Do low branches equal technical feature?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Do low branches equal technical feature?

    I'm asking the question, do low branches across or leaning into the trail equal some sort of technical trail feature, to get folks' opinion. After a couple of warm up laps on an XC course this weekend and before the race started I asked the race organizer whether anything could be done about the low branches across the trail. He said he'd asked the local trail steward about them before and was told the trail steward considers low branches technical features of the trail.

    Now I like technical XC courses, rocks, drops, roots, compressions, jumps, all good, bring 'em on. But having to duck to get under branches and even a couple of fallen trees is just a pain in the arse and not something I consider technical. Just annoying.

    Please let me know if you agree (low branches are not technical features and are annoying) with me or not. Or just let me whether I just need to mtfu and get used to ducking.

    In full disclosure I'm 6'5" so anything under 7' off the trail is low for me, but many of the branches had everyone ducking and a couple had me kissing the stem.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  2. #2
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    I would suspect that if there is a trail steward, the trails are muti-purpose and they aren't going to change them for a small segment of one user group.
    But I understand, even at 5'7", how that could be annoying.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB2
    I would suspect that if there is a trail steward, the trails are muti-purpose and they aren't going to change them for a small segment of one user group.

    Nope, mountain bike trails, maintained by mountain bikers.

    But even if they were multi-purpose you couldn't walk the trails without ducking either.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    Nope, mountain bike trails, maintained by mountain bikers.

    But even if they were multi-purpose you couldn't walk the trails without ducking either.
    This one course we have here is for the most part dry and fast (drains very well), but they insist on routing us down a fireroad with a 50 yard mud pit that never drys out. To me this is just annoying and not a technical feature because everyone can ride it. But it is what it is. I guess it's sort of the same; if they think the limbo adds to the course and won't trim the branches, you have to just suck it up.

  5. #5
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    This is mountain biking for crying out loud.

  6. #6
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    If the trail steward is the guy maintaining the trail...suck it up buttercup.

  7. #7
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    True, and in New England technical terrain and weather feature prominently in our races.

  8. #8
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    I once got a branch caught in my helmet and it caused me to fall on my ass.

  9. #9
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    Ok, so Iím hearing the call to mtfu, do some yoga, get limber and get used to mtb limbo.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

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    I'm wondering if you could be referring to one of our local trails where a grassroots short track race was held this weekend?
    It has a very low canopy and I always find it annoying too. I finally asked the trail steward himself, and he said it was to help keep horses off the trail. Now it makes sense. Equestrians have their own trails in this park, and when they ride the trails wet leave massive crater like hoofprints in them. The mtb trails's steward is only trying to prevent that from spreading to "his" trails. There are low wooden arches and signs at the trail heads to remind the horse guys, but it's easy enough to go around them if you're so inclined. The low branches make it almost impossible for them to ride the trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    Nope, mountain bike trails, maintained by mountain bikers.

    But even if they were multi-purpose you couldn't walk the trails without ducking either.

    Ducking is one thing, needing to get off the bike is another

  12. #12
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    Jack Brooks, that's the place. I had a great time racing, but man, you had to keep your eyes open and your riding fluid. The one open section of trail where you could overtake someone had a real low canopy for about 100 yards.
    I can see the stewards point about keeping the horses out, but you don't need branches at 5ft off the ground to do that. 7ft clearance would work just fine.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  13. #13
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    I am tall and don't like low-hanging branches. I've slammed the top of my helmet on them sometimes so hard as to give me pause.

    After someone was paralyzed by hitting a low-hanging branch at a trail just South of mine, I made it a point to remove all of them from the trail I maintain.

    It's a bad idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    I'm asking the question, do low branches across or leaning into the trail equal some sort of technical trail feature, to get folks' opinion. After a couple of warm up laps on an XC course this weekend and before the race started I asked the race organizer whether anything could be done about the low branches across the trail. He said he'd asked the local trail steward about them before and was told the trail steward considers low branches technical features of the trail.

