Over-maintenance?

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Over-maintenance?

Postby ryguy79 » June 6th, 2018, 1:41 pm

After a winter as a volunteer groomer, I recently started volunteering on trail work days at my local trails. I appreciate the well drained trails and nice sight lines from the branch trimming and want to give back with my time. Since I moved here I've had fun riding and enjoy the flow but I have changed my riding style to suit as I feel the trails were lacking in challenge. Now I know why. They cut roots and remove any rock that sticks up in the trail bed. I watched a guy dig out a rock, a nice rounded softball size rock, that was protruding less than an inch from the trail surface. "Tripping hazard" . To paraphrase the their trail maintenance guide, rocks and roots are evil and they want to remove anything that may pose even a slight challenge to a beginner and don't want any risk of someone crashing or a hiker tripping.

The volunteers I've met all seemed to be hikers except one, who admitted he rides slowly. The entire network is two way and they seem to give no thought to some rather high closing speeds I've experienced. Some rocks and roots might slow speeds and increase challenge. I'm used to watching for others on two way multi-use trails but I've had some dudes hauling down on me while climbing here on recent busy weekends.

A little background, moved back to Michigan last year to be closer to family after 13 years between far west Texas and Colorado. I like rocks and tech. I'm used to riding where the rocks, cactus, snakes, and often big exposure all want to hurt you. There would be torches and pitchforks where I moved from if trails were as sanitized.

Any time playing out in the woods has inherent challenges and dangers. Am I wrong to be so disappointed by this group's view of trail maintenance? I'm very thankful for what they do, I just wish they'd do a little less of some of it.
Last edited by ryguy79 on June 6th, 2018, 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby WICCMB » June 6th, 2018, 2:05 pm

What trail are you referring to? I can tell you that that level of "maintenance" is not the norm.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby ryguy79 » June 6th, 2018, 2:10 pm

Glacial Hills
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby c0nsumer » June 6th, 2018, 2:20 pm

As trails age and pack in, lots of little roots and rocks poke out. Personally, I don't think it's too awful when these are removed to maintain the original smooth surface. One of the nice features about Glacial Hills (as opposed to, say, Bruno's Run which is similar) is the smoothness and lack of chattery roots. Here in the LP we don't have real rocks, and by nature and as-designed-and-built our trails are pretty smooth. I personally don't have much heartache over that original smoothness being maintained.
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Unless otherwise stated the content of my posts are my opinion and should not be taken as the official stance of, nor representative of, CRAMBA-IMBA.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby ryguy79 » June 6th, 2018, 2:47 pm

I'll agree to disagree Steve. I think as trails get ridden and a bit rougher they get more fun, to a point. I'm not looking for an unrideable mess but I like popping off roots and rocks and I like to be challenged by the terrain. I can comfortably ride my gravel bike on these trails. I pull my kids on a weehoo trailer here. I've ridden enough in MI (started in 97) to know they're not all like this. Sadly many trails downstate are better for someone not wanting to just go max HR every ride. Nothing else I've ridden here is quite like this. Its unique, but its also makes for a 'monochromatic' riding experience. There's 30+ miles of trail here and frequently multiple ways to connect various intersections. Seems like plenty to reserve some for people who enjoy more challenge.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby ryguy79 » June 6th, 2018, 2:52 pm

And for the record, the boulders I frequently see just off trail qualify as real rocks.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby b_b » June 6th, 2018, 6:57 pm

Leave them. Yes I will try to avoid them, but that makes me pay more attention to line selection and setting up corners and whatnot instead of just hammering away like I'm on a paved path. My bike handling is better than my power on most xc trails so this works for me. :)
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby Highlander » June 7th, 2018, 2:15 pm

I rode Glacial for the first time last week & I said to the guy I was riding with " With a trail that runs through the woods, where are all of the roots & rocks. The trail was very smooth, you could tell the trail was for hiking & cross country skiing first & mountain biking second.

I personally like the roots & rocks, Highland is only 3 miles from my house & where I usually ride. Benn riding there for 20 years & once in a while I still get hung up on a root or rock if I don't get the line right. That's the fun of it.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby ryguy79 » June 7th, 2018, 2:55 pm

Why should hiking trails be devoid of rocks and roots? I used to hike 14ers in Colorado. No avoiding rocks and people still love to hike them.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby Jared13 » June 8th, 2018, 9:05 am

Unfortunately, you're not in Colorado any more (or Texas, I suppose :P ) and it's definitely a different flavor of trail here in Michigan. To find "real" rocks, you'll need to hit the U.P. (Harlow Lake has some AMAZING rock faces! Red Trail in Copper Harbor is another good one.)

It sounds like Glacial Hills is a highly sanitized trail because that's how the majority of the volunteers want it. While that disappoints both you and me, it doesn't make it wrong (provided the sanitizing is sanctioned, which it sounds like it is.)
Have you discussed adding some challenge with the local chapter? I believe the newest part is to the north and a bit more stand-alone than the rest of the trail system. That may be a possibility, but it will probably take a while to convince them, if it's even possible. Another potential cause for the sanitizing could be the agreement in place with the land owners. The trails may need to be built and maintained in a certain way to have them.

A different option would be spend your time maintaining a different trail. It's not the best option, IMO, by far but at least you'll be spending your time building/maintaining trails you'd want to ride!
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby ryguy79 » June 10th, 2018, 1:03 am

I'm not expecting to ride big rocky stuff here. I lived in the LP until I was 25 so I knew I'd be resetting expectations when it comes to riding. Its not even the trails themselves that bother me, its the nanny state type trail maintenance. There's just never a tough section that you clear and feel a little accomplishment. Nothing remotely close. Just hammer hammer hammer. Which is fun sometimes. I just think its insane to cut out tiny, I'm talking less than 1" roots the night I worked, and rocks that were barely protruding from the dirt. I wouldn't even have noticed the rock had they not stopped to dig it up. At least there's a little bit of the original hand built trail that is really fun and still has some roots and a rock here and there. Hopefully they'll leave that bit alone.

My riding and volunteering time is somewhat limited. I ride 4-5 days a week, but usually in little 1 hour chunks. Family life, yard work, kids, etc. The time it would take to drive to another trail and back is about the same as riding or working at Glacial. I've ridden a few places up here that are less neutered but not as often as I'd like. I ride regularly with a couple guys on the GH board and have started attending the board meetings. I've put the bug in their ear.

About the northern part of the trails. So apparently that was where there were supposed to be more 'advanced' trails built that never were. It actually says that in the trail maintenance guide. There's so much room in that area and some decent looking terrain. It seems they went for quantity over quality and just machine built it all but without the features of really good machine built trails I've ridden. Seems like some wasted potential in that area.

On the plus side my flat corner skills have improved.
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Re: Over-maintenance?

Postby Jared13 » June 11th, 2018, 7:41 am

It looks like you're taking all the right steps, I hope you're able to get some tech sections added!
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