back and looking at what you are doing, matching that with the plan, considering what is likely to go down when it really rains and imagining that volume of water running down 30-60% grades onto a trail that fails to shed it immediately.

    The group that worked last weekend are not regulars. We hope they will be. There's only a short section of trail that needs some extra love. I guess I was trying to say that enthusiasm for building can overcome planning and reality.

    First pic is part of the latest work and the second is the bit immediately before - you may see the red tags in the background. Photos always flatten things out, but the grade changes are relatively obvious. Yes we will have to enhance the grade reversals along the latest bit, but that's OK, because until we get regular rains there's no rush to get to final product.

    Cheers
    R:

    When I view your pictures I think to myself a lot of work is going into building this new trail. It seems like the trail is being built for the beginner/intermediate crowd.

    You indicated you frequently get huge rain events, so I am wondering why the grade reversals are not deeper which would also make the trail more fun to ride and not anymore difficult for the beginner/intermediate user group.

    Where am I going wrong in my assumptions?

    TD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to combat trail-building misinformation?-aus-pic.jpg  

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    I should have picked better pics TD. In the first one where you have written "DIP?", there is already a 1.5m grade reversal and significant outsloping (circa 10%). The high points are in the foreground and just after the the start of the little stone wall. There is another grade reversal hidden before the tree in the backdround - it is armoured and about 1/2m deep. The base of the grade reversal is clay and when we get more rain it will also be armoured using an embedded stone technique that is very effective here.

    In the second pic, there is also a very shallow dip where you have indicated it is required. It is not deep enough though; water will run down the trail from the background and through this dip. We planned at least 3 changes in trail contour (sorry about my use of contour as it applies to the trail bed rather than to contour lines on a map) in the area shown in the second pic, but they were not added on the day. That is what we will be going back to enhance.

    As we don't remove trees, sometimes we have to use compromised lines with less cornering than may be ideal. We make up for that by adding more rolling grade dips and larger grade reversals, so that is what will be happening here, bit by bit in the next few weeks. It is a trail meant for beginners, families and also for experienced riders to have fast access to the gnar in adjacent valley systems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    I should have picked better pics TD. In the first one where you have written "DIP?", there is already a 1.5m grade reversal and significant outsloping (circa 10%). The high points are in the foreground and just after the the start of the little stone wall. There is another grade reversal hidden before the tree in the backdround - it is armoured and about 1/2m deep. The base of the grade reversal is clay and when we get more rain it will also be armoured using an embedded stone technique that is very effective here.

    In the second pic, there is also a very shallow dip where you have indicated it is required. It is not deep enough though; water will run down the trail from the background and through this dip. We planned at least 3 changes in trail contour (sorry about my use of contour as it applies to the trail bed rather than to contour lines on a map) in the area shown in the second pic, but they were not added on the day. That is what we will be going back to enhance.

    As we don't remove trees, sometimes we have to use compromised lines with less cornering than may be ideal. We make up for that by adding more rolling grade dips and larger grade reversals, so that is what will be happening here, bit by bit in the next few weeks. It is a trail meant for beginners, families and also for experienced riders to have fast access to the gnar in adjacent valley systems.
    R:

    Thanks for your detailed response. Great job on the trail

    I have been riding in Bend, Oregon the last couple days and they are working with the FS to create a wonderful trail system with superior signage to orientate riders.

    It has taken them ten years to get the FS on board and now the FS understands how the actual users can build a fun sustainable trail system. They are fortunate to have really nice terrain to build trails and I was told by the local shuttle service owner that a recent volunteer group of 25 people built a one mile trail in one day.

    TD

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    Been to Bend - only in Winter. Trail routing would be so important on the sharp volcanic rocks. Having cooperative arrangements with the local authorities as the Bendit (Bendian, Bendish??) riders do is very relaxing. Leaves more energy for the job. It can also be more than that.

    We were going out this afternoon for a ride (mainly) and trail check. There was a fire in the national park with lots of smoke coming down over the coast. It looked a long way away. Advice from the senior ranger was don't go out, not even close to the boundary and beware of a predicted high wind event in the next 2 days. Rats, missed out on another Wednesday arvo ride, plus an unexpected BBQ invite!

    Here's a couple of pics of a spot lower down the same trail. Perhaps the pics show the grade (contour) changes better than the previous ones.

    Also, I was wondering if we were clearing up the issue of misinformation on the trail yet??
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to combat trail-building misinformation?-p1050419-1.jpg  

    How to combat trail-building misinformation?-p1050412-1.jpg  


  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    Been to Bend - only in Winter. Trail routing would be so important on the sharp volcanic rocks. Having cooperative arrangements with the local authorities as the Bendit (Bendian, Bendish??) riders do is very relaxing. Leaves more energy for the job. It can also be more than that.

    We were going out this afternoon for a ride (mainly) and trail check. There was a fire in the national park with lots of smoke coming down over the coast. It looked a long way away. Advice from the senior ranger was don't go out, not even close to the boundary and beware of a predicted high wind event in the next 2 days. Rats, missed out on another Wednesday arvo ride, plus an unexpected BBQ invite!

