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  1. #1
    Senior Member hanshananigan's Avatar
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    IS someone unnecessarily smoothing out challenging singletrack in your area?

    So I leave one state where a challenging near-vertical climb was closed and replaced by graceful, boring switchbacks, and now am in an area where one of the few challenging climb/descents has been mucked and replaced by a boring, gentle climb.

    Is this where the future of XC trail building is heading, or am I just paranoid?

    (Oh, and before anyone says it, I was planning on going to the next "official" trail maintenance day, but apparently the local club went ahead and finished the work (and destroyed the old trail) without making it too public.)

  2. #2
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Ya it is happening here too...surprisingly. No even the xc trails. Everything is becoming so re-enforced that they are becoming like steep highways in spots...very annoying

  3. #3
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Could it be due to efforts to reduce erosion? We'll typically reroute steep descents to avoid water running down the trails and destroying them.
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  4. #4
    In search of moar cowbell dminor's Avatar
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    I think what you're finding is the new buzzword in trail-building is "sustainable" - - in other words, getting rid of the straight runs that cause erosion. Switchback sections instead of erosion-prone chutes and such. This is a good thing, in that the trails last longer and don't wash out and clog streams with silt and such. Some people get carried away, though, and take all of the rocks, logs and other obstacles out in the course of trailbuilding.

    I witnessed this last weekend on a workday with our local club. Two of us were exposing/enhancing little rock ledges where they jutted up in the trail (they were great water-bars too), but others were kind of on us for not taking them out completely.

  5. #5
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    In the UK we've got a group called the Joint Local Access Forum who go around mindlessly destroying good trails in the name of access for all (i.e. disabled people). They ruined a decent local ride within the last month or so, a byway in the middle of nowhere that has been unusable by anything other than bikes or walkers for years. It used to have some moderately technical descents and good climbs, now it's a glorified road.
    I'm not against disabled access by any means, but I can't stand it when people have to ruin things for the benefit of a tiny minority.

  6. #6
    ed
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    Our local trail maintenance group (the Kansas Trails Council) trys to please everyone. They build easy trails and more technical trails. They are going to build a "skills loop" this fall that will be a freeride/technical singletrack type thing. They usually take the old eroded trails and cover them with logs and stuff so you can't even tell they were there. Then they build a new one to take it's place so the old one can be replenished.

    They do a good job in my opinion. I ran across a fallen tree the other day. Instead of moving it, I got permission to build a log crossing with a ramp on one side so you can jump it. (pic's attached) I'm pretty happy with the crew around here. I spent my first day with them last Saturday running a WeedEater for 3 hours.


  7. #7
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    We have a group around here called Trails2000, They do a good job at keeping the trails good for mountain bikers, but also maintaining them so they arent horrible for hikers either, and they do a really good job of it

  8. #8
    Senior Member Tag1's Avatar
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    You guys getting your trails smoothed-out should form a coalition to "un-smooth" them...head out with shovels and pick-axes and start tossing rocks/logs, etc onto the trails...
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  9. #9
    Air Pirate Bokchoi Cowboy's Avatar
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    A lesson on trail management and access could probably be learned from the great people who put together the trail network in Rotorua, New Zealand, the location of the 2006 Worlds.

    Located in the Whakarewarewa forest, the trail network is planned, built, and maintained by the logging company that owns/runs the forest, the local mountain bikers, and sponsoring companies. Trails are built with various skill levels, clearly marked, and constantly being updated. Since this is a working forest, with ongoing harvesting and planting, there is always oportunity to add or modify trails, keeping the area interesting and fresh no matter how many times you ride there.

    The results of the cooperation between the different entities have made this locale the focal point of Mountain Biking in the North Island. Trails by bikers for bikers, from easy cruises to serious insanity.

  10. #10
    Senior Member hanshananigan's Avatar
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    Nice posts, and nice work, chelboed!

