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  1. #1
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    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic

    Good article for all "trail maintenance crews"/volunteers/DIY'ers

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic | Singletracks Mountain Bike Blog



    Quote Originally Posted by misterbill View Post
    You must be really bored if you have read this entire post.

  2. #2
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    I read a lot of complaints like this browsing the NSMB board. A lot of these technical trails are only technical because of a lack of maintenance, they would have started out smooth. While I don't agree with how the work was done in this specific case, I'm guessing it is more about restoring these trails to their original difficulty than dumbing them down.

    I found a great post by Dave Muse on the SORBA forum about this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Muse
    Per the USFS, there were three options at Bull/Jake: do nothing, do the work that was done or close the trails to all traffic, permanently. They have standards for the amount of degredataion that can occur on an inventoried trail over a period of time and for the level of impact that it can have on the environment and the Bull/Jake trails had never been compliant with either, so option number 1 wasn't feasable. That just left close them or rehab them and I'm glad they chose the latter.

    The few sections of Jake and Bull that were sustainable were preserved. Literally every bit that was rerouted was an unsustainable, fall-line trail that either required annual bulldozing or just continued to degrade every year. Sections of the Moss Branch, Black Branch and Jake Moutain trails had become so eroded that it took an expert horseman to ride them. For that matter, most mountain bikers avoided those trails for the same reasons.

    It's easy to point the finger at horses as they are heavier and if the trail is sufficiently steep then they overcome the shear strength of the soil if the trail isn't designed to withstand the traffic. However, the same is true of both bike and foot traffic. If the trail is sufficiently steep, then the force exerted by the traffic will overcome it's shear strength, the soil will crumble or become mud and water will wash it downhill. If downhill is off-trail then there's not THAT big of a problem. If downhill is just down the trail, then it will take more of the trail with it as it goes, rut out the trail and pile up at the bottom of the hill. As most of the old trail was fall-line trail, that is what was happening at Bull/Jake. It turns out that in the soil at Bull/Jake, about 18% is the maximum sustainable grade for bike traffic and 15% is the maximum for horses. Most of the trails that were rerouted exceeded that.

    ...[bit on horse impacts]...

    All that said, I totally understand the argument that the trails feel tame. They do. They are. But they are now maintainable and ecologically sustainable, which they were not before, and those are the minimum requirements for trails to exist in the NF. There are lots of trails in the NF that will probably get the same treatment over the next few years. They're doing it up in Pisgah too. Like it or hate it, it's the future of trails in the NF, if there is any future at all.

    I hope that what comes out of it is a better understanding of trail science by the mountain bike community and a better rapport with the hiking, equestrian and environmentalist communities who we have traditionally been at odds with but who now seem to be coming around to us, just as we are coming around to them. Time will tell.
    Edit: I'm also guessing that the USFS doesn't have the budget to cater to the full spectrum of mountain bike riders, so they make green trails that everyone can ride. Around here (B.C.) it is up to riders/volunteers to make they trails they want. I don't know the situation where you are, but if your local club has build nights I'm sure they will be happy to accept your suggestions if you want to put the work in (for go-arounds, features, etc.) This is often put pretty bluntly as 'show up or shut up.'

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerebroside View Post
    I read a lot of complaints like this browsing the NSMB board. A lot of these technical trails are only technical because of a lack of maintenance, they would have started out smooth. While I don't agree with how the work was done in this specific case, I'm guessing it is more about restoring these trails to their original difficulty than dumbing them down.

    I found a great post by Dave Muse on the SORBA forum about this:


    Edit: I'm also guessing that the USFS doesn't have the budget to cater to the full spectrum of mountain bike riders, so they make green trails that everyone can ride. Around here (B.C.) it is up to riders/volunteers to make they trails they want. I don't know the situation where you are, but if your local club has build nights I'm sure they will be happy to accept your suggestions if you want to put the work in (for go-arounds, features, etc.) This is often put pretty bluntly as 'show up or shut up.'
    We get this dumbing down and sanitising stuff here too. We don't want all trails easy, just the ones near the trailhead. In addition, every time we put in tough alternate lines, no-one uses them, or people who didn't help build rock gardens etc come and remove rocks. In addition, easier trails that flow are not easier if you ride faster. So in addition to ignoring the fact that there will be a progressive increase in surface difficulty over time, most whiners want to ride exactly as they always have because they really are not that great a rider. Rather, they know how to manage the trails they ride in a single-minded way instead of taking things as they come and having fun with it.

  4. #4
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    Re: Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic

    If you bring the money to the table, and do the project management yourself, you actually get more say you would expect. By doing so you are not held to some of the USFS' own shackles, like being required to take the low bid.

    By paying a contractor to do very specific, high quality work, and providing a budget for the right materials you can build bad ass trail. Then you can have educated (think trail building) volunteers polish it off with hand finishing. That is what is going to happen in Pisgah. Most of the trails here were old skidder trails that eroded into some thing great or heinous depending on where you are coming from. If you want to save steep eroding tech, then control the water and armor the whole thing, or make a entertaining reroute in the character of the old trail.

    The USFS has to obey the Clean Water Act. Their classifications and definitions allow for variations. You can make great trail within those perimeters. Don't expect it for low bid, by over worked land managers with no budget. Make the reroutes better, longer, and so they require less maintenance. If you finish what you start and play the game well, we win.
    Should you do more trail work?

  5. #5
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    The author could have done so much better with that article. It reads like a whiny crybaby rant, rather than an educated counterpoint to what was actually done. Readers unfamiliar with the location have no idea who did the work the author is criticizing, or why things were done that way, for starters.

    I've heard all kinds of rants from people about trails that are ridiculous and completely off-base.

    "I don't know why all the hikers come over here to the bike trails." Well, first off, the trails are specifically labeled hike-bike multiuse trails. Second, these trails are better than the older hike-only trails in the same park. I'd rather hike here, too.

    "Mountain bikers seem to want to build a trail around every tree" (some hiker on the web speaking about a local trail system that gets VERY high marks from most who ride it). It's a concept called contour trails. It allows the water to drain off of the trails, which helps them dry out faster and prevents them from eroding. In terrain like is found here, building contour trails increases mileage in a relatively small area without needing things like switchbacks to get up a hill. It's the way it works.

    "These new trails are easier than the old ones, I like the old technical ones better" (same basic idea as this thread) The land manager said the old ones had to go. So, we could either have the trails we have now, with more mileage than before, or we could have zero trails in the park. The land manager also only wants beginner and intermediate trails here. There are expert trails at this park over here

  6. #6
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    People ride what is available. Trails change over time and over time people adjust and embrace the condition. It becomes a part of the experience you come to expect. Nasty bits and all cleaning such thing becomes a point of pride or the point of enjoyment for one or a group. The local culture builds around it.

    By that context sustainability, ecological integrity, or safety and such don't seem to matter much; they are, in spite of whatever administrative definition, beside the point. Pull the trail back into line with administrative standards (sanitized) and you piss people off. The challenge is that we lack any administrative body to support and sustain trails as entertaining as those so neglected.

    Administrative bodies which control land are our main adversaries/partners when it comes time to gain and retain access. Their standards are their standards. Effecting them requires a new relationship and active participation from mountain bikers.

    I wonder if the people who complain about "sanitizing" are willing to work to build what is needed to make the kind of trails they want.
    I don't rattle.

  7. #7
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    "I wonder if the people who complain about "sanitizing" are willing to work to build what is needed to make the kind of trails they want."

    No - but you already knew that. They are too busy whining and riding to help.

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    I have heard the phrase "trail building is a democracy and those who vote use a shovel." It may have even come from someones signature here. As others have already said: if you don't like what is happening, get involved to change it. Being a condescending buffoon on an Internet forum is only hurting your position.

    Locally, we have been accused of sanitizing trails after repairing badly eroded fall line trails that 98% of the users could not ride because of exposed roots, rocks, and ruts. These trails originally were not technical trails and only became that way because of soil erosion. We merely restored them to their previous state. That looks to be what has happened to the trails in that article.

    Even though some of the rock piles in the article photos were bulldozed through to create an easy line, can one not ride the harder lines that still exist or find even more difficult lines? I often find myself looking for more challenging lines if I think the main line is too tame. I have rarely seen trail braids form over more difficult lines, but the opposite seems to be a law of nature. So, why fight nature and just create optional difficult lines to begin with?

  9. #9
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    I have rarely seen trail braids form over more difficult lines, but the opposite seems to be a law of nature. So, why fight nature and just create optional difficult lines to begin with?

