Making the Most of What Ya Got!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Making the Most of What Ya Got!

    And I'm not just talking length and girth

    I am limited to ~500' elevation but thankfully blessed with many valleys and contours. If you've been following along with my journey and building over the last 4 years, you know I am about 15 miles into a system but starting to "run out" of the big swaths of untouched areas in the current "zone". Thankfully, the next zone is just a fence crossing away However, as a result, I am being very mindful of new trails knowing that eventually the space will run out.

    Recently I was pushed by a very good local enduro/slopestyle rider to consider "opening up" the next few trails. With opening up being defined loosely as fast with significant elevation drop over short distances. Big corners allowing for big drops / jumps, etc...

    And while that appeals to me A LOT given my current riding abilities, I also am questioning the wisdom giving those types of run will be short (timewise while riding) considering the limited elevation. Maybe some actual will help here:



    That's 0.11 miles with only about 40' elevation drop (~ -7%). As you can tell, I rode it A BUNCH to get the understanding of could this be a flow zone? Could you carry speed with maybe rollers and a jump or two in the traverses? The answer is yes, but the corners are about 12' turning radii and really couldn't go any "bigger" or steeper without cutting the switches from 8 to about 4.

    So here's the question: Do you consider maximizing trail distance as a priority over steep extremely short segments?

    The interesting aspect of this which may make this question mute is the "flowzone" shown above will lead to a short climb and traverse into ... a short steep large feature segment where I will burn a little more elevation over a much shorter distance in order to allow for bigger drops and one or two large jumps aka the "Dropzone".

    But after this ... I have a few other stretches I'm eyeballing and just thinking about how to best utilize the existing land. I know my trail currently is consider predominately "tight and technical". If I had 2K or hell even 1K of elevation and large plots of land, sure I would go for some of the traditional "deep and steep" approach, but we just don't have that en masse.

    What's your thoughts / approach to this issue? I'll be honest, knowing that land is the one thing they are not making more of, I am leaning towards flow / max mileage and adding optional side features to spice it up for the more advanced riders.

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    The longer time I have going downhill, the more fun I have per hour. The key performance indicator for mountain biking is Smiles per hour, or %smile time, if you will. So if it were my personal sandbox, I would try to get the longest distance of negative grade I could.

  3. #3
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    It is hard to tell from the pictures, but maybe you could also have a "sphincter clinch" line down the side for those whose KPI is # of sphincter clinches per hour.

  4. #4
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    My opinion is that a 12' radius is pretty much the minimum that I would use on a downhill turn.

    I prefer turns with 15 ft of radius or more. I've been working with 20'-25' turns lately, and berms that are 4' wide. It's a *lot* more work (I am not allowed to use machinery), but there is only so much elevation to work with, and I'd rather have a smaller number of wide, fast turns than a lot of tiny, cramped ones. That said, the trails I'm working on are one-way and there's no way I'd ever make uphill turns with such a large radius.

    Maximizing trail length is no longer on my priority list. It just isn't worth compromising on more important aspects of trail design to squeeze in more trail. Of course, the extreme case is building trails straight up and down the fall line, this is not what I'm advocating!

  5. #5
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    Thanks Walt, good thoughts. I'll try and ride it with 15-20' and see if it improves the flow. Cheers!
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  6. #6
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    I think as with most things - quality over quantity should be the priority. I feel that one of the biggest mistakes when making a descent is to make the straights flat and use the elevation up in tight switchbacks. Besides feeling like every other ho hum xx trail it has the effect of erasing any fun potential the trail had. You obviously don't want to build a trail (future rut) straight down the hill but maximizing trail distance by cutting the straights flat is so boring.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    I think as with most things - quality over quantity should be the priority. I feel that one of the biggest mistakes when making a descent is to make the straights flat and use the elevation up in tight switchbacks. Besides feeling like every other ho hum xx trail it has the effect of erasing any fun potential the trail had. You obviously don't want to build a trail (future rut) straight down the hill but maximizing trail distance by cutting the straights flat is so boring.
    I think I get what you are saying. As always, the devil is in the details. My approach has a slightly different emphasis. I find that trail slope is mostly meaningless, as long as it's not extreme, because the more important goal is to build frequent grade reversals.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    I think I get what you are saying. As always, the devil is in the details. My approach has a slightly different emphasis. I find that trail slope is mostly meaningless, as long as it's not extreme, because the more important goal is to build frequent grade reversals.
    Yeah that is one thing that the tighter lines does allow for (grade reversals). It also uses the left border as a cup since there is a natural rise bordering this little valley. The turns sweep up a small rise then give good speed as you exit the turn. Each exit will have a roller or drop for sure.

    When it comes to my trail there isn't / won't be a lot of "straight boring lines". I have developed a philosophy of if there is no natural feature to aim the line towards, but its straight with speed, you will either get rollers, jumps, gaps, or swoopy S-turns. My buddy and I call this "tricking out" the segments and we are slowly doing this to all existing segments. All new built segments have them from the get go.

    For example, here's an "older" (well its not that old but its different from the section I am currently working on for clarification) trail segment, that I went back and changed a boring flat straight section (blue line is the old trail) to have these 3 super fun swoopy S-turns back to back to back. They get rave reviews and I am starting to re-assess where I can get more of them integrated into older sections.

    Making the Most of What Ya Got!-swoop.jpg

    Another example from this morning, we had a nice flat run after a few tight turns, so mid-ride, we stopped and added a small drop to liven up this portion of the segment before it gets into much bigger features:

    Making the Most of What Ya Got!-ftatr-drop.jpg

    I rode Time Warp in Ashland two days ago for the first time and it made me realize trails that just keep you constantly engaged and actively riding to get through a lot of features are super fun! One nice thing in this area is there are lots of smallish (6"-2') rocks lying on the surface which makes adding features to trails fast and easy.

    The one thing I am committed to doing though is fixing anything we get wrong. While I shoot for right the first time, that's not always how it works!
    2020 Turbo Levo Comp
    2019 Strive CF 8
    2018 Farley EX 8

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