    Here's a couple of pics of a spot lower down the same trail. Perhaps the pics show the grade (contour) changes better than the previous ones.

    Also, I was wondering if we were clearing up the issue of misinformation on the trail yet??
    You said you don't cut down any trees, how do you find a perfectly laid out trail alignment without cutting down any trees? If I was building that trail I would look at those trees as weeds, and would want to build the most twisty turny fun up and down most sustainable trail in the whole area, and not worry about a couple of trees.

    What happens to the trees that got burned up in the forest fire you said was going on yesterday? Seems to me when you create more light in that dense forest where you are building the trail, you are going to get more plant and tree growth. Where is my thinking going wrong? Don't the forest fires destroy more trees and create more environmental destruction than any trail builder can create with a magical well built trail?

    TD

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    ^^^Here's to magical well-built trail, wherever it may be, however it came to be! (cheers... look 'em in the eye, pour a little for the buffalo soldiers cause they were the first, then down the hatch)
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  42. #42
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  43. #43
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    Weeds are another issue. Handbuilt trails can avoid and take advantage of trees. Even if I didn't care about them like I do, you can bet that parks and wildlife does.

    Come and ride it. Give us 6-12 more months then come and ride it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    Weeds are another issue. Handbuilt trails can avoid and take advantage of trees. Even if I didn't care about them like I do, you can bet that parks and wildlife does.

    Come and ride it. Give us 6-12 more months then come and ride it.
    Don't get me wrong, I am not one for cutting down a tree if I can route a trail in a sustainable manner, but when building a trail in the Whistler rain forest in a new growth area I cut down about 100-150 trees for a trail about .32 miles long.

    I tried to avoid cutting down trees where it didn't impede flow or make the trail dangerous to ride in the turn sections.

    Do you think I should feel bad about cutting down the 100 to 150 trees when there are hundreds of thousands of trees being burnt up in a forest fire close by? It's nice to be concerned about a tree or two, but it can be a bit hypocritical when you go to a lumber yard and buy some lumber for a home project or your residence is built out of lumber.

    Maybe if one is that sensitive about trees they should have a house made entirely out of hay bales. I guess the roof would be supported out of bamboo.

    How long is the trail you have invited me to ride? Is it totally a volunteer project or is it getting built with paid trail builders?

  45. #45
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    The current trail diversion will end up being about 2-2.5km. Hopefully we can open it all in one go, but there may be sectional openings. There is a good chance it will link to an entirely re-routed lower beginner loop, plus an upper loop around the entire valley (or block as the rangers call it) for a total of 8-9km of new beginner to blue trail. Then we have the other 50km of trail to maintain and refurbish as well - most of that is not so critical, although there are parts waiting for a disaster to happen, like a skinny bridge collapse for example.

    Trees will be saved, saplings not so lucky, but even there we try to save those that supply food and habitat to koalas and little marsupials like gliders. Koalas are weird and fussy little buggers. They often cannot eat leaves from any tree other than those in their immediate area, so we cannot afford to displace them.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    The current trail diversion will end up being about 2-2.5km. Hopefully we can open it all in one go, but there may be sectional openings. There is a good chance it will link to an entirely re-routed lower beginner loop, plus an upper loop around the entire valley (or block as the rangers call it) for a total of 8-9km of new beginner to blue trail. Then we have the other 50km of trail to maintain and refurbish as well - most of that is not so critical, although there are parts waiting for a disaster to happen, like a skinny bridge collapse for example.

    Trees will be saved, saplings not so lucky, but even there we try to save those that supply food and habitat to koalas and little marsupials like gliders. Koalas are weird and fussy little buggers. They often cannot eat leaves from any tree other than those in their immediate area, so we cannot afford to displace them.
    OK I get the tree thing. Now are you a volunteer on this project or are you getting paid? If you are volunteers you are certainly doing a wonderful service for the community.

  47. #47
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    Volunteer. There are no paid builders in the national park.

    Not far away in land managed by SE Queensland Water there's a professional trail going in at the Hinze Dam for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. We rarely get out there, but have done a day of trail mapping with Bill, the builder and a couple of tree planting and turf laying days in the spectator grove/start/finish area. Since these pics there's more grass, more trees and they are a bit taller, plus singletrack into the jungle left of the pic and in a climbing traverse toward the dam wall and then into the jungle top left. Further out it passes the dam and the views change. So many weeds out there - lantana out the wazoo.

    Not far in the other direction is The Outlook. The jump lines run down a serious hill and there is up to a ?3km run possible. Sick place with huge hips, 9+m gap jumps, huge wall rides, a 6m freefall drop etc. The pics are only of the baby features. We don't dig there and could never ride there (not quite true - there are old wimpy trails I have ridden a few times, but they are **** and ? should be revegetated), but we want the Outlook to go ahead and get bigger too.