    Exactly

  10. #10
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    Every time the word "sustainable" comes out of someone's mouth, the word "sanitized" will come out of someone else's. Some people have no idea that you can build a technical trail that is also sustainable. Those people think "technical" means it goes straight up a hill and is washed out, rocky, and rooty. Those same people will whine constantly when they ride a tight, old school technical trail, with some run ins on it, as they huff and puff out of breath, about how slow the trail is, and it shouldn't climb so much. And I will ask them, 100 feet of climbing in a mile is too much?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Every time the word "sustainable" comes out of someone's mouth, the word "sanitized" will come out of someone else's. Some people have no idea that you can build a technical trail that is also sustainable. Those people think "technical" means it goes straight up a hill and is washed out, rocky, and rooty. Those same people will whine constantly when they ride a tight, old school technical trail
    Yep, 29er riders are a pain for sure. They buy the ultimate trail sanitizer and then complain the trail is>>>>>>>>>>sanitized

  12. #12
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    Build MTB Trails for Everyone

    Hey guys, thanks for reading this article! While it's a couple years old now, and I might write it differently if I wrote it today, it is what it is.

    In response to all of the insinuations that all of the "whiners" don't do trail work... well for starters, you're just plain wrong. I've spent plenty of time clearing brush and swinging a mcleod and a pulaski on my local trails. Also, I don't feel the need to get into all of the inner workings of the local Dahlonega trail development situation when this article was written back in early 2012, because since that time the dynamic has changed drastically--and primarily, for the better.

    Mainly, I'm just dropping by to post a link to a follow-up article that I wrote. This article presents what I would see as the ideal trail development scenario. Granted, this is an best-case scenario, but I think it is achievable. The article is titled:
    A Modest Proposal: Building Mountain Bike Trails for Everyone

    Happy trails!
    Feel free to check out my personal website, Greg Heil.com

  13. #13
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    Greg - You're dealing with a curmudgeony bunch here who probably build as much as they ride (and go to planning/Land Manager meetings when other riders are out and about), so its going to be a bit less forgiving crowd here than other forums to this type of blog post.

    For some reason the 2012 gig is making its rounds (here and on facebook) so folks here probably looking to address it/pick a bone.

    I read the article (original and linked) and I think something big is missing in the assessment. Builders all work with Land Managers and they dictate what is built, and in many cases how. They DO limit our imagination and that is sometimes reflected in trail characteristics.

    There are bad builders. But sometimes your LM wants something very specific done. You do it and to keep access/trail mileage. You get complaints from all sorts, it gets your blood pressure up.

    Regarding Stacked Loops, if you're lucky enough to start from scratch, they're great and make a bunch of sense. If you have legacy trail, you're stuck with what you have to work with (i.e. reroutes).

    YMWV depending on Park Size, Geography, Land Manager, User groups (who also have input), etc.

    Lots of variables there beyond good/bad/mediocre builders.

  14. #14
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    Re: A Modest Proposal- I agree pretty much, although location may not allow for those exact divisions. Terrain dictates how flow will be achieved through it, and as long as flow is achieved, riders will enjoy the trail.

    We have a lot of similar trail terrain, so it comes down to describing a few easier and a few harder. The current ratio is 20 beg, 70 int, 10 adv. As a whole, our easy trails are hard and our hard trails are easy. They are almost all black on the imba scale based on width, height of obstacles, degree of incline, length of climbs, etc. Fortunately they were designed as stacked loops from the beginning, and there are enough canyons, mesas, and big western views to keep it interesting for all riders.
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  15. #15
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    Can't say I disagree with much in the original article. The main complaint was that "cleaning up" a rutted fall line trail by removing rocks does nothing to fix sustainability.

    Hard to argue with that assessment.

    "Trail sanitizing" is a pretty entertaining bone for people gnaw on, but I'm not sure it gets us much farther along in determining what to do with regards to trail maintenance. I lean more toward looking at sustainability, mostly because there aren't enough hours to do everything that needs doing.

    My $0.02 is the most difficult trail system in an area that has a lot of easy trails (as is implied in the article) is going to come under pressure to conform to the average. Riders get used to going fast, don't cultivate the skills involved in going over stuff, and see the alternative as inferior. Those who do make a point of getting good at the tough stuff are invested and don't want change.

    Back to the original point about the removal of rocks from a fall-line section. I would avoid doing that. I'd probably look at a reroute on a more sustainable grade as the author suggests. However, it's pretty easy to make that call not having to deal with the whole list of things that may need doing on that particular trail. It may have been a bad decision made out of laziness, or it may have been a temporary fix to free up time to deal with more pressing issues. Hard to know from a distance.

    The only certainty in trail work is someone is going to be unhappy with the results. The more vocal they are, the more certain it is they will never lift a hand to do anything about it.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbGreg View Post
    Hey guys, thanks for reading this article! While it's a couple years old now, and I might write it differently if I wrote it today, it is what it is.

    In response to all of the insinuations that all of the "whiners" don't do trail work... well for starters, you're just plain wrong. I've spent plenty of time clearing brush and swinging a mcleod and a pulaski on my local trails. Also, I don't feel the need to get into all of the inner workings of the local Dahlonega trail development situation when this article was written back in early 2012, because since that time the dynamic has changed drastically--and primarily, for the better.

    Mainly, I'm just dropping by to post a link to a follow-up article that I wrote. This article presents what I would see as the ideal trail development scenario. Granted, this is an best-case scenario, but I think it is achievable. The article is titled:
    A Modest Proposal: Building Mountain Bike Trails for Everyone

    Happy trails!
    Greg, your concept is fine. Except where it isn't.

    At a blank-slate starting point, designing a trail system to have beginner-intermediate-expert sections is a good idea. Stacked loops are excellent. But they don't work in a lot of places for many different reasons. 7-10 mile loops aren't easy to come by in a lot of places. Sometimes the topographic features that lend themselves to development as advanced trail features come close to the trail head. Sometimes areas of the land being developed are closed to trails. In a lot of cases, building alternate lines so advanced riders and beginning riders can enjoy the same trail make more sense.

    Like so much in life, trail design depends on a lot of things that can't be distilled into a small set of ideas.

    BTW, having an opinion doesn't put you in the "whiners" category. We reserve that for people who don't contribute!

    Walt

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    BTW, having an opinion doesn't put you in the "whiners" category. We reserve that for people who don't contribute!

    Walt
    Haha, thanks!

    And yeah, I totally get that so much of trail design is dependent on topography, legal and political geography, and even the ecosystem and geology present in the area where the trails are being built. That second article is definitely an best-case scenario, when the possibility of building trails that way is available.
    Feel free to check out my personal website, Greg Heil.com

  18. #18
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    "Sustainable," says the person with no good design ideas and the urge to sanitize the trail.

    "Technical," says the person with no good design ideas and the desire to leave the eroded trail as is.

    "Fun" says the designer who can both think about what is fun to ride (for different people) and works for the environment/goals of the trail.




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    (moved to other thread)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmc4130 View Post
    "Sustainable," says the person with no good design ideas and the urge to sanitize the trail.

    "Technical," says the person with no good design ideas and the desire to leave the eroded trail as is.

    "Fun" says the designer who can both think about what is fun to ride (for different people) and works for the environment/goals of the trail.



    I like the concept of "fun" as a guideline for trail design! It suffers even more from being vague than "technical" or "sustainable", but it brings in elements that neither category seem to cover.

    The idea of "fun" in trail design has come up repeatedly with my trail building partner and me.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmc4130 View Post
    "Sustainable," says the person with no good design ideas and the urge to sanitize the trail.

    "Technical," says the person with no good design ideas and the desire to leave the eroded trail as is.

    "Fun" says the designer who can both think about what is fun to ride (for different people) and works for the environment/goals of the trail.



    Well said! Fun is the umbrella I work under... only way to create a fun trail.
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  22. #22
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    In graphical form:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  23. #23
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    I think I'd be happier sterilized if it was always like this

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1120826.jpg

    However this bit of trail was sterile from the start, so I guess it is just sad trail

  24. #24
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    Before I read, or even listen to a single word complaining about a trail, or modifications to it, I always ask "how many hours have you spent working on trails this year"
    If the answer is less than... about 15 hours, then the complainer gets to shut the fvck up - they have nothing to say on the subject, period.

    The author of this article didn't establish himself as someone who gets to speak about this subject, as far as I can tell.

    Now if you dig and try to build stuff you want to ride, and are steered by some external political or environmental factor away from the best trail you think you can build, fine, complain away. It happens where I ride/build all the time (95% of our trails have to have a pretty beginner-friendly line down the middle).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    In graphical form:
    Nice !!


    Note how IMBA juggles those three balls (circles) in this:

    Fifteen Tips for Building Excellent Downhill Trails | International Mountain Bicycling Association

  26. #26
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    Re: Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic

    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    Before I read, or even listen to a single word complaining about a trail, or modifications to it, I always ask "how many hours have you spent working on trails this year"
    If the answer is less than... about 15 hours, then the complainer gets to shut the fvck up - they have nothing to say on the subject, period.

    The author of this article didn't establish himself as someone who gets to speak about this subject, as far as I can tell.

