Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mother Nature can wreak havoc on our favorite trails, down trees and impassable bogs in the spring are just the beginning. If trails are poorly constructed, they can be wiped completely off the map; leaving areas that are less traversable than before trail construction. IMBA travels the country giving lectures and teaching classes on building sustainable, low maintenance trails. Then again occasionally Mother’s touch can make a trail twice as interesting while nearly destroying it.

Sunday was again finally shuttle day. It’s been awhile (sadly) since Snarksy and I went and shuttled Alder Shoots and the Secret Trail. Because there was some climbing involved on the Secret Trail, we decided to use hardtail 29’ers, although that also could have been because it was early enough in the season that my weak arms may not have been able to even lift my downhill sled. Today was finally about busting out some big travel, diesel dropped badassery. I drove the first run and when everyone started arriving among the tailings, I could tell something was different. The first half of the trail is the same this year, lots of rock gardens with a ridiculously steep loose gravel grade leading down to the halfway mark. The bottom half is now completely different. What was once a long rolling downhill speed way on fire road and double track is now technical.

While there was the occasional washout previously (I think there were two), they were shallow (maybe six inches deep), and contained to one side of the trail or other. Big travel bikes allowed you to sleep through the bottom half of the trail; now they allow you to not die when you miss your line around or over (the only option in a few places) the now two foot drop-offs and washouts completely littering the trail. Seriously I just missed the first big one (I was following some flipping teenage BMX kid who I had no business going as fast as) and nailed the second one. Hitting a washout that is eighteen inches deep and three feet wide and littered with nice sharp rocks is one of those awesome puckering moments that we all hope to live through, preferably without shedding blood. In my case, the money spent on my bike more than made up for my near complete lack of skill. Thanks so much Kona.

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