LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby scat silvurz » March 27th, 2010, 8:54 pm

Seems that with this wonderful spring...the whole raking thing is pretty much meaningless.......the raked trails are just fine...
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Geff » March 27th, 2010, 9:40 pm

Ran a local trail yesterady that had raked leaves and could tell a difference, not for the better. Leave them leaves.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby IFrider1 » March 28th, 2010, 4:52 pm

Poto yesterday - after the 20 deg night. The trail had been perfectly dry. Sections not covered by leaves were getting rutted and were mucky. Sections covered were firm and fast......

Leave them Leaves!
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Beth » March 28th, 2010, 7:07 pm

I have been watching this thread since it was created last fall and am very interested in the outcome. I am considering taking this subject on as my master degree thesis project. One of the main criteria in selecting a project is if anyone cares. It appears some of you do. My tentative plan is to clear portions of a few trails and then monitor them for the issues being discussed in this thread (erosion, freeze and thaw rate, slipperiness, etc...). In your opinion, is this a possible project and would anyone be willing to submit regular feedback on the condition of the trails?
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby c0nsumer » March 28th, 2010, 11:01 pm

Beth wrote:I have been watching this thread since it was created last fall and am very interested in the outcome. I am considering taking this subject on as my master degree thesis project. One of the main criteria in selecting a project is if anyone cares. It appears some of you do. My tentative plan is to clear portions of a few trails and then monitor them for the issues being discussed in this thread (erosion, freeze and thaw rate, slipperiness, etc...). In your opinion, is this a possible project and would anyone be willing to submit regular feedback on the condition of the trails?


I think we'd all love some formalized research on this topic.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby PK » March 29th, 2010, 6:06 am

I think we'd all love some formalized research on this topic.


I contacted "The professor" of purpose-built MTB trails in SE Michigan.
He confirmed my own guesses.

With a engineered trail tread that in most places is clay, Addison needs the leaves removed.
He went on to say that trails with a tread that is mostly sand, the leaves help.

I too noticed what happened this past weekend where a couple of overnight hard freezes re-froze the treads that were "naked" while the areas with leaf cover remained insulated and unfrozen. The day following was warm enough for a mini thaw cycle and thus, ruts. The only "good" thing about this at Stony is the "naked" sections were the fall re-routes which need to be grooved-in anyway.

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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Loren » March 29th, 2010, 6:37 am

Beth wrote:In your opinion, is this a possible project and would anyone be willing to submit regular feedback on the condition of the trails?


Beth, I think it's a worthy but challenging undertaking. To do your own research in the field will take time. Seasons come but once a year, and really good results would come from cumulative, consistent testing over several years. It might be possible to do some simulation or controlled testing if you could find an suitable environment, one where you could control temperature and moisture over time to make your own freeze/thaw seasons.

There might be other research in the area. Collating and organizing that research would be useful. I suspect that you would find that the ultimate answer is 'it depends', where the variables include soil composition, precipitation, soil percolation, seasonal temperature variations, leaf composition, etc. Surveying us and others to collect subjective anecdotes without all that context would likely not yield objective conclusions.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Beth » March 29th, 2010, 5:20 pm

Loren wrote:Beth, I think it's a worthy but challenging undertaking. To do your own research in the field will take time. Seasons come but once a year, and really good results would come from cumulative, consistent testing over several years. It might be possible to do some simulation or controlled testing if you could find an suitable environment, one where you could control temperature and moisture over time to make your own freeze/thaw seasons.

There might be other research in the area. Collating and organizing that research would be useful. I suspect that you would find that the ultimate answer is 'it depends', where the variables include soil composition, precipitation, soil percolation, seasonal temperature variations, leaf composition, etc. Surveying us and others to collect subjective anecdotes without all that context would likely not yield objective conclusions.


Loren, thank you for your input, it is greatly appreciated.

I would fully expect to get a result of "it depends". My research design would be to include multiple locations with different soil properties, but similar weather and compare them (possibly Lakeshore, Hickory Glen and Proud Lake). I do realize that research duration would be an issue. Rider skill would also be a complicating factor in analyzing subjective feedback.

I would like my thesis project to have an advocacy component for the mountain bike community, and though this may be a good research opportunity.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Geff » March 29th, 2010, 8:48 pm

I think you've got a great idea going there for your thesis. Good luck with it!
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby scat silvurz » March 29th, 2010, 11:28 pm

Beth wrote:
Loren wrote:Beth, I think it's a worthy but challenging undertaking. To do your own research in the field will take time. Seasons come but once a year, and really good results would come from cumulative, consistent testing over several years. It might be possible to do some simulation or controlled testing if you could find an suitable environment, one where you could control temperature and moisture over time to make your own freeze/thaw seasons.

There might be other research in the area. Collating and organizing that research would be useful. I suspect that you would find that the ultimate answer is 'it depends', where the variables include soil composition, precipitation, soil percolation, seasonal temperature variations, leaf composition, etc. Surveying us and others to collect subjective anecdotes without all that context would likely not yield objective conclusions.


Loren, thank you for your input, it is greatly appreciated.

I would fully expect to get a result of "it depends". My research design would be to include multiple locations with different soil properties, but similar weather and compare them (possibly Lakeshore, Hickory Glen and Proud Lake). I do realize that research duration would be an issue. Rider skill would also be a complicating factor in analyzing subjective feedback.

I would like my thesis project to have an advocacy component for the mountain bike community, and though this may be a good research opportunity.


