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  1. #1
    The Voice of Reason
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    smoothing a new trail

    what's the best method for smoothing a new trail? it's not so rough it needs a bobcat but it's a lot to smooth by hand. i've got the line of the trail ridden in some so i thought maybe a small tiller would do the trick. it's only a mile or so long but i've got another six in the works.
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  2. #2
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    I've only done trail finishing by hand using mostly McLeods and wide plastic rakes with the final compaction usually with the head of the McLeod or a tamper but usually the McL. You could rent (from Home Depot or from a friend in construction that might have one) a walk behind plate compactor and just run from one end to the other. Call some local construction companies and see if they would donate the use of theirs! If the do foundation and/site work, they should have one. Don't ask, don't recieve!
    IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU'RE NOT RIDING (or building)!

  3. #3
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    Action Hoe

    If there are small ripples and high spots got to Home Depot or Hardware store and get a action hoe!!! Works great to plane dow irregularities and removal of small roots as such.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob W
    If there are small ripples and high spots got to Home Depot or Hardware store and get a action hoe!!! Works great to plane dow irregularities and removal of small roots as such.

    why don't you just leave the small ripples, bumps, small roots (the trees use these too you know!)... it makes for a more interesting track as well...

    Could it be, that if all you build are smooth footpaths, then you encourage people to look elsewhere for a more interesting riding experience ...

  5. #5
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    Hold a race....

    Quote Originally Posted by Megashnauzer
    what's the best method for smoothing a new trail? it's not so rough it needs a bobcat but it's a lot to smooth by hand. i've got the line of the trail ridden in some so i thought maybe a small tiller would do the trick. it's only a mile or so long but i've got another six in the works.
    Get a bunch of your friends and hold a mountain biking crit doing a bunch of laps on the trail. It you do 200+ passes on the trail, it will burn in and smooth out....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    Get a bunch of your friends and hold a mountain biking crit doing a bunch of laps on the trail. It you do 200+ passes on the trail, it will burn in and smooth out....
    Sorry but i disagree, you'll wind up widening the trail unless you hold it as a time trial.

    A moto dirt bike would be handy for packing down trail. Borrow one from a friend and run it back and forth for a few hours.
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  7. #7
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    Do the laundry, before you do the ironing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    Get a bunch of your friends and hold a mountain biking crit doing a bunch of laps on the trail. It you do 200+ passes on the trail, it will burn in and smooth out....
    I second this method. thats why we have suspension. I don't mean to be mean, but if you've got your drainage set, don't over think or over manage it, let it go, and after a season of riding you still feel a section still needs work, groom it then.
    Like you said, You've six miles left to go, make good use of your volunteers and machine.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelbak73
    I second this method. thats why we have suspension. I don't mean to be mean, but if you've got your drainage set, don't over think or over manage it, let it go, and after a season of riding you still feel a section still needs work, groom it then.
    Like you said, You've six miles left to go, make good use of your volunteers and machine.
    hmm i misread, i was thinking he was suggesting to hold an actual race.

    It really doesn't take too long to pack down a trail, if you have a bunch of friends willing to ride it.
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  9. #9
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skookum
    Sorry but i disagree, you'll wind up widening the trail unless you hold it as a time trial.

    A moto dirt bike would be handy for packing down trail. Borrow one from a friend and run it back and forth for a few hours.
    Dirt bikes chew the hell out of the ground, dig ruts, etc. Way overrated if buff single is what you're after.

    I've used the rake end of a McCleod back and forth to buff things out. This will remove all the little rocks and allow the soil to compact. Rolling bike tires over time will do a great job of buffing out a trail as long as it is mineral soil.
    Chop roots with the axe end of your Pulaski. On steeper pitches some times roots are the best thing to hold the trail together, but that doesn't sound like the type of trail you're talking about.
    Generally I'll leave large, solidly achored rocks alone as long as they aren't working their way loose. If it's obvious that they are going to pop out with use, I'll grub them out with pulaski and rock bar then fill in the hole.

  10. #10
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    Geez! I think some of you guys ought to try mountain biking! I know cyclocross is fun and everything but they are so 07!

    And did you think to ask the tree what it thought about you hacking away at its roots?!

    Fat tyres are here to stay and they can roll rocks, roots bumps - they can even deal with loose rocks ZRM!

  11. #11
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electric Panda
    why don't you just leave the small ripples, bumps, small roots (the trees use these too you know!)... it makes for a more interesting track as well...

    Could it be, that if all you build are smooth footpaths, then you encourage people to look elsewhere for a more interesting riding experience ...
    The guy asked how to smooth trails. I have built lots of trails, some of them smooth and some not so and I was sharing my technique for finishing out a buff trail. You can make a buff single track very interesting without being technical. There is a place for buff, fast, swoopy trails. In fact, those types of trails are very popular.

    There is also a place for tech trails so guys with 38 pound 7" bikes can justify their purchase but that wasn't the question asked.

