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  1. #1
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    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?

    I'm interested both in opinions about whether ramping up to an existing fallen log is good or bad...and if "good," then I'm exploring bombproof ways to build these ramps so they last.

    Here's an excerpt from a page on MTB Resource Homepage...
    Log ramps. A popular but misguided trail maintenance technique is to build a pile of logs to create a ramp up and over an existing fallen log. Our opinion is that these log piles are generally a bad idea. Most trails are shared use, and these flimsy ramps are a big obstacle to horses and hikers. One solution is to cut a gap and make the log pile optional. However, we've only seen three or four log piles out of hundreds that were well constructed. Throwing a bunch of rotting logs and twigs at an obstructing log and calling it trail maintenance is just being lazy. A well built log ramp will use at least 8-10-inch diameter logs. They may need to be fastened in place: use rope or wire, not dangerous spikes. Build them well, take pride in your work, and be sure to leave an easier option.
    Thoughts? Any ideas or experience on building good ramps?

    I agree these ramps can be a pain when people just kick whatever loose logs/sticks are laying around up against the big log, because they inevitably fall apart and just leave smaller logs strewn across the trail on either side of the big log. (Which is why I'm wondering about more longlasting techniques?)

    Scott
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  2. #2
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    Okay, found this thread:
    Building a log trail ramp?

    I understand log ramps aren't good on multi-use trails. And ramping just half the log on dedicated MTB trails is a good option too.

    And of course I also understand the ideal way to deal with logs is PRACTICE getting over them. I'm comfortable up to 12-14"...but higher than that I'm debris, LOL---and just have trouble finding the time to practice crossings that high...but i'll work on it.

    Meanwhile, I think well-constructed log ramps can actually be fun...hence my question about techniques for building them to last...
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  3. #3
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    logs rot and move, you're better off using rock and/or dirt. There I did the disclaimer. Now, I have log pile ramps all over my trails that have held up for years in the wettest place in Canada, Vancouver Island. I have found that if you stack carefully and use fairly long logs (4' or more) there is not much else required. If your pile is good and solid... kick the crap out of it to test it... it will hold up for a good long time. It's vital to make another path for hikers and horses on multi use trails or risk having your ride-over removed. I put the ride-over as the side trail.

    Oh yeah, we have fallen trees over 6 feet in diameter. Anyone who wants to learn to ride over one of those is welcome to try.
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  4. #4
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    I've used them just fine for years, too. Yeah, they rot and you have to deal with that eventually, but where I've lived, many riders get mad if you cut stuff out that's in a good size range for a log pile. Sometimes I've seen notches cut partially through larger downed trees so the log pile doesn't need to be quite so big.

    Whatever you do, don't haphazardly stack oddly-shaped branches in the process of building one. Sometimes it will seem solid at first, but those irregularly shaped branches move over time and sometimes right when someone is on them. I have been known to entirely disassemble such poorly built log piles preferring to dismount and climb over the downed tree instead of riding that death trap.

  5. #5
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    I have seen several well made log ramps last years. If done properly, the small logs decompose with the tree trunk to keep the ride smooth. I have also seen a few ramps cut from freshly fallen trees by good chain sawers - they have been there for years and still smooth as heck.

    Even if there are no "go-arounds," no one has complained where I live; and besides, it's the woods. The hiker or equestrian should be able to get over without destroying the ramp. Maybe if there are many ramps one after the other, a another user might get mad.

    The trick is to make them wide, and a "go-around" if available.

  6. #6
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    generally I think they're a bad idea. most people will stack anything and think its a sound structure. Theres a few well built one on my local trails but these were built with larger "good wood" from downed trees. IMO a ladder bridge is a better option if an obtacle is too big. We had a huge downed tree that we decided to build a ladder bridge over the tall part a skinny and a go around so you have 3 options.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-ladder.jpg  

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-ladder2.jpg  

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-skinny-2.jpg  

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  7. #7
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    Nothing like a good skinny to make riding over a downed tree fun. Split a log, peel the bark, secure the tops, bury rocks in the ground for the ends to rest on, cut some grooves in the face for wet traction.


