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  1. #1
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    How do I create flow?

    Well, the three last days of my vacation I did some trailbuilding.
    Uploaded the trail to Trailforks, and a couple of weeks ago someone rode it. The review was.. well honest. It was some where along the lines of "Worst trail on trailforks".

    I knew some parts of it was boring and have thought of rerouting it before the review.
    But before that I'd like some inspiration.

    How do you guys create flow?

  2. #2
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    I don't want to get all zen on you, but it takes time and practice. I can give you a bunch of pointers and you can still go out and screw it up 50 times before you get it right. If you're new to building trail, the best advice I can give you is make sure you actually have permission to build trail where you're building it. Then, make everything bigger than you think it needs to be. That includes turns. Most first timers build turns too tight, drains too small, etc. Remember, flow is movement. Movement means the rider should never be static on the bike (don't build straight lines).

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    Pics would be helpful. I would point you 2 books by IMBA on building trails. Sustainable builds, grade, slope, terrain and soil conditions all come into play. What are some key features of you favorite trails? MA rider and trail builder here. For us, most of the time we try to work with what we have, and just improve on it. Look at basics, start ,finish, where is the trail going? Lost of rocks here, instead of digging them all up, use them for berms, rollovers and such. As said, you need permission. Work with some experienced trail builder to start. Enjoy.

  4. #4
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    Build what you want to ride. Plenty of trails that I love riding have 1 star reviews on Trailforks.

  5. #5
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    A straight trail has ZERO flow. It's all about the curves, the berms, the ups and downs of a trail. It's about ""weaving" and incorporating natural features in a way that will stick with the rider. It is also about transitioning of speed and avoiding having to make the rider brake means big berms and logical trail routing to burn speed prior to hard technical features is also all about "flow". Its about big landing spots that help the rider flow through the jumps / air.

    TIP #1: Invest in the right tools. You will need to spend money to make actual "real" trails. At minimum you will need:

    - Pick Axes: Ideally multiple trail digging tool including up to Rogue Hoes, etc.
    - Shovels: Square, point, round are the three I use most frequently
    - Tamper: I go biggest heaviest I can find. Harder but less overall times you need to power the sucker.
    - Saws: I have both silky and electric. At a minimum get a large folding saw.
    - Rakes: At least a leaf rake and a bow rake.
    - Gloves: Save your hands! See pic below.

    TIP #2: Get a stake. Tie a section of 15' rope. twine, cordelette to it. This becomes your "guide" to corners. Any time you want to map out a corner. Drive the stake to the center of the turn and then use the end of the rope to guide what a 15' turning radius would look like. 10' minimum turning radius for any downhill. 15' feet is best.

    TIP #3: EVERYONE likes small safe "air". Look for easy drops, small jumps, optional side trail features. I think its the fact that everyone feels like a bad ass when they can hit a small jump / feature and live. I always try to incorporate opportunities for people to get flowy air on the trail. Start with low consequence and optional.

    I find "flow" as a concept is very analogous between Trail Running and MTB riding. Also, totally agree with Cotharyus, make everything "bigger" than you think is necessary. My general quick strategy is:

    Trail run it but visual riding it. It actually helps to hold your arms out in front of you like you are holding onto handlebars. In fact, if you have an old set of handlebars, slaps some grips on them and run with it. Yes, I know this sounds dumb, but it works, trust me. As you run, think about things like, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." This will often lead to aha moments about incorporating natural features. If there is a rock nearby, I'll head right towards it. See that little rock lip / roll, yes find a way to route your trail to it.

    Trailbuilding to me is a six part process.

    #1: Visualize / flag it. This is where the trail running part starts. As above, look for rocks, downed logs, natural banks / berms. Route your trail to maximize the cool natural features. Use the turning radius guide above in tip #2 to understand just how "big" a 15' turn is. Understand slope / grade reversals. There is lots of info about "slope" and "grade reversals" and how to manage them on the internet. Read up about it. Regardless, depending on what you are going for in your trail, I try to keep is 10 degrees or less, for ups and downs. Any climb steeper than 10% for anything less than a two pedal "obstacle" will be considered not fun by nearly everyone.

    #2: Scratch it. Use a light rake. You're not trying to build the trail yet, but rather make a small visual indication of where the trail *may* be. Re-trail run it at least 2x. I will also ride it as much as is possible and walk the bike where it is not naturally rideable. This will really help you understand where the trail gets steep and where you will need to use the "build it bigger than you think" element.

    #3: Get Others Involved: Until you really have a feel for it. Get other people to hike, run, bike it with you. Ask their perspective. Listen to what they are saying even if you don't like what they are saying. Take their riding style into the feedback and contrast that against the intent of the trail. You don't have to take / incorporate all feedback, but every viewpoint is valid and will help you understand what others will think.

    #4: Bench it. Time to really start putting in the sweat equity. I try to bench at least 24" wide and flat. This is usually not "wide enough" especially anywhere there is a slight turn or grade reversal, but the bench will help give you a rideable surface. Avoid using the "loose dirt" on your bench as it will erode away over time, even with severe packing. Think about "cutting the bench" but don't toss / shovel away the dirt far from the trail initially as this will become important for building features later. Just know you will need to keep "making it wider" by digging the inside / up hill side of the bank a lot more than you think you will. Keep doing it till a rider has a little bit of flexibility in the line on the trail without going over the DH edge.

    #5: Ride it / Run it. Do this over and over and over with others if possible. Every time you ride/run it, you will learn something new about your trail. I also try to identify "awkward" spots. The more experience I gain in trail building, the more I understand "awkward" is almost ALWAYS bad especially in the context of flow. Don't confuse awkward with hard. Hard is good, but awkward nearly universally leaves riders with negative emotions about the trail. Think about these sections. How can I reroute it to make it fun? How can I eliminate the awkwardness? If you ever get the "yeah but its going to be a lot of work", maybe trail building is not for you.

    #6: Keep Building. You have to have the commitment to make it right, to maximize flow, to rework sections you thought were "done". Think about the long game. Is this a trail you want to ride, lose interest in, then move on? Or do you want this to be consider a local resource that will see traffic day in and day out?

    #7: Repeat. Repeat steps 1-6 literally 20+ before you let the general riding community know it exists. Sit back and listen to the praise, but also listen / watch Strava / local community FB groups, MTBR, etc for improvement opportunities. When you get the feedback. Repeat steps 5-6 until you get it right.

    I am still building on the same 12 mile system 3 years later. I have reworked most sections of the loop multiple times and still have many sections on the list for tweaks, adding features, trying to address awkwardness, etc.
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  6. #6
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    Your first trails you build will likely not be so great.

    Don't think when you finish a trail that it is done. Trails should evolve IMO.

    Walk the land many times before before building. Find the interesting features/terrain and link them together.

    Use vertical wisely. If you've got minimal vert try not to burn it up too quickly. Trails can still be fast and challenging without being steep.

