Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This is how you ruin a trail.

To preface my post and lend a little bit of justification to the title I would ask that you take a quick minute to reference this post from two years ago.

We'll use this as a sort of "then and now"


What I like about this series of pictures is that it illustrates the only two work parties this set of corners has ever had. Two years ago when it was rock armored there were plans to continue the rock across the trail, and possibly down through the following corner, but due to time constraints and lack of man power (holy shit those rocks were heavy) we chose to armor 3/4s of the way across the upper corner and leave a thin "easy" line on the inside. To secure the rocks properly in the ground we covered them up to the top in native soil, knowing that as the corner was ridden the dirt would pack in around them and at the same time slough of the top, revealing the upper 1/3-1/2 of the rock. The lower corner on the other hand was just re-sculpted and allowed to exist in it's current form for several reasons. 

1. Because it has a firm fallen tree backing, and a depth of soil from the face of the berm to the tree of upwards 18" we deemed the erosion risk and exposure of said tree to be minimal to none. Partly because the corner had been skidded to death for two years prior with no significant damage to the overall form. 
2. Because that corner was fun as shit when you learned how to carry speed through it. 

Fast forward two years of heavy ridding and we arrive at the second work party to lay shovels into this particular section of trail.
While it would be easy to sit here on my high horse and say that the corners where perfect and needed no work that would be inaccurate. As illustrated by the photos bellow the corners suffered just the amount of damage that you would expect from running two races, (Capitol Forest Enduro 2013 and Capitol Forest Classic 2014) numerous locals only Friday night super D's and all the other traffic that passes through in 24 months.
That all said the general foundation of the work we did remained, the majority of rocks embedded retained their stability and remained in the ground, and the lower corner kept its dirt backing and showed no signs of skidding through. 

And Now:

Notice said down tree backing on bottom corner.
As well as the growing pool of gravel at the bottom of what for some can be a very high speed corner. 

Notice some differences? Rock armoring was moved across the WHOLE width of the trail, finally eliminating the always intended temporary easy line but rather then harvest nicely packing dirt that will match the structure of the rest of the trail, gravel was packed in. That's all the blue stuff in the bottom pictures that is not in the top ones. 

When we initially worked on this corner we could have used gravel to structure the turn, but we didn't. Because:

1. It costs money, and you have to cart it in, on 5 gallon bucket (or something similar) at a time.
2. It DOESN'T PACK. (This was the big reason)

If you think that gravel does pack I would reference you to the bottom picture. Here you will see the accumulation of gravel run off from the upper turn, this does not ride well. In fact it rides awful, like really really awful. It sucks speed, kills traction and flow and increases risk of serious injury while giving nothing of benefit back to the trail. The corner that used to be "fun as shit" when you carried speed through it is now a shitty sling shot into crash zone. Something that should be noted is that there have already been two reported crashes caused by this accumulation of gravel, one of which resulted in a broken arm.

The frustrating thing about this is that it takes more time and money to cart gravel in then it does to utilize the resources that we already have access to. The dirt in capitol forest is unique to the region and rides amazingly, we should take advantage of it. We are not Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and this is not Tiger Mountain. Lets stop trying to be.


  1. Fuck gravel! Thanks for putting this up, Cam.

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  3. Dude... I am not reading that but good effort in all aspects of your life you are excelling, on line , at race, on bike, on and on. But as they saying goes... you can't fix STUPID. We will be at every blog, every corner, every trail and every race.

    sincerely the stupid people


  4. I hate that trail.

  5. Soo hope someone shows up on Saturday for the FOCF work party . I know most who read this will either be old school bitter burn outs, building somewhere else with more freedom, or even worse... working. I have heard rumors of overhaulLing the overused under maintained GREEN LINE. Probably got trucks of gravel lined up the entire way on C line.

  6. Good points.

    Seeing gravel used on a slope in an attempt to mitigate erosion and impact is something we hoped humanity had moved beyond. Your photo of the gravel pile at the bottom of the chute illustrates the reason why this ineffective, perfectly.

    Also. Gravel on top of rock armoring? Seriously? Like marbles on a sidewalk.

  7. Some thoughts, with no negativity intended on this post.

    Gravel is great for fixing drainage problems on flatter parts of trail that have big mud puddles, but not on a steep sloped chute like this. Rock armoring with good mineral soil top coat(s) do not need gravel at all.

    Re: “Something that should be noted is that there have already been two reported crashes caused by this accumulation of gravel, one of which resulted in a broken arm.” I know a friend who hit a loose rock that broke free recently (had to go to the hospital) that were scattered on the trail just after the original rock armored berm. Nothing to do with gravel, but more of a situation where work was done on our trail without proper follow up during the next few weeks to see if everything got solidified.

    Re: “We are not Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and this is not Tiger Mountain. Lets stop trying to be.” This point is cool for now, but I do believe that for this trails longevity, we might start having to be, but certainly NOT with gravel, just with rock armoring and mass mineral soil top coats like they do.

    Most importantly, I was at that most recent work party and didn’t say a word about their work section gig. I was doing what I always do, taking a few core peeps to other sections that I thought needed more mineral soil top coats and re-shaping for rad potential. If you are the prez or the main sat work party lead of focf & have decided to do what you see here, I certainly wouldn’t give criticism as an “outsider” while on sight. If anyone of us wants to step up to their positions with that much responsibility, then I guess our opinion would matter, as we would talk through the work plan beforehand. but if not, then we bow our heads & silently accept it for good reason.

    My dream, like it or not, is to actually make sections that need attention more of the naughty words “a flow trail”. “A skatepark through the woods” are my intentions, and are not a bad thing. But on sections that should stay gnarly, we certainly will be all obliging to keep the gnarl!

    Hopefully we will all be at focf work parties, and will gladly take a sub-group to work on our beloved llmtn trail in the ways that we see fit, they are cool with that. We have the credentials, even if some of us are not top dog admin’s, we just show our dedication, perseverance & love for our most precious trail we have right now.

    Thankfully, the focf prez has said that a new gravity trail will be in our future ten year plan, we give thanks for this to solidify, and all of the workers that are needed & willing to come out and help in it’s solidification. llmtn trail has almost taken this long to come into it’s final “finesse” stages. Let’s come together, in spite of each other to show and prove, that Olympia is a damn good spot to throw some building & shred on our bitches...

    Love you guys, may the loam continue all across our hills. I’m fine with llmtn becoming tiger mtn, & may our other projects continue to feed the seed of joy all across the mountains of Olympia.