The Conundrum: More Shocks or More Shovels?

May 18, 2022 at 3:54
by Taj Mihelich  
"Conundrum Corner"

I’m alone in the woods with a shovel, and I don’t know what to do. I’ve been putting in work to clean up the first rideable trail of the season. I’ve removed the fallen trees and branches, I’ve repaired the drainage, and I’ve raked away the layer of wet leaves glued to the trail. I even shoveled snow from one fifty foot shaded stretch (after such a long U.P. winter I need to ride!). I’ve worked my way down the trail to one of my favorite corners, and I’m frozen with indecision. The harsh weather has eroded (some might say evolved) it into a completely new animal. Near vertical roots now line the inside of this berm like the jaw of some wheel-eating, fork-exploding, iron-toothed monster. I can tell that to ride this turn properly (fast) I need a new bike with more suspension, or I need to smooth out the berm.

This little trail isn’t anything crazy, but as I play last year’s laps in my head, I know that it can be so exhilarating. If I managed to string together all the earlier corners just right I’d arrive at this corner in a rush of wind and speed. Just as the trail drops down this tiny foot-tall catch berm carves to the right. Leaning into it my bike goes light. The little knobules of my front Assegai tire do their best to claw for some grip, but there’s just no gravity left to give them the downforce they need.

The resulting two-wheel drift across the trail is one of my favorite out-of-control yet in-control feelings. If I float over this berm, it is a guaranteed catastrophic Moto GP ragdoll crash but thankfully… WHAM! The catch berm does its catching, the g-forces stack up, and I’m slingshotted out the other side. I’m flooded with enough adrenaline that the climb back up is completed with a grin. This little berm can take all the speed you bring it. Or at least it used to be that way.


"We search out more and more challenging terrain and then buy bikes with more suspension and technology to make that same terrain easier to ride."

If I want this toothy and blown out berm to be as fun as last year I can only see two options: More suspension or a smoother trail. This is the conundrum I don’t fully understand about mountain biking. We search out more and more challenging terrain and then buy bikes with more suspension and technology to make that same terrain easier to ride. I don’t know what the rules are for balancing this puzzle. Do I leave this trail to erode and deteriorate until I need a DH rig to ride it? Or do I make it BMX track smooth? Or is there an accepted middle ground? And if I do make it smoother where do I stop? Should I smooth out the corner before it? The whole trail? And maybe the next trail? Should I just pave the whole place? 

I asked master trail builder Ted Tempany for some words of wisdom and he returned, “My favorite trails have been built and maintained by a small group of like-minded people; the trail has a consistent feel, sheds water, and feels alive.” That makes sense to me, but then he also off-handedly said, “It is hard to please everyone, don’t bother! Build something for yourself. It’s your free time after all.”

Is there a right answer to the question “more shocks or more shovels?” I drew up some t-shirt designs that I hope can solve the problem. They’ll act as a kind of mountain biker’s psychological test. I’ll run the votes through Outside’s AI supercomputer and see what I should do with my corner.



Round 1





Round 2





Round 3





Round 4





Round 5





Round 6




265 Comments

  • 802 0
 Trails that flow not flow trails.
  • 66 3
 louder for those in the back
  • 98 1
 Yep, flow trails are way too overly engineered. More raw technical trails.
  • 94 0
 This x 1000 Nothing better then rough challenging trail surfaces that still somehow have that natural ability to move through the woods and stay fast. Its truly a magic thing when done correctly.
  • 5 1
 Exactly
  • 6 0
 this is beautiful and simple
  • 18 0
 @cougar797: Indeed. Sometimes when I'm in Moab I think...wow the trail builder made this work when it seems like it would be impossible to make it work.
  • 14 0
 Yep. My favorite type of trail is rooty, rocky gnatrual gnar that's linked together by manmade features, or has manmade features when the gnar stops and the trail is smooth.
  • 25 1
 @foggnm: Right? Captain Ahab is not a flow trail but is so damn flowy! I love it.
  • 7 1
 This poll makes me sad
  • 10 0
 Raw Dog or nah, Dog
  • 24 0
 When we used to complain about the track not flowing or being bad, my old alpine skiing coach used to tell us "the is no bad tracks, only bad skiers". I live by his words ever since and even more as I got older. Sure some trails are proper bad like fire road downhill stretch making up half of a trail or something like that. But a skilled rider will find the way to make almost any trail flow. Where is the fun if all is given to you on a golden plater ? May as well take a ticket to the rollercoaster and be a spectator.
  • 6 0
 If a trail doesn’t flow ride better and make it flow Smile
  • 47 2
 Wasatch over Wasatch is the greatest abomination in the IMBA mountain bike era.

There are several reasons why it is so offensive, besides just being a bad trail.

First, its in the best terrain Utah has to offer, and now no real trail can be built there. I used to daydream of a trail starting at the top of Guardsmans that went all the way down to Midway. Thats a potential vertical change of 3700 feet, all of it through amazing terrain. Now no other trail will be permitted there because this mistake exists already.

Second is all the normal reasons why these flow trails suck. Its almost a double track with more switchbacks than any other trail in existence. It never varies in gradient. On strava the elevation profile is a straight line down at a gentle, constant 3%. The trail is machine-forced onto the mountainside, somehow always hugging south faces, despite the abundance of north northeast faces. It ignores the local terrain and rapes its way down the mountain. Etc.

Third- you can't make the excuse "its a beginner trail" because its high, remote, and takes forever to ride. A least 2 hours for beginners, if not more. You never get up to speed because of the gentle grade and switchbacks, so you're constantly pedalling DOWN A TRAIL WITH 2300 FEET OF VERTICAL DROP.

I could go on and on and on. Years after I rode it for the first and only time I'm still hurt deeply by its existence.
  • 14 1
 @8tom8: Ride the fastest line smoothly, not the smoothest line fast.
  • 29 0
 It’s funny to see this because as a pro builder all I hear from people is that they want more jumps and berms I.e. flow trails.
I would much rather have natural intimate trail over flow trails.
  • 4 0
 The dude and his steed flow, The trail is still bro.
  • 17 0
 @aminkis922: I think the real challenge, and the place where really good trail builders shine is a trail that has jumps and berms but doesn't absolutely change the terrain to do that. A really good builder can build a trail that has natural flow, uses the terrain to make jumps and rollers and berms without making an 8 foot wide machine cut trail you could drive down. I've seen great machine cut trails, but more often than not, all my favorite trails aren't.
  • 6 1
 @hamncheez: I also am still mentally recovering from my one, never to be repeated, WOW experience.
  • 2 0
 @foggnm: fwiw I know the builder, and ahab is considered flowy to him
  • 5 1
 @hamncheez: If MTF is involved, that's usually what you get. Jenni's but longer. You could make the same argument about basically all of PCMR - a terrible tangle of boring and generic easy trails will occasional (Black Forest, Red Bull, etc) fall line garbage mixed in. None of it is fun, really.

I agree that it's a shame but honestly it's the type of trail that appeals to a broad group of lower skill users and that's where the money tends to go. And scraping and starting over ain't gonna happen.