    Flow does not mean smooth, fast, and easy. It means if a section of trail is techy, it is techy long enough in a way that lets your body and mind settle into that type of ridding and rhythm. If it is fast, it is fast long enough to settle in to a rhythm.



    And for goodness sakes... Bikes are more capable than ever. Unless you plan on riding your trails with a cross bike, keep them as natural, unbuffed, and rugged as possible.

    Nothing is more boring than a trail that can be cleaned the first time through. Build a challenging trail that keeps you coming back for more. Like a strong opponent.

  7. #7
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    Are there any organizations in your local area that build and maintain trails that you enjoy riding? I would highly recommend getting involved and working with some experienced trail builders if possible. The very first trail work I was involved in, was rough cutting and grubbing a new piece at a local mtb park. I never realized how much work goes into building a "good" trail. It was a culmination of months of planning and several members of the local club. On my first day out, I worked along side one of the guys that had been a part of this process. He loved to talk and discussed the hows, whys, initial differences on ideas between the guys and what they agreed on. Most things that I would have never considered and thought of. The kind of stuff Miker J is talking about and this comes with experience. Twenty years later and every time I ride that part of the trail, I always think about that time.

  8. #8
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    How do you know the reviewer wasn't a typical internet troll that only posts bad stuff, regardless?

    The hard part about 'putting yourself out there' is reading negative reviews.

    Hope you can move past it and keep doing what you're doing.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    How do you know the reviewer wasn't a typical internet troll that only posts bad stuff, regardless?

    The hard part about 'putting yourself out there' is reading negative reviews.

    Hope you can move past it and keep doing what you're doing.
    If there was ever a sure "you can't please all the people all the time", trail building it is. You need thick skin brother. Change a boring, straight twenty foot eroded section that everyone has been riding around the outside edge of for the last 2 years, and the armchair trail experts will come out of the wood work on the social media.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    TIP #2: Get a stake. Tie a section of 15' rope. twine, cordelette to it. This becomes your "guide" to corners. Any time you want to map out a corner. Drive the stake to the center of the turn and then use the end of the rope to guide what a 15' turning radius would look like. 10' minimum turning radius for any downhill. 15' feet is best.
    This is a great tip, if you can build somewhere that you have enough space to use this. Lots of times I find myself flagging corridor in underbrush so thick you can barely walk through it, never mind swing a 15 foot string on a stake around. It's a good technique, but my reality stresses the truth of repetitions - the more you do it, the better you'll get.

  12. #12
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    I'll reiterate what everyone else has said. It takes lots of practice. LOTS.

    In many cases, you get what the terrain gives you. Be that topography, soil type, amounts of moisture, amount of rock, and so on. I've built in situations where a technical trail simply wasn't possible without importing tons (quite literally) of material. There's nothing wrong with a ribbon of dirt through the woods, if that's what you're given.

    The most time consuming part of the process happens before you ever break the dirt. You need a practiced "eye" to see the trail when you're scouting and when you're flagging. And you need to frequently revisit the concept "how will this trail ride" throughout the build so you can make small adjustments before your builders spend weeks hacking a bench cut into solid rock with picks, for example.

    The first mile of trail that I built myself almost 20yrs ago is almost unrecognizable today. I'd say that the only things that haven't changed are the start and end points.

  13. #13
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    The Flow state is achieved by an over stimulation of the brain's ability to make decisions. The more featured and technical a trail is, the less speed is needed to achieve the flow state. True flow can only be achieved by individuals who have become high level at whatever pursuit the are engaged.

    Flow trails have been an attempt to give that mental state-of-being to less-than-expert riders. It's a farce. What is created by engineering a trail that allows everyone to ride at the speeds they see experts, corner at the speeds experts corner at, and easily jump and pump features ect. is a trail that makes it virtually impossible for anyone to achieve true flow state.

    How do you create flow? Leave a trail very natural, and very technical. Build it to be much more straight that you think you should, as the big mistake beginner trail builders make is to make things over tight.

    Making a flow trail with linked berms of the same radius, straight airs, wide open sight lines and featureless, brown, sidewalk-like tread makes it virtually impossible for anyone to achieve the flow state. Flow trails create the illusion of flow by packaging MTBing so people who have not put in their 10,000 hours can ride fast through the woods like highly skilled riders do on technical trails. Instead, we go fast, and jump....but are bored out of our minds.
    Farce.

    Here's is the man who coined the phrase "Flow State". He explains the requirements to achieve flow state. It's the opposite of what the MTB industry, and the trail building industry have come to sell us...to grow the sport, not to provide quality experiences or develop the skills required to enter the magical world of the Flow Channel.
    https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csi...ihalyi_on_flow

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    Assuming the reviewer panned the trail because it 'had no flow', the first thing you have to do is try to get an understanding of the reviewers abilities, experience and tastes.

    Along the lines of what Dave said, depending on who it's coming from, 'it has no flow' could very well be considered a compliment, meaning you didn't build a boring, simple, generic trail, or one that strictly conforms to the narrow confines of what many people limit their ideas of 'flow' to these days.

    Or it's entirely possible that the trail sucks.
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    DaveVt pretty much explains it. The only question is for whom you are creating the flow. Expert riders are gonna die of boredom, on the same trail where novice riders are scared to death, while only intermediate could have flow.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    The Flow state is achieved by an over stimulation of the brain's ability to make decisions. The more featured and technical a trail is, the less speed is needed to achieve the flow state. True flow can only be achieved by individuals who have become high level at whatever pursuit the are engaged.

    Flow trails have been an attempt to give that mental state-of-being to less-than-expert riders. It's a farce. What is created by engineering a trail that allows everyone to ride at the speeds they see experts, corner at the speeds experts corner at, and easily jump and pump features ect. is a trail that makes it virtually impossible for anyone to achieve true flow state.

    How do you create flow? Leave a trail very natural, and very technical. Build it to be much more straight that you think you should, as the big mistake beginner trail builders make is to make things over tight.

    Making a flow trail with linked berms of the same radius, straight airs, wide open sight lines and featureless, brown, sidewalk-like tread makes it virtually impossible for anyone to achieve the flow state. Flow trails create the illusion of flow by packaging MTBing so people who have not put in their 10,000 hours can ride fast through the woods like highly skilled riders do on technical trails. Instead, we go fast, and jump....but are bored out of our minds.
    Farce.

    Here's is the man who coined the phrase "Flow State". He explains the requirements to achieve flow state. It's the opposite of what the MTB industry, and the trail building industry have come to sell us...to grow the sport, not to provide quality experiences or develop the skills required to enter the magical world of the Flow Channel.
    https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csi...ihalyi_on_flow
    He didn't coin the term 'flow' he coined the term 'flow state.' I'd argue that 'flow' in regards to mountain biking comes from the flow of water, not from 'flow state.'

