Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't mess with Mother Nature

One of the two stump carvings that has popped up at The Woodlot

I came to The Woodlot today with the intention of fixing or getting a really good start on fixing a ground water problem on Snakes and Ladders. In one particular spot, when the rains are heavy, water springs up from underground and flows like a river along the trail. I have now called this the Geyser section.

I met up with Richard at the bottom and we rode to the top of Snakes to recover a couple tools, and then down to the nasty section. For a change, I was on my hard tail.

Without going into the spirit crushing details, I feel our efforts would have been better served elsewhere. The lesson I have learned is that it is impossible to control mother nature. Ground water is not something to enter into a battle with on a single track trail. If you have ground water coming up, don't disturb the ground, just armour or re-route.

Currently we are left with a bomb hole. The water has literally created a bomb hole on the trail and a river where the trail used to be for a 20 foot section of the trail. If the line is to be kept I think I'll need a dump truck load of rock, or a big ladder section will need to be constructed.

After seeing the damage that the water has done, my plan is to ladder this whole section. We need to get above the water as it is impossible to contain, constrain or control the water.

The glove in the photo show two of the many spots where water is spewing onto the trail

Water is pumping out from between the rocks.

This shot shows the damage the water has done to the trail. The trail is currently a small creek.

Over the next few weeks I will be gathering the materials I'll be needing.

The ride out to my car was not one filled with a sense of accomplishment. Mother nature has beat me down.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ride at dusk

So I jetted to the The 'Lot for quick ride. On my hard tail I scrambled to the top to ride Krazy Karpenter, Tsuga, Snakes and Ladders and Shotgun.

Tim has been working on Karpenter and for the first time in a while I was able to come up and see/ride it. Some nice old school woodwork it taking place on this trail. Over time this trail will get rebuilt with an ample amount of wood and old school features that many people just don't see around anymore.

At the top of the climb, you can see two of the local BC Cup race locations.

Tim's handiwork in the photos below

So after Karpenter it was over to Tsuga and then down to Snakes and Ladders. The light was getting sparse so it was a nice non stop ride down to the bottom.

On Shotgun I ran into a few people that were on their way home just like myself enjoying this clear cool day and using up the last rays of light before sunset.

A great ride in the dusk light.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blood Donor Trail day

The local riding club at Experience Cycling has been putting in a bit of work during the fall season by coming out to The Woodlot once a month and donating some time on the trails. The organizers were Greg and Denise of Freeride Dawgs.

Today we moved a bunch of dirt to some berms and buffed up the landing to a particularly technical drop.

I brought some wood working tools to fix a few broken rung on one of the many ladders on the trail.

I have other photos that I'll add at a later date.

In the end a lot was accomplished and the trail will be running well for the winter.

It is great to see clubs giving back to the trails.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yearly Trail Tune-up

After working on Snakes and Ladders a few times in the last month, I have been able to spot some spots along the trail that need some extra work to drain water of the trail and prevent erosion on the trail. 95% of trail maintenance is water control. If you can ensure that water will not collect on but rather flow off a trail, you will have a good trail requiring minimal extra work.

Today I was once again joined by a new guy to building; Richard. We met at the parking area at the bottom at 7:15am got on our bikes and walked up Shotgun. Pushing up a trail is a great way to show others what to look for on a trail as far as maintaining a trail goes and it offers a different vantage point to show others what works and what doesn't work on a trail. Once at the road at the top of Shotgun we pedaled up to the top of Snakes and Ladders. We then geared up and rode down to the tool stash and the water trough that we built last week. After a close inspection, it is clear that the trough is working well and that the water and silt that normally flowed down the line is being stopped dead in its tracks at the trough.

So from that point, we walked down the trail to clear and manicure the drains down to the bottom of the trail. We then back tracked to our bikes and made our way up the trail working on every drain, low spot and soft spot on the trail. Today we must have cleared 20 - 30 drains and did a substantial amount of work in 3 nasty sections.

The first big section we worked on was a soft mushy spot just above the rock faces. It was one of those spots where if your front tire sinks into it, you are likely going over the bars. Basically a trench was dug on the low side of the trail, a large amount of debris was moved and a 5 foot section of rock was put in the trail. This spot shouldn't collect water any more.

The next section we spent an extended mount of time on was the section that had me scratching my head last week. The underground spring in the middle of the trail was not actually flowing any water when we arrived today, but the muddy devastation the water created was still there for us to work on. This section is not going to get fixed in one day. This is definitely a multi day project but we were able to get a good start on the project and made a big dent in the work that is needed.

Firstly I rocked in a section that needed some reinforcing and Richard dug a trench and cambered the trail to one side to get the water to flow where we need it to go. I then dug out as much of the mud as I could to get the water to flow where I hope it will go once it rains again. We then shaped the trail and cambered the trenches as best we could in hopes of catching the water and forcing it to go where we need it to. For this section to get completely dialed, we are going to need rock. Lots and lots of rock. Gathering rock when the trail needs other drains cleared is just not conducive to good time management, so we cleaned up or work area and made our way further up the trail to clear more drains.