  8. #8
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    Can't stand them. Most of the ones I see are piles of 2" - 3" diameter sticks, sometimes only on one side of the log.
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  9. #9
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    We have log overs out the wazoo around here. Some are sound and some are downright rubbish. Don't get me wrong, some are fun and some of them have ramps made of burned out half-trunk sections rather than just piled sticks, so they can look and ride a little more interesting.

    To me they are the remnants of a bygone time when trail construction was rogue and rapid, done without tools and built to suit XC riders looking for challenges that would be better avoided. There's nothing more disheartening than getting to the top of a pile of logs to find the far side destroyed by horses and motos. There's that oh crap moment before falling into gaps between logs, trying to do a standing nose wheelie while you unclip and avoid falling off trail into the inevitable uncleared stabbing objects. That is not a challenge; rather a stupidity.

    Why someone would think a log over on a 15% downslope, 5m from a dodgy, skinny bridge, or a series of them through blind corners, so that the only successful riders are the ones who built and know they are there just escapes me. If you want to prove you can build and ride tech trails, then build something sound, sustainable, something all riders can attempt with basic safety and not just something that makes you look like a big man because you are the only one who even attempts all the features.

    Oh and Pascale - does your dog have patches of lemon yellow fur?

  10. #10
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    Interesting points. If I build any log ramps, they'll definitely be on flat sections of trail, and definitely built with good (sometimes green), large logs, at least 4-6 feet long. I'm not gonna take the time to build any that won't a) stay put, and b) last a long time.

    I like the idea of making log skinnies over other logs...will have to look into that.

    Scott
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post

    Oh and Pascale - does your dog have patches of lemon yellow fur?
    Thats Fozzy, he's a labradoodle. He's my buddy's dog. He actually dyed him orange last spring so he was yellow for a bit, now he's back to his white coat. Awesome dog, he comes out with us when we build and just hangs around. Wish I could find a dog like him.
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  12. #12
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    You dyed your dog orange? For hunting season? What?

  13. #13
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    he's a hockey nut, so he dyed his dog orange. We're Flyers fans in south jersey. personally I'd never dye a dog, kinda crazy.
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  14. #14
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    A windstorm dropped over 200 trees on the school trails. We started just cutting them out and tossing them off the trail. Then we got a little creative.

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-feb8073.jpg

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-feb8074.jpg

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-cyclone_log_ride1.jpg

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-p1010003-4-.jpg

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-p1010002.jpg
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  15. #15
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    Nice work!!

  16. #16
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    Just a couple more.

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-p1010012-3-.jpg

    I dug down about 2' and you have to duck a little for this one.

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-wildwood.jpg

    The 6 inch gap is a real confidence builder for a 10 year old rider. You could roll it, but they don't know that.

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-wildwood1.jpg

    A whole log on the ground and then a log split in half placed round side down on top of that makes a smooth "ramp" and holds together very well with no nails or bolts.

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-p1010011-4-.jpg
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  17. #17
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    Looks like you guys used split fir for your tread/decking? How does that work? Typically have seen cedar used.

    What part of the country is this?

  18. #18
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    Good job!

    That is some awesome use of materials at hand and makes for very nice riding too! I'm impressed..
    Current ride(s) 2011 Santa Cruz Blur LT

  19. #19
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    We have a lot of them on our local XC loop. It's called the Tree Farm for a reason... never a lack of fallen logs to fix them with.

    It's singletrack... some jogging but no one complains (myself included.)

    Rarely are they filled in... just logs in a pile and go.

  20. #20
    zrm
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    Umm, why not just cut the blown down logs out ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Umm, why not just cut the blown down logs out ?
    Hell, why not just ride on concrete

  22. #22
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    When mother nature provides gifts, the trail gnomes are expected to get creative and make good use of them.

  23. #23
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftincowboy View Post
    Hell, why not just ride on concrete
    If there's a point being made here I'm not sure what it is.