    So did OP ask how to build a trail with flow or did he ask how to build a trail that induces flow state? You yourself admit in your last paragraph that the advice you are giving is the opposite of the industry and as such almost certainly the opposite of what OP was asking.

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    How do I create flow?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post

    So did OP ask how to build a trail with flow or did he ask how to build a trail that induces flow state?
    I might be wrong, but how is it possible that trail does not induce „flow state“ and still be trail with „flow“?!

    I mean, there is nothing „flowy“ in the laws of physics, in the engineering of bikes, or geometry of jumps and turns. The very term „flow“ is highly subjective, therefore if something has „flow“, it is something that induces „flow state“ (or at least trying to induce it).

    Finally, isn‘t achieving of „flow state“ the main reason why we are all into MTB in the first place?



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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrmxd View Post
    I might be wrong, but how is it possible that trail does not induce „flow state“ and still be trail with „flow“?!

    I mean, there is nothing „flowy“ in the laws of physics, in the engineering of bikes, or geometry of jumps and turns. The very term „flow“ is highly subjective, therefore if something has „flow“, it is something that induces „flow state“ (or at least trying to induce it).

    Finally, isn‘t achieving of „flow state“ the main reason why we are all into MTB in the first place?



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    Dave explained that quite well. 'Flow state' requires a fair amount of challenge and skill to meet it. Flow trails are not based around that concept, but rather following the natural 'flow' to make it intuitive for all levels of riders.

    I would argue that flow is not subjective in mountain biking. At least not when talking to actual trail builders. If I have to pedal a bunch, brake a bunch or corner hard it is not a flow trail. Flow trails are intuitive, flow trails allow for a lot of momentum to be carried throughout. Again that is not what Dave is describing.

    I definitely agree with you that flow state is the reason we all bike. My favorite feeling in the world is riding a very technical trail with little flow and yet being able to achieve flow state. That still has nothing to do with how the trail is built.

  19. #19
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    I feel I've ridden enough variety to know that people confuse "flow" and "easy"**. There are really hard trails that have great flow, but only if you're a good enough rider to carry the speed/momentum to make use of it.

    So many people like the Allegrippis system, but the flow borders on monotonous. I have deja vu every 5 minutes there. Once/yr. is plenty for me.

    Moraine SP has some car-sized rocks to ride over, but you can feel the flow if you can make those transitions. It is a crap shoot for me. If I'm "ON", I'm having a great ride. If I'm "OFF", I'm like "Who turned off the flow?!"

    So I would take any "honest" reviews with a lot of salt.

    I could not care less about flow trails, but some of the best swooping trails go along hillsides where you store and release gravity, without losing a ton of elevation. A lot of those short, hillside uphills have almost a pump track like feel where you can gain elevation by pumping, but again, if you're too slow, you pedal a lot more. Waa waa! right?

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    ** they think "easy=flow" AND "flow=easy" and "difficult=no flow" etc., without regard for other riders' abilities. Descriptions around "flow", "technical", "difficult" can be exclusive or related, occurring separately or simultaneously.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post

    I would argue that flow is not subjective in mountain biking. At least not when talking to actual trail builders.
    I see your point, but that is not a valid argument. Every painter would agree which colors you need to mix to get a certain shade of red. That does not mean that there is something red in the chemical compound of those colors, or frequency of light that color reflects. Redness is exclusively in our minds (if one is not color blind, which further points to the subjectivity of color, or flow).



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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    I feel I've ridden enough variety to know that people confuse "flow" and "easy"**..
    This is a very good point. So the question is „did creator of this thread wanted to know how to create easy trail, or trail with flow“?


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    Time and lots of practice.

    Aim for Seamless transitions. Every section should smoothly feed into the next with sinuous lines hugging natural contours. If you force people to abruptly grab their brakes or instantly jump a bunch of gears it will likely feel awkward, like watching really white people dancing.

    Good corners can take a while to figure out and bad corners are flow killers. You don't want to throw people into tight corners really fast. I like to slow the rider down naturally as best as I can then drop in to the turn and release the turn slowly to it's exit. It's not always real easy to pull off and layout/terrain often dictates how well things turn out but as long as you are aware you can do a lot better with em. Our local FS crew lead is a great guy but doesn't understand bike turns, it's painful to ride a lot of his layouts.

    The level of difficulty doesn't matter, you can have really difficult trails and green trails successfully create a state of flow.

    It helps to be a strong skier that can link lots of good turns together.

    It also helps to be a good mountain bike rider, obviously. But it takes experience as a builder and a good rider to make it all really come together, as well as having an understanding of local soil and hydrology to create a good trail that is fun to ride and still sustainable to what ever degree you're after.
    Last edited by raisingarizona; 10-21-2019 at 05:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrmxd View Post
    I see your point, but that is not a valid argument. Every painter would agree which colors you need to mix to get a certain shade of red. That does not mean that there is something red in the chemical compound of those colors, or frequency of light that color reflects. Redness is exclusively in our minds (if one is not color blind, which further points to the subjectivity of color, or flow).



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    Uh, have you never learned that colors correlate to specific parts of the visible light spectrum? Red is very much quantifiable.

    Even if your analogy was correct, which again it isn't at all, that still wouldn't prove anything. It is entirely possible that one thing in life is subjective and another is objective, analogies are worthless in this discussion.

    Ask ten professional builders to build a flow trail and you'll get ten different trails for sure, but they'll all be very similar in the respects I mentioned... And none of them will be what Dave suggests. I'd call that an industry-standard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    At least not when talking to actual trail builders.
    Hi. I'm an "Actual" trail builder. Machine built, hand benched, raked and ridden in. A trail is a flow trail if it has flow. The fact that the "Pros" call all excavated, swoopy, bermed shit a flow trail really does illustrate the problem quite well. All my trails are flow trails, I almost never bench.

    Flow is not mutually exclusive for this level rider or that on any given trail. IMO, good trail builders need to be great riders. This allows them to build at least 2 trails at once, in the same tread, and great ones build trails on which everyone can find their flow.

    The concept of flow trails absolutely was a reference to the good Dr.'s work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Uh, have you never learned that colors correlate to specific parts of the visible light spectrum? Red is very much quantifiable.
    Quantifiable IS not the same thing as OBJECTIVE. The point is - it is possible to imagine another universe with exactly same laws of physics, yet where frequencies we associate with red in this universe, would be associated with green in that imagined universe.

    Again, I might not be right (cause our knowledge of this world is limited), but you are surely using logically inferior arguments, compared to ones I use.


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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrmxd View Post
    Quantifiable IS not the same thing as OBJECTIVE. The point is - it is possible to imagine another universe with exactly same laws of physics, yet where frequencies we associate with red in this universe, would be associated with green in that imagined universe.

    Again, I might not be right (cause our knowledge of this world is limited), but you are surely using logically inferior arguments, compared to ones I use.


