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  1. #1
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    Has Flow Killed Trials/Tech In the Pacific North West?

    Just a thought after riding Paradise today.

    Recently re-titled for better Flow
    Last edited by wipp; 05-14-2013 at 11:36 AM. Reason: spl chuk

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    Hehehe. I like the can o' WTF this will open.....

    (Some people consider PVCA "really technical"....)

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    Was PVCA some place trials riders used to go? Seen a few riders at the little trials section at Colonnade before, never seen guys doing trials stuff at PVCA though.
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    Not thinking so much of modified hopping trials but the old school rolling trials skills that you need to ride more primitive or rough trails, or Anti-Flow.

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    Gasp! People did such a thing once? On purpose?!?!?

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borneo View Post
    ...I like the can o' WTF this will open...
    I like the term "can o' WTF"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wipp View Post
    Just a thought after riding Paradise today.
    I'm confused. Do you consider PVCA to be flow or trials? And who died?

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    PVCA was more techy and is trending flowy with the improvements. Not thinking about PVCA strictly, just about the trend towards flow in general and mourning the loss of some good tech

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    If it makes you feel better. I can get some good "flow" on out at Doofie on Cuss Hollow.... Others, not so much....

    Problem stems from the general consensus now that the much aspired to "flow" means no pedaling or hardly any at all and no obstacles in any way impairing such search of the elusive "flow". And, that you can't actually have any fun on your bike without it.

    As for PVCA, Woodway and I talk often about this subject and the tradeoff from sustainability to tech. Typically, the more heavily used a trail, the more dumbed down it will appear for sustainability. Otherwise, as many of us have seen, ride arounds grow and grow so you end up with a 12' wide trail like Preston of just a few years ago. The South end of Two Trees in the "Mirkwood" section is a good case in point. Some love it "as-is" and many avoid it like the plague...
    Ask Westra or anyone else who works with trying to incorporate some challenge with "flow=fun" mentalities. It's really tough.

  10. #10
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    Personally, I love XC, pseudo DH/AM and flowy stuff...... I kind of like stunts/bridges/woodwork. I dislike anything that gets me off the ground, ala jump lines. Mostly, it's because I rode the former as a beginner and adapted skillsets from it. To me, I can dig on watching all the jump lines and trials stuff, but that's I will ever do: watch it. Honestly, it's for a very strongly skilled (or young) few... mostly those that grew up on it, or don't mind the broken bones aspect of "getting better" at it. Either way, it's such a small percentage of what most people seem to do, that I could see it being more of a fad that's fallen away and back to the way that fits the other 80/90%.

    Granted, that's all coming from a wuss.
    Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so."

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    That's what jumps are for!

    In all seriousness, I think it's just different strokes for different folks. I never understood the appeal of obstacles for obstacles sake. Log piles and root sections are fun for about 2 seconds, then I just feel like they are getting in the way. I like biking because of the motion, and the feel of even moderate speed in the woods and natural terrain.

    I've always been attracted to that sort of motion though, even in other sports. I greatly prefer skating bowls or half pipe versus the technical stuff on street for instance. Likewise when boarding I'll take fast groomers over jibbing rails and stumps.

    Different feelings and challenges exite us all in different ways in any sport I guess. We should be lucky there's such a good mix of it all where we live. Every time I read people lamenting anything to do with trails out here (even just to promote a fun discussion), I can't help but think of what I was stuck riding in the Midwest and chuckling a little bit though.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wipp View Post
    PVCA was more techy and is trending flowy with the improvements. Not thinking about PVCA strictly, just about the trend towards flow in general and mourning the loss of some good tech
    OK, understand. It was not our intention to make PVCA more flowy, but in the process of making the trails more sustainable we had to "smooth things out" a bit. My belief is that over time the tech will return. In fact you can see this happening on the Lloyd trail which we repaired over the 2011-2012 winter and is now starting to "tech up" a bit more. That's if we can keep the trail "helpers" from doing their thing and dumbing down the more tech spots (I'm now thinking signs). We don't want PVCA to turn into another Duthie for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwestra2 View Post
    I like the term "can o' WTF"
    I don't like anything else Borneo says.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwestra2 View Post
    I don't like anything else Borneo says.
    Ha!
    Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so."

