Trail Talk #5: Testing, Tuning, Tamping

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Drew piling a berm high and deep. Photo Josh Davidson

Good morning and welcome to Trail Talk… With the heavy digging complete on segment 5 we are left with the task of fine tuning the trail into its final iteration. We are adjusting turns, steepening berms, changing the spacing of rollers and grade reversals to maximize the flow.  Trail Construction Manager Drew Perkins dropped some knowledge on the situation, “the goal is to maximize return on your potential energy rather than converting it to heat with your brakes.” Heady. Very little pedaling or braking is required to make it through this section with the quickness. Pumping rollers and givin ‘er through the berms will have riders on their merry way. To accomplish this we are adjusting trail features to slow you down naturally where needed and let you open it up when it’s time to bring the pepper. This is a dynamic process as the trail is hardening and thus getting faster and faster. One particular berm that we shaped early on and were real happy with, started to feel a bit pinner after riding it for a week, like it’s going to let go and send you drifting off into oblivion. Fix: bigger, steeper and deeper. No need to tap the brakes before this turn anymore, it swings you right round, cradles you like a loving mother holding a swaddled newborn to her bosom.

This jump went has gone through a couple changes. Initially it looked like a straight shot, square on jump. The issue with this is that the ground drops away real quick if you hit it straight on. But if you hip the jump to the right there is a nice long gradual landing to catch ya. Initial testing revealed that if you hit it straight on there was increased potential for grave bodily injury and separation from your bicycle. After a few hits I figured out how to hit it right, arcing hard to the right on the lip. Cool. But we need this to be straight forward and real natural. So we curved and insloped the lip so that it is pointing far to the right towards our nice landing. This is more of a visual cue as to where to go rather than a change in the actual form of the jump. Appearance is everything. Looks like its working... Hella much thanks to Shawn Wilson of Epicenter Cycling for help with the vision and initial dirt work on this one. Photos Josh Davidson

This jump went has gone through a couple changes. Initially it looked like a straight shot, square on jump. Testing revealed that if you hit it straight there was increased potential for grave bodily injury and separation from your bicycle. The issue was that the ground drops away real quick if you hit it straight. But if you hip the jump to the right there is a nice long gradual landing to catch ya. After a few hits I figured out how to hit it right, arcing hard to the right on the lip. Cool. But we need this to be straight forward and real natural. We can’t be launching folks into the great wide open. So we curved and insloped the lip so that it is pointing far to the right towards our nice landing. This is more of a visual cue as to where to go rather than a change in the actual form of the jump. Appearance is everything. Looks like its working… Hella much thanks to Shawn Wilson of Epicenter Cycling for help with the vision and initial dirt work on this one. Photos Josh Davidson

Once we get these features dialed we want to make sure they stay that way. Compaction is the key to the durability and staying power of our trail. We don’t want no air in there, just dirt. Those jumps and berms should be rock solid under your spinning wheels. Tamping, packing, compacting. It’s violent, it’s loud, it hurts but its gotta be done. I can already see the look of bewilderment, pity, and maybe a bit of disgust in my doctor’s eyes as I explain the cause for his diagnosis of early onset arthritis. “Yes I regularly slapped the face of a sculpted wall of dirt for hours on end with a shovel. There is only way to get that perfect concave shape, they didn’t teach you that in med school? Gosh…” Anyways, luckily we have some trick little machines and many volunteers to spread the work around. Vibraplates, hand tampers, shovels, McCleods, rogue hoes, a demolition hammer with an 8” tamping plate on it, and some stomping feet have all been laying the smackdown on the trail. The distinctive slap ringing out through the trees is the sound of longevity.  The sound of sweat equity invested for years and years of happy returns.

tampon

Have it your way. Pick your poison. All kinds of ways to tamp. Photos Bogdan Marian

The ample rains of the past few days will assist in our efforts to pack in the trail. After a few days of drying out, the dirt will be perfect for some more shaping and a final tamping pass. Come on up and help kick out the jams on segment 5.

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