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    I'm not the one requiring alternate universes for my arguments to be valid.

    Basically your argument is that everything is relative. While theoretically true, we aren't talking about some philosophical concept here. There are professional trail builders who use these terms to have specific meanings. You can disagree with the industry standard language all you want, it's still the industry standard language. What Dave describes is not a flow trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    Hi. I'm an "Actual" trail builder. Machine built, hand benched, raked and ridden in. A trail is a flow trail if it has flow. The fact that the "Pros" call all excavated, swoopy, bermed shit a flow trail really does illustrate the problem quite well. All my trails are flow trails, I almost never bench.

    Flow is not mutually exclusive for this level rider or that on any given trail. IMO, good trail builders need to be great riders. This allows them to build at least 2 trails at once, in the same tread, and great ones build trails on which everyone can find their flow.

    The concept of flow trails absolutely was a reference to the good Dr.'s work.
    Actual meaning professional, full time job. I do a little woodworking, but I'm not a carpenter. I'm also overseeing (including plenty of building) a $60k trail build on my local trails... But I'm not a pro builder, I merely wrote the contract.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    The fact that the "Pros" call all excavated, swoopy, bermed shit a flow trail
    Thanks for agreeing with my point, that is indeed a fact. So the 'actual' builders have a set definition for flow trail and yours is different... And you expect people to subscribe to yours?

  28. #28
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    Jesus, some of you people need to spend a few hours swinging a pick. Can we agree that Flow is like Porn? It‘s hard to define but most people can recognize it when they see/ride it?
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    If one believes in that psychological theory - in order to achieve flow, we should first stop obsessing about it and as it has been written - pedal dam it!


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    I'd start with a pot of coffee.

    I swear, I can down a few cups or half a pot and produce an entire day of flow. I'm talking gallons !!
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    Langestrom, good work making a trail!

    I found this this morning, someone needs to make a version for expressing flow and what you expect user to experience while reaching higher planes of existence due to your awesome trail building. Maybe it will help. https://www.artybollocks.com/

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    How do I create flow?

    Quote Originally Posted by bachman1961 View Post
    I'd start with a pot of coffee.
    Good idea. I also like Club Mate (double the caffein and half the sugar compared to coca cola).

    Also it helps to listen to the experienced trail builders if you wanna make something yourself (no too many tight turns or crazy jumps).

    I prefer to check local forums/social media on finding sweet local natural trails (just pay attention to the safety).

    And always have bike in top condition with special attention on tires and suspension (if you have it).


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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Actual meaning professional, full time job. I do a little woodworking, but I'm not a carpenter. I'm also overseeing (including plenty of building) a $60k trail build on my local trails... But I'm not a pro builder, I merely wrote the contract.



    Thanks for agreeing with my point, that is indeed a fact. So the 'actual' builders have a set definition for flow trail and yours is different... And you expect people to subscribe to yours?
    Flowy trail existed long before people built bike trails called flow trails. I don't care about nomenclature, I'm helping the OP understand how to create a trail that gives riders the experience of Flow, as it was first defined. The concept is transative to all aspect of life, not just MTBing.

    I was a "Professional" builder for 10 years, then it turned into walking behind an excavator with hand tools trying to make it look like an excavator didn't just smash through the forest. it was lame, and the trails we were creating mostly were boring and a horrible use of a lot of tax $ through bullshit grants. Now I build trail for free that rides way better, and with much more Flow than the stupid machine roads we pass off as bike trails these days.

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    "My work explores the relationship between Jungian archetypes and skateboard ethics. With influences as diverse as Munch and Buckminster Fuller, new variations are distilled from both simple and complex layers.

    Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the unrelenting divergence of the zeitgeist. What starts out as hope soon becomes corrupted into a hegemony of futility, leaving only a sense of dread and the inevitability of a new machine made trails.

    As subtle derivatives become distorted through diligent and repetitive practice, the rider is left with a hymn to the inaccuracies of our existence."

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    Flowy trail existed long before people built bike trails called flow trails. I don't care about nomenclature, I'm helping the OP understand how to create a trail that gives riders the experience of Flow, as it was first defined. The concept is transative to all aspect of life, not just MTBing.

    I was a "Professional" builder for 10 years, then it turned into walking behind an excavator with hand tools trying to make it look like an excavator didn't just smash through the forest. it was lame, and the trails we were creating mostly were boring and a horrible use of a lot of tax $ through bullshit grants. Now I build trail for free that rides way better, and with much more Flow than the stupid machine roads we pass off as bike trails these days.
    First off, you and I have talked before and while my favorite trails tend to be the kinds you favor I don't have the militant attitude about it that you seem to. I enjoy variety and simply choose to ride the trails I like the most and leave the ones I don't enjoy as much for every now and again to mix things up.

    That said I think the basis of our disagreement is that 'flow state' is the origin of 'flow trail.' I have seen no evidence the two are related and in fact, as you yourself state, flow trails tend to be poor places for a rider to achieve flow state. 'Flow' has been a word long, long, long before 'flow state' was conceived and when considering the flow of water I think the term 'flow trail' makes perfect sense without applying 'flow state.'

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    How do you create flow? Leave a trail very natural, and very technical.
    This is where you lose me. I understand your rationale, but it is the exact opposite of what the rest of the MTB world calls flow... That's pretty bold of you to assert that you are correct and the rest of the world is wrong.

    You just come off (particularly when talking about your building experience) as someone who only likes super rugged trails and so you'll use any justification to explain why that's all anyone should build. I tend to agree with your preference, but that doesn't mean I (as an advocate and builder) can force that preference on everyone else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post

    How do you create flow? Leave a trail very natural, and very technical.


    [/url]
    It's cool if some trails are like this, but virtually no one wants all the trails to be like this. I hope you are not building trails on public land.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post

    How do you create flow? Leave a trail very natural, and very technical.
    Yep, that might work for very skilled riders on very capable bikes. But us mere mortals are sweating on the very thought...



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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
    It's cool if some trails are like this, but virtually no one wants all the trails to be like this. I hope you are not building trails on public land.
    I hope he is.

    How many copies of the almost-exact same sections of trail do we really need?
    With many 'flow' trails, you may as well just be riding around a 1/4 mile loop, so much of the trail is exactly the same as what came before and what comes afterwards.

    I'll take something with some character, thanks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I hope he is.

    How many copies of the almost-exact same sections of trail do we really need?
    With many 'flow' trails, you may as well just be riding around a 1/4 mile loop, so much of the trail is exactly the same as what came before and what comes afterwards.