    Trees can tolerate have a certain ratio of their roots chopped just like they can tolerate being limbed. I've removed lots of roots over the years (and left more than a few in the trail) and have never found that it killed or even harmed the tree. Feel free to argue that you like to have roots left because you like the challenge, etc of riding over them (although my experience is most people, even those with fat tires (as opposed to cyclcross tyres) go around roots and widen the trail, go figure ) but don't rant about how the poor tree is going to die because a couple roots where removed cause it ain't so.

  12. #12
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    The guy asked how to smooth trails. I have built lots of trails. I have been riding mtb since fully rigid was the only option. I am not talking about technical.

    I guess my post was about the whole attitude of cleaning up nature. We ride there because we want to get away from our ordered, manicured existence. Once a track is sorted so that it won’t erode etc why not leave nature alone? If there are little rocks, sticks, roots, the track isn’t quite flat - well, that is nature. Don’t we have enough to hoe, hack and slash in suburbia?

    Where I sometimes ride there has been a proliferation of IMBA tracks that have perhaps not been built in the original spirit of the organisation. The result? Guys started selling their duallies to get hardtails, then fully rigid, then fully rigid SS, and a few put CX tyres on just to have some fun on these groomed dirt footpaths! Joey Klein came along once to do a seminar and to help one of the local trail care groups and most people were amazed at how rough and technical he suggested.

    I well know how newbies wreck tracks by going around the simplest thing. If you think a B line/track widen might happen – put a rock/log there to encourage otherwise. I suspect you know this.

    Finally a word for the trees… if you cut off a finger from a healthy human, he won’t die… if that same human is under stress the possibility of complications rise… same with trees… our attitude of ‘well its only one little path…’ adds to the already stressed state of our enviroment …

    Ps I ride a 26.5lb bike

  13. #13
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    lots of good suggestions and several have been tried in the past. the original trails that we ride were built by motorcycles and apart from being hard to maintain, they are pretty smooth. the newer trails we've built were bike only and it takes a while for them to get a good flow going. like years. the new trail i've built is on an area that was logged about 10-15 years ago and it's out in the middle of nowhere. there are lots of old tire ruts and stump holes. mostly they don't bother me but some places it pretty much sucks. and this trail is supposed to be a beginner trail (a fast trail for everyone else) so it needs to be somewhat tame. on new year's day i tried to do a time trial but only six people showed so we just did laps. it helped define the trail a lot but it still needs some smoothing. i was told there is a mulching machine that tills to a fixed depth that i may try to find. thanks for the input.
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  14. #14
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    Maybe this?

    The Stihl Yard Boss:

    http://www.stihlusa.com/multitask/MM55.html

    I know the guys at PAMBA are using them to cut bench with. Can't find any photos on their website though. The Yard Boss is working well according to them.

    Walt

  15. #15
    HIKE!
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    Wow, I want their soil!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megashnauzer
    lots of good suggestions and several have been tried in the past. the original trails that we ride were built by motorcycles and apart from being hard to maintain, they are pretty smooth.
    Just to be clear, i'm not suggesting you open this trail to dirt bikes just to smooth it, just using one to make short work of the pack job of the fresh tilled soil.
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  17. #17
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    Has anyone actually used a plate compactor on a new trail construction?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm
    Dirt bikes chew the hell out of the ground, dig ruts, etc. Way overrated if buff single is what you're after.
    You're describing a dirt bike ridden by someone who is heavy on the throttle. You're also describing what happens to a dirt bike trail after heavy use.

    Again i'm suggesting to use a heavy dirt bikes big heavy wheels to pack down a fresh trail, that's all....
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  19. #19
    The Voice of Reason
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparrow
    Wow, I want their soil!
    it's sand covered with a thin layer of soil.

    the yard boss looks cool but i'm not forking out $300. i'll probably just rent a tiller and hit the rreally bad spots.
    I'm never gonna be a Rock Star

  20. #20
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    very interesting

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy
    ...The Yard Boss is working well according to them.
    Tell us more

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm
    The guy asked how to smooth trails. I have built lots of trails, some of them smooth and some not so and I was sharing my technique for finishing out a buff trail. You can make a buff single track very interesting without being technical. There is a place for buff, fast, swoopy trails. In fact, those types of trails are very popular.

    There is also a place for tech trails so guys with 38 pound 7" bikes can justify their purchase but that wasn't the question asked.

    Trees can tolerate have a certain ratio of their roots chopped just like they can tolerate being limbed. I've removed lots of roots over the years (and left more than a few in the trail) and have never found that it killed or even harmed the tree. Feel free to argue that you like to have roots left because you like the challenge, etc of riding over them (although my experience is most people, even those with fat tires (as opposed to cyclcross tyres) go around roots and widen the trail, go figure ) but don't rant about how the poor tree is going to die because a couple roots where removed cause it ain't so.
    I appreciate buff, machine made trails, mainly because they can be installed rapidly, and a trail is a trail, No arguement there, And you say many people like buff, swoopy single track, true! Budweiser is also the most popular beer in the US.
    Thank God for micro-brews, Artisan crafted, sweet, tight, challenging, rough, hand built, flavourful "SINGLETRACK". I like the harsh, technical trails, climbing and descending, but I don't see where all trails should be built to suit me, do you? of course not! that doesn't mean all trails should be built for the lowest common denominator, sterile, safe "everybody" trails.
    P.S.
    Wow! where do you live where "Most" people go around roots, widening the trail? Do you fall into the most catagory, for the sake of speed?