    Now if you dig and try to build stuff you want to ride, and are steered by some external political or environmental factor away from the best trail you think you can build, fine, complain away. It happens where I ride/build all the time (95% of our trails have to have a pretty beginner-friendly line down the middle).
    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    I like the concept of "fun" as a guideline for trail design! It suffers even more from being vague than "technical" or "sustainable", but it brings in elements that neither category seem to cover.

    The idea of "fun" in trail design has come up repeatedly with my trail building partner and me.
    Shhhhhhhhh . Some people call it the other F word. Flow. : )
    Should you do more trail work?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Shhhhhhhhh . Some people call it the other F word. Flow. : )
    OK, but...

    You've never had fun threading through a tricky rock garden? Lifting your front wheel over a root otherwise impossible to cross? Riding a skinny?

    If so, your definition of fun is too narrow.

    Flow trails are great, I want more of them. But I don't want to build all flow trail.

    Walt

  28. #28
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    Big difference between flow and a flow trail.
    Should you do more trail work?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    OK, but...

    You've never had fun threading through a tricky rock garden? Lifting your front wheel over a root otherwise impossible to cross? Riding a skinny?

    If so, your definition of fun is too narrow.

    Flow trails are great, I want more of them. But I don't want to build all flow trail.

    Walt
    Good point. I see great trail this way, you see it that way.

    We have been trying to get our land manager to endorse the concept of small groups of individual trail guardians - the adopt a trail theory. It is nothing new for dudes working on DJ or DH trails. We say it ensures a variety of trail characteristics, rather than the same feel all through the park, plus local knowledge of sightlines etc. They say we need more volunteers putting effort into less trail before they will consider broadening the current arrangements which limit where we work (except in an emergency).

    There's a problem right there - one standard and that standard is IMBA + local LM rules + limited minions working under the benevolent guidance of the anointed few. That anointment stuff feels good, but riders looking for a more gganarrly experience tend to coat it with a thick layer of flung dung. Fighting spontaneous combustion within the volunteer group here is a bigger issue than trail sanity.

  30. #30
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    Gnaturally gnarly...

    ...my $.02:

    I say if a local terrain was primarily rocks and roots before a trail was built across it; then that's how it should stay.

    If a trail erodes down to where it's primarily rocks and roots and has stabilized then that's how it should stay.

    (I don't need to say that "fixing" the above is a waste of time and only causes more environmental degradation???)

    But promoting gnarl that is the result of poor trail design gives MTB'ing a black eye. (We're talking public land here; on your own private property you can do what you think you can get away with)

    2nd point:

    Out here in Kalifornia if we're lucky enough to get trail access it'll probably be on an MUT. Multi-use (for review) = hikers + bikers + horses.

    Mostly lost on the MTB bike advocacy community are the new (not THAT new) ADA rules that require most new trails (and re-routes) that are accessible to pedestrians also be suitable for mobility devices.

    This requirement drives width, slope and trail surface quality; some trail sanitization seen is simply the land manager trying to accommodate these rules. The land manager could be sued/cited if trails aren't so maintained. Blame the hikers for inviting the "chairs"! (I've got nothing against the mobility-impaired)

    PS; I'm all for bike-only trails!
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by pliebenberg View Post
    But promoting gnarl that is the result of poor trail design gives MTB'ing a black eye. (We're talking public land here; on your own private property you can do what you think you can get away with)
    This is important. MTB has been inaccurately labelled as environmentally damaging, when it has really been the quality of trail at fault. Land managers want stable and sustainable trail. In our area, that means extensive trail changes. It's hard to have it both ways - old and eroded must be made sustainable or it could be closed. This is the reality most trailworkers live with.

  32. #32
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    My understanding is that the ADA accessibility rules apply only to gates and other obstructions, not the trail itself.

    See attached...
    Attached Files Attached Files
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  33. #33
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    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic

    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    My understanding is that the ADA accessibility rules apply only to gates and other obstructions, not the trail itself.

    See attached...
    How old is that document? As I read the new ADA rules a couple years back it sounded like they applied to the trails themselves and that land managers would have to provide sound management reasons why trails would not comply with those rules regarding access for mobility devices (wheelchairs). Otherwise, it sounded like all multiuse trails would have to be ADA compliant.

    They sounded like a slippery slope waiting to happen, yet I am not aware of any mtb trails being modified specifically to accomodate those rules. Maybe some clarification was issued or the rules changed yet again, I don't know.

  34. #34
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    The ADA rules were just ratified. For those not familar with ADA, an ADA trail is very similar to what mountain bikers would rate as Easiest:
    Clear tread width: 36" minimum
    Tread Obstacles: 2" high maximum (up to 3" high where running and cross slopes are 5% or less)
    Cross Slope: 5% max.
    Running slope (trail grade) meets one or more of the following:
    - 5% or less for any distance.
    - up to 8.33% for 200' max. Resting intervals no more than 200' apart.
    - up to10% for 30' max. Resting intervals 30'.
    - up to 12.5% for 10' max. Resting intervals 10'.
    No more than 30% of the total trail length may exceed a running slope of 8.33%.
    Passing Space: provided at least every 1000' where trail width is less than 60"
    Signs: shall be provided indicating the length of the accessible trail segment.


    Here is the section that is important to us.

    "F247 Trails
    F247.1 General
    This section contains the scoping requirements for trails. The terms trail and trailhead are defined in F106.5. A trail is a pedestrian route developed primarily for outdoor recreational purposes. A pedestrian route developed primarily to connect elements, spaces, and facilities within a site is not a trail. A trailhead is an outdoor space that is designated by an entity responsible for administering or maintaining a trail to serve as an access point to the trail. The junction of two or more trails or the undeveloped junction of a trail and a road is not a trailhead.
    Where a trail is designed for use by hikers or pedestrians and directly connects to a trailhead or another trail that substantially meets the technical requirements for trails in 1017, the section requires the trail to comply with the technical requirements for trails in 1017. The Federal Trail Data Standards classify trails by their designed use and managed use.8 A trail has only one designed use that determines the design, construction, and maintenance parameters for the trail. A trail can have more than one managed use based on a management decision to other uses on the trails. Trails that have a designed use for hikers or pedestrians are required to comply with the technical requirements for trails in 1017. Trails that have a designed use for other than hikers or pedestrians are not required to comply with the technical requirements for trails in 1017.

    A trail system may include a series of connecting trails. Only trails that directly connect to a trail head or another trail that substantially meets the technical requirement for trails in 1017 are required to comply with the technical requirements for trails in 1017."

    This can be good or bad. Terminology is going to be very important. If a new trail is officially labeled as multi-use (hike/bike) or a hiking trail, (even if it allows mountain biking), it will have to be built to ADA requirements, unless the reasons for not doing so are documented. Existing trails are supposed to be upgraded to ADA if significant work is done to them (unless reasons for not doing so are documented).

    I do not know how this will play out. There isn't agency that is going to run around enforcing the rules. But if a person feels they were not provided access to a park, they can sue. So it will be up to each land management entity to determine how much legal risk they wish to take by not providing new ADA trails or bringing existing trails into compliance.

    The good news is that a trail designated and designed for mountain biking as a primary use, is not held to the ADA standards. In one park system I work with, we historically had to call our trails "Multi-Use Trails", Now they are being called "Mountain Bike Trails (that allow hiking).

    I personally think that many in the hiking and trail running user groups have been asleep at the wheel on ADA. Hikers and Trail runners are like mountain bikers in that they as a group like a wide range of different trail types. Many like steep, technical, single track, and those segments of the hiking and trail running groups are not going to be happy with the Super Sterilized multi-use and hike trails ADA is going to drive Parks to build.

    In some places the only way hikers and trail runners are going to get new technical trails, is to call them mountain bike trails!

    But of course some land managers will be dead set on calling trail multi use. They will require trails to be built to ADA standards. And local mountain bikers will be upset, and likely will blame IMBA or the local mtb advocacy organization.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by indytrekracer View Post
    The ADA rules were just ratified. For those not familar with ADA, an ADA trail is very similar to what mountain bikers would rate as Easiest:
    I wouldn't say "just ratified"; this egg was laid back in 1999, it hatched in 2006, made it to the market in January 2009, and was served up on a plate in March of 2012. The deadline for public comment was in October, 2007.

    Many trail advocacy groups were "asleep at the switch" with this; sort of a "that's about wheelchairs; can't apply to us" mentality. The US Department of Justice had other ideas!

    I will say that there are quite a few loopholes that will allow for "gnarly" trails; but these must be carefully exploited.

    Yes on "Mountain Bike Skills Trail"! (or perhaps "Bouldering Training Course"!?!?)

    FWIW; local to me a county parks dept. has been building multi-use trails to the "new" standard for a couple of years now and the results are impressive. Fast with lots of flow; they don't feel like "wheelchair" trails.

    The best site I've found to keep tabs is American Trails - Accessible Trails and ADA

    Here's the ADA.gov homepage site.