    I'll take something with some character, thanks.
    I like riding sections like that too. I also like modern flow, features, just riding along woods trails etc. Trail systems should contain all of the above. Public trail systems should definitely have options that are accessible to beginners and families.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
    I like riding sections like that too. I also like modern flow, features, just riding along woods trails etc. Trail systems should contain all of the above. Public trail systems should definitely have options that are accessible to beginners and families.
    Agree, but it seems that the pendulum has swung pretty far towards making a majority of new trails beginner level (and pretty damn generic). Locally, when asked to add something more kid-friendly to the system, we did a large pumptrack and a couple short trail loops near it and the main trailhead and left the 'real' MTB trails a lot more natural.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    Flowy trail existed long before people built bike trails called flow trails. I don't care about nomenclature, I'm helping the OP understand how to create a trail that gives riders the experience of Flow, as it was first defined. The concept is transative to all aspect of life, not just MTBing.

    I was a "Professional" builder for 10 years, then it turned into walking behind an excavator with hand tools trying to make it look like an excavator didn't just smash through the forest. it was lame, and the trails we were creating mostly were boring and a horrible use of a lot of tax $ through bullshit grants. Now I build trail for free that rides way better, and with much more Flow than the stupid machine roads we pass off as bike trails these days.
    Yes!

    Well said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I hope he is.

    How many copies of the almost-exact same sections of trail do we really need?
    With many 'flow' trails, you may as well just be riding around a 1/4 mile loop, so much of the trail is exactly the same as what came before and what comes afterwards.

    I'll take something with some character, thanks.
    As with all things, there are good and bad 'flow trails.' It sounds to me like your problem is less that you dislike flow trails and more that you dislike bad ones. I've ridden some that are boring as all hell and exactly as you say - repeat every 1/4 mile... But I've also ridden some that provide unlimited opportunities to gap rollers, pump, manual and in many ways are just as fun as a super rugged natural track.

    That doesn't change what a flow trail is though. Some in here seem to be discussing trails they like, not what a flow trail is. (Which is understandable considering the vague OP, but in my opinion isn't what the conversation has evolved to be.) I'm very interested in getting to the root of the term, though I don't know that the info exists to be found.

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    TLDR: The biggest factor in achieving flow is Rider Skill compared to Trail Difficulty with a slight smaller influence of Rider Mental State compared to Trail Conditions.

    P.S. This is what mental masturbation looks like!

    ------------------------

    This whole thing between flow state and flow got me thinking last night as I lay away in bed at 1AM not being able to sleep due to my stupid collarbone. I am starting to think David is right, but not exactly in the way he thinks he is.

    Achieving the "flow state" IS actually the right meaning of flow. However, achieving that state on a trail is probably more of an equation than most people realize. Look at it like this:

    Flow = (Rider Skill / Difficulty of Trail)- (1 - (Rider Mental State / Conditions of trail))

    Rider Skill would take into account having at least the relatively "right bike" for the rider / for the trail. Otherwise it could be its own variable somewhere. You could also break out number of times the person has previously rode the track, or say "Trail Familiarity", but let's not overdo it on this initial stab. I'm sure we could add onto the equation. You also need to account for more positive and better the rider / trail conditions that it becomes additive, while neutral or encumbered mindsets result in negative scenario.

    Let's make it easy to start.

    Trail Difficulty:

    -Green = 1
    -Blue = 3
    -Black = 5
    -Double Black = 9 (Purposeful jump reflective of skill needed to just survive)
    -Pro Line = 11

    Rider Skill:

    -Beginner = 1
    -Intermediate = 3
    -Advanced = 7 (on purpose jump from 3 to 7 as advanced implies skill level that is well developed and IMO is reflective of reality between an intermediate rider and advanced)
    -Pro = 11 (purposeful jump due to incredible skill)

    Rider Mental State:
    -Mentally Encumbered (distracted, stressed, etc.) = 0.1
    -Neutral (not a good or bad day) = 1
    -Positive / Unencumbered = 2

    Trail Conditions:
    -Hero Dirt = 1
    -Standard Conditions (not perfect, but not bad. The "usual" for the trail) = 2
    -Not Ideal (Big jump in conditions. A little sloppy / or loose/sand over hard pack but traction on corners still achievable) = 5
    -Sloppy (Dirt consisting of something like dog poo after it eats a tub of Crisco) = 7

    My hypothesis would be if the result > 2, there is high probability flow state will be achieved. So let's do some modeling / proofing to see if this works:

    John Beginner is feeling super positive after work. Just got a big raise. He's stoked on MTB'ing having ridden his local trail a few times. He decides to bump it up to a local Blue for the first time. Unfortunately, the conditions are not ideal.

    Let's see how Johnny does on the trail:

    Flow = (1/3) - (1 - (2/5)) = 0.3 - 0.6 = - 0.3 (Result: Johnny will very probably not hit Flow State)

    Johnny on a Hero Dirt day:

    Flow = (1/3) - (1 - (2/1)) = 0.3 + 1 = 1.3 (Not hit Flow State)

    In essence, Johnny can never hit flow state on a Blue as a beginner. That's a positive check in my book. What about a green best case?

    Flow = (1/1) - (1 - (2/1)) = 1 + 1 = 2 (Yes in the perfect scenario, Johnny could hit flow on a green. Another positive check at the low end)

    Let's try another one.

    Sally Intermediate gets home, wants to ride. Not feeling good or bad, conditions are standard and she hits up the local blue:

    Flow = (3/3) - (1-(1/2)) = 1 - 0.5 = 0.5 (Sally won't hit flow state)

    After the Intermediate loop, Sally wants more and goes to the ole' system green:

    Flow = (3/1) - (1-(1/2)) = 3 - 0.5 = 2.5 (Flow State can be achieved)

    What about if she is best case on intermediate?

    Flow = (3/3) - (1-(2/1)) = 1 + 1 = 2 (Sally can hit flow state. Intermediate check is good)

    Sally tries the black trail on a positive day AND in Hero dirt:

    Flow = (3/5) - (1-(2/1)) = 0.6 + 1= 1.6 (Flow state not achieved)

    Bill Advanced best case scenario (Positive + Hero) on a Black:

    Flow = (7/5) - (1-(2/1)) = 1.4 + 1 = 2.4 (Flow can be achieved)

    Bill again best case Double Black?

    Flow = (7/9) - (1-(2/1)) = 0.8 + 1 = 1.8 (Flow not achieved)

    Pro on Pro standard conditions / neutral mental state:

    Flow = (11/11) - (1-(1/2)) = 1 - 0.5 = 0.5 (Flow not achieved)

    Pro on Pro Positive and Hero:

    Flow = (11/11) - (1-(2/1)) = 1 + 1 = 2 (Flow state can be achived)

    Pro on Black Neutral Mindset and Standard conditions:

    Flow = (11/5) - (1-(1/2)) = 2.2 - 0.5 = 1.7 (Flow most likely not achieved)

    Same above plus Positive mindset?

