Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Smelly Water Brigade (Trail Building Sunday 29th January)

After a ride on Saturday, it had become apparent that some of the pools in the switch-back bermed section half way along takeroo, were a somewhat well filled with water. Time to give the little petrol driven pump a work-out! Although tricky to get running, once started, the pump did a nice job. This gave plenty of entertainment for Jess, and although not a quick job, she patiently and carefully hosed everything in site with large quantities of dirty water! As can be seen from the picture, the pump certainly has plenty power.

The final step was to dredge the sumps, and remove all the smelly silt and rotting pine needles that make a very fragrant soup therein.

And we've also now decided that when we get a mini digger, it will also need a sump dredging attachment, and power take-off for a slurry pump. There's no such thing as too many toys....

Two of the four berms have had a drainage channel added, to hopefully provide a way out for the water, until we can get some assistance from a man and a machine. Time to talk nicely to our Forestry Commission man.


Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Rollers Ridden (Trail building)

Andrew was away skiing somewhere, like Andorra or Halifax - well, some place that's cold and different anyway. The weather here was cold and damp and windy so enthusiasm was fairly average although it picked up as the usual crew were joined by Emily, Lily and Matt and a new James (the vet). After last week’s digression to the Werewolf By-Pass, this week we were cracking on with finishing the Rollers. The Big Build Day a couple of weeks back had made a huge leap forward in surfacing the trail but there were still patches here and there that needed preparation and surfacing, while work on armouring the Rollers themselves continue.

Matt, Emily and Lily set to work on the final curve into the Rollers whilst James (the vet) joined Bruce on rock laying duties. By the end of the day, Martin and Petra's rock splitting activities had worn out the industrial drill - a sure indicator of the effort that has gone in.

We were joined by (new) Bruce and returnee Katie who joined Matt in trail prep on some damp patches right at the start of section. With Emily and Lily shovelling, Matt and me barrowing and Katie and Charlotte levelling, we got a couple of patches ready for wackering.

By then it was turning cold and VERY WINDY so with our great thanks for a job well done, Lily Emily and Matt headed off for a cup of tea.

And in a bellwether of real progress, we had our first test rides of some of the armoured rollers by Charlotte and (young) Phil. It's clear that we need to adjust the line on at least one to make it ride sweetly so we're still some weeks away from re-opening…


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Werewolf By-Pass ... the start (Trail building)

Avid readers of this blog (there must be some surely) may recall that some months ago I forecast that we were about to start work on the Werewolf Drops By-Pass, only to discover that we were in fact starting on the Rollers repair and improvements. So in another surprise about face, we turned up this Sunday to discover that the ground was frozen solid out in the open, and going to the pub or digging under the trees was the alternative. Sadly it turned out to be digging under the trees but with the cheerful thought that at long last we had a chance to make a start on an alternative to the famous if not notorious Werewolf Drops.

Many riders will no doubt complain that a by-pass isn't necessary and if you can't ride the Drops, well hard luck. We take a rather more practical view as the Drop is a well established choke point on weekends where less confident or skilful riders dismount and scramble down as best they can. This often leads to traffic jams of surprisingly large bunches of riders. By giving riders not ready for the Drop an alternative line, it leaves the main route free for others to ride through without interrupting the flow of the trail, so everyone wins.

The Landy was loaded with a fine array of digging tools and off we trekked into the woods. After the usual intense analysis and strategic debate regarding optimum trail placement, prompted by Rudolf and his chums having knocked down our original marker flags, everyone set to work clearing out the line and digging down to something vaguely firm. We've spent pretty much all of 2011 repairing and improving trail so it was a refreshing change to be carving out brand new trail once again. As always it was a surprise to see how quickly a recognizable line emerges, and how attractive it looks.

An advantage of working so close to the Drops was that we got to see how many issues it caused. (New) Bruce forecast 5 crashes but was awarded only 4.5 as one was a high speed involuntary dismount that left the rider still standing. There were several queues, including a major jam of twenty plus, all of which supported the view that the by-pass is necessary.

By the time we knocked off, the trail was nearly all cut out. Next we need to build a small crib wall to hold in the edge of a hairpin bend (or switchback as the Americans call them); apply a fair chunk of surfacing as the substrate is very sandy; insert a short run of boardwalk and probably a couple of rock steps. In fact by the time it's finished it may turn out to be a rather more fun ride than the Drops themselves.

Now wouldn't that be ironic….


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sounds like a winning Oscar speech… (Trail building - Big Build Day)

A big thank you to everyone who turned up on Sunday – a total of 38 volunteers helped turned several piles of material into a lovely smooth trail. Give this a few weeks to settle and it will turn into a rock hard surface similar to that of section 11 we reworked last year and hopefully last a little longer than the original trail surface. The Chase’s sand and gravel can’t cope with the popularity of our trails – many hundreds of tyres each weekend soon wears the surface away.

Also, thanks to the downhill boys for helping with slabbing the Rollers – Bob, Mick and Stu are seasoned experts when it comes to rock gardens. We just had to remind them not to be too extreme, after all you don’t see too many 8” downhill rigs on the Dog.

Another big thank you to Pauline and Derrick for feed the masses with jacket spuds and cake – the staple diet of a trail troll or pixie!

We’ll be back to this section over the coming weeks to dig a few more drainage sumps, finish the slabbing of the Rollers and completing the resurfacing. Please come along if you can – not only do you get to put something back into the trails you ride, there’s a free parking ticket valid for the whole day so why not ride afterwards …. we do.