    I guess we just like riding off-road and want everyone else to and are also addicted to trail. The benefits are obvious. Making your trail is one of those life and spiritual issues. There are a few examples of that in this area, all made for different reasons, but MTB just the same.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to combat trail-building misinformation?-p1040534-1-1.jpg  

    How to combat trail-building misinformation?-p1030378-1.jpg  

    How to combat trail-building misinformation?-chris-o-nov-2011utlook-1.jpg  

    How to combat trail-building misinformation?-he-shoots-he-scores-chris-outlook-1-1.jpg  

    Last edited by Ridnparadise; 08-17-2012 at 03:59 AM.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    Volunteer. There are no paid builders in the national park.

    Not far away in land managed by SE Queensland Water there's a professional trail going in at the Hinze Dam for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. We rarely get out there, but have done a day of trail mapping with Bill, the builder and a couple of tree planting and turf laying days in the spectator grove/start/finish area. Since these pics there's more grass, more trees and they are a bit taller, plus singletrack into the jungle left of the pic and in a climbing traverse toward the dam wall and then into the jungle top left. Further out it passes the dam and the views change. So many weeds out there - lantana out the wazoo.

    Not far in the other direction is The Outlook. The jump lines run down a serious hill and there is up to a ?3km run possible. Sick place with huge hips, 9+m gap jumps, huge wall rides, a 6m freefall drop etc. The pics are only of the baby features. We don't dig there and could never ride there (not quite true - there are old wimpy trails I have ridden a few times, but they are **** and ? should be revegetated), but we want the Outlook to go ahead and get bigger too.

    I guess we just like riding off-road and want everyone else to and are also addicted to trail. The benefits are obvious. Making your trail is one of those life and spiritual issues. There are a few examples of that in this area, all made for different reasons, but MTB just the same.
    Rip:

    Great Post Making something others will enjoy for hundreds of years to come is definitely a worthy cause.

  49. #49
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    sounds like the eastern canada forum lol... it also went well beyond the forum where one camp tried to discredit the other camp with the land managers etc... of course that is a loosing battle as the number of unapproved trails continued raise... some of the forward thinking managers saw this and changed management practices and involved more of the riding community to work out solutions rather then to listen to the one camp. guess what? it worked! a blue print to success. though there are still hold outs since some areas are more independently managed but that is also changing with more comprehensive trail plans.

    at the same time several of us became politically active and sit on management committees that oversee these practices and forged relationships with other stakeholders based on common end goals as well as compromises. where the one camp alienated these groups we worked together. that goes a very long way and fits into the management practices.

    so what did we learn...

    -get involved politically
    -volunteer/help out where you can
    -build alliances with other stakeholders
    -get to know your land mangers/governmental representatives
    -build a showcase trail
    -document and study that trail
    -think outside the box


    Quote Originally Posted by Relayden View Post
    Trying to make the long story short... A racing/volunteer group built a few miles of xc trail on a terrain mostly of decomposed granite, with some slopes exceeding 40% in some areas, no grade reversals, fall lines, in summary, old school bad trails. Now they are claiming on the media, Facebook, etc that the trail was designed by a person "qualified and endorsed" by IMBA and according to "US Fish and Wildlife standards", agency which as far as I know, doesn't have any bike-related specs. With only a few weeks of use and probably no more that 400 riders, the place looks like the end of the season @ Northstar, filled with brake ruts, dust, and roots showing in many places. We live in a region that sees more than 100 annual inches of rain, so when the rain comes...

    Most of the trails in the region are not up to IMBA standards, so almost everybody thinks they are well done, just because they have fun in them and haven't ridden anything better. The "it's better than nothing" mentality. I offered the volunteers help before the thing got started but was told they had their "IMBA qualified person". We are a company that is trying to improve the way trails are built here, I've been involved in other projects alongside well known trail builders from the US and Canada, been to PTBA summits and learning as much as we can. We are currently in the process of funding, permits, etc of other city projects, so there is no well made trail system to serve as an example.

    How can one publicly combat the mis-information without looking as if we were envious or trying to advertise our business? Our concern is that this type of wrongly built trail is considered the right one to build in this region, therefore we stay in the dark ages... Plus it's a waste of labor, resources and time, etc.
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by singlesprocket View Post
    sounds like the eastern canada forum lol... it also went well beyond the forum where one camp tried to discredit the other camp with the land managers etc... of course that is a loosing battle as the number of unapproved trails continued raise... some of the forward thinking managers saw this and changed management practices and involved more of the riding community to work out solutions rather then to listen to the one camp. guess what? it worked! a blue print to success. though there are still hold outs since some areas are more independently managed but that is also changing with more comprehensive trail plans.

    at the same time several of us became politically active and sit on management committees that oversee these practices and forged relationships with other stakeholders based on common end goals as well as compromises. where the one camp alienated these groups we worked together. that goes a very long way and fits into the management practice
    so what did we learn...

    -get involved politically
    -volunteer/help out where you can
    -build alliances with other stakeholders
    -get to know your land mangers/governmental representatives
    -build a showcase trail
    -document and study that trail
    -think outside the box
    +1, very astute!

    Our current club leader just got elected to the county commission. Makes a lot of things easier...
    Last edited by bsieb; 08-20-2012 at 06:35 PM.
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