    Flow = (11/5) - (1-(2/2)) = 2.2 - 0 = 2.2 (Flow achieved)

    Okay so little bit of modeling shows it mostly holds ups. I haven't tried ever derivative. Maybe I'll full model it later.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    As with all things, there are good and bad 'flow trails.' It sounds to me like your problem is less that you dislike flow trails and more that you dislike bad ones.
    I think you're probably right.
    Problem is, there seem to be a whole lot more "bad" (repetitive, generic and boring) ones than "good" (challenging, unique and varietal) ones around.

    We tried to capture this same sort of thing with our pumptrack actually; many basically consist of one main loop with a bypass or two and bunch of almost identical rollers. We went for a full-on "dirt skatepark" style with almost endless options of how to link things together and a lot of different style 'features' that keep it interesting for high level BMX riders while also allowing the training wheel brigade to get their roll on.

    All comes down to the creativity of the builder I guess. I like it when people break out of the mold a bit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    TLDR: The biggest factor in achieving flow is Rider Skill compared to Trail Difficulty with a slight smaller influence of Rider Mental State compared to Trail Conditions.

    P.S. This is what mental masturbation looks like!

    ------------------------

    This whole thing between flow state and flow got me thinking last night as I lay away in bed at 1AM not being able to sleep due to my stupid collarbone. I am starting to think David is right, but not exactly in the way he thinks he is.

    Achieving the "flow state" IS actually the right meaning of flow. However, achieving that state on a trail is probably more of an equation than most people realize. Look at it like this:

    Flow = (Rider Skill / Difficulty of Trail)- (1 - (Rider Mental State / Conditions of trail))

    Rider Skill would take into account having at least the relatively "right bike" for the rider / for the trail. Otherwise it could be its own variable somewhere. You could also break out number of times the person has previously rode the track, or say "Trail Familiarity", but let's not overdo it on this initial stab. I'm sure we could add onto the equation. You also need to account for more positive and better the rider / trail conditions that it becomes additive, while neutral or encumbered mindsets result in negative scenario.

    Let's make it easy to start.

    Trail Difficulty:

    -Green = 1
    -Blue = 3
    -Black = 5
    -Double Black = 9 (Purposeful jump reflective of skill needed to just survive)
    -Pro Line = 11

    Rider Skill:

    -Beginner = 1
    -Intermediate = 3
    -Advanced = 7 (on purpose jump from 3 to 7 as advanced implies skill level that is well developed and IMO is reflective of reality between an intermediate rider and advanced)
    -Pro = 11 (purposeful jump due to incredible skill)

    Rider Mental State:
    -Mentally Encumbered (distracted, stressed, etc.) = 0.1
    -Neutral (not a good or bad day) = 1
    -Positive / Unencumbered = 2

    Trail Conditions:
    -Hero Dirt = 1
    -Standard Conditions (not perfect, but not bad. The "usual" for the trail) = 2
    -Not Ideal (Big jump in conditions. A little sloppy / or loose/sand over hard pack but traction on corners still achievable) = 5
    -Sloppy (Dirt consisting of something like dog poo after it eats a tub of Crisco) = 7

    My hypothesis would be if the result > 2, there is high probability flow state will be achieved. So let's do some modeling / proofing to see if this works:

    John Beginner is feeling super positive after work. Just got a big raise. He's stoked on MTB'ing having ridden his local trail a few times. He decides to bump it up to a local Blue for the first time. Unfortunately, the conditions are not ideal.

    Let's see how Johnny does on the trail:

    Flow = (1/3) - (1 - (2/5)) = 0.3 - 0.6 = - 0.3 (Result: Johnny will very probably not hit Flow State)

    Johnny on a Hero Dirt day:

    Flow = (1/3) - (1 - (2/1)) = 0.3 + 1 = 1.3 (Not hit Flow State)

    In essence, Johnny can never hit flow state on a Blue as a beginner. That's a positive check in my book. What about a green best case?

    Flow = (1/1) - (1 - (2/1)) = 1 + 1 = 2 (Yes in the perfect scenario, Johnny could hit flow on a green. Another positive check at the low end)

    Let's try another one.

    Sally Intermediate gets home, wants to ride. Not feeling good or bad, conditions are standard and she hits up the local blue:

    Flow = (3/3) - (1-(1/2)) = 1 - 0.5 = 0.5 (Sally won't hit flow state)

    After the Intermediate loop, Sally wants more and goes to the ole' system green:

    Flow = (3/1) - (1-(1/2)) = 3 - 0.5 = 2.5 (Flow State can be achieved)

    What about if she is best case on intermediate?

    Flow = (3/3) - (1-(2/1)) = 1 + 1 = 2 (Sally can hit flow state. Intermediate check is good)

    Sally tries the black trail on a positive day AND in Hero dirt:

    Flow = (3/5) - (1-(2/1)) = 0.6 + 1= 1.6 (Flow state not achieved)

    Bill Advanced best case scenario (Positive + Hero) on a Black:

    Flow = (7/5) - (1-(2/1)) = 1.4 + 1 = 2.4 (Flow can be achieved)

    Bill again best case Double Black?

    Flow = (7/9) - (1-(2/1)) = 0.8 + 1 = 1.8 (Flow not achieved)

    Pro on Pro standard conditions / neutral mental state:

    Flow = (11/11) - (1-(1/2)) = 1 - 0.5 = 0.5 (Flow not achieved)

    Pro on Pro Positive and Hero:

    Flow = (11/11) - (1-(2/1)) = 1 + 1 = 2 (Flow state can be achived)

    Pro on Black Neutral Mindset and Standard conditions:

    Flow = (11/5) - (1-(1/2)) = 2.2 - 0.5 = 1.7 (Flow most likely not achieved)

    Same above plus Positive mindset?

    Flow = (11/5) - (1-(2/2)) = 2.2 - 0 = 2.2 (Flow achieved)

    Okay so little bit of modeling shows it mostly holds ups. I haven't tried ever derivative. Maybe I'll full model it later.
    Huh. All this time I thought it was just memorizing the landscape, imagining how I would rip it up, then moving $#!t out of the way. I hate when there's math in mountain biking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I think you're probably right.
    Problem is, there seem to be a whole lot more "bad" (repetitive, generic and boring) ones than "good" (challenging, unique and varietal) ones around.

    All comes down to the creativity of the builder I guess. I like it when people break out of the mold a bit.
    IN VT (my only experience), lowest bid wins the project. As a hired hand, I was constantly wanting to take advantage of cool shit and constantly told move along, no money for that. Making cool trail costs $. For somewhere around 50-70 thousand a mile you can afford for a crew to attempt to add some flavor. Endless side-slabbed featureless trail. It can only be made worse with through-the-fall-line, in-sloped bank turn, repeat. More speed, more air, more acceleration, less stimulation, less sustainability, and less safe really.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    Huh. All this time I thought it was just memorizing the landscape, imagining how I would rip it up, then moving $#!t out of the way. I hate when there's math in mountain biking.
    Haha sorry about that. But you are right, achieving flow state is when your skill, mental state, and trail conditions all align to give you a mathematical advantage (higher probability) over the difficulty of the trail.