-W
  • 10 0
 @aminkis922: You can always make a contour trail and sprinkle in whatever you want. I think the main problem people have with some flow trails is that they don’t go with the terrain so the feels is gone and usually don’t even flow well for that reason
  • 4 0
 @waltworks: the truth can hurt
  • 4 0
 @hamncheez: this pains my soul to read. Maybe one day we can dynamite that horrible sounding trail and build a proper one.
  • 3 1
 @tacklingdummy: I love a good technical trail. But why does everything have to be so polarized (like politics of the last 10+ years, etc.)? What’s wrong with some middle ground? Or at least a mix of technical and flowy trails?

I have a good mix at the riding area closest to my house. It’s amazing. Some raw, technical, brain-scrambling trails; some nice flowy trails (some with jump lines and some more tame); and some in between that offer a little of both. Oh, and some nice flat stuff with nothing exciting for the XC folks. lol
  • 2 0
 @waltworks: Full disclosure I love Redbull, Empire, Black Forest, etc.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: lol ever been to the Roaring Fork Valley? It's an entire valleys-worth of that type of trail...
  • 3 0
 @wilzy: no thanks I don't want PTSD
  • 5 0
 @hamncheez: I like them too, but they don't compare well to black/double black trails that are actually well built. They were ridden in (not built per se) back in the day by folks whose hearts were in the right place but whose abilities and resources weren't up to the task. Fall line trench riding is cool every once in a while, but it gets old fast. Compare to the built/maintained trails at DV and it's no contest, I'd much rather ride Fire Swamp or Thieves than anything at PCMR if I'm looking for more difficult trails.

My point really was that there's no good intermediate blue/black stuff. It's either Jenni's level sidewalk riding or it's falling down a steep rut for 4 minutes so you can spend 60 minutes pedaling back up. The whole mountain is basically wasted this way, and WOW is a symptom of this type of trail building as well.
  • 3 0
 @waltworks: Very true.

Its kinda sad the the only exception kinda close also happens to be the best trail kinda close- Mill D. Since it was naturally formed by like sheepherders or whatever, its so freaking fun. All natural, no features (even tho I love good, raw features), high speed, flowy, etc. I'm sad they took out the steep part for the switchbacks in the middle.

(the newish trails starting at Guardsmans that drop toward Brighton are actually better, but we dont' talk about those)
  • 1 0
 @emptybe-er: I take great care to make sure the trail accentuates the natural terrain as best as possible. You still can get around the fact that you have a fist pile of tire 40’ long when you are building jumps. Just part of building that kind of trail.
  • 2 0
 @aminkis922: natural with jumps anywhere there isn't already a feature
  • 3 0
 @aminkis922: For trails with jumps, I always look for natural landings and then start linking theings together, that’s always the hard part but imo the single most important area to follow terrain contour if you want intuitive feel that keeps you in flow. It’s also a lot harder to build a landing than it is a jump if you’re doing it right. But I think some people actually like the challenge of sniping a wooden cheese wedge landing placed kind of randomly so..
  • 147 3
 I just want a trail without a horse on it
  • 24 0
 How do they know exactly how to hide their shit on sections that will result in a crash? Are all horses experts of the banana in Mario Kart?
  • 29 0
 @schlockinz: all the trickiest features scare the shit out of the horses is the obvious answer
  • 7 0
 This!!! In Colorado Springs we have some trails with berms, and rollers, that some jerk likes to take his horse up and down after it rains... arrrgh
  • 28 0
 @mtmc99: Yeah my apologies everybody, but that's not horseshite - I eat a lot of fiber and scare easily.
  • 23 0
 @number44: does that mean your butthole has superboost spacing?
  • 2 0
 On the chutes?@mtnfox37:
  • 9 0
 add to that hiking families. while I love that families get out and on the trail, I'm so sick of finding loaded diapers, food wrappers, and empty soda/beer/energy drink cans on the trails.
  • 18 0
 Can someone please tell me why we are supposed to pick up dog shit off the trail, but horses get to shit and cruise on. To the glue factory I say!!!
  • 3 3
 @Whataboutism: why you want to send dogs to the glue factory?
  • 10 0
 @sancho-ramerez: eat the dogs. Horses to the glue factory
  • 1 0
 @Tigergoosebumps: I think he is talking about the east side of the red rocks open space. I have seen many horse "signs" on the trail
  • 3 1
 @Caligula1620: wow really!?! i'm glad i don't live where you live!
  • 11 0
 @Whataboutism: it's just grass. Grass that comes out of a butthole.
  • 3 1
 @Muckal: ok lets see you taking a heaping chomp out of it, after all it's just grass. If you prefer you could dry it and smoke it as well, it's just grass.
  • 3 0
 @Whataboutism: horse shit is generally less hazardous than dog shit. stomp on it and it turns into mushy grass with little odor. dog shit on the other hand will ruin your day lol
  • 2 4
 @jamesbrant: California, home of nimbyism disguised as environmentalism, socialism disguised as altruism, and ignorance disguised as moral superiority.
We probably have the most bleeding heart environmental doomsday preachers out of any other state but god forbid any of the people crying about global warming cut down on their consumption or pollution.
  • 2 2
 @Whataboutism: I grew up in the country with horses and we would literally throw dried horse turds at each other like the were dirt clumps.
you sound fragile af being afraid of a little horsie doo-doo lol.
  • 5 0
 @Caligula1620: not afraid of the poo. I work in water/wastewater and deal with poo everyday. It is just a funny situation where dog shit is supposed to be picked up but not horses. I was being facetious about it. A turd is a turd in my book.
  • 3 0
 @Whataboutism: hmm, kinda confusing that're you're telling someone to bite out of it if it's 'just grass' but that you're not afraid of the poo. I guess that's the challenge of text jokes lol
  • 2 0
 @Whataboutism: sarcasm and horseshiiteeee
  • 9 0
 @Whataboutism: I think you meant to say you were being fecestious.
  • 2 0
 @exastronaut: god dammit, take my updoot
  • 1 0
 @Tigergoosebumps: not chutes, but UVP for sure. I live in the neighborhood, and it is consistent...
  • 91 4
 If your trail is too easy just set up your suspension in the worst way possible... and enjoy! You'll be bouncing down and off stuff you didn't even realize existed in no time.
  • 7 2
 underrated comment
  • 27 2
 I thought that what most people did anyway given all the complaints about forks and shocks I see.
  • 1 2
 @mtb-scotland: lol true
  • 2 0
 Build a reverse mullet and make it spicy!
  • 88 3
 I'm a little embarrassed that I took the time to read this, as a dedicated "rake and ride" trail builder who builds what I like to ride. Isn't the real question shovels vs. diesel powered "trail" building machines?
  • 13 1
 We need more people like you @codypup
  • 11 0
 a good day out working on the trails in peace and quiet is always nice.
  • 5 2
 Does a chainsaw count as a diesel powered trail building machine?
  • 16 1
 Waddaya mean, you’re not a sour diesel powered trail building machine?
  • 4 1
 @codypup You're a regular John Henry
  • 2 1
 @housem8d: shitchyeah. I just got off the sauce, but I think as soon. As I start building trails I'll have a good excuse for consumption again. It'll help me envision those sweet, sweet lines right?
  • 2 1
 Right on.
  • 1 2
 rake and ride implies you don't build anything. Am I wrong?
  • 1 0
 @ranke: I understood it as they keep the trail fairly natural . . . Just raking away the organic matter to get to the soil underneath and letting the bikes cut the trail in further as it's ridden.
  • 1 1
 @ranke: Ask around...
  • 1 0
 @codypup: not too many people I could ask that have built more trails than me.
  • 1 0
 @awoodward: exactly. That's my point.
  • 3 0
 The real issue is how much these machine built blue square flow trails cost. In the tens of thousands of dollars usually. All so that you can not ride your 10k bike over the terrain and features they leveled.
  • 1 0
 @ranke: I guess you're just splitting hairs with semantics but that's building a trail in my opinion. There are several sanctioned trails in my area that were built partially or primarily using that method. E.g. NOTG and Physical Therapy.
  • 1 0
 @awoodward: you're right. I am admittedly biased and am splitting hairs with semantics. In my area the difference between someone who says they build, but only drags a rake across some terrain and someone who actually builds, is the difference between a green(or fall line) trail that mother nature swallows the next year, and a really good trail that lasts decades. Steep grassy oak strewn hills require bench cuts at the very least and if you like a mixture of everything(which I appreciate) require the construction of berms and jumps here and there even if you're aiming for natural features that grant you those things( which of course is what we hunt for in the recon stage). I do absolutely understand that there are other types of topography that allow you to rake and go, "look at this!" It just isn't where I'm from. It takes months. So to hear rake-and-ride-builder is an oxymoron for some.
  • 1 0
 @ranke: ah I totally see where you're coming from. "Rake and ride" definitely doesn't work with all areas and ecosystems (or their land managers)!
  • 1 0
 @ranke: The term is terrain specific for sure. "Rake and Ride" where i live invariably involves way more time with a saw than any rake. The "rake" is the final bit after many, many hours of brush and deadfall cutting. What the term means to me is to leave the terrain as natural as possible, using what the terrain wants to give, and keeping it sustainable. Ironically, one of the livelier discussions we have is encouraging people who want to help, to NOT rake leaf litter off the trails, as the leaf litter absorbs moisture, slows runoff and does a bit to slow erosion. Last point-our trails last decades, or at least until the loggers come back.
  • 73 3
 Just because it's bumpy doesn't mean it's technical. Fix bumps, not tech.
  • 35 2
 Some of my local trails get destroyed with braking bumps that then get sun baked and rock hard. It is constant chatter all the way down the trail in some cases. That is definitely not fun. Natural obstacles, terrain, rocks, etc are fine, but braking bumps just take all the fun out of it for me.
  • 47 2
 There's no bumps in the air, bro
  • 20 1
 @Tallboy97: Always kills me to see trails built with fall line braking bump sections, all that downward momentum wasted grabbing brakes.
Take that speed and turn it along the bench cut for little while, or let it flow back uphill, use it for a jump or feature.
Anything other than a straight downhill section good for nothing but hard braking.
  • 3 0
 @Tallboy97: Embrace your inner braking bump
  • 4 0
 @DirkMcClerkin: you’d love Silver Mountain in north Idaho
  • 1 0
 @Lando406: PB actually has a video of it, Kaz's non-stop narration makes me think it's from the early GoPro days.
  • 1 0
 Part from when a loamer gets rutted in nicely. Mmmmm ye
  • 66 2
 More suspension is not fully equivalent to smoothing out a trail. While, yes, they do seem to have the same effect on how fast a rider can go, a rougher trail with more lips obstacles etc will almost always have more opportunities for creativity and more hazards to reward a skilled rider. I would much rather ride a rough track on a DH bike than the same track paved over with gravel and polished mineral dirt on an xc bike.
  • 37 0
 Well put. More suspension = more options, fewer obstacles = fewer options.
  • 56 2
 I think people are building trails to look like the way MTB is being marketed now. Huge buttery smooth jump lines you can master with one skill, the whip. But this isnt how most people experience MTB. This isnt who most of us really are. So lets keep MTB real and authentic. We all love a good flow trail now and again, but dont make them all that way.
  • 10 0
 *comment deleted at user's request*
  • 4 0
 @sngltrkmnd: Sounds rad. I’ll have to scope it out. Galby is like 90% flow trail it seems… not to take away from how good the riding is.