I believe you could have an interesting journey for a thesis project. Often, beliefs once held dearly as gold are shown to be false when demonstrated as so. Case in point - At Maybury, it was determined by more than a few geologists working for the DNR that the Boyer C type soil [the dominant soil type at Maybury] would not be able to withstand year round punishment by mountain bikes. The MMBA worked long and hard to get the DNR to give us a chance to prove them wrong - and show that proper trail design [IMBA standard practices] would make for a sustainable trail - year round! After two years of due dilligence, it's clearly demonstrated to any avid mountain biker that the government geologists were plain wrong, and the actual trail user/CREATORS were right.....food for thought, eh?
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby scat silvurz » March 29th, 2010, 11:32 pm

scat silvurz wrote:
Beth wrote:
Loren wrote:Beth, I think it's a worthy but challenging undertaking. To do your own research in the field will take time. Seasons come but once a year, and really good results would come from cumulative, consistent testing over several years. It might be possible to do some simulation or controlled testing if you could find an suitable environment, one where you could control temperature and moisture over time to make your own freeze/thaw seasons.

There might be other research in the area. Collating and organizing that research would be useful. I suspect that you would find that the ultimate answer is 'it depends', where the variables include soil composition, precipitation, soil percolation, seasonal temperature variations, leaf composition, etc. Surveying us and others to collect subjective anecdotes without all that context would likely not yield objective conclusions.


Loren, thank you for your input, it is greatly appreciated.

I would fully expect to get a result of "it depends". My research design would be to include multiple locations with different soil properties, but similar weather and compare them (possibly Lakeshore, Hickory Glen and Proud Lake). I do realize that research duration would be an issue. Rider skill would also be a complicating factor in analyzing subjective feedback.

I would like my thesis project to have an advocacy component for the mountain bike community, and though this may be a good research opportunity.


I believe you could have an interesting journey for a thesis project. Often, beliefs once held dearly as gold are shown to be false when demonstrated as so. Case in point - At Maybury, it was determined by more than a few geologists working for the DNR that the Boyer C type soil [the dominant soil type at Maybury] would not be able to withstand year round punishment by mountain bikes. The MMBA worked long and hard to get the DNR to give us a chance to prove them wrong - and show that proper trail design [IMBA standard practices] would make for a sustainable trail - year round! After two years of due dilligence, it's clearly demonstrated to any avid mountain biker that the government geologists were plain wrong, and the actual trail user/CREATORS were right.....food for thought, eh? I believe the whole "leaves" thing will absorb into the same dynamic.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Di_bear » March 30th, 2010, 2:24 pm

Well, we rode Burchfield this morning and hated the sections that were cleared. The raked trails were slick, and we created small ruts on one stretch - probably about two feet long. The unraked sections were great for riding. The packed leaves stayed in place and we could ride them pretty fast - just like at Highland, yesterday - and the unraked trails were not slick. The leaf layer really does do a world of good, especially for spring. I would say, keep the leaves on throughout the spring, and then remove them when weather is warmer and dryer. Right now, things are still wet.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Josh McCreedy » April 9th, 2010, 6:54 am

If you have whole leaves flattened and caked together on clay, I would agree that it just holds in moisture. But if the tread gets enough foot or bike traffic (more variables) to chew those leaf layers up, you get that nice fiber which almost seems to wick moisture away from the clay (more surface area to aid evaporation, maybe?). I'm curious who the "trail professor" is. Is it the venerable Dan Harrison?
If the trail gets traffic, I say leave them.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby chrismaltby » April 18th, 2010, 4:06 pm

jajones wrote:I've been seeing some trails this fall where the leaves have either been blown off or raked off in sections.

I'd ask anyone considering doing this to reconsider the practice.

Leaves are part of the detritus that provide structure and fiber in the soil. In other words, they help keep the soil together once they are broken down and worked in. A trail that is deprived of leaves ends up much like a colon that is deprived of fiber -- a long channel of greasy and gooey *beep*.

I've never understood the practice of removing leaves. When then initially fall, they can cause some limited issues with trail visibility and can initially be slippery right after rain. However, on most of our trails that get a fair degree of use, they are quickly broken down and end up actually absorbing much of the pre-winter November rains that we typically get, actually drying out and enhancing the trail tread rideability.

Don't believe me? Go out to a trail like the Poto this time of year a day after some rain. Ride the less-sandy loam or clay sections where leaves have not been removed. They consist of crushed up leaves and a nice dry trail tread. Then, you will notice some sections where the Poto's (in)famous "Sandman" decided it was a good idea to scrub off select 20 yard sections of downed foliage. You'll note that these sections are greasy as *beep* and a lot more sketchy than any section with newly downed leaves ever is.

Repeat after me...

LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE

As an aside, if anyone has a burning desire wherein they just have to push leaves around in fall, my yard can use some work. :wink:



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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Spinwheel » April 30th, 2010, 11:19 pm

PK wrote: ?With a engineered trail tread that in most places is clay, Addison needs the leaves removed.
He went on to say that trails with a tread that is mostly sand, the leaves help.?


From my experience at Hickory Glen this is true ? the soil is sandy and leaves help in a couple of ways:

- During heavy rains, leaves break the flow of water running down a slope and act like a shield. Running water causes erosion because, over time, the sand is filtered from the organic matter (just a guess).

- After a rain, as the trail dries, leaves protect the soil from foot and tire traffic. I experienced this at the Hick a few weeks ago, when after a light rain I rode from the trailhead to the new bowl (about 300 yds from the trailhead). Of course, I wasn?t making pizza cutter damage, but left tracks on some greasy muddy areas, but left no trace as I glided over leaf covered trail. (did anyone catch that??)

The trail tread at the Hick is rapidly changing ? its still is a great water shedding trail, however, the classic sand pits & greasy-after-rain spots are forming (some have been in place for a few years). IMO leaves slow the processes that work over time to create erosion, sandy and muddy spots, and the decomposition of leaves prolongs the life of the tread.
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