    If you think about it, it explains why easy trails are have a tendency to be called "flow trails" and easy / flow are sometimes used interchangeably in the common MTB vernacular. It's because an easier trail allows more riders to more easily reach the flow state. As you say, harder trails require infinitely more skill to achieve the flow state and most people would agree with that, but the unfortunate consequence of that is it means many / most people "give up" achieving flow on these trails because it takes massive amounts of practice, resulting in more skill, better positioning yourself to get to Flow.

    I think the balance of trail difficulty and trail availability is what starts to push the modern builder to build "easier" flow trails since they appeal and appease the majority of MTB users, while the harder trails cater to a much moire select and smaller audience. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for this, it is just the reality of land management.
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    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    Haha sorry about that. But you are right, achieving flow state is when your skill, mental state, and trail conditions all align to give you a mathematical advantage (higher probability) over the difficulty of the trail.

    If you think about it, it explains why easy trails are have a tendency to be called "flow trails" and easy / flow are sometimes used interchangeably in the common MTB vernacular. It's because an easier trail allows more riders to more easily reach the flow state. As you say, harder trails require infinitely more skill to achieve the flow state and most people would agree with that, but the unfortunate consequence of that is it means many / most people "give up" achieving flow on these trails because it takes massive amounts of practice, resulting in more skill, better positioning yourself to get to Flow.

    I think the balance of trail difficulty and trail availability is what starts to push the modern builder to build "easier" flow trails since they appeal and appease the majority of MTB users, while the harder trails cater to a much moire select and smaller audience. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for this, it is just the reality of land management.
    So now we're really getting into it. The other factor is aesthetic. I want single track. 24" wide or less (preferably 6" strand of flowing tech). So you have to walk the line of balance. Provide the line that a least skilled user can ride with confidence, or a sense of mastery to quote the source, and have that line also be the line an expert would ride at twice the speed or more while achieving the same level of stimulation for their advanced skill set. Filters like vert and distance from the parking lot allow the trail blazer to lean towards a better user group (at least until eBikes).

    This is the whole deal. Anyone can make a hard trail. Can you make a trail that is hard for everyone, but overwhelming for almost no appropriate users? That's been the game I have played for a while now. *sometimes* alternate lines, but I see that as a compromise from the ideal. 1 trail, no ride a rounds, works for everyone and provides an experience of similar character for everyone. The idea that a trail can't be both is dumb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    Making cool trail costs $.
    Well, either that or volunteer time.
    Best trails I know tend to have been built that way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveVt View Post
    So now we're really getting into it. The other factor is aesthetic. I want single track. 24" wide or less (preferably 6" strand of flowing tech). So you have to walk the line of balance. Provide the line that a least skilled user can ride with confidence, or a sense of mastery to quote the source, and have that line also be the line an expert would ride at twice the speed or more while achieving the same level of stimulation for their advanced skill set. Filters like vert and distance from the parking lot allow the trail blazer to lean towards a better user group (at least until eBikes).

    This is the whole deal. Anyone can make a hard trail. Can you make a trail that is hard for everyone, but overwhelming for almost no appropriate users? That's been the game I have played for a while now. *sometimes* alternate lines, but I see that as a compromise from the ideal. 1 trail, no ride a rounds, works for everyone and provides an experience of similar character for everyone. The idea that a trail can't be both is dumb.
    You’ll get no argument from me on this, cheers!
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    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    Haha sorry about that. But you are right, achieving flow state is when your skill, mental state, and trail conditions all align to give you a mathematical advantage (higher probability) over the difficulty of the trail.
    Until the level of challenge gets so low that skilled riders aren't engaged enough to reach any sort of 'flow state'. That's what tends to happen to me; I'm bored as shit by the 8th identical berm and my mind wanders off...

    Example - lots of folks around here seem excited about the trails at a certain recently developed location. I personally don't get it - how do you even manage to stay awake on stuff like this? To me, it looks like
    an utter lack of imagination on the part of the builders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    until the level of challenge gets so low that skilled riders aren't engaged enough to reach any sort of 'flow state'. That's what tends to happen to me; i'm bored as shit by the 8th identical berm and my mind wanders off...

    Example - lots of folks around here seem excited about the trails at a certain recently developed location. I personally don't get it - how do you even manage to stay awake on stuff like this? To me, it looks like
    an utter lack of imagination on the part of the builders.

    qft. All I see there is endless amounts of dirt moving with storm water, 85% of that tread will never see a tire once the line is established, and a lot of terrain suitable for more primitive methods. That trail has nothing to do with it's surroundings and when you ride, it will feel as disconnected from what you see as it looks. Not flow...easy.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
    It's cool if some trails are like this, but virtually no one wants all the trails to be like this. I hope you are not building trails on public land.
    Uhhh, ever pedaled in New England or much of MA? Rocks and more rocks. Sometimes with a little bit of dirt to connect them. Sure some areas have lots of dirt, other not so much. Don't like tech? Go ride your hybrid on the sidewalk. Or some nice gravel road. And 99% of the riders I pedal with like it. And we DO build so much tech. Gobs of it. We as trail builders can only work with what we are given. Hand built, some benching where needed, usually a boardwalk to cross a steam or such. Excavators? Not where I ride for the most part. Rogue hoe 70R, 54 inch ash handle, pickaxe, mattock, mcleod etc. Cheers. Got any suspension on your bikes? Just unlock it, there's a little knob on the top of the fork.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    As with all things, there are good and bad 'flow trails.' It sounds to me like your problem is less that you dislike flow trails and more that you dislike bad ones. I've ridden some that are boring as all hell and exactly as you say - repeat every 1/4 mile... But I've also ridden some that provide unlimited opportunities to gap rollers, pump, manual and in many ways are just as fun as a super rugged natural track.