  22. #22
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelbak73
    I appreciate buff, machine made trails, mainly because they can be installed rapidly, and a trail is a trail, No arguement there, And you say many people like buff, swoopy single track, true! Budweiser is also the most popular beer in the US.
    Thank God for micro-brews, Artisan crafted, sweet, tight, challenging, rough, hand built, flavourful "SINGLETRACK". I like the harsh, technical trails, climbing and descending, but I don't see where all trails should be built to suit me, do you? of course not! that doesn't mean all trails should be built for the lowest common denominator, sterile, safe "everybody" trails.
    P.S.
    Wow! where do you live where "Most" people go around roots, widening the trail? Do you fall into the most catagory, for the sake of speed?
    Hmmmm, where in my post does it say that I think all single track should be buff and built "to suit" me? The question in the OP was how to smooth a trial. Smooth trails are appropriate in many places and for many people - fun. I state in my post that there is also a place for more technical trails so why the foam?

    The comment regarding people riding around roots is an observation of trails in many areas, not just where I ride, that anyone with open eyes can see. As to my riding habits, out of respect for the land and respect for those who come after me, I try to stay on the tread and keep single track single.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm
    Hmmmm, where in my post does it say that I think all single track should be buff and built "to suit" me? The question in the OP was how to smooth a trial. Smooth trails are appropriate in many places and for many people - fun. I state in my post that there is also a place for more technical trails so why the foam?

    The comment regarding people riding around roots is an observation of trails in many areas, not just where I ride, that anyone with open eyes can see. As to my riding habits, out of respect for the land and respect for those who come after me, I try to stay on the tread and keep single track single.
    Foam? generalizations? perhaps.... but I am in agreement with E. Panda. His suggestion was to leave the SMALL bumps and ripples, and you some how relate this to "Technical" and "38lb bikes with 7" and so on (?) My full-squishy is a whopping 25lbs with an incredible 4" of travel. I am also in agreement with E. Panda's theory on how to "encourage" noobs and others to ride obstacles. By eliminating small roots and rocks, or allowing them to avoid obstacles you* enable them to continue their destructive behavior because they never learn to cope with even the smallest of obstacles.

    *YOU meaning you and other trail workers who may tend to over manage, over manicure and over think the construction and maintenance of something as simple as a trail.

    As to your riding habits, perhaps some day you'll gain the experience and the skills to where you won't have to "try" to stay on the trail. (sarcasm)

  24. #24
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelbak73
    Foam? generalizations? perhaps.... but I am in agreement with E. Panda. His suggestion was to leave the SMALL bumps and ripples, and you some how relate this to "Technical" and "38lb bikes with 7" and so on (?) My full-squishy is a whopping 25lbs with an incredible 4" of travel. I am also in agreement with E. Panda's theory on how to "encourage" noobs and others to ride obstacles. By eliminating small roots and rocks, or allowing them to avoid obstacles you* enable them to continue their destructive behavior because they never learn to cope with even the smallest of obstacles.

    *YOU meaning you and other trail workers who may tend to over manage, over manicure and over think the construction and maintenance of something as simple as a trail.

    As to your riding habits, perhaps some day you'll gain the experience and the skills to where you won't have to "try" to stay on the trail. (sarcasm)
    Jeeze Shelbak this is a big issue for you isn't it?

    Once again, the guy want's to build a smooth, easy trail. Such trails are an appropriate part of the spectrum of riding type opportunities, which includes everything from crusher fine type trails to full on FR/DH type trails. There is a place for everything, you don't like the trail he and his group builds, don't ride it.

    I don't see how you equate my statement of
    There is also a place for tech trails (my bold added) so guys with 38 pound 7" bikes can justify their purchase but that wasn't the question asked."
    which was somewhat tongue in cheek, hence the wink, with
    to leave the SMALL bumps and ripples, and you some how relate this to "Technical" and "38lb bikes with 7" and so on
    As far as overmanaging, Just keeping trails draining properly and free of blowdown is enough for the group that I am part of. We don't really have the time to spend too much time on
    over manage, over manicure and over think
    trail work.

    As to my experience, I've been riding, racing, and loving mountian bikes for 23 years so I guess I have a bit of experience, but I'm always learning and working on improving my fitness and skills. I'll keep trying, to stay on the trail.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by donwatts
    Has anyone actually used a plate compactor on a new trail construction?
    Yes - Mike Riter has a plate compactor attachment for his machine. He says 3 passes after a section is built and it tightens it up like concrete.I think we will experiment with a walk behind sled compactor next time we do a reroute on a heavily used local trail.I think if it will not float over the embedded rocks and other undulations that we want to keep and just tighten up the tread surface we would probably not continue using it.Our last reroute was in marginal slope and not great soil and so many people rode it wet before it compacted it got pretty chewed up. Maybe a plate compactor would have helped some.Now we will have to do some rock armoring(might have needed it anyway) and try to improve drainage.

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