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    I'm not against peddle free Flow- the new Summit Trail at Tiger is world class stuff and should be the working definition of DAMN GOOD FLOW! The fact that it dumps into Preston which can be a high speed tech fest (although somewhat tamer now) makes it even sweeter. And I'm not sure if you'd call Crazy Ivan Flow, but that and OMDH are both smile makers for me two or three times a week. Not so much for Midtown for some reason.

    I just hope that the Flow gnomes steer clear of classic lowland tech trails like Two Trees. Save Two Trees!!!

    As for those silly log piles at BFH... campfire anyone?

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    I'll gladly bring the marshmallows
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    Rode PVCA with wipp today, and seeing the newly half-buried 4" diameter log hop (I mean, does that even count as a hop?!?) on Lloyd has me fearing for what may come. Yes, save Two Trees! Soon I hope we'll have authorization to do some new stuff (by which I mean trail segments) at BFH; going to be scope for both flow and old-skool tech so I hope y'all will help design/build.

  18. #18
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    Re: Has Flow Killed Trials In the Pacific North West?

    If you want barely improved trails they are out there especially tolt. I consider this the kind of rugged "golf course" you are calling trials. Local knowledge always adds flow to anything you slog over until its muscle memory. Even 2x up ranger creek in 2 days!

    I rode a go-kart course on a busy all- American Friday eve a couple of weeks ago and they have crappy slow to power up motors and encourage elegant flowy lines. Brakes are overrated on carts, single speeds and 20niners. Keeping brakelessly rolling and not adding energy to accelerate out of braking I think this is at least 80% of the real flow people get Emily Dickinson about.

    I think we all appreciate anyone's trail efforts so every one keep building / tuning what you love. More miles please!

    Now real mt. bike trials (danny mckaskill or Hans rey)? Not for us mortals...

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    flow = no peddling???

    Really!!!

    Building trail in areas with soft soils as well as little grade makes building sustainable tread pretty damn difficult. Smoothing out the tread helps get water out of the ride-line which helps sustain that tread. Routing trail to lessen the need for riders to rapidly changes speed (i.e. hit the brakes) also helps sustain that tread. Using rollers and berms to create grade in the absence of such also helps sustain that tread.

    Yes flow allows one to ride faster than one could in heavier tech (gnarl) but it has more to do about sustainability than "dumbing down" a trail. At least in my opinion.

    I am getting a little tired of hearing about how Duthie has become the standard for "flow" in PNW.

    This is coming from one who personally "dumbed" down many of those trails at Duthie for over 2 years smoothing out the tread, rerouting to remove the need for heavy braking, and adding rollers and berms to create grade. I did it coz I just got tired of having to constantly repair the same portion of trail over and over again.

    The eastside of Duthie is a pretty bad building environment with high amounts of sand or clay and little grade to allow tread to naturally shed water (also the water table is pretty shallow in a couple of areas). The above mentioned techniques transformed trails from having to be repaired or completely rebuilt ever couple of months to something which could survive 1 or more seasons of riding given the level of activity Duthie experiences.

    Duthie should be regarded as a laboratory of lessons learned with the goal of sustainability in an environment with less than ideal building conditions, high trail usage, and a wide range of rider skill levels all concentrated on only 4.5 miles of trails.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wipp View Post
    Just a thought after riding Paradise today.
    Don't get out much do you...
    Sometimes, you need to go fast enough that the trail is a blur to find clarity. -- Wild Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len.Francies View Post
    I think we all appreciate anyone's trail efforts so every one keep building / tuning what you love. More miles please!
    Well said.
    We don''t need lass flow or trials, we need more flow, and trails!
    My favorite trails have both- like crazy Ivan, or cedar run at PV, or any of the peshastin trails.
    Steep tech to flowy woodwork & booters!