    Most applicable to the trails MTBers would be building is the USFS site: USDA Forest Service - Caring for the land and serving people.

    Here's California State Park's take on it http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/CA-acce...elines2009.pdf

    264 pages; only 4 pages relate to trails:








    Page 225 describes the amount of acceptable gnarl; 2" diameter roots and rocks---3" on trail grades 5% and less. So a totally smooth trail surface is not a requirement.
    Content here does not officially represent the CA DPR.

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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    How old is that document? As I read the new ADA rules a couple years back it sounded like they applied to the trails themselves and that land managers would have to provide sound management reasons why trails would not comply with those rules regarding access for mobility devices (wheelchairs). Otherwise, it sounded like all multiuse trails would have to be ADA compliant.

    They sounded like a slippery slope waiting to happen, yet I am not aware of any mtb trails being modified specifically to accomodate those rules. Maybe some clarification was issued or the rules changed yet again, I don't know.

    I'm not sure about the validity or timeliness of the doc (it's what I was sent), but this is the standard that the District/Region just recently applied to singletrack trail cattleguards. They said if the trail keeps going on the other side of a fence crossing, and the crossing is usable by a pedestrian, then the crossing must also meet wheelchair width (32") and slope (1:9) requirements. They also said this didn't apply to the trail itself, just the CGs and other pedestrian crossings, such as walk through gates, which require an WC accessible gate next to them.

    A thing to keep in mind with accessability issues is that we have a growing number of handcyclists who benefit from these accommodations that would otherwise prevent them from continuing down the trail. None of the handcyclists I know advocate sanitizing trails, it's just that they can't lift themselves and their bike over the fence.
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  37. #37
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    I think the sterilized-singletrack really is a spreading epidemic. I recently moved to Anchorage, AK from CO and before that MT. It seems that if you ride any of the recently built trails in any of these states with very different terrain, you are almost riding the same trail but with different scenery.

    The problem I think comes from a combination of using a trail machine instead of hand-building (I know it's a cost saver but it really builds one type of trail) and building to spec rather than the local terrain.

    When I picture singletrack, I imagine something closer to 12" wide, not 36" wide, without every rock and pebble bulldozed out of the way. Google Whitehorse, Yukon, and see how they have somehow managed to build 700km of real singletrack, and it looks like a large amount of it was done without a mini-bulldozer.

    It would be really nice to see clubs/groups that stand up for unique-ness, rather than just "some dirt is better than no dirt." It is a real bummer when you travel over a thousand miles only to ride the same trail which is being built in every town in the country, blind of the individual traits of that local area.

  38. #38
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    It's just the timeline. Previously trails were gnarly quicker and badly damaged quicker. Now it takes longer for them to become more natural, but they still do.

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    It would be really nice to see clubs/groups that stand up for unique-ness, rather than just "some dirt is better than no dirt."
    You have a choice to make, get involved locally and commit to making a difference, or stay on the sidelines and hope that others will build what you want.

    The fact remains that the main reason trails are built as they are is because the landowners/landagents define what they will allow. It's not up to the designers and trail builders. This will take much time and effort to change that midset, it's not as easy as trail organizations just saying "hell no, we won't build it". The land agents just shrug and have it built anyway.

  40. #40
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    The "park" that I regularly ride in used to be called a park. As these new rules started to become an issue the name was changed and it is now called a wildlife conservation area. Thankfully here that does not preclude mechanized travel only motorized so bicycles don't need to be excluded. It is also in a watershed and the flowing water areas can not be altered so it does not need to meet the new requirements of width and smoothness because the rocks in the creek crossing can't be moved and the banks can't be reshaped.

    Maybe some places need to have their designations changed...

  41. #41
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    If you are posting here about sterilized trails, and you haven't yet made yourself an indispensable part of your local club/advocacy group and put your boots and tools in the dirt/ass in chair at meetings, then honestly, STFU. Probably if you were doing those things, you wouldn't be here, or at least you'd understand better how trails evolve and how designs get done in collaboration with *all* user groups and managers.

    Want gnarlier trails? Make it happen. Posting here won't do it.

    -W

  42. #42
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    Browsing this forum and others, in addition to speaking with riders on the trail and during build/maintenance sessions, it seems that a lot of riders are disgruntled with the direction that many clubs and groups are taking when designing and building trails. These people, including myself, also volunteer their time, sweat, and money...

    Unfortunately, the one-size-fits-all problem is more systemic than local, and it makes a lot of sense to discuss it on an online forum. It's part of the 'doing things right the first time' philosophy, so that in 10 or 20 years we don't look back and wish we hadn't built the same style of trail every single time, all across the country.

    Thanks for the lecture though. I aspire to one day be as good of poster as you.. 10,000 hours, ya know? Being great at a forum takes time, and your ass is obviously in the chair more than mine.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by SknnyTrlzRbttr View Post
    Browsing this forum and others, in addition to speaking with riders on the trail and during build/maintenance sessions, it seems that a lot of riders are disgruntled with the direction that many clubs and groups are taking when designing and building trails. These people, including myself, also volunteer their time, sweat, and money...

    Unfortunately, the one-size-fits-all problem is more systemic than local, and it makes a lot of sense to discuss it on an online forum. It's part of the 'doing things right the first time' philosophy, so that in 10 or 20 years we don't look back and wish we hadn't built the same style of trail every single time, all across the country.

    Thanks for the lecture though. I aspire to one day be as good of poster as you.. 10,000 hours, ya know? Being great at a forum takes time, and your ass is obviously in the chair more than mine.
    Walt was pretty blunt, but is correct. Trails happen because the person or persons building them wanted that sort of trail. Personally I like flowy trails, so that's what I build. I'm a volunteer, I'm not going to start building trail I don't want to ride. If you want to put in the time to shape a trail to your requirements I'm sure your local club would be happy to accommodate you.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    If you are posting here about sterilized trails, and you haven't yet made yourself an indispensable part of your local club/advocacy group and put your boots and tools in the dirt/ass in chair at meetings, then honestly, STFU. Probably if you were doing those things, you wouldn't be here, or at least you'd understand better how trails evolve and how designs get done in collaboration with *all* user groups and managers.

    Want gnarlier trails? Make it happen. Posting here won't do it.

    -W
    This. The loudest complainers I know never touch a tool to work on a trail. Even when completely new trails are being built, and they have a chance to affect an entire project, they won't do it. But they will complain about the new trails when they get to ride them.

  45. #45
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    I take it you are pro anonymous-internet-complaining to solve real world problems, then?

    Touche, sir!

    -Walt

  46. #46
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    I think some people think flow = no tech. I find as a DHer you can find flow in most situations, its about how hard that line is to find or power it takes to generate.

    Its really not easy building a flowy trail that has tech, its easier to build a "flow" trail.

    I'd say its taken me a good three-four years of trial and error to really nail both those concepts together well. Like that rock garden and smooth section that transition from one to the other seamlessly.

    Build crews matter too, if you teach people to bench and you only have once/twice in a season volunteers, you're going to try to manage them to plug out identical product. If you as the head builder flagged lines appropriately and incorporated options where things might otherwise get funky (like running and trying to stop while running down a hill feeling) and you have a good crew or regulars and bosses, you can get away with more creativity and tech.

    Now how you get to a volunteer "regular" though is where some volunteers get frustrated and stuck. They don't want to build the "product" to the standards and when you ask them to they have other ideas, they want to show up once or twice and get taken seriously. Takes a good dozen sessions in the dirt, and a couple meetings, to really get to know another builders' capability/"trail vision".

    Besides, if everything is gnar gnar and not beginner friendly, how will we grow the sport/funding base/advocacy/lobby/fight the powers that want to keep us out of the woods?

  47. #47
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    Totally agree that flow and tech can exist harmoniously. Routing the trail so that you can carry a bit of speed through the rocks and roots seems to help a lot. Most of the stuff I work on must be ridable in both directions, so a slightly easier climbing line is built in, or develops on its own pretty quickly. I get abuse for pulling bigger roots sometimes, but sometimes they have to go. Most people [i.e. the vast majority] just ride around off-camber roots anyway, so I'm okay with "sanitizing" 6' of trail once in a while. There are plenty of other challenges on the trail...

    Managing workers on trail days can be challenging, and we definitely get green volunteers out on a regular basis. I find that doing a quick demo of the desired technique and outcome helps a lot. Also, initially explaining which roots and rocks to remove/keep, and walking the line answering questions for the first 30-60 minutes dramatically improves the quality of the finished product, at least in my experience.
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  48. #48
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    [QUOTE Around here (B.C.) it is up to riders/volunteers to make they trails they want. I don't know the situation where you are, but if your local club has build nights I'm sure they will be happy to accept your suggestions if you want to put the work in (for go-arounds, features, etc.) This is often put pretty bluntly as 'show up or shut up.'[/QUOTE]
    Some of our trails are definitely getting sterilized.. Like richard Juryn trail. They did a boat load of of work on it this year. Last year it was rooty & techy. It has now been "flowed" it is smoother faster and way eaier too ride than it used to be. Im not complaining but I do miss some of what they flowed over. But it is still a sweet trail. Ive been using it year round for three years as training ground. It is perfect for that.
    It have very technical extreme climbs, good roots sections still and some very fast sections now. All with a beautiful BC views
    I just did squamish last weekend half nelson and such, it was my first time on a Bike park style trail. A lot of fun so buffed and flowy. Fastest trail I have ever ridden. I still prefer tech single track as that is what got me me to lose 30lbs.. Still got another 15 to go...

