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  1. #1
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    Colonnade... what happened?

    So I took a trip to ride the I5 Colonnade yesterday and what I found was quite disappointing. Overgrown trails, moon dust, loose rock, run down features, eroded jumps and berms, garbage, graffiti, a tent city of homeless that took over the drops area, and not a single other biker out there the whole time I was there. I saw some joggers using the stairs, two dog walkers and some kids looking for a good place to smoke a joint, plus the bums staring at me like I was in their territory.

    So basically it was a waste of time. What happened? Did funding get cut? Is a major remodel planned? Is doofie getting all the attention? Colonnade was a sad sight that desperately needs some tlc. Any plans for it?

    On a trailbuilding note, how do you prevent dry soil erosion (moon dust)? My guess is watering the trail but obviously that is not always practical.

    Hopefully there are plans to rejuvenate the 'nade, it is a sweet spot that just needs some help.

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  2. #2
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    They are looking for someone to take over stewardship from Mike right now it sounds like.

    I asked him this same question last year. When I first moved out here it was so exciting and a lot of attention was given to it. My first work parties were at Colonnade, and it was cool to see it come together, hear talk of it evolving every few years to keep it new, etc. Once Duthie started though it became a ghost town, and even though it's still the closest riding for me, it's so sketchy now it's not worth it with all the loose dust (and flying RC cars )

    Not sure what can really be done about the dust, and I know there's been a couple work parties now and then, but overall it seems to be really down on most people's lists these days. Shame, because its such a unique place too.
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  3. #3
    Moist and Delicious
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    Interesting place, but virtually every feature has a significant penalty for failure. To me, that seems to its biggest slight.
    Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so."

  4. #4
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    Isn't that the case with any bike park though?
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  5. #5
    I didn't do it
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    I think people just like riding in the woods and I believe that is one reason (among many) why Duthie is so popular. When Colannade was first built I was encouraged and even surprised by the level of excitement but I was also wondering how long it would last. I assumed that riding among concrete in cramped quarters would not appeal to most people who ride mountain bikes. I work nearby and I have to admit its been a little sad to see the steady decline of the place.

  6. #6
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    As far as the penalty for failure being high that is also a gripe of mine. Seems the stunts are either beginner or expert, not really an intermediate step. Even a slip off of a relatively easy skinny means tumbling down several terraces of jagged rock and metal. Plus with loose material the chance of that happening is even higher.

    Again, I would love to see a work party out there just to do a few simple things, namely garbage, graffiti, homeless, brushing and a few simple repairs. Not sure who needs to be contacted about the bums, Seattle Parks? Anyways, those things could at least open it back up.
    Gotta love that government cheese...

  7. #7
    Moist and Delicious
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    ^This. Granted, this is the only "bike park" I've ever been to, but it always felt like the only way to progress there was to risk serious injury. I never felt like it had any intermediate features, either. Granted, more than half of the stuff is fairly simple to ride, but it gets old.

    No complaints, really though. It's an incredible place, but one in which I find little interest. I did think the city of Seattle was actively maintaining it. I'm surprised there isn't more focus on keeping it clean and safe.
    Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so."

  8. #8
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    I also work near the 'nade, and I enjoy riding there but have been disappointed by the lack of interest and maintenance. I moved to Seattle last year and was super stoked that the city had chosen to make an urban skills park; so cool! So it's been sad to see it fall into disrepair over the course of the year.

    I brought this up in an earlier post and was referred to Mike Westra and Graham Turnage from Evergreen. I was told Graham was planning to lead some work parties.

    Going forward, I bet Evergreen would be open to suggestions for how to make the 'Nade a more vibrant part of the Seattle scene. What could be done to reduce the penalty for failure on some of the features and generally increase safety and accessibility? What kind of lines would you like to see? What kinds of events could get local bikers out riding at the 'Nade? Something as simple as a regular weeknight "session" that would bring out some riders would be a good place to start.

  9. #9
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    I'm a cross country mountain biker. I visited Colonnade one time and found only one short cross country trail. I'm too old to jump so i haven't been back. If there was any way they could get more cross country in there i would be back.

  10. #10
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    Hey guys,
    I would go to a work party there, would like to see it get some up keep.

  11. #11
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    I think the only long term solution to the moon dust is to make the whole thing rock, concrete and wood. Sort of like Rays Indoor MTB park, or The Lumberyard. Build some half pipes to bring in the BMX and some skaters too. The place needs a population right now, or I can see the transients moving back in.
    Regional Race Manager, Knolly Bikes
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdhfreethought View Post
    The place needs a population right now, or I can see the transients moving back in.
    For sure, though it's a cycle that's tough to initiate. Better features->more riders->rider investment & volunteers hours->better features. and I think this is a good argument for some more intermediate-friendly lines and improved safety. The south end is full of trash and transients' tents; perhaps this is a clue the Cluster Huck and Schleyer aren't attracting riders. Something more akin to the Limestone Loop (XC/Trail friendly) probably would.