    That doesn't change what a flow trail is though. Some in here seem to be discussing trails they like, not what a flow trail is. (Which is understandable considering the vague OP, but in my opinion isn't what the conversation has evolved to be.) I'm very interested in getting to the root of the term, though I don't know that the info exists to be found.
    Dislike? Flow trails? Hmmm, siding with Mr slap here. We are MA riders and builders. Where are you going to find all this nice fine dirt to work with? Haul it in from where? How? Who pays, excavator and powered wheel barrows? On state park land in MA? Good luck with that. Really. You find them on pump track or private lift served mountains. Plenty of flow to be had, just not on a 8' wide brown sidewalk in the woods. Uggh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Uhhh, ever pedaled in New England or much of MA? Rocks and more rocks. Sometimes with a little bit of dirt to connect them. Sure some areas have lots of dirt, other not so much. Don't like tech? Go ride your hybrid on the sidewalk. Or some nice gravel road. And 99% of the riders I pedal with like it. And we DO build so much tech. Gobs of it. We as trail builders can only work with what we are given. Hand built, some benching where needed, usually a boardwalk to cross a steam or such. Excavators? Not where I ride for the most part. Rogue hoe 70R, 54 inch ash handle, pickaxe, mattock, mcleod etc. Cheers. Got any suspension on your bikes? Just unlock it, there's a little knob on the top of the fork.
    Sure, I got plenty of Vt seat time. The N. Vt stuff that has been developed over the last 10 years is amazing and not one dimensional at all. I also have plenty of endless rocks NJ time. I can ride it, hell I like to ride it, but without other options it gets old.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
    Sure, I got plenty of Vt seat time. The N. Vt stuff that has been developed over the last 10 years is amazing and not one dimensional at all. I also have plenty of endless rocks NJ time. I can ride it, hell I like to ride it, but without other options it gets old.
    Where do you build your trails? As said, trails are a product of where it's located. Terrain, slope, vert, rainfall, soil all come into play in terms of makeup of a trail. Add in user groups, land manager needs as well as cons/com or delicate/habitat stuff too. Options? Go to another park. Here North of Boston, many parks have one dominate feature. Steep and chunky, flatter and more dirt, giant mature forest, endless quantities of exposed granite and so on. It's not like you can have all kinds of trails at every state forest or conservation parcel. At least not with volunteers, who provide all the equipment, labor and needed lumber for say a boardwalk or such. Rebel, who does the trail work and pays for all that stuff where you ride? State and organizations?

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Until the level of challenge gets so low that skilled riders aren't engaged enough to reach any sort of 'flow state'. That's what tends to happen to me; I'm bored as shit by the 8th identical berm and my mind wanders off...

    Example - lots of folks around here seem excited about the trails at a certain recently developed location. I personally don't get it - how do you even manage to stay awake on stuff like this? To me, it looks like
    an utter lack of imagination on the part of the builders.

    Not trying to start a pissing contest, but you were definitely not in the flow on that video. In addition, how is it boring if you say, "That could've been bad" at one point?

    Don't get me wrong, you rode it fine, but that trail didn't look overly easy for you and I highly doubt you were "bored". Your video and your post don't reconcile is all I am pointing out.

    Yeah I wouldn't want a whole trail system of that, but I can see why people are stoked on it; and that would probably be a welcome addition to any system across the US. I also don't disagree that the trail in the video is going to be hard to maintain, but if it's in a park / land unit with proper machines (and commitment), they should be able to keep it up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    Not trying to start a pissing contest, but you were definitely not in the flow on that video. In addition, how is it boring if you say, "That could've been bad" at one point?

    Don't get me wrong, you rode it fine, but that trail didn't look overly easy for you and I highly doubt you were "bored". Your video and your post don't reconcile is all I am pointing out.
    Probably because that wasn't my video.

    Trail system is on private property, so please don't take my critique too much to heart. It's incredible that someone actually built the whole place simply out of love for the game, and they put a ton of work into it and many people do really enjoy it.
    I'm just saying for me personally, not something I would bother riding more than once or twice in a lifetime.
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  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Probably because that wasn't my video.

    Trail system is on private property, so please don't take my critique too much to heart. It's incredible that someone actually built the whole place simply out of love for the game, and they put a ton of work into it and many people do really enjoy it.
    I'm just saying for me personally, not something I would bother riding more than once or twice in a lifetime.
    Never been, 8 ft wide of smooth dirt? Where's the challenge? Maybe I'll hit it on my fully loaded bikepacking rig on trip up there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I think you're probably right.
    Problem is, there seem to be a whole lot more "bad" (repetitive, generic and boring) ones than "good" (challenging, unique and varietal) ones around.

    We tried to capture this same sort of thing with our pumptrack actually; many basically consist of one main loop with a bypass or two and bunch of almost identical rollers. We went for a full-on "dirt skatepark" style with almost endless options of how to link things together and a lot of different style 'features' that keep it interesting for high level BMX riders while also allowing the training wheel brigade to get their roll on.

    All comes down to the creativity of the builder I guess. I like it when people break out of the mold a bit.
    I know a lot of parks in the next county from mine are getting 'flow' trails built by park employees. They're good, but just lack the eye of a rider so they are never great... Just seems like they put rollers in randomly rather than considering how they'll be pumped. I've also seen trails that look absolutely identical but when you ride them you think 'a rider built this' because of how every little aspect seems perfectly suited to riding.

    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    I think the balance of trail difficulty and trail availability is what starts to push the modern builder to build "easier" flow trails since they appeal and appease the majority of MTB users, while the harder trails cater to a much moire select and smaller audience. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for this, it is just the reality of land management.
    In my area at least, we have over 20 years of hand built technical as hell trails. The reason we are building more 'flow' style trails (though not a true flow trail) is because we simply don't have any yet.

    I work at a shop and I'm constantly asked 'where can I go to learn to mountain bike' - my answer is always 'next county over' because we simply don't have anything friendly to beginners. That's a problem in my mind. If and when the day comes that we have tons of 'flow style' stuff I will absolutely say it's time to stop and get back to the good stuff... But so far that isn't an issue for us. Sounds like it is other places and I can see how that would be frustrating.

    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Dislike? Flow trails? Hmmm, siding with Mr slap here. We are MA riders and builders. Where are you going to find all this nice fine dirt to work with? Haul it in from where? How? Who pays, excavator and powered wheel barrows? On state park land in MA? Good luck with that. Really. You find them on pump track or private lift served mountains. Plenty of flow to be had, just not on a 8' wide brown sidewalk in the woods. Uggh.
    I am a trail advocate in the Frederick Watershed (City land, managed by state) in Maryland. We got state grant money to build five miles (1.5 of which will be our more typical hand built super-tech) and hired a pro builder who has done a fantastic job of finding dirt despite extremely rocky terrain. Some sections he has built pretty 'flowing' stuff entirely out of rock. It is certainly possible.

    I know you're thinking Maryland isn't rocky, but do some Googling before you post with that premise.

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    Unless the OP is really fast or had a lot of help, I don’t see how anything that just took 3 days to build can have flow (assuming it wasn’t 100% machine). It’s either really rough or really short, probably both. Not conducive to flow, I think.

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    I have an Idea! - Tantric mountainbiking!

    (Don’t ask me about the details, it’s still in the development phase).


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    First question is- do you like the trail? If you like it, most likely others will also. You can't please everyone, and if you try, you will probably end up with a boring trail. I think Flow Trails as opposed to flowy trails, are a bit too predictable for my taste. Ride it a few times and if there are spots that seem overly awkward and not conducive to the overall feel you are looking for, do some modifications. Also, some people will complain the first time they ride a trail, but after they learn to let the speed carry them over obstacles, they will say," Wow, this trail is starting to flow for me!"

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