Wednesday, November 25, 2015

All Jacked Up

I’ve been working on mountain bike trails in the RRGCC’s PMRP since July.  Four of us hacked out a short section of the new trail project not too long ago.  It’s going to be incredible when it’s finished.  Alas, there is still a little bit left to do on the extension project we started at the Johnny and Alex Trail Day (JATD).  And since I had two ongoing projects why not add a third?
Last week I finally set to fixing our sagging bikeport roof.  I knew it was going to be a…
Hey, I realize it’s hard to read someone who changes direction so often.  Bear with me.  They’re related.
…Anyway, I knew it was going to be a stressful and sketchy operation.  In concept it was simple: jack up corner, dig out concrete and dirt, pour new footer for corner, set post, and unjack.
The initial barrier was the jacks.  I didn’t know what to use.  Drunk Uncle supposedly had some, but I could never seem to get him to commit to finding them so I could borrow them.  On a whim I ran to Ace Hardware one afternoon to see if they had something I could rent.  Turns out for $60 I could just buy two hydraulic bottle jacks.  Done.
I “borrowed” three red oak 4x6s from the sawmill for supports and before you knew it I had that danged corner jacked up.  There was nothing but to start busting and digging.  I spent a few hours slogging away at sixty year old concrete.  It went deeper than I expected, but was only about eight inches in diameter below a misshapen mass under the slab.  Definitely not to code.
Haha, we have no codes here.  What do you speck of dhese codes?
Anyway, I ended up with a three foot deep by two foot in diameter hole under the floating corner of the roof.  And one JUBAR lower back.  And wrists.  And hands.  I pounded on that concrete for a long time.  My body absorbed a lot of the energy in my weakest links.  Friday I was useless.  I wanted to die.  I was tired, sore, and feeling like someone should just jam me under the corner post.
Mandy told me I could do whatever I wanted on Saturday; she didn’t need me for anything around the house and had her own plans.  The weather forecast looked fantastic.  I was despondent.  My barely animated corpse was not going to enjoy such a fine day with no responsibilities.
I dragged.  Sleeping in felt nice.  Still beat both kids awake and set to making breakfast.  Bean was up and eating with me, and when I mentioned that I was thinking about going and doing some trail work she let me know with a series of Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!s that she was in.  I had no aspirations to cut bench or to move dirt in any way conceivable.  I decided I might be able to make some progress on an idea I had for a short easy/skills loop adjacent to the Flat Hollow Trailhead. 
Right is north
Current Flat Hollow conditions. Blue is old trail, red is new project, green is easy/skills loop planned.

Detail of skills loop (actual GPS track)
Creek runs along road and slope begins to the left (right is north-ish)
There’s a slip of bottomland between the creek and the base of the slope to the west of the parking area.  My longer term plan is to connect Flat Hollow TH with the Drive-By Trailhead via a trail along the creek through the area.  But that one small area struck me as a perfect place for a short and easy loop.
I intentionally took only a leaf rake, loppers, and a machete.  Bean tagged along.
The other option would have been to work on the creek crossings near the parking lot for the new trail we started recently.  While my plan there is to do some pitching and armoring I just didn’t think my body would appreciate moving enough rock to make it worthwhile, so clearing the short loop seemed like the best use of our time.
And that’s what we did.  The loop begins opposite the old Flat Hollow Trail across an oil access road and immediately drops to the bottoms.  I cleared along the base of the steep slope until we reached a point where the creek sidled up to it and then followed Bald Rock Fork back to the beginning.  The loop is about 0.15 mile long.
Aspiring trail gnome
The cool thing about it is that we can start with a rideable easy loop and then go back and add features like berms, table top jumps, skinnies, and the like.
Saturday I’m meeting up with Dave there to try and make some more progress on the newest trail trail.  I have a feeling our real progress is getting ready to fly over the handlebars of winter.  We’ve had lots of below freezing nights the past week or so.  There won’t be much bench cutting getting done over the next few weeks.  It’s likely that no bench cutting is going to get done until spring.  And that’s okay.
If I find myself in need to make progress when the ground is frozen I have about six miles of trail corridor to clear in the meantime.
I put in the back and middle posts last night.  It felt incredible to let those jacks down and lay the supports on the ground.  There are currently two 6x6 red oak beams supporting the bikeport roof.  I have to watch the weather closely for an above freezing window to jump through to replace the front corner post.
Might be a tad overkill...
Well, since I won’t likely be plinking about here on this back alley wall of the internet before Monday have a Happy Thanksgiving! 


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