    Cutting out blow down on a trail is part of normal routine maintenance, whether the trail is totally rad brah AM or buffed out lycra racer XC.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    If there's a point being made here I'm not sure what it is.

    Cutting out blow down on a trail is part of normal routine maintenance, whether the trail is totally rad brah AM or buffed out lycra racer XC.
    That's definitely trail specific.
    Like Summit Ridge Guy says. Some folks see the downed trees as an opportunity rather than an impediment. The pictures I posted are on middle school trails and are ridden by beginner riders as young as 5 years old. The trails are designed to teach skills to new riders and to instill confidence.

    I have other trails in regional parks where every downed tree would be cut out and removed as would every stump, rock and root.

    I had to remove this bridge because a fellow got his cane stuck between the planks. Even the parks director thought it was stupid considering the rest of the trail was way beyond the abilities of someone walking with a cane but a complaint is a complaint in a regional park.

    Log ramps: Good? Bad? And how best to build them?-moosetracks3-2-.jpg
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  25. #25
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    That's definitely trail specific.
    Like Summit Ridge Guy says. Some folks see the downed trees as an opportunity rather than an impediment. The pictures I posted are on middle school trails and are ridden by beginner riders as young as 5 years old. The trails are designed to teach skills to new riders and to instill confidence.

    I have other trails in regional parks where every downed tree would be cut out and removed as would every stump, rock and root.

    I had to remove this bridge because a fellow got his cane stuck between the planks. Even the parks director thought it was stupid considering the rest of the trail was way beyond the abilities of someone walking with a cane but a complaint is a complaint in a regional park.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Saying you're going to keep a trail free of trees that fall across it is a lot different than saying you're going to "remove every stump, rock and root".

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Saying you're going to keep a trail free of trees that fall across it is a lot different than saying you're going to "remove every stump, rock and root".
    Well, yes, but what's your point?

    My point was that on some trails there is no requirement to remove fallen trees. They are even welcomed by the riders. Nobody said I had to remove any downed trees from the middle school trails. What I choose to do on those trails is entirely up to me.

    On other trails, removal of downed trees may be a requirement.

    And on still other trails there may be even more requirements. Like removal of rocks and roots (the regional park trails I built and look after).

    I even maintain some trails that are paved.

    So, back to your original question: Why don't I cut out the trees and remove them? Because I don't have to, and the people riding the trails enjoy having the ramps and ride-overs on the trails.
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    When i have a fallen tree a a god spot for a ramp i put a few metal spikes front and behind it so it doesent move then i gather some gradually smaller logs and put them down in layers with some soil in between.

  28. #28
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    If a fallen tree can add to the trail experience by adding a feature that fits then incorporate it with the trail, if it is in the way then slice and dice it out. If a ramp / berm / skinny / bridge would add to the flow then why not.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThrillSeeker2 View Post
    When i have a fallen tree a a god spot for a ramp i put a few metal spikes front and behind it so it doesent move then i gather some gradually smaller logs and put them down in layers with some soil in between.
    Your metal spike will be there in 30 years for someone to fall on top of. Consider spiking with a pointy dowel rod or survey stake. That way, everything rots away together.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly View Post
    Your metal spike will be there in 30 years for someone to fall on top of. Consider spiking with a pointy dowel rod or survey stake. That way, everything rots away together.
    +1 on this. Earlier this season I had to pack a hacksaw cutting out some old rebar waiting to make a mess of someone. Don't know what the original purpose was or if someone just dumped it in the woods. Now it is safer when someone goes down.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Umm, why not just cut the blown down logs out ?
    That's always an option, and on some trails may be a requirement.

    I ride the same trails over and over again a lot. When a new whatever gets built,* it is delightful!

    *standard disclaimers for it being well-built and appropriate to the character of the trail

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    Quote Originally Posted by crux View Post
    +1 on this. Earlier this season I had to pack a hacksaw cutting out some old rebar waiting to make a mess of someone. Don't know what the original purpose was or if someone just dumped it in the woods. Now it is safer when someone goes down.
    Part of the "fun" of riding through an area that used to be a military installation is occasionally coming across rebar or guy wires that are now being uncovered by erosion.

