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Mangled Mountain Bike Trail – My Personal Trail System - A Photo Essay

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Part 1: "You Have Mangled Our Property!"

For quite a while I had been toying with the idea of building a mountain bike trail on my property. My house sits on a couple of acres of mountain land in Colorado. We have lived here for 17 years. I know every square inch of my land. There are a few game trails running across the property that I had used to do a little test riding.

I knew the size, shape and topography of my property was perfectly suited for building a set of trails that would emulate typical terrain of bike trails in the Colorado Rockies, albeit on a smaller scale.

Of course there were constraints. Tearing down the house was out of the question. Digging up my wife's garden and/or knocking down her greenhouse would not be a good way to ensure domestic tranquility. Besides, I like the fresh vegetables that grace our table. I also needed to be sure not to dig up the septic system.

Everything else was fair game. I started building last Sunday, August 13th.

I was curious what my wife would say about my construction project on her return from her mother/daughter adventure in Canada and the Pacific Northwest. She came back late on Tuesday. It took her a full day to realize something was different. She saw the trail segment "Garden Cutoff" since the trail went directly in front of her greenhouse.

She didn't volunteer any feelings about this segment. I asked her, "How do you like my bike trails?" She said in a measured voice "What trails?" I pointed to Rocky Gap and Scramble hill and said, "Those trails." Here lips quivered. Her eyes widened. Then she exploded, "You have mangled our property!"

Hence, the name of my trail system.

To my credit, she had not even noticed the other parts of the trail system. We had a short conversation and reached an impasse. She didn't like the project and I was going to stop construction. We agreed to disagree. I went back to work on the trail.

My wife is pretty chatty. She gave me the silent treatment for about 20 minutes. A little later, as I toiled away on the trail, she walked out on the deck and asked me what I wanted for dinner. The subject was closed. During dinner she told me all about some island in Canada that is full of wolves that fish for their food. Her favorite wild animal is the wolf because she thinks they are majestic. My favorite animal is the squirrel because I think they are funny.

Part 2: Simple Hand Tools

The vast majority of hiking or biking trails are made by hand. Heavy equipment doesn't fit up a trail that is 2 feet wide. The following photo shows my indispensable trail building items.

I have sturdy boots to protect my feet from rocks. I bought these boots at Walmart for $20 about 10 years ago. I just paid $11 for the leather gloves last Monday. I could only find one of my old gloves. The hand tools included a bow rake, long handled shovel and pickaxe. That is it.

Part 3: Engineering Marvel - If I do say so myself

I know this map is really too small to see well. But it should give you an idea of the general layout.

Here are the Mangled Mountain Trail parameters:

Total Length: 0.51 miles
Total Vertical Elevation Change: 199 feet (That is really quite a lot in 1/2 mile)
Mean Elevation Above Sea Level: 8,150 feet

Segments and Difficulty:

1. Slippery Slope - Green
2. Scramble Hill - Green
3. Tramp – Green
4. Breezeway – Green
5. Cross Roads – Green
6. Coyote Run - Green

7. Tomato Patch - Blue
8. S-Curves on Rocky Wash - Blue
9. Rocky Gap – Blue
10. Tree Bash - Blue
11. Garden Cutoff – Blue
12. Potato Box – Blue
13. Snake Head - Blue

14. Rollers - Black
15. Bounce – Black
16. Switch – Black

17. Jump - Double Black

The way the trail system is designed there are over a dozen individual large loops. Some loops are Green. Other loops are Blue. There are two loops that are all Black. Many loops are a combination Green, Blue and/or Black.

Part 4: Ride The Mangled Mountain Trail With Me

We will start our run on Upper Tomato Patch.

Did I mention that there are 199 feet of vertical on this trail?

Here is a shot of the relatively flat Lower Tomato Patch segment.

I call this "Tomato Patch" because we once tried to grow tomatoes here with a spectacular lack of success.

At this point, you and your bike should be moving pretty quickly. You haven't hit the brakes yet, have you? Now the fun begins! You are about to drop into the S-Curves on Rocky Wash.

