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.

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