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  1. #1
    cowbell
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    Trail projects and freezing weather - carry on, or go home?

    So, those who have large trail projects in progress with all this cold weather, what do you do? Carry on building trail? Do layout work that doesn't require digging? Clear corridor? Go home? Of course we all know we should be out riding while everything is frozen...

    When everything freezes, I feel like I need a jackhammer to dig around here.

    When everything thaws, it's a mess for days.

    Layout and corridor clearing are my only friends, and the thaw days do make a weed wrench work twice as easily.

  2. #2
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    We build in the freezing weather. Depends on how bad it is though. If the top inch or so is frozen, we just break it up with a pick and keep digging. Hardest part is that it just doesn't pack in as well as we'd like.

    Just a note, riding on frozen trails is great - no damage done (at least here in VA). Riding on thawing trails though is super bad because the top layer thaws and can't drain through the frozen stuff below it.

  3. #3
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    One time I had a work day planned with bench cutting, the top inch or 2 was frozen, and like you said it was like breaking up rocks with a pick, but we (which is to say, I) said push on.

    Lesson learned, I won't do that again. Having volunteers break their backs with that little payoff make them not come back. Since that workday I always have a backup plan in case it doesn't make sense to do what I planned that day.

  4. #4
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    If it's sunny and the trail is getting greasy- bench cut the first couple inches, do some brush cutting for a while, repeat.
    I call for a mandate to allow only road bikes on trails to limit our speeds and increase our line picking skills-FB

  5. #5
    Unpredictable
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    Time for mapping, writing up trailwork proposals and clearing trail sight lines. Sweat and freezing weather are not good friends.

  6. #6
    cowbell
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    Quote Originally Posted by blake_p View Post
    We build in the freezing weather. Depends on how bad it is though. If the top inch or so is frozen, we just break it up with a pick and keep digging. Hardest part is that it just doesn't pack in as well as we'd like.

    Just a note, riding on frozen trails is great - no damage done (at least here in VA). Riding on thawing trails though is super bad because the top layer thaws and can't drain through the frozen stuff below it.
    After the amount of time we've had at freezing temps, we've got nearly 5 inches of solid freeze in places, I think partly due to the amount of moisture in the soil.

    Regarding the amount of moisture in the soil, here in TN, frozen is the only way we get to ride from about mid December to about mid March. I know there are several places in VA that are rocky enough that you can just about bunny hop the wet spots if it's above freezing there.

  7. #7
    cowbell
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    One time I had a work day planned with bench cutting, the top inch or 2 was frozen, and like you said it was like breaking up rocks with a pick, but we (which is to say, I) said push on.

    Lesson learned, I won't do that again. Having volunteers break their backs with that little payoff make them not come back. Since that workday I always have a backup plan in case it doesn't make sense to do what I planned that day.
    Yeah, that's frustrating. Layout is good, clearing corridor is good, checking sight lines - but I've found benching is rarely a good thing to do in freezing weather.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    we've got nearly 5 inches of solid freeze in places
    That's cute. We average 4ft of frost in the coldest time. Our build season is on hold from November to April/May. Frost and up to 6m of snow makes for a fun spring!

    Building on frozen ground is not a good option since you'll have to come back in spring. It raises the price of the trail by 15-20% on average, but allow you to fine-tune the drainage at it worst: when it thaw.

    We scout for trails in autumn, but design them only in spring when you actually see water flow. Logging/clearing is preferred in winter.
    A trailbuilder from the north

  9. #9
    cowbell
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic View Post
    That's cute. We average 4ft of frost in the coldest time. Our build season is on hold from November to April/May. Frost and up to 6m of snow makes for a fun spring!

    Building on frozen ground is not a good option since you'll have to come back in spring. It raises the price of the trail by 15-20% on average, but allow you to fine-tune the drainage at it worst: when it thaw.

    We scout for trails in autumn, but design them only in spring when you actually see water flow. Logging/clearing is preferred in winter.
    It might be cute to you, but people around here act like they didn't know it could get this cold. I'm still amused, because it hasn't stopped me from being out - riding, trimming limbs, things that don't involve digging. My elbows are too old for that kind of tool shock. I can wait til it's thawed again.

  10. #10
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    We get a pile of snow so ground work of any kind is out over the winter. I flag out new lines in the fall and cut corridor in the winter. Our woods consists of small tightly-spaced trees so cutting a trail corridor is a significant part of any trail building project. I go in on snowshoes and dress in layers. Snowpack is great for getting good vertical clearance.

  11. #11
    Delirious Tuck
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    Winter Building in New England is primarily:
    - Clearing deadfall
    - Log ride building
    - Major rock ttf (but rarely armoring)
    - Flagging corridors (awesome sight lines)
    - Engaging LMs to plan the build season work

    Otherwise you're fighting frost heaves, thaw, snow, frozen layers, powder sugar dirt with no moisture that doesn't pack, and on...

  12. #12
    "singlespeed outlaw"
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    This is the kind of stuff i like to work on when theres snow cover.Trail projects and freezing weather - carry on, or go home?-log-ride-9.jpg
    One #!$%^&* Speed !!

  13. #13
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    We have a lot of mild exposure, so when conditions get icy I don't want a large group of volunteers hiking for miles and swinging tools on a slippery surface.

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