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Building a Bike Trail On My Property

Monday, August 13, 2012

Part 1: Easily Distracted

Yesterday, I decided I should muck-out the garage. We recently had our house appraised for refinancing. (BTW, the house appraisal went well. We are lowering our payment by $200 and reducing the payoff time by 5 years.) According to my wife, an honest woman, when the appraiser walked into the garage he said, "It looks like a bike shop exploded in here!"

Appraisers are hilarious people - NOT!

During the appraisal period I was putting a new stem, handlebars, derailleurs, chain, headset, fork and tires on my Giant Boulder SE to get it ready for sale to my grown 3rd son to use as a commuter bike.

We have a lot of two-wheel vehicles. Road bikes, mountain bikes, dirt motorcycles and a road motorcycle. I would rather travel on two wheels than four wheels any day.

As I started the fun task of cleaning the garage, I decided to do a bicycle tire test. I have spare wheels on my Camber, which was required due to a close encounter with drainage damage on a train that destroyed the Camber's original wheels.

Yes, I have spare bike wheels. Doesn't everybody?

Anyway, I wanted to see how well the Camber's Specialized Captain cross-country tires could handle very loose conditions. Little Stumpy has all-mountain Maxxis Minion "Super Tacky" tires. I was thinking of getting the Maxxis Minions for the Camber and wanted to make sure the increase in traction would be worth it.

The Specialized Captain has pretty small knobs. This tire rolls nicely on hardpack. The Camber came with this trail tire.

The Maxxis Minion has deep knobs and has great bite on loose trails. This tire has ramped center knobs and rolls pretty well. I put this tire on Little Stumpy after some sharp rocks ate the original XC racing tires.

I tested the tires on a loose berm on the side of road.

This trail formed over the years as a shortcut to the road from my house. Hen I take my dog for a walk, this the route he takes to get to the road.

The tires test showed that the Maxxis Minions are somewhat better than the Specialized Captains. However, this short little trail really did not put the tires to a real test.

Part 2: A Test Track- What a Great Idea!

As I did the tire test, I felt that the Camber suspension could use some tweaking. I adjusted the pressure in the forks and shocks and added some rebound. I tested the bike on some rocks between my upper and lower driveway.

This photo shows a short track through some rocks. This short little hill really does not put the suspension tweaks to the test.

Then I got an idea! I could build a test circuit on my property. I have a couple of acres of mountain land. The more I thought about the prospect of bike trails on my property the more I liked it. Here are the reasons:

(1) I can test bike modification near my workshop, make adjustments and re-test;
(2) I can work on my mountain biking skills in a controlled environment;
(3) If I crash, I am already home; and
(4) My wife is out of town!

Reason #4 is really important. My dear wife may take a dim view if I turn our property into a bike park. Nothing could be further from my mind.

Here is the plan:

This drawing is not to scale but it gives you an idea. Due North is straight up the page. The loops are between 1/4 to 1/2 mile long. I figure I will have about a mile of finished trail when I am done. I tried to make this map bigger. However, theSparkpeople image resize function keeps shrinking the map.

Part 3: Shovel, Pick, Rake and Saw

I just had a few hours before dark to get started. The lower part of my property has always been problematic. There is actually good topsoil in the lower area and Russian Thistles grow to huge proportions. I tackled this area first.

I dug up a million thistles and piled them off way off the trail. I then tackled a big mess by an old stump I call "Rocky Gap".

I made two ways through Rocky Gap. The easiest way in the "Smooth Route". There is another over a flat boulder. I actually moved a lot of dirt to make this section. I took these photos in the dark since I worked on the trail until sundown.

Here are the "S-Banks". I have some more work to do her to build up the banks. This should be a quick section. We have lots of fallen trees I can use to hold the dirt on the banks in place.

This is "Rocky Wash" This is purposely loose and bumpy. All the terrain features on my private trails are found on the public trails I ride.

This is what "Tree Bash" looks like. The bike is my son's Specialized Hardrock. I used this bike as a prop because it has a kickstand.

This is where outer loop is going to go. I was able to finish Tomato Patch, Rocky Wash, S-Banks, Rocky Gap, Rollers, Tree Bash and part of Loose Climb before it got dark.

This is Death Ravine. This is actually steeper and longer than the photo shows. My wife put this 1/2 barrel planter in the way so visitors would drive into the ravine. This barrel has to go! Or maybe I will move it a little bit.

Here is Deep Sandy Wash. This is an exact replica of Sandy Wash at Buffalo Creek.

I have some more work to do. But the other parts of my trail system will be pretty easy to get done.

Thanks for reading my blog.
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