  49. #49
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    I thought a pic and a few lines may be a way to keep this thread going, as it has lots of good perspectives. After doing some work yesterday, we went for a walk through a planned trail line with a local pro builder - Pete Wilson of Trailworx. There is some grant money available for building, rocks etc and Trailworx is offering a quote.

    Obviously the issue of trail characteristics was a big part of the discussion. It is always good to hear alternate ideas, like what features and alternate lines can do to regulate trail speed and how realigning trail that riders are taking too fast may be less successful than re-modelling the exit for the fast riders who will still blow out of the new line.

    Of course any pro builder knows the old "you pulled out all the rocks and ruined our trail" line better than volunteers do. Pete added to that argument with a story of hearing the need for rocky tech from a very elite racer and then after an hour of chasing her hard (something he seemed to have fond memories of..), watching her riding around the rocky tech like everyone else.

    Anyway, I thought I'd post a pic of a little test riding on what can only be called sanitized, new trail, because it is smooth. It is also in terrain with limited surface rock and is incomplete, but has been ridden so much the built sections really do look sanitized as the rest is just a rougher line through the bush. No problem, it's only national park. Signs were torn down, again. I guess signs asking time to complete the trail the tearer-downer obviously already loves enough to poach makes sense to some riders.

    Things may get more than a little tense when wet weather arrives in ernest. Until then, here's some sanity

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1150692.jpg

  50. #50
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    Two things came to mind as I read this:

    A) I get a lot of the whole too much trail is sterilized and not techy enough comments when I tell people I'm building some new trail. Those same people have come out and ridden the trail I'm working on and done things like ride around a set of rock step ups. I've also had people complain that there's no "way to ride around" a particular rock garden. The trail is rated "Advanced" or "More Difficult" - why should there be a way around the rock garden? And why would ride around a rock step up (or step down) not 10 minutes after telling me trail is too sanitized? Because people like to complain, and sometimes the easiest way to complain is to repeat the complaints you've heard from riders you respect, or riders that are better than you. On of the local riders I respect most likes my trail - he said it's technical enough to provide opportunities to work, but not so technical that you don't have to work if you don't want to, and that it's ideal for having fun. This cat frequently blows people's minds with this track stands and other antics on his rigid SS. My conclusion, in listening to people talk, is that people will complain.

    B) In building trail around here, I've found that some people think they're entitled to ride trail any time they can figure out where it is. When trail is built around here, it pretty much HAS to be rained on before you can let people start riding it. It's all the clay. If the soil is dry, you put a trail together, and the tread is baby powder. If people ride it before it rains, you just get blown out grooves. As a result, I try to connect trails right before it rains, but sometimes, that rain never happens, and I have to keep tape up across a new trail entrance for some time, as well as signs asking people not to ride it. Want me to tell you how well that works? I've had people take down the tape, and leave it laying in the woods next to the trail, I've had them tear down the signs, I've had them wear a path in the woods going around the tape - in short, if you build a trail somewhere, someone is going to disrespect it, from the second it's finished, until it's completely obliterated.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    If you are posting here about sterilized trails, and you haven't yet made yourself an indispensable part of your local club/advocacy group and put your boots and tools in the dirt/ass in chair at meetings,

    -W
    Done and done.

    Now, let's talk about these frigging dirt sidewalks.
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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Two things came to mind as I read this:

    B) In building trail around here, I've found that some people think they're entitled to ride trail any time they can figure out where it is. When trail is built around here, it pretty much HAS to be rained on before you can let people start riding it. It's all the clay. If the soil is dry, you put a trail together, and the tread is baby powder. If people ride it before it rains, you just get blown out grooves. As a result, I try to connect trails right before it rains, but sometimes, that rain never happens, and I have to keep tape up across a new trail entrance for some time, as well as signs asking people not to ride it. Want me to tell you how well that works? I've had people take down the tape, and leave it laying in the woods next to the trail, I've had them tear down the signs, I've had them wear a path in the woods going around the tape - in short, if you build a trail somewhere, someone is going to disrespect it, from the second it's finished, until it's completely obliterated.
    I could not have written this any better. Just got done with a 4.2 mile stacked loop on an existing trail. We were doing an inspection with the builder and up the hill comes a group of 8 that had tore down the tape I put up less than 20 minutes prior. Trail wasn't even close to being done.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    in short, if you build a trail somewhere, someone is going to disrespect it, from the second it's finished, until it's completely obliterated.
    ....and then they'll complain about it being obliterated and say "somebody ought to go out and fix that" but will never ever ever show up to a build or trail maintenance day because...you know, they're busy and don't want to cut into their ride time.

  54. #54
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    I got a bit too cranky yesterday and let rip on yet another group poaching our current trail project. When rider one of four would not stop and get off the trail and features we were building I stepped in front of him, forced him to get off the trail and started as pleasantly as I could - "Do you really think that riding past 2 trail closed signs and under multiple flagging tapes is reasonable behaviour?" His response was, "Well what are you doing building on the weekend when we want to ride?" Full time work leaving weekends as our best build option (this week we worked Wed, Sat and Sun) was not an excuse for this dude. "Well why isn't it open?" "Because it's not finished" "Why isn't it finished?" "Because we haven't finished it" "Why not?" "Because it isn't built yet" "What do you mean not built yet?"
    At this point I had had enough. Signs pulled down, riders busting through trail closures within minutes of us erecting them and wasting our time trying to explain over and over and over what is going on, year after year. "Because it is not an open trail. It isn't completed yet. How f**king dumb are you?" he comes back with "If you're working for national parks you have no right to talk to us like that." Geezus, these douches are giving lip to workers trying to build a trail for them and they think we should not be working because they want to poach it and that I should respect their right to do that and be nice about it.

    I took their photos (they looked really happy) and gave them a big mouthful of verbal before they finally did leave. I feel bad for lowering myself, but I've had enough. The previous bozo mumbled something about "Well you should put up signs" "You mean like the 2 you just ignored and rode past?"

    These jerks are interspersed with all the never helping experts who all know better how to build trail and just love to ride down the closed line to waste more of our time proving their point. If we build new wide trail (so it will be safe when the line narrows, it is either dumbed down or too fast. When we add features with options, they are too scary regardless of the ability to regulate sped and technique. Bikes do come with brakes as I recall! So the key to making trail for all the ingrates here is to build only what each individual is comfortable with and stay off unconstructed trail so we don't interfere with the poaching. Oy vey.

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    I got a bit too cranky yesterday and let rip on yet another group poaching our current trail project. When rider one of four would not stop and get off the trail and features we were building I stepped in front of him, forced him to get off the trail and started as pleasantly as I could - "Do you really think that riding past 2 trail closed signs and under multiple flagging tapes is reasonable behaviour?" His response was, "Well what are you doing building on the weekend when we want to ride?" Full time work leaving weekends as our best build option (this week we worked Wed, Sat and Sun) was not an excuse for this dude. "Well why isn't it open?" "Because it's not finished" "Why isn't it finished?" "Because we haven't finished it" "Why not?" "Because it isn't built yet" "What do you mean not built yet?"
    At this point I had had enough. Signs pulled down, riders busting through trail closures within minutes of us erecting them and wasting our time trying to explain over and over and over what is going on, year after year. "Because it is not an open trail. It isn't completed yet. How f**king dumb are you?" he comes back with "If you're working for national parks you have no right to talk to us like that." Geezus, these douches are giving lip to workers trying to build a trail for them and they think we should not be working because they want to poach it and that I should respect their right to do that and be nice about it.

    I took their photos (they looked really happy) and gave them a big mouthful of verbal before they finally did leave. I feel bad for lowering myself, but I've had enough. The previous bozo mumbled something about "Well you should put up signs" "You mean like the 2 you just ignored and rode past?"

    These jerks are interspersed with all the never helping experts who all know better how to build trail and just love to ride down the closed line to waste more of our time proving their point. If we build new wide trail (so it will be safe when the line narrows, it is either dumbed down or too fast. When we add features with options, they are too scary regardless of the ability to regulate sped and technique. Bikes do come with brakes as I recall! So the key to making trail for all the ingrates here is to build only what each individual is comfortable with and stay off unconstructed trail so we don't interfere with the poaching. Oy vey.
    "If you are working for national parks, you have no right to talk to us like that." Classic douchenozzle talk. That's a truly spectacular level of entitlement. You have pictures? Oh please, pretty please post the faces of these idiots. With luck we might get an ID.