    No log overs (plenty of logs) but your comment about falling on metal thingies reminded me about how unsafe a 3" rusted, braided steel cable can be when it is (somehow still under tension) sitting on the trail surface.

  33. #33
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    Wow, wish my school allowed us to make trails in there forest!

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by crux View Post
    If a fallen tree can add to the trail experience by adding a feature that fits then incorporate it with the trail, if it is in the way then slice and dice it out. If a ramp / berm / skinny / bridge would add to the flow then why not.
    That is a great way of changing up the trail while using what is there already rather than schlepping stuff in. Sometimes that can't be avoided but using what is there, is IMHO the preferred way if possible.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Downhill mtb kid View Post
    Wow, wish my school allowed us to make trails in there forest!
    You ever ask them? I kept hearing from other people that it "wasn't allowed". I asked the landowner (a multi-national local logging company). They said "sure", nobody had ever asked before.

    It wasn't quite a simple as that but the main point is that it doesn't hurt to ask.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja's Son
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    You ever ask them? I kept hearing from other people that it "wasn't allowed". I asked the landowner (a multi-national local logging company). They said "sure", nobody had ever asked before.

    It wasn't quite a simple as that but the main point is that it doesn't hurt to ask.
    i always ask, they say no, its to much of a liability issue

  37. #37
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    I've certainly piled up logs against another log and covered it all with dirt, works well enough, the next year it usually needs some more dirt, but then it needs minimal/no maintenance. I do like logs just laying across the trail, no ramps, but depending on speed/corners ramps might be the best option.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Downhill mtb kid View Post
    i always ask, they say no, its to much of a liability issue
    What school? B.H. ? Cascadia? UW? P.M. me.
    Get some teachers involved, start a club, join a club. There's strength in numbers. Let me know if you need help. I have a lot of experience with school clubs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja's Son
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    i've been building some trails this summer, and have a few log rides.

    where i am at, the trail i worked on sees very little mixed use, and was un hikeable, let alone bikeable.

    now, the trail is totally rideable, and way more fun. i think it depends on how much use the trail gets whether or not to make log rides, and how to make them.

    mine are of the the "pile of rotting logs" type and are holding up fine, but i think i may be one of the few users of this trail. if it got more use & mixed use, they may not hold up so well.

  40. #40
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    Interesting thread.

    There are lots of log piles at my local trail. Some are good, some are really bad. The good ones use long logs and become very solid, the bad ones have shorter and skinnier logs that bounce around and often move.

    This past weekend I witnessed one bad accident, took part in another, and almost had another . The first, basically guy goes over big log pile but on other side logs had moved and his front wheel got turned and wedged in there so he endoed into the next pile. Mine was similar - went over a log pile that I don't usually ride and found that there were no logs on the other side (there were on one part but not the part I was on) and I endoed and unfortunately face-planted into the frozen singletrack. Got my bell rung good. Third, on other side there's a skinny loose log that flopped up and almost wedged itself into front wheel.

    Point is, log piles require maintenance. And the lesson for me is: always assume there's nothing on the other side, and treat it as if it weren't built up.

    Funny, because after recently riding the trails in Chicoppe just outside Atlanta and complaining that they were boring, overly-maintained, and "for the love of god could you just leave one friggin' log in the trail".

  41. #41
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    People still make these things? I did not know.
    Epic trails get built in the Northwest by epic people!

    Sustainable quality trails please.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    I've certainly piled up logs against another log and covered it all with dirt, works well enough, the next year it usually needs some more dirt, but then it needs minimal/no maintenance. . . . .
    yep, like this. very easy, quick job. roller or jump.... i left some of the log showing through the top on purpose, so it would seem a little more like a log feature and not just a dirt roller....







    not to mention what you can do with a lot of logs.... a table-top-ish jump, or something you can roll up and over with some bump bump bump... i took this pic at Keystone:


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    90% of the time that I use logs is to fill up a barrow pit after I have built things the right way. But if you must skimp, put at least 12" of dirt over the puggys or you will have lots of extra maintenance.
    Epic trails get built in the Northwest by epic people!

