Trail Building Fun

I’ve changed things up a bit! For the time being I’ve redirected most of my riding time, normally 3 to 4 hours to trail building around our place. I’ve gotten in a bit of riding as well but most of the time has been spent raking, clipping and mowing a new woodland trail. Funny, I’d not at been planning to do this, it just sort of happened. Once the thought occurred to me that I might put in some trails I just went with it and once I started in on the work the enthusiasm took over. 4 days later and I’m pretty happy with the progress. Thus far the trail, which starts with an older trail my brother-in-law Greg put in 10 years ago, contains about a one mile loop with a longer option to my parents’ place. If I take the longer ride to my parents the loop is about 1.6 miles.

I’ve got quite a bit more to do to finish the planned route along our property lines but I’m in no rush. Much of that will be fresh path building through some thick stuff so it will take some time. I’ve also got a lot of older paths made by Greg that just need some maintenance. All in all, should end up with about 3 to 4 miles of paths.

The thinking behind all this (as much as there was any actual thinking involved) is that it would be nice to have a riding experience other than my current 35 mile route on the roads and gravel. While I love those rides they are shaped and changed by the county maintenance schedule and practices. It makes sense (I think) to spend some time and effort to better utilize our own land and get to know it better. I’ll keep my impact to a minimum which is to say that the paths are not going to be very wide. For most of the trail I’ll have a width enough for two people to walk abreast. Some segments may be more narrow. I’ll let them evolve a bit based on how they’re being used. My hope is that family will use them and I can adjust based on usage.

A bit about the path/trail building process. I try to take a minimal approach with the intent of minimal impact. I use a rake, limb clippers and my mower. I’ve got a general route planned and primarily let the land guide me based on the density of growth. I move forward based on tree/brush density choose it the path based on least growth. Common sense probably, just looking for the easiest path forward. I rake some of the leaves and fallen branches then use the clippers to remove branches that reach over the path and small trees in the path. Then run the mower. Repeat. It’s great exercise. I’m averaging about 4 to 5 hours a day working on them trail and the result is already rideable.

Over the past few months I’ve been riding 3 to 4 hours, 35 miles, on the county roads and I plan to transition much of that riding time to these trails just looping around. I’ll end up with fewer daily miles because trail riding speed will be more like 4 to 6 mph rather than my usual 12 average. But ride time will be the same. With daily 3 hour rides I suspect that I’ll have the new trails pretty well packed in just a couple weeks. In just the 4 days of building and preliminary test rides they are already starting to look like used trails. There’s something so comforting and reassuring about a well used woodland trail. These trails have the added element of being on family land and so almost feel like a kind of gardening.

Last, a few thoughts about electric bikes and trail riding. My niece has been visiting for the past couple weeks and having a good time riding the Lectric XP. The last couple days she’s been riding it on the trails and having a blast. I’ve been riding the Rad Rover and it is indeed great fun on the trails. That said it feels somewhat out of place on hilly, tight turns where riding is 4 to 8 mph as compared to the more stretched out pavement and gravel rides where the speeds are 10 to 18 mph and often 20 . The Rover, at 75 lbs, feels much better suited when it’s cruising and allowed to stretch out a bit. To put it another way, I then I the Rover is better suited to the wider, lazy turns that are common with trails built for 4-wheelers or motor cycles. It’s meant for cruising for distance. As far as these two electric bikes go I think the XP is better suited to these trails as it’s tighter and and more nimble. It’s a bit rougher as it only has the 20” wheels but these trails are fairly smooth and will be more so when they are done. Which brings me to…

Enter the pedal only, non-electric fat bike. It’s been on my mind for a month or two that I’d like to have a “regular”, non-powered mountain or fat bike. After a couple weeks of research I ended up ordering another fat bike. This will be sized between the Rover and the XP as it has the same size wheels as the Rover but a much smaller frame. At about 36 lbs and a stand over height about 3 inches less than the Rover I think it will be much better suited for trail riding. It will be here later today, I’ll post photos and a review soon.