    Of course it's easy to say that, but the $$ and work hours needed to make it happen are hard to come by...

  13. #13
    Dream Design Dig Repeat
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    What Colonnade needs is sprinklers and irrigation. This will turn the moon dust to nice dirt and keep the transients away.
    Issaquah & Seattle real estate agent. Buy or sell a home with me and I donate $500 to Evergreen MTB Alliance
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  14. #14
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    I say we make the transients perform the necessary up-keep. Don't see why so much time and effort was put in just so people could trash it. Hell, some of them even have bikes they could ride there!

  15. #15
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    I wonder if a sump pond could be put in at the top. It could collect rain water and runoff, then be used for irrigation (at least part of the year. Extremely unlikely to get the city to allow a diversion, and even so it would be vandalized and broken in no time.

    I think a more permanent solution is the better one. Since this is going to be the place where people go when it is pouring rain outside, or, where they want an 'indoor park' dynamic. I think it's purpose should be re-thought. Frankly, now that there is duthie for DJ, it really doesn't appeal to the same demographic it once did. I wonder if there would be interest in a fully rocked in XC loop, with solid (read mostly concrete) hybrid MTB/BMX/Skate park in the middle. With the grade, there are some incredible an innovative things that could be done with that space that cannot be done at another flat skate type park.
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  16. #16
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    Colonnade... what happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by rdhfreethought View Post
    I wonder if a sump pond could be put in at the top. It could collect rain water and runoff, then be used for irrigation (at least part of the year. Extremely unlikely to get the city to allow a diversion, and even so it would be vandalized and broken in no time.
    I was thinking along the same lines, but with collection tanks. Should be lots of water coming off the freeway.
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  17. #17
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    It's an awesome idea, but where's the money going to come from? The current track record isn't terribly encouraging, right? Who's going to go to the city and say "we built this huge thing, but people didn't ride there and we didn't maintain it and now it's falling apart, can we have some cash to build a different huge thing?"

    I'm also not sure who has permission to build or modify things there. Previous communications from Evergreen seemed to indicate that they are in "maintain" mode rather than considering mods. Does Evergreen have permission to do whatever they want with the space or does it need to be approved by the city?

  18. #18
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    A skate-style park sounds like a much better use of the space. Make it a hard-surface bike park for bikes (20" and 26") and you would see it packed with users 24/7. I lived up the hill from Collonade and went once or twice; and while it is a cool idea I find it in actuality to be no fun to ride. Sketchy, dusty stunts and jumps. If I am going to mountain bike I want it to be in a real forest. If it was a sweet concrete bowl open to bikes I would go ride that thing (out of the rain!) on a bmx or hardtail all the time. Putting something under a bridge that needs rain to survive (dirt) makes no sense. Who wants to ride a "cross-country" area in tiny circles under a freeway? Your "ride" is done in 5 minutes. Whereas bmx kids can session a concrete quarter pipe all day.

    let's face it, most people who own a mountain bike and live in Seattle also own a car and drive to real trails. Once they have that option they do not really want to ride a tiny area of much lower quality without the nice natural setting of a real trail

  19. #19
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    Hey all,

    Yep, we've been witnessing the decline of the conditions at the 'Nade and it has really accelerated over the past 12 months. Our next step is to sit down with Seattle Parks and start the process of hashing out a revival plan. We'll definitely reach out to the entire mtb community for input, but wanted to first have a dialog with Parks.

    There hasn't been any specific funding for Colonnade since the 2009 drainage improvement project. All of the trail work and >90% of the crew leadership and work party planning over the past 3+ years has been done on a volunteer basis. So a huge "thank you" to folks like Nick, Kim, Tanya and others (I've lost track) who have done a ton of work to keep the lines running! In fact, if you've volunteered at the Nade in the past few years or know anyone who has, chime in here... I'd like to know who you all are.

    What happened is pretty simple IMHO: Duthie.

    • Duthie is really not that much further to drive for most Seattle riders.
    • Itís in a beautiful forest
    • It has 100X the stuff to ride
    • Itís better in the rain (the Nade's moondust gets slimy and the freeway expansion joint leaks are huge)
    • Itís better in the sun (the Nade moondust is nasty and bad for your lungs and bike).
    • Hmmm... where am I going to ride today?