Tiger Mountain is a lot of anti-flow, in my experience. Seems like it’s built that way since it gets so much bike traffic… Hell, I find that Predator is the flowiest offering in that system.
  • 14 1
 Spend too much time here and you'll quickly think smooth tables and pit vipers are mountain biking. Oh and don't forget that actually being able to pedal up a hill at a decent pace on the way to your flow trail is no longer cool.
  • 2 8
flag NoahJ (May 18, 2022 at 19:29) (Below Threshold)
 For me its the opposite all we have (legal) is stupid bad tech tahat they call flow. We need more jump lines.
  • 3 2
 @talking about unsanctioned trails on pinkbike is so sick
  • 3 1
 @sngltrkmnd: what is the first rule of fight club? Cougar Ridge was a great trail 10 years ago, then too many people found out and posted about it on the internet and it got steamrolled and neutered. The best thing you could possibly do to protect these trails is STOP TALKING ABOUT THEM. You just mentioned another trail and the first comment is someone wanting to seek it out. STFU
  • 2 0
 People need to stop thinking trails can be a secret. It's getting f*cking stupid. It's not posting on the internet that gave it away. It was all the cars and bikes in the area and Strava heat maps. I lost count a long time ago of how many people would tell me "hey there's a rad trail here somebody told me about, don't tell anybody".

Well what the f*ck is this person telling me for?!

No trails will stay a secret ever and you are naive for thinking they will. There was a "secret" spot near me years ago, ohhhh big secret, don't say anything... how about the 15+ f*cking trucks parked within view of a god damn hwy every single day? Getting mad about it is a huge waste of your time. If you have ever told a single soul about any potentially secret trail, regardless of how trustworthy the person was that you told you are just as guilty.
  • 2 0
 @warmerdamj: big difference between word of mouth and advertising online. No one is mad. Builders get first dibs and eventually decide to share. I have zero interest in trail maintenance, trails have a short lifespan for prime dirt, rather just build a new one. Plenty of secrets still Wink
  • 1 0
 @warmerdamj: spot on, its childish BS and complete elitism. If you build on someone else's property you dont get to say who can ride on it. If its your land have at it, but Im guessing its not. ;-)
  • 1 2
 @noplacelikeloam: you guessed wrong Wink
  • 3 2
 @noplacelikeloam I love how riders treat trail builders like a community service chain gang. Oh what I have given up to have time to dig- riding, friends, family time, racing, making money, etc. I love digging, but I don’t owe anyone anything, yet you call me an elitist who has no say. The only people who ever pay it forward at the brewery anymore are other trail builders, while the local bike company rides through on ebikes without even saying thank you or even mustering a compliment on a trail I’ve spent a year and half building, and wants $7 for a can of beer at the outpost. I’m not an elitist, I’m just a guy who feels slighted for others profiting off of my hard work.
  • 2 0
 @bradwalton: I don't think any riders treat trail builders like that but they also don't owe you anything at the brewery. You say nobody is mad but it sounds like somebody might be mad. How is anybody profiting from your work too, is there admission being charged for the use of your trail?
  • 1 1
 @warmerdamj: I think a lot of riders treat it that way. I hear all the time, “I would help but I’m just too busy with ____.” You don’t think I have ____ to do too? You’re right, you deserve something for nothing and I’m an elitist for building it for you.