  22. #22
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    HAHAHA!!!!! Trials.... Trials is dead in the main stream places. It has been sacrificed in the name of sustainability. Logs, rocks, mud, have been demonized. It takes skill and muscle control to overcome an obstacle larger than a few inches. Broken frames and taco'ed wheels were the norm. That's why I had to learn wheel building and the wife welding. Trials bike now are bomb proof and fun!! It's the most fun you can have going slow!! It's out there but it's back to being underground, it has to to survive. When a trials trail is "discovered it gets destroyed by main stream trail builders. So trialers keep their trails kinda secret, I know I do...

  23. #23
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    Seriously this time... I don't know if flow killed trials. But I see way less trials riders then I used to. But flow definitely has not killed the quest for tech!

    I ask hundreds of riders: Why poach? What's missing from our legit trails? I hear one theme over and over again: flow *and* technical challenge while generally heading downhill. Think about hooking up these kinds of features and terrain so they ~seamlessly flow together (i.e. some coasting, some brake feathering, some pedaling, but no hard braking and hard accelerating).

    Has Flow Killed Trials/Tech In the Pacific North West?-tech1.jpg

    Has Flow Killed Trials/Tech In the Pacific North West?-tech2.jpg

    Click to make larger -- some great features in there.

    It's not jamming on the pedals to get over obstacles, but it's still a workout and requires bike handling skill.

    Of course it won't flow for beginners -- they'll have to stop before some, slow way down on some, ride around some, etc. But choose a technical skill level sweet spot that will be able to roll and flow everything and then design/build around that. More advanced riders will be able to take it faster, smoother, floating/flying over features, cornering better. It can be done. It IS and HAS been done all over the place...

    SST & GS at Galbraith. Flowy most of the way with lots of gnar, some berms, some pedaling, great use of elevation. But... I slow way down to roll the big rock chute while others make it a 6-7 ft drop and flow right through.

    I hear the old E Tiger Trail, Artifacts & Bootleg Poaches at Tiger , all have the steep gnarl to traverse to pedal up to next steep gnarly downhill that flows together. Gem, OR, SupNat, B-Line27, Schleyer, No Joke, Original Sin are all flowy and technical. OG DH, Crazy Ivan and MidTown have awesome natural features and trail segments that flow together well... and there's [gasp] pedaling, but once you're at a certain skill level, there's no hard braking and hard accelerating.

    Downieville Downhill, Kachess Ridge, Esmerelda DeRoux (DH ending), Wildcat at Green Mountain, UPS and LPS in Moab have great examples of awesome flow but still technical.

    Not to be confused with a style of trail referred to these days as "Flow Trails". All smooth, fast and dominated by banked turns and some kind of grade reversals (aka whoops, rollers, jumps). Examples: Whoops (Bend), CrankItUp (Whistler), Bootcamp (Duthie), Half Nelson (Squamish).

    IMHO, we could build some awesome tech with flow at Tiger. It comes with a lot of challenges, though...

    Work! It'll require a lot of hand building. Can't get a machine to do a lot of this. It's one of the reasons machine built trails tend to end up missing technical challenge.

    Sustainability! It's one thing to build a techy bootleg trail that gets limited use. But once the masses attack it, what's going to happen to it? Very well said JD! Thanks!

    Permission. What is the land manager going to allow us to build? That's actually the single biggest challenge these days.

    Gotta throw in some opinion... flow and tech are mutually exclusive. Many will never get that, but it's great to hear that many do. And it's great that many folks appreciate all of the different trail styles. Well said, Len! Non-flowy trails are still a blast, great work-out and great skill builders... I still hit Cuss Hollow when I do Movin'On, but calling it flowy is just silly. Finding flow in that is like looking at a bratwurst and calling it "art". It sure tastes good, but it's a stretch to say "art is where you find it".

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    I rode Cheech and Chong at Galbraith the other day. My first time after new recent work. Of course I am not allowed to complain, since I didn't help. But...

