Sunday, September 12, 2010

On the topic of tech trails in the "real world"...

...I'm up in Whistler right now. Not that they have any shortage of techy trails to begin with, but they just opened a new one, called Fade to Black.

It is an amazing piece of trail. I was/am blown away by how well built it is. No herculean efforts required to clean any of it, other than commitment. The grades are such that if you mostly stay off the brakes you'll fly everything clean. Even with minor scrubbing you can still fly everything clean.

While I was taking these pics there was a bike patroller hanging back in the trees just sorta keeping tabs on how many people were riding it, and how many were flying it vs. taking the easy outs around the hits. We chatted for a bit and he left me with one gem of a comment: "This is exactly what we needed. We've got tonnes of double blacks but they're all steep skidfests. I like those too, but this is what's happening in the real world. This is what people are building, and this is what people want."

It was the 'real world' part that got me. In the Western Colorado world I live in, stuck-in-the-80's land managers and gentrified trail access groups keep shoving designed-for-beginners bench-cut trail down our throats.

Not so much the case up here.

Thank Moroni that Whistler Bike Park exists. Not only do they do it right, but they set a proper precedent for others to (hopefully, eventually) follow.

In my dream of dreams, someone at COPMOBA would read this and pass it on to someone else at COPMOBA that 'gets it'. Trails *can* and *should* be diverse and challenging for *all* users, not just beginners and/or set-in-their-ways old-schoolers. Something to think about...




  1. Sounds just like trail issues over here. Lots of trail being build for noobs, but anything technical or slightly dangerous is pretty swiftly dumbed down.

    At some point, our local trail system will start getting some AM trails which will hopefully provide a little more excitement than the dirt cycleways that are our current XC trails.

    ps. love the blog, keep the photos, stories and adventures coming!

  2. I love bench cut buff trails. Gimme me more.

  3. Isn't that lift served, pay-to-ride terrain?

    There is your next business opportunity in western CO!

  4. Lynda--thanks for commenting. 90+% of what we have around the Grand Valley is designed with riders like you in mind. And the stuff that's harder than that is *rapidly* being sanitized down to a similar level. All I'm hoping/lusting/desiring for is to even out the balance a bit. Not suggesting that anyone take anything existing away, I merely think it's way past time that the local powers-that-be recognize that not everyone is after a sanitized trail experience on every ride. Ya know?

    DH--The pics *are* of lift-served, pay to ride trails. But the pics are also exemplary of stuff that we've ridden here and en route (Wyoming, Washington, Oregon) that is public, free, and where you earn your turns (so to speak).

    Oh yeah--and quit wishing more work on me...;)


  5. Exactly the same debate is going on around here. I have hope, but man all the new bench cut stuff is boring. It is intended to slow down bikers and reduce equestrian/hiker conflict. It does so by boring the heck out of anyone who rides it. Such trail does not have to be that way with a little creativity and alternate lines.

    Luckily I have 8 miles (16 if you ride both ways:)) of extremely technical slow trail to keep me challenged a 15 minute ride from the door. Horses fear it. Hikers are faster than me usually:)

    No tech rolling trail through the forest...yet.. which is hopefully the next phase. Followed by full on downhill stuff eventually.

    Fact is most land managers and most bikers can not ride such technical expert level trail and as such do not see the need.

  6. Please define "bench cut trails."


  7. ...for real. I don't understand what y'all are talking about when you say "bench cut". Like the width of a bench, laid in perfectly flat, what?

  8. I need that like I need a hole in my head.