Companies are profiting from using the trails for product testing, promotional videos, etc. All see value in it, but some contribute, some don’t. Some have even set up shop at the base of these trails, causing a spike in traffic as evidenced by a huge increase in trail wear.

Just would be nice to have support since it sounds like everyone deserves to be there. Go build a trail then report back with your feelings.
  • 35 0
 As someone who has put in a lot of hours doing trailwork, this all of the questions here are wrong. There is no reason a trail that is durable and drains properly can't be raw, chunky, and difficult.

Even when a system is well designed, some people complain that a trail got "dumbed down". If it's an advanced trail, that may be a fair statement, but if a blue trail was restored to grade, that's how it should ride. Even an advanced trail may need drainage issues addressed-and tough noogies if that means you lost your favorite 3 ratchets through a rock garden.

A lot of trails are machine/contractor built. The folks who build these trails usually get paid by the linear foot, so they have a very strong incentive to churn out trail pretty quickly. The result is the MTB equivalent of Olive Garden-high quantity, but without the spark of creativity and effort needed to build a really great trail. Arkansas is Exhibit A of a massive trailbuilding project undertaken almost exclusively by commercial builders.

Handbuilt trails done right are the best, lines like Captain Ahab are both durably built, challenging and handle erosional issues well. The problem with handbuilding trail is that it's extremely time consuming. Also, a good local builder will choose the BEST line to build, not the fastest, time be damned!! Where a commercial builder might put in a 7-8 mile line in one summer, it might take that long to put in a mile of really sick handbuilt singletrack.

So-if possible, volunteer to do trail work. Learn how to address existing trail issues, then how to lay out and build trails. If you show up at every chance, if you offer your time sometimes you juuuuust might get to build a trail the way you want it. It's absolutely possible to build trails at all difficulty levels that are fun to ride. It's possible to build lines that highlight and celebrate local geology and landscapes rather than just a line cut in with a mini-ex. But it takes communities of dedicated riders willing to burn some time they could spend riding McTrails digging to get there.
  • 2 0
 Amen brother. Got arthritis in my back from having the same sentiment. Now I ask for help.
  • 3 0
 Hey thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I think you are right on the money here. I miss trail building. Been raising kids, they are 2 and 4 now and I can just taste the coming season where we can all build and ride together. They are crushing it for their age and watching them is every bit as much fun as me riding. Never thought it could be that way but I get it now. I digress...life is good.
  • 43 4
 Hardtail is the answer
  • 6 2
 This 100% - 2022 is the Year of Bringing Back the HardTail \m/ Makes all of the Trail you have been smashing over on the 170mm Full Squiss super fun again... This is the Way
  • 4 0
 hear hear!
  • 4 1
 @threesixtykickflip: This is the way
  • 2 0
 @threesixtykickflip: I haven’t ridden my full suss all year.
  • 5 0
 So true. Night riding too. Night rides on the HT in bear country makes all trails spice no matter the flow or tech
  • 3 0
 agree with this. riding a HT can be slower but its very rewarding picking your line and clearing stuff that you can do too easily with a big full-sus bike. Tech stuff is just lots of fun.
  • 5 0
 Less bike is more fun.
  • 1 1
 @threesixtykickflip: oh yes, replacing rear wheels and tires and limiting choices on the trail is just suuuper fun!

It's not your bike's fault if you're boring.
  • 43 10
 We are in a great time for bikes. The bikes are amazing. The problem now are the trails. We have such capable bikes yet we make trails that are so easy and smooth. Jumps are fine, I love jumps, but changing every trail into a smooth flow trail and then ride it with your 170 mm bike? Give me the trails we rode 15 years ago and the bikes of today. My local area has about lost all of its character due to our local trail building association. I’m hard pressed to support them and what they do. They have trail build parties allllll the time, yet they say they’re building sustainable trails. Bullsh*t if you need to spend that much time working on them. There were trails around here that were 30+ years old and never changed! They were never maintained aside from the bikers kicking the downed trees out of the way.

I’m an older rider who has seen all these changes and it’s sad. I see it happening everywhere I go. It’s going to be the end of technical riding soon. But we will still ride our 180 mm bikes and buy short travel bikes and put cascade components links on them to make them more DH competent…ok…gotta end the ranting!
  • 11 2
 Yeah and I think sometimes we've got in the mode now where we think trails have to be some major project undertaking directed by some bureaucratic organization or mountain bike association. I live in an area with LOTS of public lands but little trail development over the past 20 years and the "sanctioned" development has been very ...well not so great. I think people are scared to make a little path in the woods and ride it a few times and make it a trail because they're told their are going to destroy nature or create a massive erosion problem, etc. We've become afraid to actually enjoy the woods.
  • 5 2
 I have the same frustrations with our local Trails and Open Space. I used to rally for them, volunteer and dig, raise funds, but now they've become a waking nightmare. They've put in smooth beginner trails everywhere that was phase one. Phase two has been trail police, where tight, technical trails, over a decade old are being ripped out by the dozen.
  • 8 0
 I don’t know about that. There’s plenty of examples of people riding around features of a trail to get a smoother/easier trail. I’ve watched entire trails be altered over a decade of everyone avoid a single rock that takes a little finesse to get over, but that can be easily ridden around. It’s not like a 4 foot drop, just a rock in the trail that a full suspension bike wouldn’t even notice, and folks ride around it every time until the trail goes around the rock.
  • 2 0
 "yet they say they’re building sustainable trails. Bullsh*t if you need to spend that much time working on them"

Sounds like my local trail chapter. I really don't understand the whole "sustainable" trails argument. Please tell me how using gas powered machinery to level and widen the trail by 4', clearing more trees/roots/rocks/brush in the process more sustainable that a natural fall line trail?
  • 2 0
 Come to Shepherd Mtn. We have plennnty of tech
  • 14 0
 Confused by the poll formats and meaning of the shirts, but always appreciate Taj's articles. I think the important answer is always BOTH, as well as it depends on who you know is riding it. If it's a well known local trail, I never mind smoothing things out to make sure beginner and kids aren't having the worst time of their lives. If it's a pirate trail only me and the boys know of, it's gonna be as natural as possible aside from the run ups and run outs of large jumps/drops where we don't wanna be sending each other to the hospital.

So, it's always a trail by trail basis and ultimately has much more to do with skill (aka, intended rider) than bike type. We all know beginners who will go ass over head on a 180mm e-bike on a flow trail just because they don't know how to corner... While certain local legends will ride a hardtail 27.5 down a trail I'm white knuckling on a mid travel 29er.

