Went for a ride with one of my digging buddies yesterday arvo and asked him how he defined flow trail or flow country trail. This guy is very practical. Answer - "When riders get to the end of it and say wow that flowed!"
All types of trails can have flow, the key part isn't dependent on the character really for flow it's the transitions between each varied sections, turns and features imho.
But if you are going for the modern day idea of "flow trail" than you need to build it like a roller coaster. The most important feature of a roller coaster to keep in mind is that it doesn't have brakes. If I were going for that my main goal would be to make the line flow without hitting the brakes.
Originally Posted by raisingarizona
However, I think some trail builders need to keep in mind that rollercoasters don't go the same speed the whole time. I've heard comments more than once, from volunteer and full-time pro builders alike, that make it sound like they are trying to preserve "flow" to the extent that the whole trail is designed to go 1 speed.
Just because I'm going 20 mph in one section of the trail, that doesn't mean I want to maintain a constant 20 mph down a 4 mile descent.
I want sections where I'm hitting 30 mph (obviously not not on bi-directional multi-use trails) just as much as I want sections where I'm going 5 or 10 mph.
Every rollercoaster I've been on has those changes in momentum. That is what makes them fun.
The key is to provide those changes in momentum and link them together in a way that doesn't require the rider to slam on the brakes and cause erosion.
You have to be thinking three dimensionally on trail layout. A rollercoaster wouldn't be any fun if it was a straight line with a bunch of ups and down, nor would it be if it was a uniform down grade with a bunch of left-right turns.
Agree. One element of that is turning the trail back up-gradient to shave off speed naturally, instead of requiring riders to use brakes.
Originally Posted by twd953
Winter Park Trestle Bike Park has a few trails that do that. Double Jeopardy, Cruel and Unusual and No Quarter, if I remember right.
One day at Trestle. Recommended trails?
Great thread. Without knowing it previously, it sounds like "flow country" trails are what I try to build most of the time but I've always just thought of them as good cross-country trails rather "flow country". Personally, as stated in the first bullet point of the IMBA trail characteristics description (https://www.imba.com/flow-country/ap...haracteristics ), I think "synergy with the landscape" is critical. That's why I'm not a big fan of bermed turns that don't use natural topography as part of the equation. They just look out of place to me. Admittedly, for reasons I can't explain, bermed wood ladder bridges feel more "natural" to me than high bermed turns built out of earth. Not sure why. :-)
Originally Posted by cmc4130
Exactly. And that doesn't just have to be before a turn. Mixing them in to the straighter sections does wonders.
Providing adequate sight lines also play a big part in keeping riders off of the brakes.
I think these concepts apply equally well to Flow trails as they do to technical singletrack trails.
To me, "flow" just means you're building the trail to maximize enjoyment, rather than connecting two points. That *can* mean jumps/berms/rollers, or it can mean super tight and techy the whole time - but it *doesn't* involve getting from point A to point B as quickly/efficiently as possible - in fact, usually the opposite.
I think for most riders a trail flows if the character remains similar throughout and it can be ridden enjoyably at a variety of speeds. Generally that means no giant drops/offcamber cliffs/mandatory doubles thrown into an easy XC trail, and likewise no long boring/flat sections thrown into a gnar trail. Most riders also dislike sudden speed changes (very hard braking) into tight corners, so if things are going to be tight - *keep* them tight.
Grade reversals (and lots of them) are probably the #1 thing to add flow and enjoyment, IMO. But a trail can flow without them.
I've been building the flowiest trails I could buildsince the early 90's. Flow can be achieved by many means and at many speeds, since it exists in your mind. Flow is more or less the state of riding completely in the present, the zen of rider rolling down trail in harmony. Lots of attempts to proprietize the term these days. Now we have flow country.
I ride with the best people.
Is this like when Kramer got the meat slicer and said "Welcome to Flavor Country"?
Flow trails? They are usually at a bike park in MA, not on xc , multi use trails in state parks. And flow is where you find it, not always on smooth dirt.