The S-Curves are fast. You swoop along on the smooth banks because you know the center of the trail is rough and rocky. Speed is you friend here.

The trail is banked all the way to Rocky Gap. Always remember to look way ahead. Looking far down the trail slows everything down.

Rocky Gap is tricky. You know you should be pedaling really hard through this segment. Scramble Hill is coming up.

This is the exit of Rocky Gap. If you are not pedaling hard at this point you are going to "Fred Flintstone" your bike up Scramble Hill.

Scramble Hill is very loose dirt. This used to be a massive thistle patch. Good tires are a "must have". You also need to keep your weight centered over your pedals.

You are now entering Tree Bash. I reworked this quite a bit. Originally, this has a reverse camber curve. The chances of hitting a tree were pretty good. I banked the curve through the trees. Here is a tip - If a trail is comfortable to hike, the trail is also good to bike. Sort of rhymes.

Now you are rounding the corner from Tree Bash and heading up Slippery Slope.

You have just taken the easy way to Slippery Slope. There is an alternate trail called "Rollers". Rollers, well rolls.

Rollers is to the left of Tree Bash. Rollers is both steeper and rougher.

Big boulders in the middle of a trail are actually typical around here.

In reality you would be slightly airborne at this point. You don't really want to do a nose dive off this rock. Coming from the other direction you have to jump this rock.

After Tree Bash and Rollers is a straight steep hill called Slippery Slope. At the top of Slippery Slope is "Crossroads". At Crossroads, you can take Switch, Bounce, Garden Cutoff, Breezeway or Tramp.

Let's take Bounce.

Bounce is very rocky. This is really the domain of a full suspension bike. This photo doesn't really capture just how bouncy this segment is.

Bounce is short and sweet. We can turn up switch at the end of Bounce or take Garden Cutoff. Lets do Switch.

Switch is a steep little sucker that is "S" shaped making a sharp switchback.

Here is a better shot of Switch coming from the other direction. The top of Bounce and the top of Switch can both be accessed at the Crossroads.

This is the cockpit view of Switch. I had to build up the berm with a fallen tree and some logs.

Bounce and Switch form a circle. You can also take Garden Cutoff from Switch or Bounce; or you can take Garden Cutoff from Slippery Slope. Garden Cutoff, Bounce and Switch all traverse a big rock outcrop we call "Rocky Top".

The bike is positioned on Garden Cutoff. Switch is on the left and bounce is directly ahead. To the right is the an easy route to Slippery Slope via the top of Garden Cutoff. I know it is confusing. As you ride the trails, you have lots of ways to go.

Here is Garden Cutoff from Slippery Slope.

Garden Cutoff is pretty rough at the top. I rated this segment as blue because it is smooth further down.

Garden Cutoff ends at Potato Box. Potato Box is a "Y". Left takes you to Rocky Gap. Right takes you back up S-Curves on Rocky Wash. Garden Cutoff is steep.

Back at Crossroads, you can go right to Tramp or straight to Breezeway and Snakehead. Here is Tramp.

Tramp is a deer trail and is nice and flat. If you go straight at Crossroads you go up to Breezeway.

Here you have a gentle climb to Breezeway. Breezeway is really nice.

Breezeway roughly parallels Tramp. Breezeway is also built on top of a deer trail.

Tramp and Breezeway merge into Coyote Run. Coyote run heads across the driveway and back to Tomato Patch.

Coyote Run is so named because my 25 pound Beagle chased a Coyote off the property in this location.

You have completed a lap and are heading down to Tomato Patch again.

There are two other trails I want to show you. From Breezeway you can get to Snakehead.

Snakehead is a drainage full of sticks and stones and is really u-g-l-y.

There is not much of a trail here. I just raked a path through this area. Snakehead is a primitive trail.

Snakehead intersects slippery slope right above Rollers. If Snakehead and Rollers don't tear up your bike tires, nothing will!

There is another "trail" that you can take from Tramp called Jump. Jump is bad.

You are heading to Jump. Be careful.

Jump feels like going over a cliff.

After the Jump, you have to swing nearly 90 degrees to get back on Tomato Patch.