    What was chunky fun is now becoming a new "flowy" dirt jump line.

    They have their place, and fun, but everywhere?

    sigh...

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    Dangit Mike... What I meant about finding flow in Cuss is simply that. Riding the whole thing with uninterrupted flow as in seamlessly. Albeit very slowly. It's it "flowy"? Hell no... Goes back to the perception that you have to be moving at a good pace to "have flow"... Old school tech riders and even purist trials riders have "flow". No one can argue that. What I also think Mike is noting which I totally agree with is steep gnar "flow". Look up CBC on Utoob folks and you will see what HEAVY use plus world class building with available local materials will yield. Gnarb, and flow.... (There's your new trail name Mike.)

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    Only when I'm not out... much.

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    Is Ranger Creek clear to the top now? Definitely on my anti-flow favorites list. That and the bottom of Palisades. Much Plasma left on those rocks

  28. #28
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    i agree. technical features in trails are disappearing in the name of flow and 'sustainability'. its too bad. The question i have is what are we trying to sustain? I understand building trails to aid in drainage and prevent sediment build up.....but it seems people take sustainability to be trails so that dont change....ever..whats the fun in that?

  29. #29
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    All trails go through life cycles. Some get taken back by the forest. Some get logged. Some get re-routed and buffed.

    I also think that people who are building trail these days have evolved their riding and building techniques - whether that be Galby, the Shore, Tokul or wherever. For instance, when I scout a line these days, the last thing I think is "wow, we can make this blowdown into a log ride/skinny!" and that used to come to my mind when I was out bushwhacking 5+ years ago. Part of that change is the required ongoing maintenance, part of that is keeping a trail more innocuous for land managers and part of that is the way I enjoy riding these days with more speed on increased tech. OTOH, I do look for contours, natural grade reversals and features for controlling riders speed and to better milk the terrain.

    Call it sustainability or whatever, but I prefer to get a line put in that requires minimum maintenance these days. The less maintenance means the more new trails I will be putting in.

    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by flyxaos View Post
    I rode Cheech and Chong at Galbraith the other day. My first time after new recent work. Of course I am not allowed to complain, since I didn't help. But...

    What was chunky fun is now becoming a new "flowy" dirt jump line.

    They have their place, and fun, but everywhere?

    sigh...
    There are still plenty of tech-trails all around Galbraith. SST has a nice mix of tech and flow, Three-Pigs have all been re-done and are very nice technical routes either up or down, The SH*T needed some work after this winter but is another option. There are just so many trails up there and a great eclectic group of trail builders who build a little something for everyone.

    Because it is a working forest, the landscape is always changing up there and the trail-system is constantly evolving. I believe a good chunk of Cheech-and-Chongs was a victim of the "working forest" a couple years back which is the primary reason it has changed, not because the trail builders are turning everything into a dirt jump line.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by wipp View Post
    ...the bottom of Palisades. Much Plasma left on those rocks
    Ditto that! Those SBs are one of my all-time anti-flow favs as well. Almost died there once. Now, would I ever seek out, fund, design and build a new mtb trail like that? Heck no. One reason is that very few riders enjoy that kind of thing.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by opiate82 View Post
    Because it is a working forest, the landscape is always changing up there and the trail-system is constantly evolving. I believe a good chunk of Cheech-and-Chongs was a victim of the "working forest" a couple years back which is the primary reason it has changed, not because the trail builders are turning everything into a dirt jump line.
    Yep, like a lot of the hill, CCWR zone was harvested last spring and rebuilt last summer - which did involve some extra buffing and removing some of the broken/rotting woodwork. It had a trailday last Sunday and, I believe, got some more buffing as well - which I'm guessing flyxaos is referring to. I've not seen the latest work, but similar to PT, The Sh!t and Eagle Scout, that trail has been needing another pass after the timber harvest.