  56. #56
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    We have discussed what to do with pics. I'm not one for a wall of shame and I just want the message to be accepted that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable or safe. I don't know where we would stand if someone poached and was injured while we are working. It seems really weird having to leave the site in a rideable state each day, just in case Joe Selfish and his mates come charging through.

    Anyway, I do have their pics and can pass them on to the land manager, but our purpose is to make things better for riders and I do not like being put in the position of dobbing in fellow riders. Apart from that I doubt they will poach your trails without an airfare to the USA, but I bet you have the local equivalent knuckleheads.

  57. #57
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    We typically build trails starting in the middle and work towards the start and finish. We only bust through the ends when the trail is complete. This allows the trail workers to ride the trail as we build it (because they know where it is), and the back seat trail builders typically can't find it to bother us.

    Every trail we build has its distractors. Too hard, too easy, too fast, too slow, too many rocks, not enough rocks, etc.... Best if they don't get the chance to back seat trail build until the trail is done.

  58. #58
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    That's very decent of you to refrain from posting the photos of this batch of fools. It's probably not worth risking the possibility their liknesses are protected or some such.
    I do agree that working from the middle of or backward into a reroute can reduce the potential for conflict.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    I'm not one for a wall of shame ...
    Great Idea. If you don't mind I will start one. Promise to protect the guilty.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by indytrekracer View Post
    We typically build trails starting in the middle and work towards the start and finish. We only bust through the ends when the trail is complete. This allows the trail workers to ride the trail as we build it (because they know where it is), and the back seat trail builders typically can't find it to bother us.

    Every trail we build has its distractors. Too hard, too easy, too fast, too slow, too many rocks, not enough rocks, etc.... Best if they don't get the chance to back seat trail build until the trail is done.
    We have done that with mixed success, mostly none. Around here they can spot a vole track and follow it - and we don't have voles. Nothing remains hidden although we managed to get 8 months of 9 into one project without a single poach. That however was years ago and while the trail is now included with almost all other trails in the area as MTB trail requiring some work to be declared legal, back then it was just plain illegal. That does not mean we made it badly and there was only one renovation recommended on the official trail audit, something that has not been an issue in the last couple of years and not one of the jobs we feel is a priority for that trail today. For clarification, we build better now as all our work is approved by the LM and all the work we feel this trail requires is due to inexperience and secrecy. To offer perspective about the following pics, the after rain photo was taken after 200mm (8") of rain in 1 day. The trail is rougher than the pics and more threatening now, but it remains a favourite line and drains better than when it was made.
    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1030065.jpgSterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1020968.jpgSterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1030066.jpgSterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1020886.jpg

    In recent years the problem has not been trying to build on the sly, it has been keeping people off the trails under construction. When you have a LM unable to accept the release of maps or signposting until a trail is declared legal and a background of almost none of the trails being legal for decades, then a riding population with no respect is hardly a surprise.

    While I can draw a line between what we used to do when we repaired or built without permission and riders tearing down our trail construction signs and barricades for a few selfish minutes of pleasure, I know others would neither know nor care about that. That's no justification, just the way it is.

    In the past we have had far worse happen to our trails:
    Orange construction-site mesh fencing cut and torn to ride 15cm deep ruts into hundreds of metres of immature trail after hundreds of mm of rain falling continuously over weeks.
    Entire lengths of incomplete trail continuously poached that we wasted time to block with massive logs and other obstructions every 20m to be unblocked by just pushing everything to the edge of the trail, not once or twice, but....etc

    Time spent on this is time not spent on trail building

    We have tried for years to get the message out. While some committee have tried, our local MTB club has neglected its obligations to help the LM and certainly a percentage of our never-help poachers are members or friends of members of the club. It's pi$$ poor IMO, but it is what it is.

    Sounds pretty depressing, but of course it isn't if you have a passion for trail. There are a couple of silver linings coming up in our hood, financial ones with machines. Currently everything we do is on a nothing taken in or out and no machinery policy (nothing, building materials, chainsaws, vehicles, nothing) and that is partly why we are hurt by trail abuse. Even if silver linings fall through, the challenge of building trail for everyone who likes to ride, including us is enough reason to put up with the hassles.

    I don't like to get angry with people who like what I like and that is why I am not a fan of a poacher's wall of fame in this case. When I skied at Castle Mountain in Alberta I noted the sign saying poachers would be hanged, as well as a pic on the lift at the day lodge of a dude who had his pass confiscated for poaching that week. I had a beer with him and his lifty mates and he seemed like an OK guy. Probably like most of the guys and girls who $hit us off. But he was warned and we cannot warn the riding public on national park land. Plus we all have to ride together and here I cannot walk away from the drama.

    Other than the main goal of good (and more) trail, other issues really have to be lower on the agenda. Maybe I should dumb down my mood because it all still bothers me and I don't like the idea of self-sterilization

  61. #61
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    Our YCC trail crews enjoy having riders pass through their work site, no problem. Maybe it's because they are getting paid, that they don't cop a superior attitude towards riders.
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  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    Our YCC trail crews enjoy having riders pass through their work site, no problem. Maybe it's because they are getting paid, that they don't cop a superior attitude towards riders.
    Or you have volunteers building on a Land Manager agreed plan who closed the trail with signs and dead fall or take as agreed upon, addressing politely first, then more abruptly riders blowing through closures giving them lip it'd be different? Maybe....

    I had a bunch of knuckle heads ride UP a berm I was building last year after asking them to keep off of it when they were 50 meters out, I had a string of niceties for them.

    Keep on trucking builders....

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    Our YCC trail crews enjoy having riders pass through their work site, no problem. Maybe it's because they are getting paid, that they don't cop a superior attitude towards riders.
    I see two distinctly different scenarios here.

    1. Trail crew out working on an open trail
    2. Riders poaching a clearly signed closed and barricaded trail that is under construction.

    In the first case, there shouldn't be any conflict or attitude. I've had countless interactions with people out riding while we are doing trail work, and I'm struggling to remember a time when the passing riders aren't appreciative and say thank you.

    A very well respected pro builder gave the best advice I've heard on this subject. He said, don't shame a passing rider while you are out working on trails. He said he's come off of trail building jobs where he's working sun up to sun down for weeks on end and then takes one day off to actually go ride, and gets lip from some trail volunteer guilting him for being out riding (on an open trail) while they are working.

    That doesn't cast builders in a positive light, and it sure isn't going to win you any friends or new volunteers. Volunteering your time to build is awesome, being a dick about it pretty much negates that.

    The second case is entirely different. Those riders know exactly what they are doing and are too selfish to give a crap. First off, riding closed trails that are under construction is a liability. Last thing any builder wants is some tool out poaching a closed trail getting injured then suing their group or the LM. Second, poaching closed/under construction trails often leads to damage and many hours of rework. Hours that could/should be spent building new trail or improving what's there.

    Every last hour I spend building comes out of my riding time, and yes it pisses me off when someone disrespects that. Every builder I know feels the same.

    If I ran across poachers with the level of jackassery exhibited by those that Ridnparadise did, I doubt that I would have handled it any differently, and don't fault him one bit for the way he handled those guys.

    That said, I highly doubt getting into a verbal confrontation with tools like that is going to change their behavior for the better. In fact, it will probably just make them feel justified in poaching more.

    I think it's human nature to react defensively when someone calls you out for doing something you know isn't right. Some people will think about it after, and make a change for the better. Others will continue to shift the blame to away from themselves... "why are you working on the weekend when I want to ride"...."why aren't your signs better"....blah blah blah. Those types are just justifying their bad behavior. Those types will probably think, "F-it, those trail builders are a-holes, I'm going to poach everything they build whenever I want."

  64. #64
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    I agree with all these comments. I actually feel pretty bad for losing it, but we have spent so many days, not just hours trying to prevent this sort of thing happening and repairing the results. We are about to enter our wet period. That can mean huge deluges and sustained rain periods. 1.5m of rain is possible over the next 3-4 months.

    Water here does not just run on the surface and pool up. There is a layer where roots run for long distances on clay over rock. Water follows those roots below the surface in channels that expand as the clay contracts over dry periods. It then wells up under the tread and flows out of the upslope rendering the tread totally vulnerable.

    Currently we are experiencing a 9 month long dry spell. The project we are on is on the most vulnerable terrain - minimal sideslope, within eyesight of the trailhead and we are trying to construct features that will give the trail a blue rating to replace the old trail line (which was rated blue in the official audit because it is $**t, not because it is inherently hard). Previously we have had damage of such magnitude to closed trail that parts will never be what they were intended. That is not just because of excessive widening where deep ruts were avoided, but because conditions never came right to make the type of repairs needed, so the altered lines and effects on drainage will come back and bite us again when things do get really sodden.