    Yeah- erosion contol, "sustainable" trails is good and all.... but watching how some trails develop naturally over time, I have a hard time believing that the erosion is causing real environmental damage- it's only making the trail more challenging, in my book. I love coming to a hill I haven't been to in a while and need to rework my line, or just take it and enjoy the thrill of bouncing over rocks that weren't there before. Am I a Neanderthal of XC bikers?

    It makes sense to me to make trails accessible to hikers and even fair-weather riders, but my thought is to build an alternate trail here and there so folks have a choice of difficulty (without building so many trails the woods are clogged with them!).

    Pocohantas ST Park in VA has a great setup- three loops of varying difficulty.

  11. #11
    ed
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    I was talking to one of the maintenance crew as we hiked out last Saturday...he saw this huge flat rock and said "We need to grab that thing and throw it in the middle of this trail, eh?" I thought for a while. He isn't a biker...just a hiker. Why would he want technical terrain?

    "Why?", I asked him.

    "Because it helps the trail against erosion" he said.

    I guess the more technical trails with all the rocks and roots are probably better at withstanding adverse weather conditions. It makes sense, really.

    I'm gonna go get that rock (with the help of 2-3 peeps) and drag it onto the trail. (in a way that will leave an easier route for the lesser skilled.


    My theory on technical trail building is this:

    Make technical jumps and drops and all kinds of challenging terrain. But build a "chicken exit" around it for the lesser skilled. The technical route should be the faster and straighter route. Not to punish the non technical, but kinda reward your hard work and effort of technical riding with a "hole shot". If you want to get ahead of the pack, go bigger. Do the "rock jump" and skip the longer smooth loop.

    Bigger risk=bigger reward.

    I'm not talking "Bender gaps"...but on an XC race course, there's no reason why there can't be a 2 foot drop to tranny or a double-jump that gets you over a great big obstacle faster than going around it.

  12. #12
    Get the stick. darkmother's Avatar
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    The same thing happens here. The trail maintenance groups go in and sanitize the trail. In some cases, it is great in that they make the trail sustainable, and control erosion problems. In others they turn some tricky, fun singletrack into what might as well be a paved path.

    I find myself leaving my MTB at home more often in favour of my cyclocross bike. It is the only way I can make some of these trails challenging for myself.

  13. #13
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkmother
    In others they turn some tricky, fun singletrack into what might as well be a paved path.
    Some good points have been brought up in this thread. But remember, without those trail groups, all you'd be riding would be paved paths. Don't blame the trail groups. Blame the lawyers.
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  14. #14
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    In the UK we have bridleways and these are what it sounds like- Horse trails. Bikes are allowed on these Bridleways wheras they are not allowed on Footpaths. Walkers are also allowed on the Bridleways and they have the strongest and loudest say on the trails. We used to have a 1/2 miles part of the South Downs Way called the roots. As it sounds Big exposed roots that make the trip Down exciting and up nearly impossible. Always a challenge and when you climbed them it was probably on one of the 4 days a year when they were climbable. Then it was decided that they were getting a bit dangerous as the steps were getting to about 12" in the ruts caused by the rain. Council covererd them in 18" of scree and smoothed them out. Been done for 2 years now but nature is having its comeback as rain has nowhere to run so exposing new routes and the main trail itself is starting to wash away to the bottom of the hill.
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  15. #15
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    In the UK we have bridleways and these are what it sounds like- Horse trails. Bikes are allowed on these Bridleways wheras they are not allowed on Footpaths. Walkers are also allowed on the Bridleways and they have the strongest and loudest say on the trails. We used to have a 1/2 miles part of the South Downs Way called the roots. As it sounds Big exposed roots that make the trip Down exciting and up nearly impossible. Always a challenge and when you climbed them it was probably on one of the 4 days a year when they were climbable. Then it was decided that they were getting a bit dangerous as the steps were getting to about 12" in the ruts caused by the rain. Council covererd them in 18" of scree and smoothed them out. Been done for 2 years now but nature is having its comeback as rain has nowhere to run so exposing new routes and the main trail itself is starting to wash away to the bottom of the hill.
    Do you have paragraph breaks and commas in the UK?
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  16. #16
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    Spelling and grammar nazi's=annoying.