You can't please everybody. You don't wanna please nobody. So you do your best to maintain variety on a trail while making sure it's not sending heli visits to the area and causing concern among parents/local residents.
  • 5 0
 In my area, it seems the large jumps and drops come right before/after the rootiest corners ensuring that you hit a tree if you can't handle the jump. I'm on the side of ride a hardtail down the nastiest sections.
  • 3 1
 Agree. The options make it sound like if you're not hunting for injuries you ride like a wuss. I get that it's for humor's sake though. Also like your point about maintaining variety both on a trail and also relatively within a park. Don't like one trail? Go ride the other.
  • 1 0
 @ranke: Yep, big problem I have locally (due to limited terrain/space) is kids constantly building up pre-existing jumps that were small. Turning table tops into much larger/steeper doubles. And guess what happens? Somebody gets hurt. Not only because it's just a harder feature but even worse it's "similar" to how the feature was before so people think they got it and its in touch... But a lot of mountain bikers aren't good at the steep jumps. If they haven't spent time on BMX really pulling up and angling off into a landing, they simply go ass over head and I've been trying to find some of the kids and tell them to not do that or attempt to find a new unused line to build on. Just sick of hearin about ppl goin down knowing that enough times and the city will come and make changes.
  • 13 0
 Timely post, Taj. Here in Bellingham there has been some recent kerfuffle as a local trail - once considerably much wilder, and unsanctioned, then sanctioned and sanitized - was made markedly more flowy and jump-y following a trail work party last week. So this quandary is top of mind.
My take? I don’t need to have butter smooth flow trails - though they have their place and are heaps of fun - I just want the equipment to work for *all possible conditions*. Call me over-biked, if you will. And always grinnin’ as a result.
  • 11 0
 That sadly seems to be the norm for most trail work being done. Smoothing out trails for the masses that have either just started riding or don't want to take the time to get better at riding.
  • 1 0
 I'm a pseudo local (Bellingham isn't my local area, but its within reasonable driving distance so I go there a few times a year). Which trail are you talking about? Curious to see the before/after, and if I've ridden it yet.

But I agree, the topic is a really interesting one. I'd suspect that the answer might be somewhere in the "how much maintenance does it take to keep the trail in its ideal form" sort of area. Because while a super smooth amazing berm might be great... if that only lasts a short time that might not be a great trail design. By the same token, without maintenance, most trails erode away and become either much more difficult, and different experience than intended, or even potentially unrideable/dangerous if left long enough
  • 4 0
 @ocnlogan: I believe they are talking about Cougar Ridge. Haven't ridden pre or post work so I withhold comment on what was done but it wasn't terribly well received on Facebook.
  • 14 0
 @mtmc99: Ahh yes. Facebook. Where all of the people who put in the hard work of navigating bureaucratic red tape to make a trail legal + open to the public go to share their nuanced and well-reasoned take on how things could be optimized to meet the needs of more stakeholders.
  • 3 0
 @pmhobson: unfortunately, Facebook groups remain one of the better ways to find out about new trails, trails conditions and closures so I have to wade into the cesspool
  • 10 0
 @mtmc99: To call FB a cesspool would be generous (at least here w/ Portland area trails)
  • 2 0
 @mtmc99: what FB group is the discussion in? I was part of the trail crew so curious to hear what people are saying. Granted, folks have been complaining about Cougar Ridge getting dumbed down for years since it got sanctioned.

And before I get any accusations, all I worked on was the turnpike and clearing drains - both of which definitely needed to be done. Unless you like riding through small lakes, I guess Smile
  • 1 0
 @awoodward: its on the Bellingham trail riders group
  • 2 0
 … and how ‘bout that whole SurfNTurf issue. It’d be such a bummer if that trail gets neutered.
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: Worse still if it becomes a hiking-only trail! I wrote to the parks council and proposed that it remain an MTB trail, but one that's sustainably built. I don't see any way that the powers that be will let it continue to exist in its current iteration. I think this is an opportunity for WMBC's best to come together and create something really unique to this area. I am thinking something more like Tiger Mtn's Predator than, say, Galbraith's SST. (Note I am not speaking ill of SST. I love that trail.)
  • 13 1
 I love that one of the gnarliest BMXers of all time wrote this article. Keep you he burm spicy and stay on the same whip. You might not thread it every time but when you do it will be that much more sweet. Sincerely, A type two fun kinda guy.
  • 2 0
 It's fun to watch him ride a mountain bike now. He rips.
  • 14 0
 Flow trails are like pop songs, first run and you're toe tapping but after 5 goes I want "plague rages" Napalm death trails are more my thing.
  • 1 0
 Upward and uninterested?
  • 12 1
 As a fellow trail builder. Do what you want for you. If others complain tell them to grab a shovel. If it’s a flow trail keep it flow. If it’s tech let it stay tech. There is a difference between a flow trail that is tech, and a tech trail that is flowy.
  • 1 0
 Agreed, if you are building/maintaining, restore the trail to your vision of flow & fun. Just don't do it to someone else's trail/spot without their input and support.
  • 1 0
 Yep, while I'm happy to have a discussion and accept constructive criticism at the end of the day it's show up or shut up
  • 2 2
 I can't speak to everywhere else, but around here the land managers have more say in what is built than the trailbuilders do. The fact people are riding around difficult lines and widening the trail also dictates that features are being removed and replaced with smoother lines to keep riders on the trail. There is a lot of whinging as a result. I don't like it, but I also I don't blame the trailbuilders for the trails here going in a direction I don't like, it's a consequence of poor etiquette by mountain bikers unable to swallow their ego and walk something. At the same time, it's frustrating whenever I see people express an opinion and trailbuilders gatekeep it, telling them to get more involved or dig more. That isn't going to change anything and people are allowed to express an opinion, regardless of whether someone else volunteers more or participates more. I feel like the mtb community should stop with this participational hierarchy and start listening to what people have to say. For the most part, it doesn't really seem to matter either way, because decisions outside of drainage and minor improvements are dictated by managers rather than trail orgs. If we want to keep trails the way they are, the mtb community needs to do a better job of policing itself and riders, teaching proper etiquette and stop acting like they own the whole forest.
  • 2 0
 @shinook: agreed that we have the same issue with land managers. Often so called "sanitation" is at there request and we have the choice of letting them do it or doing it ourselves so that we can minimize the change and try and preserve the feel of the trail as much as possible.
Regarding gatekeeping and listening to folks. All our maintenence days are available to the public and promoted on social media and various websites. The problem is the number of folks that show up is vastly outnumbered by those who complain online. I don't hide and am really easy to get hold off. Folks do reach out and usually come away with a change in opinion. Of course they are the ones that are interested in a discussion and have a somewhat open mind.
There's so many factors that effect a build. Land managers, available resources, dirt conditions, underlying bedrock, there's a lot of variables and usually it's a combination of factors.
I get that people live busy lives but so do many of those that build and maintain trails. It's a matter of priorities, if you can't attend one dig day a year then you really don't care that much. Those that have attended rarely are the ones complaining as they have an understanding of the complexities and if they do they are listened to because you know they are talking from a position of understanding.
  • 11 0
 My local semi-secret trails are maintained by me and maybe 3 other riders. Maintenance for us is more tree, brush, and cactus trimming than dirt-moving. With light use, the trails themselves evolved naturally and we embraced and enjoyed adapting to the natural changes. We used to clear the brush out pretty well so we could fly. Then the e-bikers arrived, running their super fat mopeds on and off the fragile trails. The moped bastards rode right after a big rain and rutted the hell out of the trails. So now we trim minimally. We duck under the branches and carefully navigate the 6 inch wide part through the cactus field. E-fatbikes are gone now. Not so flowy and fast for us human-powered riders, but fun and tricky in new ways. In this case less maintenance equals less trail ruination.
  • 4 0
 We've started putting in qualifying features right at the start of the trail. People see the first rocky corner, techy bit or gap jump, and then just avoid the trail all together. So maybe leave the first and last few hundred meters untrimmed and narrow, and make the unseen bit in the middle what you would like to ride.
  • 11 0
 As someone who has maintained trails on The Shore for may years, I think the obsession with using "gold" to make trails smooth is futile. Every winter, the "gold dirt" disappears and you are right back where you started. This is specific to our climate and terrain, so take it for what it is worth, an analysis of "flow/gold/berm" trails on The Shore.