    Trails like A Dog, SST or Oriental Express (even CCWR) can be ridden by anyone and certainly aren't gnarly, but get more techie as you begin to carry speed, double up sections, huck the rock rolls, etc. Even with added jumps or berms, I feel like those trails will retain a level of their rocky and rooty character. A Dog, as an example, has berms where its important to carry speed and a few jumps, but also intentionally has flat corners and rooty sections.

    Cheers,
    EB

  33. #33
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    I think Cuss Hollow has a nice flow. It's all about how you ride it.
    I ride Tapeworm a lot and know every inch of that trail and to me it has really nice flow, but isn't smooth and buff. Know how to set up for upcoming turns and the best line thru the techy stuff helps.

    The Silkworm trail next to the Tapeworm was built in part the kep people from trying to dumb down the tapeworm adn Parasite. There is a big trend for fast and smooth in the vein of Boot Camp, but flow doesnt need to = smooth and easy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlf.ski.bike.sail View Post
    ..technical features in trails are disappearing in the name of flow and 'sustainability'...
    True and a good point. I think sustainability (land manager requirements) has a much bigger impact than riders seeking flow. 2 other factors are having a big effect on this:

    1) Folks who believe they are doing all mt bikers a service -- especially new riders entering the sport. I see and hear about this all the time... throwing twigs and duff on the few little gnarl spots on NWT, emails asking if it's OK to "chop out those bothersome roots", etc. Not blaming... there are trails where we do want to do this (like Bootcamp because it's supposed to be an absolute beginner and small kid-friendly trail). We just need to keep educating folks that it's not OK to just do it whenever they think it's best. And I really thank those folks who ask first!!!

    2) Land Manager Requirements due to perception of risk. Removing log drops on FT, removing gnar and root features, armoring wet crossings, widening trails, fixing mud pits, etc. all can look like hazards to a land manager who doesn't understand the sport. Once again not blaming, a lot of this is appropriate and appreciated, but it is a huge challenge getting land managers to understand that we want some gnarl and it is not a hazard (nor an environmental issue). Once again, huge thanks to the land managers that are keeping an open mind when it comes to this!!!

  35. #35
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    There is a big trend for fast and smooth in the vein of Boot Camp, but flow doesnt need to = smooth and easy.[/QUOTE]

    Here here....

    Especially with better and better bikes out there. But, that's another thread. Not "flowy" enough for you on the 6 and 6? Try riding on a full rigid.

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    I don't really have anything to add except this coming from a kid who used to ride the rooty ACFL trails on a bmx bike... Screw Hans Rey and his blue square 'flow country' trails. They're ruining kids these days.

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    The current trend in mountain biking reminds me of the trend in snowboarding in the late 90s early 2ks.
    I remember going up snowboarding with guys who were fairly new to the sport but could kill it in the terrain park. Hit big gaps, 360 off tables and all that. I'd take them into the Crystal backcounty though and they couldn't make 2 turns without crashing.

    With biking I have rode with guys who can clear every jumpline at Duthie and rip up the "XC" trails with the best of them, but we take them to Black Diamond or Tapeworm and they crash every 2 minutes and hold up the group because they dont know how to deal with rocks and roots and natural obstacles.
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    Top existing Tech/trials trails in Seattle area...

    The order is how they came to in my head...but if I had to pick Golden Spike would win. Longest uninterrupted (by flow) technical trail with tight corners, off camber turns, angled root systems, quick elevation changes, and water hazards. All these get harder in winter.

    1. The Burn - Tolt - 15 minutes of up/down/left/right unrelenting pain. The original and signature Tolt trail.
    2. Bear Way - Soaring Eagle - underrated system for tech but this trail has a tech challenge every 10'
    3. Golden Spike - Tokul - above
    4. Outhouse - Tokul West - Roots, rocks, corners, switchbacks, steeps, angles
    5. Preston - Tiger - more off angle roots and misplaced rocks per mile than all others, nasty when wet
    6. Iverson - Tiger - steep climbs, trick root combos, used to be the king of tech, gotten more "flowy" in the last few years
    7. Tapeworm System - name says it all
    8. Movin On/Cuss/Braveheart - Duthie - ride this with your wife/kid and you'll see how challenging these are for tech
    9. PV?? - don't ride enough to know
    10. St. Eds?? - same
    11. Most of Henry's Ridge System - twisty/windy/rooty forever
    12. Most of East Lake Sawyer Trails - not sure all the twisty trails are still there but I remember some really tough tech on the East side of the highway.
    13. Upper/Lower Outback- Tokul West - runs fast but lots of roots and corners to fly over

