Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On Riding to Town and Building Trails

The One is like a new bike.  Last week I had Mike’s Hike and Bike build a new set of wheels using my Hope hubs and a new set of Stans rims.  Sunday I installed tubeless tires and Bean and I took a ride to town for to test them out.  She rode her six speed Specialized, and I rode The One. 
The first obstacle was Granny Moppet Hill.  Bean walked the lower crux, but then hopped on the bike and started grinding up to the summit.  Surely she learned what it means to suffer that day!
Or not.  But she had her first taste of climbing on a bike. I’m so proud!
Anyway, we rode to town and then meandered the streets for a little while.  It was fun and chill.  We didn’t get any KOMs, but we didn’t need them.  It was fun riding around out small and uncharming town.

I know, I know!  We had a talk about riding on sidewalks. This is a new SRTS funded sidewalk too.

Doing the walk up Steamshovel Hill

Our bike path
After we got home the whole crew wanted to take the new kayaks up to the Chainring pond and paddle around.  It was relaxing and fun to plink around after our ride and then amble back to the house.  Life is good!
But now we jump back to Saturday. May 14th was the second trail day in Flat Hollow this spring.  Bean and I got to the trailhead right on time.  The forecast was for a rainy morning.  I didn’t expect anyone to show up.  But Curtis (the land manager) had sent me a message saying he was on his way but was running late.  So we decided to wait for him at least.  I knew there was a couple hundred feet of tough benchcutting and the two of us alone wouldn’t be able to finish up in a day. I was somewhat despondent.  The trail was going to drag out all summer…
Curtis showed around 9:30 and we hung out in the parking lot waiting for the rain to pass until about 11:00.  Then we headed up the trail with tools in hand.  I had resolved I was going to get as much done as I could before my lower back gave out.
We got close to the end of where I had been working and Curtis was walking ahead so I couldn’t see down the trail.  As we got to the last few yards I noticed some fresh clumps of dirt and it looked like someone had cut into the backslope to widen the tread (which is needed).
“This part looks like it needs compacting,” Curtis said as I opened my mouth to exclaim that someone had…CUT MORE TRAIL!
Since my last visit down there some trail fairy had cut about a hundred feet of trail.  That left a little over a hundred feet left to build.  With that I laid into the uncut steep sideslope at the top of the hill with a wellspring of energy.
We cut for a little while and two more showed up.  With four of us we were able to keep the momentum going for about four hours. Then we were done. 
Not with the trail.  Heck no!  We still had thirty feet left to cut.  But Curtis and I were spent.  The rest of the crew all had stuff to do in the afternoon.  I needed to get Bean home too.  The day was over.  But we only had thirty feet left!  The Flat Hollow Arch Trail was almost completed.
Approaching the second switchback

The second switchback

Near the top of the climb
I texted Brad.  It turns out he was the trail fairy.  He said he’d try to get down there Monday or Tuesday and finish up.  He went back Monday and he and another guy cut the last thirty feet.  The Flat Hollow Arch Trail is finished.  It only took all winter.
I can’t express how happy I am to have this trail finished.  The loop still needs some work and we’re about eight miles shy of the minimum system I want to see go in at PMRP.  But Flat Hollow Arch Trail is built.  And it turned out pretty good.  As we go forward and smooth, compact, and refine it I hope to continue to improve the geometrics and make it an “easy” trail.  There’s going to be one or two spots on the trail that will just never be considered easy, but that’s okay.
Last night I ran up and did a little bit of work.  We’ve been having a lot of rain so I was afraid the newest sections of trail would be too muddy to ride.  I was right.  BUT…the established sections—even the stuff that was constructed prior to the last trail day—was totally rideable.
And here is where this trail system is going to shine.  In rainy weather the trails in the Red River Gorge area will drain and not be easily damaged by foot and bike traffic.
The caveat to that is that through layout and construction we have to maintain a mindset of drainfulness.  So far we have.  There are few muddy spots and there are a lot of spots that would be muddy if we hadn’t installed drainage features and built the trail to modern standards.  The few spots left that are problematic can all be mitigated with minimal work except for one low, boggy stretch that is going to have to be bypassed completely.  I only delayed that because a month ago the ground had dried out to concrete consistency and it looked like we weren’t going to have to detour.  As it is right now I can skirt the tread and still ride through the bog.  Not ideal, but still better than a lot of Central Kentucky trail systems for rainy rideability. 
 Oh, and after piddling around a little last night I dragged The One out of the MBDV and rode out and back on the built Flat Hollow Arch Trail.  While I got bogged down in the mud of the newest cut sections I was able to ride the whole trail out and back.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome ride with your daughter. I miss those days. Now if I could just get my adult daughters to ride!