“Stop dumbing down the trails!” It's a common refrain, and one that pops up every time a tricky root disappears, or a chunky flat corner turns into a smooth berm. Trail maintenance is a balancing act, and sometimes an overzealous builder or trail organization takes things too far, resulting in a sterile highway instead of an engaging bit of singletrack.
In an ideal world, your local riding area would have trails for everyone, from beginners to pros: Smoother, easily navigated trails without a ton of elevation change for those just getting their feet wet, more difficult but still very manageable options that appeal to almost everyone, as well as a range of even more challenging options for advanced riders. It can be a tricky blend to achieve – expert riders feel left out if they only see new flow trails being built, just like beginners can feel excluded if there aren't any options for safe progression. Topography plays a part too - if you're surrounded by pancake flat terrain it's unlikely your local trails are going to offer as many challenging options as somewhere like Whistler or Champéry.
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that meets all of your dream trail requirements, don't forget to support your local trail builders - they're the ones toiling away in the pouring rain and freezing cold so you can feast on freshly crafted dirt masterpieces. If you're unhappy with the current situation in your zone, it may be time to pick up a shovel, or at the very least get involved with your local trail organization to see what opportunities there are for improvement.
It can be hard to find locations that have a really well-rounded selection of trails, everything from relatively flat singletrack squiggles to steep, scary lines that are only doable by a select few, which brings us to this week's poll questions.