    Sustainable quality trails please.

  44. #44
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    not a big fan of log piles/ramps. if i have to build ramps with a couple of logs in it i'll make sure the logs are well buried...

    broadcasting from
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    build trail!

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    enjoy the thread,, log ramps. log overs I think are a tradition in mtbking... every year we get blow downs, those dang trees seem to know how to fall on the trail....if they interrupt things too much, we cut them out, but every so often one drops in a spot that 3 feet of quick elevation change really adds to the trail experience.

    I've found keeping the stacking log sections about 5 to 6 feet long and 8-15 inch in diameter provides a nice solid stack that won't get wobbly on you, packing in some clay helps , something we have a lot of... they have lasted 5 years at least...

    we are laying out about 4 miles of new trail and I am always on the lookout to include deadfall features if they are still in their prime.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    I do like logs just laying across the trail, no ramps, but depending on speed/corners ramps might be the best option.
    Yes! Finally someone said it. Does anyone bunnyhop anymore? I know with the onslaught of 29ers that lofting the front wheel has gotten a bit more difficult but I have always prided myself on being able to hop over logs that are 18" or less. Taller than that, to around 24", the approach has always been to tap front wheel on top, and lurch over in a sort of 'aided' bunny hop. Chainrings never touch. We are mountain bikers after all...a solid hop should be part of everyone's repertoire

    Sometimes log-overs are necessary, because of the size or elevated resting height of the fallen tree.

    This being said, I don't mean to sound like I'm bashing anyone's log-over work...'specially Trail Ninja's. Your stuff is craftsman level work brother. Be proud to work next to ya.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by jochribs View Post
    Yes! Finally someone said it. Does anyone bunnyhop anymore? ...I have always prided myself on being able to hop over logs that are 18" or less.

    Exactly!

    I think there are lot of MTBers that can't hop at all, much less hop an 18" log, as MTBing gets more mainstream skill seems to drop and trails get easier, meaning no bunny hop skills required :-(

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    Exactly!

    I think there are lot of MTBers that can't hop at all, much less hop an 18" log, as MTBing gets more mainstream skill seems to drop and trails get easier, meaning no bunny hop skills required :-(
    You are correct as is jochribs. 99% of riders will fail to clear an 18" log every time. Add rain, approaches with turns, ruts, rocks, uphill grades and/or outslope, diagonal log-fall and narrow trail and you have a line 99.9% of riders cannot ride.

    While I totally agree (a golf course and) a MTB DH course and 4x and trails lines should be built for the "scratch" user, that leaves 99% of other trails ridden by mere mortals. There is a very fine line between a trail for riders and a trail for the big men with big egos who like to boast that others should take a dose of cement and HTFU.

    If you actually build trail, then consider alternate lines for those with mega-knackers or think of the rest of us and make a rideable trail and not a wildlife trail. Thanks

  49. #49
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    Just because I can hop an 18" log doesn't mean I think all logs should be 18" tall, but there should be more than zero 18" tall logs in a trail system or else my mega knackers might start to wither :-(

    I put in ride arounds in when I make trail.

    Hows this, when there is a pre-existing trail that has logs in it and you didn't build that trail, you leave the logs there.

    There is far more of a problem of people removing items from trails they didn't build than people building things people can't ride.

    And most of the guys I ride with can clear 18" logs pretty consistently, I never thought I'd be part of the %1, instead of a post ride beer I'll be rolling with Caviar and Champagne from now on.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    And most of the guys I ride with can clear 18" logs pretty consistently, I never thought I'd be part of the %1, instead of a post ride beer I'll be rolling with Caviar and Champagne from now on.
    This puts a hilarious picture in my head...

    Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?

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