That is it! Your are done. Thanks for reading my blog.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Really Cool!! Love your trail and hope you have lots of fun riding it. One man's (woman's) mangled is another man's improvement :).
    2079 days ago
    Wow! That is so awesome and cool. Would like to live by trails sometime, must be cool to have your own now.
    2083 days ago
    Ha! The thing that went through my head first was that you didn't have far to go to reach a first aid kit!

    (now why would I think that???)
    2095 days ago
    Way to go! I am thinking this is going to be a great idea!
    2100 days ago
    I like your style. Act first, as permission from the better half later . . . . Hmmm . . Maybe I can use that approach to go N+1 in my bicycle inventory . . . .

    As usual, you are sparking my motivation!
    2102 days ago
    I love that you had your bike give us the tour :) Hope you have a plan to make it up to your wife!
    2106 days ago
    Great trail! I have to second what KRICKET4 said - a view from a helmet cam would be awesome!
    2106 days ago
    Stunning! Spectacular!
    2106 days ago
    I have to laugh at your wife's characterization of your trail system... "you mangled our property!" LOL Years ago, when my parents bought their property, they both wanted to put in walking trails but couldn't agree on the best way to do it. Many arguments later, they ended up with a nice, but very small set-up of two trails and the whole family enjoyed it. Funny, I can't remember who won, but I guess they must have "agreed to disagree" too!

    Enjoy... I hope you have many successful rides on it! And maybe your wife will decide she can run on them too!
    2106 days ago
    Wow! When your wife leaves town, you get VERY busy!
    I love the track. What a great way to start a day!
    2106 days ago
    Hmm. Well, wow. Nice looking greenhouse. I was sort of thinking that Jump might go over the greenhouse. Looks like a great ride. emoticon
    2106 days ago
    Totally jealous of you and your trail. Seriously.
    2107 days ago
  • MPLANE37
    Quite some story. But still, half a mile is a bit too short, even for hiking. But great job not giving in against your wife. I had a hard time until I convinced my wife that my mountain bike (which is a 2009 hardtail) is too valuable to leave overnight in the street, even when locked. Finally my bike is in its place in my small study room. emoticon
    2107 days ago
    That looks like a blast to hike! I'm not good on a bike but that looks like fun! :)
    2107 days ago
    It looks fabulous!! I'm glad you and your wife are still speaking.
    2107 days ago
    OMG! You are lucky she is still speaking to you. You are a riot. I love it! It would scare me to ride bike on that but I would love to run it. Have fun. Just think of all the calories you burned creating the trail and now what you will burn using the trail. Way to go!
    2107 days ago
    Quite the system!
    2107 days ago
    I'm sorry you're wife doesn't like the trail system but glad you reached an agreement to disagree and she's dealing with it. Being an avid hiker I would so much love to have a place like that where I could head out my door and be on a network of trails for when I don't have time to go someplace else. I think it looks like you have done an awesome job with it. Hopefully with time she will come to like it a little better. I can picture it as a great place to take family or friends over part of it for a nice after dinner walk/hike at times.
    2107 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Wow great looking home test trails. The photos and description are excellent. Thanks. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2107 days ago
  • KA_JUN
    Uh oh. Silent treatment is not good. "Mangled" as an adjective, when used in reference to things like hardware, (i.e. I mangled my rear derailleur) or property, probably indicative of displeasure. That said, Bruce, you don't mess around, your own personal groomed trail system right outside your front doorstep, mapped and blazed, that is AWESOME! I see you have built up some nice berms, too. Most excellent. I'm sure that riding the same controlled trails, you'll be really able to dial in your rides and see the differences in your equipment. Wow, truly epic!
    2107 days ago
    Now, how about a camera on your helmet so we can see this in action?
    2107 days ago
    WOW! That is just so cool!
    We occasionally circumnavigate our yard and house, but we only have a half acre so "building" a trail is out of the question. I'm envious...
    (The only consolation is that we're just across the street from the major mountain bike/nordic ski park here with about 80 acres and miles and miles of trails.)

    Have fun!
    2107 days ago
    Looks like fun.
    2107 days ago
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