There is a reason bulders used rock in the past, if you do basic drainage and some work with "gold", you can keep your work going year after year. I rode 7th Secret in early April, the gold was completely gone (trail was gold buffed and smoothed over the summer, as they try to do with Expresso every season), the rock work was coming apart, because they tried to just bury it all in "gold" instead of properly anchoring the rocks into the trail.

I have used the same method, it is time cheap and easy, but it only works on trails with little or no traffic.

For me (as a trail maintainer), the goal has always been to keep the trail running consistently, with the least amount of maintenance/time per trail.

Berms are for machine built bike parks, they will not work in mass use pedal accessed trails, without a shit ton of labour every season (see Upper Dales). I have friends who have spent a whole season building a 10 second section of flow/berms, the maintenance is not worth the build, it is 20 hours every year to keep 10 seconds of trail going. I am now trying to keep this 10 seconds going, but I will be time cheap and easy, because it doesn't make any difference.
  • 6 0
 There is also the north shore loamer life cycle. “New” hidden smooth raw and natural loamer —> posted on IG and Strava —> the masses come and the loam is gone —> atmospheric river —> becomes tech gnar —> 2 years later the trail is forgotten and returns to nature —> new hidden smooth….
  • 1 0
 @Geography78: @Tajlucas: I feel very lucky that this is the way things can work here. We have several large areas where you can ride and build new stuff pretty freely and there are a lot of enthusiastic rider/builders with varying tastes. You can stumble on a new line that is just a kicked in gnar-fest down some steep janky stuff or you can find a work of art, lovingly hand built with swooping berms and shark fins; and you can even find both on the same trail.
Meanwhile old trails that have got too blown out, or never really worked in the first place, are returning to nature, probably just for a few years until someone rediscovers them and builds them into something new and different.
So, if you are lucky enough to have this kind of situation, fix that berm enough that it works how it used to, then turn your attention to something new.
  • 18 8
 The masses on fukn ebikes suck !!!..my local trails are trash from all the moto going up and down..we take care of them but to no end ..a weekend of lame lazy ass scooter ridn beta males and there back to breaking bump galore ..the majority of people on them can't even ride.. get a real motorcycle and go somewhere else..
  • 11 1
 I have this thought after reading the comments.

After spending years of fighting the war for trail access, and arguably winning; are we now at war with the trail organizations?

We wanted more trails, but now we just have more trail police...
  • 7 0
 yup. you become what you hate...
  • 9 0
 One of my favorite root to rock gaps got completely removed and smoothed out last weekend. But at least the trail is twice as wide there now? I try not to care, but I keep setting up for fun features, then rolling into flat trail. Its a bummer.
  • 12 0
 all naturale baby, that's how I like em
  • 6 0
 I prefer all of the brush and weeds cleared off.
  • 2 0
 #Creedthoughts
  • 4 0
 Neatly groomed is a nice compromise. But I am not too picky, as long as I getting some action.
  • 12 0
 Unshaved trail is my vote
  • 11 0
 Based on this I expect to see lots more people on Grannies and Crippler this year
  • 3 0
 How will we be able to put up with the crowds. Oh wait, hardly any responses from Canadians, probably because we just ride what is there and say nothing.

HAHA
I only complain when the trails become too wide and full of braids (Lower Oilcan right now), the ditches have become the main line, because they are the lowest/easiest lines.
  • 8 0
 My favorite trails are the ones that change character throughout the trail. A good well known example would be Lithium on Teton Pass. First section is tame singletrack across a gorgeous meadow, then the middle section is steep and rowdy with lots of roots and rocks and line options, then the final section is smooth and flowy with berms and jumps. Or Hiline in Sedona, super flowy start, then a section of steep gnar, then more flow down to the creek.

That's my ideal trail - have some steep gnar sections broken up with berms and fat groomer lips and transitions on the same trail. We do trails a disservice by segregating flow/berms/jumps and gnar/tech/rocks/roots into separate trails.
  • 11 1
 The Pinkbike comments say that everyone loves the gnar gnar. The trail counters say that you all ride the flow trails. But please, keep spraying about how rad you are
  • 3 0
 @clownshoe. This
  • 7 0
 I think the corner in question needs to be approached based on how it was originally formed. If the little berm formed naturally from riding, then it's current form is just evolution of the trail. If it was originally cut or made by shovel, then it is trail erosion that can be repaired. If it is going to lead to worse trail erosion then perhaps in either category it should be repaired and drainage fixed. I think the trail builder said it right though. Make the trail for you. You won't get that same feeling if you can't blast that turn, so tidy it up!
  • 7 0
 While I'd rather ride raw & gnarly trails 95% of the time, I understand the purpose of flow trails and I definitely don't care if the "endurbro" is out sessioning a little tabletop on his $8k borderline DH bike. If that's his thing and he's having a good time, awesome.

I ride a flow trail at least once a week so I can hang out with my Dad and help him progress as a rider. A couple years later and he's feeling confident enough to tackle some proper trails. We are doing a trip to Brevard in a few weeks - made possible by the steady progression he was able to make on machine built trails!
  • 7 0
 Trails should be maintained to best represent it's original intent. If a trail was hand cut and built with the intent that it would evolve as it was ridden, it should largely be left to evolve, but if it was built to be a smooth flow trail, as it deteriorates, it should be repaired to more closely mimic it's original build. There is a place for every type of trail, not everyone likes flow trails and not everyone loves tech, not many people can safely ride double black trails and easy greens are quickly outgrown by new riders and become boring, but both need to be there.
  • 2 0
 I think this pretty much sums it up. Was that berm smooth and schrapable before winter took it's toll? Then feel free to return it to that condition.

But if it was a rooted mess before the winter, and is a bigger rooted mess now, a mess it should remain.
  • 1 0
 exactly, I think trails should be built by who they are for. DH riders build DH tracks, freeriders build chutes and big jumps, etc
  • 5 0
 Most of the trails I ride are 100% natural,full of stones,holes,sticks and weird lines. Even my nearest bike park is 100% natural with a few touches here and there...
I like those perfect trails in the Alps you could go as fast as you can,but in general ridding natural trails is more skill demanding.
  • 8 0
 cant wait till trailslayer reads this post lol.
  • 6 0
 Got my popcorn made and ready, awaiting the shenanigans.
  • 7 0
 If it’s flat and boring it’s worthy of a buffing. If it’s steep enough it needs nothing !
  • 5 1
 I think there it becomes clear when mother nature has had too much of an affect on a trail and needs to be smoothed out or fixed up. When a trail is built it is built with a certain feel. Once that overall feel is changed drastically then it's time to fix things up. If root exposure has completely changed how you approach a corner, fix it. If the roots have simply changed the ideal line then leave it.
  • 3 0
 Agreed. Locally we had a big spat when a flow trail (OTG at Tiger Mountain) was reworked and smoothed over. Thats how it was originally and over the years as the tread wore in roots and rocks were exposed. It was still a fun trail but had changed from the original vision. The roots and rocks are slowly popping back out so it was a bit much ado about nothing
  • 1 0
 @mtmc99: OTG got the spatula treatment!? Say it ain't so! Ah well. It's inevitable.
  • 2 0
 @sngltrkmnd: it didnt go full paved highway but its certainly smoother then it used to be. Still technical in spots and the roots and rocks are returning and a blast to ride. Fortunately, NOTG is right next door and is the opposite of smooth if thats what you are looking for
  • 4 0
 @mtmc99: as someone who's been leading trailwork parties for a decade now, 100% this. people judge you based on how the trail looks 5 mins after you finished when you did work to last 5 years.