  17. #17
    ed
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    ...In, the, UK, we, have, bridleways, and, these, are, what, it, sounds, like,-, Horse, trails,., Bikes, are, allowed, on, these, Bridleways, wheras, they, are, not, allowed, on, Footpaths,., Walkers, are, also, allowed, on, the, Bridleways,and,they,have,the,strongest,and,loudest,say,... (paragraph break)

  18. #18
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorthlessBackup
    Spelling and grammar nazi's=annoying.
    There shouldn't be an apostrophe in your use of the word "nazis."

    EDIT: Holy Moses, WorthlessBackup, I just noticed this is your first post! Keep up the good work.
    Last edited by Peek the Geek; 05-16-06 at 03:46 PM.
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  19. #19
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    I once caught our race director's wife removing rocks from the single track trail - actually my son caught her doing it, but since she's a teacher, he couldn't say anything! Had to explain that the rocks belonged there, so she actually put them back! Some this activity is just plain not understanding....

  20. #20
    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apclassic9
    I once caught our race director's wife removing rocks from the single track trail - actually my son caught her doing it, but since she's a teacher, he couldn't say anything! Had to explain that the rocks belonged there, so she actually put them back! Some this activity is just plain not understanding....
    Maybe he should have told her to go to Cooper's Rock, that would have kept her busy for a while.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

  21. #21
    ec velo
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    Last year, at a local race (which actually had a huge turnout), I was watching the elite guys do this technical stream crossing. There was a family there watching with me. The mud on either side of the stream was getting all dug up and sizable rocks were surfacing. The family started taking the rocks out of the mud because a few guys screwed up on them and fell. I had to stand up and tell them to keep em there. Obsticals are a huge part of mountain biking, even racing. If you can't see what's ahead of you, or what you see is beyond your abilities, slow down; don't remove parts of the trail.

  22. #22
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    The best way ...

    Quote Originally Posted by dminor
    I think what you're finding is the new buzzword in trail-building is "sustainable" - - in other words, getting rid of the straight runs that cause erosion. Switchback sections instead of erosion-prone chutes and such. This is a good thing, in that the trails last longer and don't wash out and clog streams with silt and such. Some people get carried away, though, and take all of the rocks, logs and other obstacles out in the course of trailbuilding.

    I witnessed this last weekend on a workday with our local club. Two of us were exposing/enhancing little rock ledges where they jutted up in the trail (they were great water-bars too), but others were kind of on us for not taking them out completely.
    Getting rid of erosion prone areas is good. Especially if you're one of the people who are fighting a losing battle to keep things rideable and open.

    The best way to preserve the challenge in your trails is to join the trail group and help do the work. If you're not there when the work is going on ... you really have no say. If all the "extreme" riders stay home on workdays ... well, smooth singletrack is what you will get.

  23. #23
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    Beware of the HOHAS ...

    Quote Originally Posted by hanshananigan
    Nice posts, and nice work, chelboed!

    Yeah- erosion contol, "sustainable" trails is good and all.... but watching how some trails develop naturally over time, I have a hard time believing that the erosion is causing real environmental damage- it's only making the trail more challenging, in my book.

    ... snip ...
    Well, the land managers don't see it that way. They see erosion. And the MTB antagonists (the HOHAS and horse nazis) don't see it that way either. They also see erosion and are quite willing to document it and point it out.

    The result here is that MTB is unfairly scrutinized, especially when placed next to equestrian use. So we all have to be on our best behavior to keep things open and bike friendly.

    I suggest you put in time with the trail group and help them build challenging yet environmentally trail.

  24. #24
    one less horse cryptid01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorthlessBackup
    Spelling and grammar nazi's=annoying.
    judgemental n00bs = same

  25. #25
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    There doing that around here too. God forbid they get on burnt Mtn, its washed and rugged and great. Not everything needs to be user friendly. One new trail here that is getting great reviews is all smooth rolling trail, no rocks,roots or the like......boooooring! As far as erosion and all that, it happens. Helpwith local trail work and do all you can but quit *****ing like a bunch of babies on the net about it.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

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