    Alas 'twas the great spring of 2009... several jump lines were started (by the DWBz, Dirt Corps and HLC), a big chunk of Bootcamp was complete and the wettest part of the bog had a shiny new boardwalk! Riders started heading to Duthie in droves. The scene in the clearing was amazing... swarming with freeriders in full body armor, XC riders in full spandex and kids & families galore. A vibrant scene... very exciting for the mtb community. 'Twas kinda like... well... Colonnade was 1 year before. But that started the downward spiral on the other side of the pond...

    --> Colonnade ridership went down
    --> Because of that, the homeless & junkies started coming back
    --> Because of that, garbage, syringes and human waste started coming back
    --> Because of that, it became less desirable and ridership dropped further
    --> And so the viscous cycle began.

    It didn't happen over night. It really wasn't until the last year that the homeless & junkie camps really got re-entrenched. They've actually built elevated platforms between the concrete i-beams. I think they have more square footage than my teeny rabbit hutch condo in the 'Quah .

    Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you still ride the 'Nade and want to help out, shoot me an email (mwestra at evergreenmtb dot org). I'll keep an email list and try to facilitate things. Bear in mind, there is no funding and there are so many awesome projects going on right now... multiple new trails at Tiger, South Fork, Swan Creek, funded Duthie Maintenance, soon to be new projects on the I-90 corridor, planning efforts for the Raging River, backcountry maintenance program... I'll be looking for some leadership help as well!

    Thanks,
    Mike

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrewBird View Post
    I'm also not sure who has permission to build or modify things there. Previous communications from Evergreen seemed to indicate that they are in "maintain" mode rather than considering mods. Does Evergreen have permission to do whatever they want with the space or does it need to be approved by the city?
    The construction contract is complete and Colonnade is now a Seattle Park in maintenance mode. The city does their best to do general park maintenance, landscaping, garbage pickup, law enforcement (drug activity and dumping) and deal with the homeless camps. Evergreen is the "friends of" group responsible for the bike trails and we maintain them via volunteer work parties and awesome volunteers like you.

    There are several lead volunteers who are up-to-speed enough to do independent work parties. They know the drainage situation, know where to take dirt and what not to touch, have a key to the toolbox, have a hose bib for water, etc. I'd like to bring on as many as possible. Let me know if you're interested.

    So any modifications or new features have to be approved by Parks. We'll start the dialog with them about how we can start making the riding more attractive and begin the revival.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    I was thinking along the same lines, but with collection tanks. Should be lots of water coming off the freeway.
    A sprinkler system for any dirt under that deck will be a vital element of any long-term solution, IMHO. But using the storm water run-off from the freeway was a huge "no way" when we asked a few years ago. Lots of codes and health issues involved.

  22. #22
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    Thanks for the reply Mike, and for answering most of the questions. I think that Colonnade can still be a good MOUNTAIN bike park without becomming a concrete jungle. I was thinking that a revamped version of what is already there will be great, taking advantage of the unique location and terrain. In addition to the moon dust the other problem I have had is the lack of space. Yes, I know that to maximize the use of space it is going to be a bit cramped, but a neccessary element of a skills park is adequate room to make corrections and recover / bail without landing on a feature right next to you. For example, the drops at colonnade are riddled with brake washboard because people are on the brakes immediately after landing to keep from flying into the jump line. At duthie there is a nice run-up and run-out, providing time for corrections. Maybe there needs to be fewer drops to make room for run-in and out?

    I am very glad to hear that Colonnade has not been forgotten. I will keep my eyes open for a work party to restore a few things and brush the beginner area out. In the mean time, is there someone we can bug at Seattle Parks to take care of the homeless, junkie, garbage and graffiti problem? I have worked for King County Parks and know that the sqeaky wheel often gets the grease, so let's get sqeaky!
    Gotta love that government cheese...

  23. #23
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    How about a concrete pumptrack? yeah! Tour de Pump in Z√ľrich, Switzerland Video - Pinkbike

  24. #24
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    ^ freakin awesome.

    So much better than moon dust...
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  25. #25
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    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. For me, the 'nade is a 5 minute bike ride from work, while Duthie is a 20-30 minute drive if traffic cooperates. So while I love Duthie, the 'nade would definitely be a great resource for weeknight rides and winter training. I know I'm not alone in this regard. Of course right now the weather is awesome and any self-respecting MTBer should be out enjoying the mountains and long days, but I think the nade is a great winter spot.

    Something that could be pretty cool and satisfy some of the request for XC-type riding would be to put in a large XC/trail loop linking many features together. I personally would love to have a way to maintain fitness and practice skills when the weather is crappy & days are short. Think of an XC-type trail that climbs the Sidewinder hill, goes over Acid Drop/Pip's Hips, links up with (or goes below) Cyclone, parallels Slackline, runs through the practice area down at the bottom, then climbs back up and plugs into Limestone Loop. I'd love to do laps on that in the winter, esp. if it were ridable both directions; you could easily have over a mile of single track.

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