That, and no matter how light your touch, someone will scream that you're an awful person for sanitizing their favorite rock.
  • 2 0
 Sometimes re-covering or diverting around roots isn't about "sanitizing" as much as it is about saving the trees. If roots, especially freshly exposed, get ridden over too much, the bark (is it still bark when on a root?) goes away and the root dies, or the root is just worn through, and that hurts the tree.
  • 2 0
 @justinfoil: not just that, per tree biologists that i've worked with, it's an ingress point for infections and fungus. it's like if you had a chunk of your arm without skin on it.
  • 5 0
 all trails have flow. Even the rockiest of the rootiest. Its up to us to find the flow, and thats why I ride at least. Nothing better than greasing that techy knarly trail top to bottom.
  • 4 0
 I refer natural rough and rowdy trails, but at the same time, I don't prefer built features (i.e. berms and jumps) to be deteriorated where it completely changes the characteristic of the feature. In other words, try to maintain a trail to 1. keep it from becoming an environmental hazard and 2. maintain the characteristic of the original build.
  • 4 0
 Up in the northeast/mid-atlantic area where the terrain begins to form into mountains, we've been getting a lot more bike traffic on our normal trails. At my local trail system that I ride most of the time, we have A LOT of horseback riders and hikers. The hikers are sometimes riders themselves and they are super cool about us keeping technical trails (i.e. rock gardens, root sections, etc) open even if it is wet because after all, us mountain bikers risk the more severe consequences when bombing down a trail. Its the HORSEBACK RIDERS that get our trails shutdown when they see us riding on them. I could post pictures of all the trails they've gotten shutdown, there is plenty! They crap all over our trails, they ride on the trails when they are wet which completely destroys them, and complain to the local trail organization that it is the mountain bikers fault. The typical group of 3-5 horses (none of them in a complete single file line, kind of offset from each other) kills the fun of riding these local trails. When I say the horses destroy the trails when riding in the wet, I mean it literally.

Myself along with a few other local riders who live within a quarter mile of the trail head have suggested that the horseback riders have their own trails and we have ours since they come from the complete other side of the park to ride on these trails. If I could post pictures of the damage they have done, I would.
  • 3 0
 I once knew a berm of which you speak. Roots, tight single track, all down hill, all while trying to gain speed to drift from the loose bottom to the hard, grippy top. Always a puff of dust (or mud!) if you did it right. Trail was rerouted for a manicured kinda feel. Though a like a challenging rooty berm on my hardtail, I miss that berm on every ride. I can still see it, well, half of it. Curse the shovel, in this case.
  • 7 1
 Worst thing you can hear around here is "We're from Evergreen and here to save your trails."
  • 5 0
 Just fill in the braking bumps. Roots and rocks and other natural rough sections are great but braking bumps are unnatural and no fun for anyone.
  • 3 1
 Or fix the trail so brakes aren’t needed as much in that spot
  • 3 0
 So I am seeking the advice of experienced builders. I’m pretty new at this but I have ~200m of elevation over about 1km to play with, it’s the side of a river valley and my slice is a few km wide. It’s obviously got lots of potential. I’ve cut a few trails onto it that combine previous routes (like access paths, fence lines, livestock paths) with natural features like rock faces, boulders, etc. The problem I’m having is drainage. It’s an active river valley and a significant area drains down through the hill.

Short of hauling in a sub base, something I can do as there is a disused gravel quarry on the site, what are the best approaches to having the trails drain well? I’ve put in culverts in a couple of spots to allow the natural flow of water to be concentrated through and they’ve seemed to help. I’ve built gaps over creeks and channels too. Should I be concentrating on water flow first, and then fitting the trail around that water flow? Is there any advice in general for dealing with drainage? The ground is a mixture of granite (slabs, rocks, gravel), rich loam, pea gravel, and a little bit of sand in parts where rivers and creeks used to flow. There isn’t much clay, so the ground does drain. There’s just lots of places where there isn’t much between the top soil and bedrock, so the water seems to pool effectively.
  • 3 0
 No way Taj is working for the man. This article is an attempt by Outside to harvest our precious data using reverse psychology. Hiding in plain sight and I'm not falling for it.
  • 12 0
 give me your data.
  • 3 1
 I like to build a variety of trails in different styles. Of course rough and natural is tons of fun, and the challenge of smoothing it out with the way I ride can be rewarding, but a smooth trail can be built to be challenging as well. Like a good bmx track that can be fun for a beginner, but still be enjoyable for a pro, a smooth trail can similarly be built to have a low skill floor, but a high skill ceiling as the speed is increased. So my solution is build multiple trails, each with its own distinct character.
  • 2 0
 IMBA standards for trail building are nice, i get it. But DAMN they lack any element of wildness. You can send features almost blindly cause they're built for success but it takes away skill and creativity that a raw trail requires.
  • 5 0
 Two Tshirts:

1) Work on your skills not my trail
2) I need to cut every root out of your trail
  • 2 0
 None of this applies to me, I dont drive to a purpose made bike trail, I ride to and from whatever
is around me, man made forest, hill tracks, animal paths, street urban sprawl etc
Most of the time its a hard tail with loads of bounce up front, just adapt to the way it is,
I'm appy : )
  • 2 0
 Bikes with longer travel don’t cost more, unless you’re on a hardtail.

Maybe some days you want to ride one or the other? I like rowdy, but some days I just want to ride a trail that doesn’t want to kill me. Maybe I need to drink more Ultra Beast Mode :/

Glad to see you working on Pinkbike, Taj!
  • 2 0
 I think the comments section just indicates people like both and there's room for both and you can enjoy both. Also, a well built hardtail can handle pretty much whatever you throw at it these days so the suspension question is a moot(s) point
  • 2 0
 "We search out more and more challenging terrain and then buy bikes with more suspension and technology to make that same terrain easier to ride."

Who's this "we"? I buy more suspension and technology so my bike can handle me trying, and maybe failing at, new stuff without disintegrating, not to make things easier.

I've been riding some local trails for over two decades, starting on late-90s hardtails, through to 120mm short-and-steep early trail bikes, now on modern 150/160mm long-and-slack AM/enduro bikes, and this shit ain't getting any easier. I just keep trying new ways up, down, and across the trails, and the bikes keep lasting longer.