    Now I like technical XC courses, rocks, drops, roots, compressions, jumps, all good, bring 'em on. But having to duck to get under branches and even a couple of fallen trees is just a pain in the arse and not something I consider technical. Just annoying.

    Please let me know if you agree (low branches are not technical features and are annoying) with me or not. Or just let me whether I just need to mtfu and get used to ducking.

    In full disclosure I'm 6'5" so anything under 7' off the trail is low for me, but many of the branches had everyone ducking and a couple had me kissing the stem.
    I totally hear you! I'm 6'3" and some of our courses have some low branches and trees that are only 24" apart. My body and bars just don't fit. The little guys whip through and I have to scrub a ton of speed and wiggle through.

    It is part of the game I guess, but it can be a handicap for us tall folk.

  15. #15
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    personally i don't believe low branches are technical and do not warrant the title "technical features" but they count as trail features non the less. i would make an exception if there were low branches in a rockgarden, that'd make for a good time

  16. #16
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    IMO if its a leaned over bushy limb, that constitutes poor or lazy trail maintenance. But if its a leaned over tree or large naturally occurring limb, that's an obstacle. The same way a log jump or large rock is an obstacle, but a fallen limb or patch of weeds isn't.


    However, if its in a high speed area and could pose danger, there should be some tape or flagging put on it to improve visibility, as our eyes usually focus more on the dirt than at eye level, and tree limbs are naturally camouflaged. Just as with stuff on the ground, if its visible and you hit it, its your own fault.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    After someone was paralyzed by hitting a low-hanging branch at a trail just South of mine, I made it a point to remove all of them from the trail I maintain.

    It's a bad idea.

    Same argument could be had about rock features.

    Sanitizing trails is a no win situation. There's no end to it until you have a road course.
    I've been on pause, but I'm shaking off the rust...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by octanejake
    personally i don't believe low branches are technical and do not warrant the title "technical features" but they count as trail features non the less. i would make an exception if there were low branches in a rockgarden, that'd make for a good time

    Imagine a log over a trail so you have to bunny hop it.....now add a branch that without the bunny hop is high enough.....

    That feels technical...

    So remove the log and add a bermed corner with a branch hanging in the way if you bank hard to hold your speed...

    Now lose the corner and make it up a hill that really needs a stand and hammer to hold the flow of the course..but again the low branch is in the way and you have to sit and spin....

    Seems to me on any tough course a low branch is gonna be a challenge...hmmm technical at that.

  19. #19
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    Not really. There's a visibility problem with some low-hanging branches. You may feel that your head has cleared it, or not even notice it at a certain height. Your eyes aren't focused on that area of the trail.

    And what's so technical about ducking under? Just makes the trail more annoying for taller riders IMHO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout
    Same argument could be had about rock features.

    Sanitizing trails is a no win situation. There's no end to it until you have a road course.

  20. #20
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    It is a riders responsibility to know the course before they race on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    Jack Brooks, that's the place. I had a great time racing, but man, you had to keep your eyes open and your riding fluid. The one open section of trail where you could overtake someone had a real low canopy for about 100 yards.
    I can see the stewards point about keeping the horses out, but you don't need branches at 5ft off the ground to do that. 7ft clearance would work just fine.
    There are races at Jack Brooks now??? That's where I learned to mountain bike, but haven't been back since before my cat 3 days. I bet that place would be a lot of fun on my SS. Are there any other races coming up?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    It is a riders responsibility to know the course before they race on it.
    Err, no. It's the responsibility of the race organizer to put on a race that is 'safe' within the boundaries of what we expect for mountain biking.
    Now I don't like low branches and the discussion on whether they're part of the technical make up of a trail is still open. But I'm not responsible for the up turned rake left in the middle of the trail.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  23. #23
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    Sue those sonz of bichez! It just aint right to require humans to avoid natural obstacles! By damn! Also, when you fall after hitting the rock on the ground, sue the govament for not clearing the trailz!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jd1072
    There are races at Jack Brooks now??? That's where I learned to mountain bike, but haven't been back since before my cat 3 days. I bet that place would be a lot of fun on my SS. Are there any other races coming up?
    There's one race left in the current series of the short track series, but in Sugar Land.