    You cannot explain this stuff to every rider who chooses to go where they shouldn't or you'd never get any work done.

    We want this (sorry for the lack of helmet. This was just a quick test ride)

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1150733.jpg

    Not this

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1100770.jpg

    which is what happens when volunteers built trail with a mind only to distance and not sustainability. The cure is not as easy or fast as the damage

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1100774.jpg

    We have to worry about poaching and after years of making this public via our and the club's website, the club's Facebook page and spreading the word pleasantly to riders, fact is nothing has changed. When you get social media comments like "School kids - it always happens in the holidays", you know who you are up against because it isn't school holidays!!

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by indytrekracer View Post
    We typically build trails starting in the middle and work towards the start and finish. We only bust through the ends when the trail is complete. This allows the trail workers to ride the trail as we build it (because they know where it is), and the back seat trail builders typically can't find it to bother us.
    Yah, we do this all the time. Leave the first and last 20m unbuilt, and typically with all the trees/shrubs in place. When the center is complete, we get some extra bodies and hammer out the start and finish simultaneously. Occasionally, somebody will ride the unfinished trail, but most peeps are pretty lazy. We reverse the process when we close trails, reclaiming the first and last 20m, then taking our time through the middle.
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  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    Our YCC trail crews enjoy having riders pass through their work site, no problem. Maybe it's because they are getting paid, that they don't cop a superior attitude towards riders.
    Not wanting people riding through your work site isn't a matter of "superior attitude", it's a matter of first and foremost, safety for your crew and safety for the riders. Secondly people coming through your work site slows the work flow and sometimes actually sets it back when riders mess up unfinished work.

    There are plenty of good reasons to keep people off unfinished trails or if you're working on maintenance of existing trails, to make people dismount and walk around.

    When thinking about some of the challenges we have as MTB advocates I often think "we have met the enemy and it ain't hikers or tree huggers, it's us."

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkrobe View Post
    Yah, we do this all the time. Leave the first and last 20m unbuilt, and typically with all the trees/shrubs in place. When the center is complete, we get some extra bodies and hammer out the start and finish simultaneously. Occasionally, somebody will ride the unfinished trail, but most peeps are pretty lazy. We reverse the process when we close trails, reclaiming the first and last 20m, then taking our time through the middle.
    That's how I got my nickname. The kids at the middle school would go riding and find a 4km trail that wasn't there yesterday. "Must be Ninjas building these trails."
    It could have been worse I guess. They could have thought it was fairies.
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    You may be happy to hear that my dad has kicked cancer's ass. Now he's looking for whoever sent it.

  68. #68
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    As far as signage for trails that are closed because they are being constructed or maintained, the ideal is a message that goes beyond the standard "Keep Off" or "Trail Closed." I'm not remembering the source at the moment, but one of the federal agencies conducted a study and discovered that the rate of compliance was much higher if the sign included a brief explanation, like "Trail Closed -- Please respect the safety of trail workers by choosing another trail."

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Not wanting people riding through your work site isn't a matter of "superior attitude", it's a matter of first and foremost, safety for your crew and safety for the riders. Secondly people coming through your work site slows the work flow and sometimes actually sets it back when riders mess up unfinished work.

    There are plenty of good reasons to keep people off unfinished trails or if you're working on maintenance of existing trails, to make people dismount and walk around.

    When thinking about some of the challenges we have as MTB advocates I often think "we have met the enemy and it ain't hikers or tree huggers, it's us."
    I think your method just creates ill will, while mine creates good will both directions. Trail crew are polite and friendly, as are the riders, both appreciate each other. Win/win. As far as safety, not sure what you are referring to, it's a bike trail, on dirt, you can always walk around. If it's a new trail, what is there to close? Why would you not want riders to observe progress, maybe feel enfranchized a little? We are in the process of obilterating several USDAFS doubletracks and then installing a new singletrack. We urge riders to check out progress, ride the new line, make suggestions to the crew, who are interested in good ideas, and are mostly not riders themselves. They in turn discuss these ideas with their superintendent, who is a brilliant trail designer with at least 40 years of experience and appreciates good ideas. Simple happy happy.
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  70. #70
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    On our last project it was an issue of safety, two incidents, one rider almost got backed over by a sweco because they weren't smart enough to keep their distance from the crew and another one was hiking below a line that was being worked on when a boulder was rolled down the hill. Both could have ended badly, thankfully they didn't.

    We keep our projects marked as closed with snowfence and signs. As everybody else has stated, it's mostly ignored.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E View Post
    As far as signage for trails that are closed because they are being constructed or maintained, the ideal is a message that goes beyond the standard "Keep Off" or "Trail Closed." I'm not remembering the source at the moment, but one of the federal agencies conducted a study and discovered that the rate of compliance was much higher if the sign included a brief explanation, like "Trail Closed -- Please respect the safety of trail workers by choosing another trail."
    Like this which explains risk to riders and workers, damage to incomplete works etc and the alternate route riders should use

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1150791.jpg

    We have used multiple different signs including signs the land manager uses for their own trailwork. We had no-one ride the trail yesterday afternoon while we were working. A first.

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    When thinking about some of the challenges we have as MTB advocates I often think "we have met the enemy and it ain't hikers or tree huggers, it's us."
    Dead Balls Right On. You nailed it. We ain't team players and we ain't lettin go of the handlebars.

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    If it's a new trail, what is there to close?
    In my case, locally, when you dig during a dry period the whole surface turns into a baby powder. Under the crust, it's just dust. When you have a trail "finished" and it gets rained on, within 36 hours, you can open it, and let compaction begin. Prior to being rained on, if someone rides on it, it just leaves ruts. If they ride on it, then it gets rained on, your tread dries with ruts in it. If it's closed, it's closed. If I want to close a trail for *any* reason, it should, frankly, be respected. Why? Because of consideration for other people in general. I don't build trails so that I can close them for no reason and piss people off. I build them because I want to ride them as badly as anyone.

    The real problem is we live in a society where complete lack of respect for other people, and other people's efforts, is the norm, and even "cool" rather than frowned on by a majority.

  74. #74
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    ^So why not build during your wet season? We don't do any soil loosening activity during the dry season, it's big problem with our high clay content soils. Spring thaw is another vulnerable time. I found that good seasonal timing eliminated 75% of the problems and is much more efficient.

    I realize every place is different, certainly every land manager is, and so is every source of funding. Still, I have found that a light approach with impeccable timing is more productive, and that has lead to more/easier funding as well as better rider relations.
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  75. #75
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    Forehead...................................slap.

  76. #76
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    We work when it's dry, wet, after work, on weekends, on days off and into the night. There's not enough of us to back off regardless of season. However, if you look at the pics above there's one that shows what can happen when we work in certain places and it is really wet - the resulting bog makes for poor outcomes. Preparing new trail for the wet and then making minor changes as indicated is ideal.

    We have been lucky in our current site to miss early rain. It is very poorly draining, gently sloped, immediately below a poorly constructed fire road that dumps runoff onto the area and as stated, is immediately visible from the trailhead. Since we started work there some dork scratched in a new illegal line very close to where this trail will link across to an existing trail. It was made with a garden trowel or equivalent, without any drainage, re-opened an old eroded line that was annoying neighbours and we will be obliged to waste time closing it. Over the space of 3 months, about 3km of this standard of scratched out trail has appeared in vulnerable areas of the park.

    bsieb, we love making trail for riders to enjoy and we get to enjoy it too. However, what we have is a population of well over 1 million within 45 minutes drive, an average of 3 bozos building per week, no-one doing routine trail maintenance on the 60km system, plenty of people prepared to build ****, but not help with authorised work and a history of blatant, repetitive and ongoing disrespect for the national park and the authorised work being done in it.

    We work a catch 22 of not being able to satisfy demand, with a self-obsessed local population, a lack of officially (LM) disseminated knowledge, no official trail maps and limited (including outdated and inaccurate) signage. You can only do your best to ensure worksites are protected from premature pillaging and it is not easy to contain frustration all the time.

    Fortunately, despite our fears to the contrary, the LM has learned to trust our user group enough to accept professional building (starting this month elsewhere on the trail system) and they are also in the process of signing the park in a way users of all kinds will at least know where they are via QR codes and map reference points. Our greatest fear has been building trail that is destroyed by premature use leaving the LM with a bad taste, something that has cost us immense amounts of time in the past.

    Just to make it clear, we build from the middle out to the ends when we can, but it is not always possible. On this site we started with the construction of a walled turn up high and then went to the bottom where it joins to the common trail from the trailhead to build features that require time to consolidate before it gets too wet. That allows us to work in more rocky terrain higher up as the season changes to wet.

  77. #77
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    Yeah, yeah, I'm simple in your world and you probably are in mine.

