Week 5 – Building mountain bike single track trails in Camba Country

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I had a fun and stressful holiday weekend; too much to do and too little time to do it in.  It was still good to go home to see Carl and the garden and all of my plants – indoors and outdoors.

But is it back to work now and there is a CAMBA (Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association) meeting on Friday.  Stan who is the president of CAMBA and one of the bosses of the trail crew has to report on our progress so the push is on to have completed trail.  The trail must be completely finished for it to ‘count’.

We work ahead on rogueing and then we go back and finish but some spots are finished as we rogue.  For example, we have a hole to fill with rocks and dirt and someone just does it.  They fill the hole and tamp the dirt and create the correct slope and that small section is done but it won’t count as completed trail until the rest of the trail is completed up until that point.

The official mileage so far is 1.4 miles.

It doesn’t sound like much too me.  When we walk the trail it seems so much longer.

I continue to rogue and double rogue.  The double rogue being my favorite because it allows me to dig in the dirt.  I am not sure why it I like it but it feels good to be able to dig my hoe in the dirt after all the roots and rocks are gone.  I have accomplished something!  I just have to remember to keep moving and that I am building a mountain bike single track trail but putting in a perennial garden at the White House.

In case, you haven’t realized this…I like to do good work.

But sometimes, I think I do too good of work for a mountain bike trail.  What I mean is that I spend too much time digging and picking rocks and roots that I should leave.  As I work I remind myself that I am building a mountain bike trail not manicuring a formal garden and I need to keep moving down the trail…the objective is to build a trail not to create a masterpiece.

Some of the guys just rogue and keep going.

I like to rogue and then do a double rogue.  There are a couple of reasons for this, one I mentioned above and the other is when Chris first explained the process he said that we should make one pass for the initial cut and then the second pass should be to finish the trail.  I try to follow the instructions.  Sometimes as we all rogue I start to feel funny because everyone is moving down the trail faster than me and I feel like I should keep up especially being the only girl. I think that I have to be sure to hold up my end.  I don’t want the guys to think I am not doing my job.

This week after lunch on Tuesday, Chris walked by and asked me how it was going and I said “good”.  He then said, “Sue you are thorough.”  I said, “I can’t help it (remember, I like to dig in the dirt and do a good job).”  Chris replied, “I’m not complaining, I like to follow you because I know that I can do the finish work right away.”  I didn’t think he was complaining and I wanted to sort of explain how I work.  I really can’t help it.  I was really glad he said that though because I felt better about not keeping up with the other guys and going as fast as they do down the trail.

I finished a couple of adjacent sections of trail this week.

I was doing my part to get us a good report for the CAMBA board of directors.  See picture below.  This is only my second time finishing the trail.  I think Chris senses my hesitancy to finish the trail.  It is not a complicated process but there is a part of me that is afraid to do it wrong.  I tell myself it not a big deal if you do it wrong.  You can always fix it.  But I am still hesitant to do the finish work.

To finish a trail:

  • double rogue if not done already
  • pull the dirt to the high side
  • rake out any remaining duff and rocks
  • tamp being sure to slope to the low side – the slope is 3 to 5 degrees
  • slice/shave the high side of the trail so you have don’t have a high side at a  90 degree angle to the tread (the part you ride on) part of the trail

These are the basic instructions.  Different parts of the trail require additional finishing, for example a long downhill slope will require a grade reversal.

Grade reversal.

A trail building technique used on a downhill slope.  The purpose is to force water off of the trail without using any other structure.  Remember a well build trail sheds water so that it requires minimal maintenance.  A grade reversal is created by reversing the grade of the trail, in other words you create a small rise on the downhill.  The small rise or small hill in the trail stops the water from running directly downhill.  When you have the water stopped you can then direct it to where you want it to go…off the trail.

The weather has been hot and humid lately which translates to more bugs, mainly mosquitoes.  I don’t tolerate them very well.  I use the bug spray before we start in the morning and I reapply three hours later after lunch….sometime before if it is a really bad day.  I am grateful that we haven’t had a day yet where we have to breathe through our teeth.

Our last day this week we moved to a new location for parking.

We move locations as we build more trail so we don’t have to walk in so far to get to the section of trail we are working on.  Our new parking spot currently has ripe strawberries and soon there will be raspberries.

By the way,

I had Chris and Stan critique my finished section of trail and I only needed to make a few changes.  Chris said we should call it Susie’s Sensation.  He’s like that…always making up things.  He is also our resident artist.  See some of his trail sculpture below.

Fresh strawberries

Fresh strawberries

my section of finished trail

My section of finished trail

Dan's rock

Dan worked a half a day to get this rock to ‘sit’ right.  He likes to do the finish work.

Sculpture by Chris

Sculpture by Chris

Sculpture by Chris

Sculpture by Chris

Trail god

Sculpture by Chris – Trail god



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