It was at the jump section and the trail gap where we met up with the first riders of the day. A group of 20 year olds on DH bikes out for a rip. They creeped on by but not before I asked them to stack rock at the section with the muddy flood. The further up the trail we went the easier the clearing of the drains and maintenance went and the more riders we encountered out riding on this fabulous day. I asked every group that came past us to stack some rock in that trouble section (20 or so people in total) and by the time I rode down the trail past the stacked rock, I was a happy camper. There was a decent pile of rock that will at least get me started on the fix for that one section. It is still a few build days away from being 'fixed for good', but it is at least partly under control at this time.

The last major work section was one I had worked on a few times in the past. Each year though it fills with silt, but I have a feeling this is the last time it will need major trail time. We cleared the punky black dirt and then dug 5 or 6 drains along the trail and put in more rock and dug a few trenches. I really hope this is the last time for this section.

I could not believe how time had flown by, but we were finally at the top of the trail and the drains were cleared. I had to jet as it was now 12:30pm and I was running a little late. I stashed my tools and thanked Richard for his outstanding effort that he put in today. Having a second person today allowed us to easily get more than twice the amount of work one person could do in the same amount of time.

On the ride down I was bagged. So bagged in fact that I had a hard time holding my handle bars because my hands were sore from using the shovel and mattock. In fact I skipped a lot of jumps due to fatigue. At the bottom of Snakes and Ladders I raised the seat and pedaled over to Shotgun and made my way in a mellow fashion to my car. The parking area was a total zoo; filled with cars and people mulling about getting ready to go riding.

I am really happy with what we were able to get done today and it will go a long way to keep the trail in good shape for the winter and spring riding seasons. There are still a few spots that need some TLC, but overall the trail is dialed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day Ride 2008

For the last several years I have had the opportunity to exercise my freedom in life and enjoy a ride on my bike. Without the sacrifices of others during wars and peacekeeping duties around the world, I would not be able to enjoy this pursuit of mine.

It is with the greatest of respect that I go on my Remembrance day rides and observe a moment of silence to pay my respect to those that have sacrificed their lives to ensure my freedom and the freedom of others in this great country of ours.

Today's ride was on my Rune at The Woodlot. I made my way up to Tsuga and stopped at one point to talk with Lou and a buddy of his doing some much needed maintenance on The Gate. I then enjoyed a spin down Tsuga and then on to Snakes and Ladders.

Given the amount of rain we have had lately and the number of riders braving the elements on the trail, some wet spots have appeared on Snakes. Hopefully next weekend I will be able to repair most of soft spots that are rearing their ugly face on Snakes.

There is one section that has me perplexed as to what to do. Suddenly an underground spring has started spewing water out of the transition of a jump. Because of this about 20 feet of trail are now a wet soupy muddy mess. Last year this section was slightly damp with one muddy spot that was fixed, but this spring is now sending a small river down the line in an area of trail that will prove to be very tricky to repair.

On a positive note, the trough that we put in on the weekend is working perfectly and today you could hear the water pouring out of our drain and off the trail. It was really satisfying to see this drain working according to plan.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Trails 'n' Troughs

Once again I was back at The Woodlot doing some much needed work on the trails. This morning I was joined by someone who has shown interest in the past to come out to The Woodlot and help out.

So with the sun rising at 7:30am, we met up at the bottom and made our way up to Snakes and Ladders. Over the years I have strived do as much work pertaining to drainage on the trails as I can in the fall riding season. This fall is certainly turning out to be a wet one. So far I've been able to get the bottom of the trail dialed, but the rock face section is turning out be an issue once again.

Last week I was able to get up to the trail during a torrential downpour and I watched how the water flowed in a problematic section. Due to the terrain (rock face) and a natural spring that flows out from a section on the trail, there is often a tremendous amount of water flowing down the trail in a certain section. Due to the terrain, there was no way for the water to easily drain off the trail.

After careful study of the water flow, I figured out a spot where we could get the flowing water off the trail and eliminate any further damage to the trail.

We dug a trench perpendicular to the trail. A wooden trough was then built and inserted into the trench for the water to flow into and off of the riding line. Once the trough installed, it was immediately apparent that the water flowed directly into the trough and off the line as planned.

The trough at the bottom of the rock face.

The cedar lined trough

On the right is the high side with the water flowing down from up the hill. On the left is the dry side.

After the trough was installed, we rocked in a little more of the trail a little further down and then packed up for the day. When we left, there was not a drop of water flowing past the trough and it was working just as we had planned.

So we then made our way down to Shotgun and then out to our cars. Not a bad day of building and a lot was done to improve the trail. Next week I hope to fix a few more sections on Snakes that have 'issues' and the new guy said that he would once again like to come out to help.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Strictly Trail Work

Today I came to the Woodlot to do one thing: trail work. I had a heavy pack stuffed with all the tools that I would need while at the trail. The list included: chainsaw, hammer, axe, nails, shovel and pruning loppers.

We were experiencing an absolute downpour in the area so it gave me a good chance to see where some extra drainage can be done on the trail. At one spot in particular it became clearly evident what I needed to do to fix a drainage issue on the trail.

After the day was done I had the lower part of the trail virtually dry and I now have a plan for 2 more spots that have issues. The rains are now upon us for the season and at least on this trail, things should be looking good for the winter riding season in no time at all.

Me after a very wet afternoon of building