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwestra2 View Post
    True and a good point. I think sustainability (land manager requirements) has a much bigger impact than riders seeking flow. 2 other factors are having a big effect on this:
    I'd add one other factor, at least from my POV as a trail builder: Time. The large amount of time we spent rebuilding trails at PVCA was in part so that we would not have to spend so much time rebuilding trails at PVCA in the future. To fix the trails so they won't need as much future maintenance meant that we had to buff them out a bit. I am sometimes asked if we plan to add more wood features at PVCA and the answer is no. The reason is not that the land manager won't let us, but rather because wood features have to be inspected and maintained and that takes a lot of time. We like riding too!

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Navigator View Post
    The order is how they came to in my head...but if I had to pick Golden Spike would win. Longest uninterrupted (by flow) technical trail with tight corners, off camber turns, angled root systems, quick elevation changes, and water hazards.
    Glad to see your comment. I thought it was just me being lame every time I ride this trail.

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    I resemble that remark. Note to users: The GS will be "dumbed down" in the vein of sustainability in the next few months....

    The "flow" will likely still be interrupted though. Bwahahahahahaha!

  42. #42
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    "tight corners, off camber turns, angled root systems, quick elevation changes, and water hazards". Hilarious! I used to love that schtuff. I saw no point whatsoever in a buff trail. Downhill was the price I had to pay to be able to climb. Tolt was one of my fav places to ride. How times and tastes change!

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwestra2 View Post
    ..."tight corners, off camber turns, angled root systems, quick elevation changes, and water hazards...
    Add a few sketchy drops and a couple butt pucker descents and you've just described my perfect ride!

  44. #44
    JRA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borneo View Post
    Not "flowy" enough for you on the 6 and 6? Try riding on a full rigid.
    Still not "flowy" enough on the full rigid? Try riding full rigid singlespeed. :P

  45. #45
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    Go ride MF Snoqualmie if you don't like flow.
    There's a big difference between ripping and skidding. Those who skid don't know how to ride.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_schuldt View Post
    Go ride MF Snoqualmie if you don't like flow.
    All those stairs = flowus interruptus maximums.

  47. #47
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    Paradise Valley and St Edwards / Big Finn Hill

    Quote Originally Posted by Navigator View Post

    1. PV?? - don't ride enough to know
    2. St. Eds?? - same
    PV has a nice mix of flow (Mainline, Southern Traverse, Cedar) and tech (with Two Trees, Llyods Detour and Bike Park area). It's a great place to get muddy.

    St Ed's itself is tame, very little tech riding. Big Finn Hill is about the same. I'm hoping this changes now that there is agreement on officially building out trails. This combined area is simply closest place to Seattle to break a sweat, but nothing super challenging.
    --------------------------------
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    2011 Transition Bottlerocket
    Seattle, USA

  48. #48
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    But ... the trials capable riders can flow up and down on the side logs used to reinforce those d*mn staircases.
    The quiver: 2010 Santa Cruz Nomad, 2011 Specialized Demo II, 2011 Canfield Brothers Yelli Screamy.

  49. #49
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    I didn't see Middle Fork on anyones list of good tech trails to ride but I've heard it mentioned a few times since I moved to the the great PNW from PA. Are these staircases ride killers?
    Last edited by wipp; 05-11-2013 at 09:54 PM.

  50. #50
    Moist and Delicious
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    To say the least. There's a great challenge there in bagging them during the ride. I can ride 'em all except one set. Too steep and unmanageable. Outside of that, MF is a helluva ride.... surprisingly challenging and taxing.
    Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so."

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