    Ridin'pd- I hear you, I figured you were in the middle of somewhere, in less than ideal working conditions. In contrast, I work in NF where we can't use any mechanized anything beyond an occasional officially approved chainsaw event. Our crews still occasionally get threatened by actual rancher cowboys on horses, had one threaten to keep running his herd over anything we built. Our work season is determined by nature but generally under snow or frozen solid from December - March. Our riders are typically hip 50/60 somethings from Santa Barbara... or Boulder, road tripping around in custom Sprinters, trying to out nice each other, looking for an authentic western riding experience. Many of them become friends who come back regularly to ride and enjoy our club house fellowship. Feel free to come out if you need a vacation, be an honor to have you. You too thefriar.

    But I digress, so back to the spreading epidemic of sterilized singletrack, snubbed rules, and builder outrage.
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  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    Yeah, yeah, I'm simple in your world and you probably are in mine.

    Ridin'pd- I hear you, I figured you were in the middle of somewhere, in less than ideal working conditions. In contrast, I work in NF where we can't use any mechanized anything beyond an occasional officially approved chainsaw event. Our crews still occasionally get threatened by actual rancher cowboys on horses, had one threaten to keep running his herd over anything we built. Our work season is determined by nature but generally under snow or frozen solid from December - March. Our riders are typically hip 50/60 somethings from Santa Barbara... or Boulder, road tripping around in custom Sprinters, trying to out nice each other, looking for an authentic western riding experience. Many of them become friends who come back regularly to ride and enjoy our club house fellowship. Feel free to come out if you need a vacation, be an honor to have you. You too thefriar.

    But I digress, so back to the spreading epidemic of sterilized singletrack, snubbed rules, and builder outrage.
    Cheers for that mate. I would love to come visit.

    Re builder outrage: Got the spokes I need to rebuild my rear wheel today. They did the trip from BikeHubStore, USA to here to back to here again thanks to crappy local couriers. Brandon at BHS was really helpful and generous. He wore the cost for reposting. Soon I will have my ride back and get to blow off steam on top of the hill instead of just mining into the hill.

    You get a bit weird about trail building when you don't ride for too long.

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    ^So why not build during your wet season? We don't do any soil loosening activity during the dry season, it's big problem with our high clay content soils. Spring thaw is another vulnerable time. I found that good seasonal timing eliminated 75% of the problems and is much more efficient.

    I realize every place is different, certainly every land manager is, and so is every source of funding. Still, I have found that a light approach with impeccable timing is more productive, and that has lead to more/easier funding as well as better rider relations.
    Every place is different. And I do build in our wet season. Which is right now. But since building trail is part of my job, I can't just quit when it's dry. I shouldn't have to quit, it works just fine if people respect what's being done.

  80. #80
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    As predicted, we are 4 days into a storm cycle. Officially 95mm so far, but I live very close to the Nerang National Park and I know it has had at least 30mm more. So 5" in 30-60 minute bursts fell on our closed trail. Tomorrow I get to see the result as I was not able to get out there in the last week. However, storms are predicted for each of the next 5 afternoons, intensifying by the weekend, so you can't go out in that, even if you have a functioning bike with a cool new rear hub and haven't ridden for 2 months.

    Big things to check like how many have poached the trail through all the closures and how our sterilised singletrack has coped.

  81. #81
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    Is there a standard for determining how rocky is too rocky?

    For example, I ride certain trails systems with extremely low average speeds for the entire length of the trail. You can walk these trails faster. 4mph *downhill* gets you a Top 10 finish on Strava. These are purpose-built mountain biking trails; but more like glorified hiking trails. None of the rocks were hauled in, yet they were certainly left there. And speeds are pretty much the same on the other trails. There's no variety. The entire system is like this.

    There are some enormous boulders and rock formations which make amazing features. Those are fun to ride. What's not fun is having to claymation/ california raisin/ max headroom my way on smaller rocks across the whole trail. (Picture it...).

    So I'm wondering if there's any sort of standard.

  82. #82
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    Now there's a good question Z-wave, maybe the single hardest to answer. IMO, yes there is. It depends on the trail, on the trail system, private trail versus public, the land manager's agenda and location of the trail.

    No public trail system should have one standard of trail. No trail close to the trailhead should be unrideable by most riders, unless it is a specific purpose trail with alternatives available. Any trail covered with so many loose rocks that it is impossible to start again after stopping is probably eroded, cupped and a POS. Any trail that fails to include all types of bike (wide bars, all wheel sizes etc) given riders of an appropriate standard is outdated. Any clique of builder-riders who feel they only should dictate one standard of trail are dinosaurs and selfishly excluding the majority (everyone else).

    I love riding really tricky, rocky and tech terrain, but like most of us, I cannot do it up a 25% grade for more than a short time. As for riding down that sort of trail, I have no time for it. There is no need for a trail if that sort of trials riding downhill is your fancy. I used to ride anywhere I wanted to in the past and steep and nasty grades at really low speed were a part of that. But I would not force that on everyone else down a thin ribbon of nastiness and being forced to endure it time after time on the same line is like putting your cags in a vice for fun.

    Here's a bit of visual from a re-route that really pi$$ed off the old school, but gave a buzz to many multiples more. It is barely more than 1km from the trailhead and the only singletrack line up this part of the national park. I haven't been able to put a timely mouse on pics of the old trail line prior to the day we closed it, but despite the closure having started, in the first pic you can see all the eroded out stones that were covering the trail completely on 13-20% grades. We dragged them into piles to create water "bars" prior to chopping up and covering the old line with soil and organic matter and saying goodbye and thank goodness. All of these stones were already on the trail.

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1130573.jpg

    The old trail went basically up the falline with no drainage built in and no concept of trail evolution. It did not get better, it just became an impassable mess that 90% of riders avoided by using the fire road. The new trail is longer, contours around the hill, is fast and fun to ride down, with great vision of the trail ahead and makes getting to the top and out to the advanced trails a lot faster for good riders. Sterilised for the better, we say.

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1130548.jpgSterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1130582.jpg

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1130275.jpgSterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1130111.jpgSterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-p1120446.jpg

  83. #83
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    Slaphead should chime in on this too...

    There will be flow in any kind of tech, you just have to focus on line choice, so maybe its not the first couple times, but eventually you should be able to get a line that doesn't feel like you're driving in a student driver's car with new brakes.

    Embrace deflection and staying light on the bike vs. mashing through.

    I'm guessing there's other places to ride that are fast and furious flow though?

    In New England, we have some places that your triceps are beat because of the tech/rocks and others that have some buff trails and others yet that are much more suited for hiking and trials riders. I like a good variety, but love the chunky tech...

    Sterilized Singletrack: A Spreading Epidemic-924406d1411062387-action-pics-thread-post-em-up-10613061_10153188385434698_5180980682421724518_n.jpg

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z-wave View Post
    Is there a standard for determining how rocky is too rocky?

    For example, I ride certain trails systems with extremely low average speeds for the entire length of the trail. You can walk these trails faster. 4mph *downhill* gets you a Top 10 finish on Strava. These are purpose-built mountain biking trails; but more like glorified hiking trails. None of the rocks were hauled in, yet they were certainly left there. And speeds are pretty much the same on the other trails. There's no variety. The entire system is like this.

    There are some enormous boulders and rock formations which make amazing features. Those are fun to ride. What's not fun is having to claymation/ california raisin/ max headroom my way on smaller rocks across the whole trail. (Picture it...).

    So I'm wondering if there's any sort of standard.
    Here in New England we have rocks, lots of rocks and granite bedrock. Where is your trail system? A lot of our trail work in the State Parks are dictated by topography and soil ( rock) composition. What is claymation riding? Photos might help. The granite bedrock can be fun, sometimes relatively smooth, max traction and and no erosion issues. We just work with what we have the best we can.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefriar View Post
    Slaphead should chime in on this too...

    There will be flow in any kind of tech, you just have to focus on line choice, so maybe its not the first couple times, but eventually you should be able to get a line that doesn't feel like you're driving in a student driver's car with new brakes.

    Embrace deflection and staying light on the bike vs. mashing through.

    I'm guessing there's other places to ride that are fast and furious flow though?

    In New England, we have some places that your triceps are beat because of the tech/rocks and others that have some buff trails and others yet that are much more suited for hiking and trials riders. I like a good variety, but love the chunky tech...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yay for NE tech!

    Not my vid, but I love stuff like this (Lynn Woods, MA).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FMvaeY3sPg


    FWIW, lots of us really got into riding on this type of terrain on rigid bikes w/ canti brakes and old-school geometry back in the early 90's. As far as we were concerned, this was the funnest sort of XC riding you could find.
    Now everybody's got technology and suspension up the ass, and many still gripe about trails not being smooth enough. I don't get it. To me, non-tech riding is less interesting Not that it can't be fun by any means, but I get more satisfaction riding bonier stuff.
    Last edited by slapheadmofo; 12-19-2014 at 08:27 PM.
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