If your trails are boring, maybe you're boring.
  • 5 0
 Let the sanitation lamentation begin!
  • 4 0
 Not fond of flow trails and making trails less technical. Bring back the naturally technical features like rocks and roots.
  • 2 1
 More trails with consequences and signs at the beginning letting you know. Not ride arounds, separate trails for every level. Quit bringing the mean down to beginners levels. We are here to build people up, not bring them down.
  • 1 0
 I always have respect for the guys who are “under-biked” for the trail. With that being said if you are out there with a shovel to repair, do your best to honor the original builders creation with a freshing up without a redesign
  • 1 0
 Trail builders recently smoothed out a steep technical uphill that was my impossible climb. It was full of loose rocks that made one lose traction easily. It's now decidedly easier and I'm in two minds about the change. It's still quite difficult, but I'm almost able to make it now, but a part of the challenge is also gone.
  • 1 0
 I have issues. Whenever I say I ride mostly trails, I have to explain what a trail is. Too much of what people describe as trails are tracks IMO. Maybe it's as simple as this: a trail is something that has evolved naturally, including minor mods to cross creeks, fix drainage, holes or windfalls, while a track is something that has been built for a specific purpose. When people needed to walk up a mountain, a trail appeared, often following the paths of the local wildlife. As soon as they needed to bring carts or horses, tracks were built.

Writing this, I see I'm becoming an old fart.
  • 1 0
 I always wonder how wide a Single track must be. i am sure under those overgrown bit of grass on the immediate side is a better and wider flow. you know those path who are ridden often but are like 20 cms wide...
Seems like 70 % of rider ride the only seen path , i love to create those french lines and incorporate them. A rider once followed me and remarked , that should be illegal to ride like that . i asked him why ? , he answered cause , it s the best run he ever had !!.
  • 2 1
 Why is the discussion framed in such a black and white context? A trail should just stick to it's character. Variety is nice. Somedays its nice to hit sidewalk smooth flow trails, somedays it's nice to get raw on the tech. Somedays it's fun to have both built into each other. Having options is good because MTB could ultimately be viewed as just dynamic, athletic performance art, and one may need to express what they feel on any given day.

What is no good is a locale that only has a single type of trail.
  • 1 0
 I love entropy. The maturing of trails to expose the challenge of roots and un even terrain. Flow is a state of mind . Now the reality is that most mountain bikers need smooth trails . For me if it's not on any map. That's probably the trail I'm on . Anyone attempting to to trail maintenance. Thank you you heart is in the right place .
  • 1 0
 The purpose of mountain bikes is to enable us to ride challenging natural terrain better. More travel/better bikes open up the possibilities to ride more technical challenging lines.
I want my trails a with as little building as possible, just a narrow path cleared of debris, maybe a small catch-berm here and there on the steepest turns, and the odd log to support a narrow hand-cut bench on a traverse. The rest is down to the rider, the bike and the challenge of riding whatever nature has put in the way.
  • 3 0
 I wouldn't go cutting roots to smooth a trail but if you can restore it with dirt and rock then go for it.
  • 4 0
 "knobules" is my new favorite word. Thanks Taj
  • 1 0
 We have a bunch of poor maintained trails here. Either you learn fast and adapt or you are in for a boxing match of your serving. I get really turned off by those forest highways.
  • 1 1
 When pinkbike commenters jump the shark, we joke about the convertible helmet wearer all the time, than upvote this silly shit.

"I brought two helmets for a reason"


ALSO, the "I wonder if the trail could have suspension built into it" is criminally under voted right now.
  • 1 1
 No dig, no ride needs to give way to no dig, just ride. Mountain biking needs more terrain inspired trails that are laid out well for drainage and flow and less 4 ton excavators and chainsaws making a mess. And wood features are cool, but put them where they enhance the natural terrain like gullies and rock rolls, not just scattered about yard of a man forced to make diy pallet furniture by his wife.
  • 1 1
 Let nature and laps decide what happens to the trail. Ride it as it lies.

I always wonder why people don't like it when riders get on trail right after a rain. Sure, I understand "respect the trail," and I know the builder put a lot of work into it. I just feel like part of the reason to build skills is to be able to ride rougher sections. Let the bumps come!
  • 3 0
 Just drag a rake through the bush please
  • 2 0
 And people say mountain bikers complain a lot...what are they talking about?
  • 2 0
 Maintain what it was and keep it consistent with the feel and difficulty of the rest of the trail.
  • 2 1
 If you need to brake a lot - it is a fantastic trail If you need to pedal a lot - it is a shitty trail If you need neither - it is an ok trail
  • 1 0
 I think the best flow and obviously best use of elevation is if you need neither...
  • 1 0
 Kinda reminds me of the Hot X Buns trail in Rotorua. It was part of an XC race then became a stage of an enduro race a few months after. Made me wonder who the trail was for.
  • 1 0
 Considering last weekend's 2W had Split Enz in the Long race I think your question is more about the event people and less about the trails.
  • 1 0
 @PhillipJ: i guess they wanted more participants. Or a lot of trails were closed due to harvesting.
  • 1 0
 Round 5: A trail with suspension is with nice soft dirt right? Then that…

Round 6: That is not an OR but an AND!
  • 5 5
 Ted is right with his 'off-hand' comment. If the moaners don't dig, then their comments don't mean anything. They can go dig their own trail (or not...).
  • 3 0
 I don't dig much, so I virtually never complain about the builders work. I only complain when someone comes behind them and messes up their work.
  • 2 0
 More shovels used correctly!
  • 3 1
 this is the most gross pinkbike esque article ever lol
  • 2 0
 Does gnarcroft count as a flow trail lol
  • 3 1
 Did I miss something? Freeride...
  • 3 0
 freeride is dangerous misinformation here. Pedal up, Ride down, celebratory parking lot beer before setting the alarm for work in the AM. Repeat and do not alter.
  • 3 0
 Rake and Ride fo life!
  • 1 0
 The trail builders here tend to smooth out the trails, but it's because they are intended for novice and family use as well.
  • 1 0
 i love trails ripped up by ebikes, nothing better then braking bumps into and out of berms
  • 2 0
 A) Bikes
B) Trails
  • 3 6
 I like trails. I never learned jumps. Drops are great. I rode a trail around Salida where you come around a corner to a sudden unavoidable jump while demoing a bike. I broke my toe. Dingus at the shop was all excited to see what I thought of their trail.
  • 4 3
 I vote neither, learn to ride a bike.
  • 1 0
 Coyote cliffs trail is perfect.
  • 1 0
 The best trails are ridden in, not dug in
  • 1 0
 Follow the dog Cannock chase
  • 1 0
 I thought mountain bike trails were just a way to make money .... B'ham
  • 1 0
 Tech for where you want it, flow for where you need it!
  • 1 0
 Before there was flow, tinton trail est. 1994
  • 1 0
 Yoopers writing articles on pb. We made it lol
  • 1 0
 Take note chilean "trailbuilders"
  • 1 0
 Flow trails with lotsa roots and rocks
  • 1 0
 *clears throat*
OFF-CAMBER CAN BE RIDDEN
  • 1 0
 How about “Pinkbike is a sellout”?
  • 2 3
 If your crew is using shovels and not rogue hoes, y'all should probably stop
  • 1 0
 Let'er hang out.
  • 1 0
 I feel triggered.
  • 1 0
 trails are a hoax
  • 1 0
 also there is only 2 types of trail. Flow and Natty. There is nothing else. Every flow trail ever made is easy and blue. All natty trails are hard and for real bikers. Downhill bikes are for people that fuck my wife while I debate if I need 140 or 160mm on my trail bike to earn my turns while someone else goes and builds the trail for us.
  • 2 4
 Both are wrong, Turn it into a rampage sized sharkfinn with moto whoops as a landing
  • 1 1
 More shocks
Below threshold threads are hidden





You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2022. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv42 0.031201
Mobile Version of Website