    More info here...

    http://www.ghorba.org/rides-events/ghorba-sts-2011

    There is talk of a fall race back at Jack Brooks. We'll have to wait and see.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    Err, no. It's the responsibility of the race organizer to put on a race that is 'safe' within the boundaries of what we expect for mountain biking.
    Now I don't like low branches and the discussion on whether they're part of the technical make up of a trail is still open. But I'm not responsible for the up turned rake left in the middle of the trail.
    Safety foist!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    This is mountain biking for crying out loud.

    Agreed.

  27. #27
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    I take it you don't really believe your tagline.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwampDonkeyDisco
    I take it you don't really believe your tagline.
    Totally, why?
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    Not really. There's a visibility problem with some low-hanging branches. You may feel that your head has cleared it, or not even notice it at a certain height. Your eyes aren't focused on that area of the trail.

    And what's so technical about ducking under? Just makes the trail more annoying for taller riders IMHO.

    I've been in many races where fallen trees (leaning over the trail) or other branches are marked with red tape.

    I can see if the course is littered with them. That may prompt trailwork prior to an event, but the occasional wood can be marked off with red tape.
    I've been on pause, but I'm shaking off the rust...

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    Err, no. It's the responsibility of the race organizer to put on a race that is 'safe' within the boundaries of what we expect for mountain biking.
    Now I don't like low branches and the discussion on whether they're part of the technical make up of a trail is still open. But I'm not responsible for the up turned rake left in the middle of the trail.
    We disagree on the idea of "expectation." I recall making fun of the Euros who came to race here complaining about features of the course. They sounded like a bunch of road riders who were trying to race on dirt. They complained about anything that slowed them down or challenged their technical skills.

    I don't like a slippery root crossing the trail in the middle of a turn but I wouldn't have it removed because it harshed my mellow.

    The "rake" is clearly out of the question.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbscott
    I'm wondering if you could be referring to one of our local trails where a grassroots short track race was held this weekend?
    It has a very low canopy and I always find it annoying too. I finally asked the trail steward himself, and he said it was to help keep horses off the trail. Now it makes sense. Equestrians have their own trails in this park, and when they ride the trails wet leave massive crater like hoofprints in them. The mtb trails's steward is only trying to prevent that from spreading to "his" trails. There are low wooden arches and signs at the trail heads to remind the horse guys, but it's easy enough to go around them if you're so inclined. The low branches make it almost impossible for them to ride the trail.
    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    Jack Brooks, that's the place. I had a great time racing, but man, you had to keep your eyes open and your riding fluid. The one open section of trail where you could overtake someone had a real low canopy for about 100 yards.
    I can see the stewards point about keeping the horses out, but you don't need branches at 5ft off the ground to do that. 7ft clearance would work just fine.
    The trail steward is a genius. If those low hanging trees keep the horses off the trails then his mission is accomplished. If the horses would've been on the trail the race would've probably gotten canceled. I share trails with equestrians and they ride them in any condition. They leave holes everywhere and it won't take long before it your trail looks like honeycomb. We have 130 miles of trail where I live. I get to ride 10 miles of it year round b/c the equestrians do not like it. Just to clarify, I'm not insulting equestrians, I grew up on a farm and we owned horses, but when they ride the trails when the soil is soft they can do a lot of damage.

  32. #32
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    Shorter people love low branches... it gives them an unfair advantage.

    Personally I think they're [email protected] IMO it's a trail design flaw, not a feature, if certain people will always have to walk it no matter the skill level.

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