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This Might Be a Bit Ambitious

I have wanted to build a Real Mountain Bike Trail on my property for a long time. I’ve built some little things here and there, and this spring I’ve made quite a few little short trails for my kids, though I enjoy them too. But the real challenge would be going The Distance, all the way to the far end of our land. It’s not like it’s miles away, but it’s about 200 vertical feet through the woods, over a straight distance of about 700 feet. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but trying to not go straight down means going hundreds of feet across the hill before turning back.

I do have some existing sections of trail, and some of it would go out into a clearing now where some logging took place, but by and large, it’s going to be a switchbacked trail across a steep-ish hill. I’ve walked the land many times, and I’ve looked for places that are somewhat not-steep as places to put the switchbacks. And I’ve hunted out areas with a natural bench of sorts, so I don’t have to cut into the hill with a bench cut the entire length.

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And yet, it’s probably overly ambitious anyway.

Those are 40 foot contours by the way. It is steep.
Those are 40 foot contours by the way. It is steep.
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Illustration for article titled This Might Be a Bit Ambitious

It’s .62 miles long the way I walked it tonight (assuming some error in that), and of the 13 switchbacks, only two are legitimately easy to manage, only one currently even exists, and of the remaining eleven, I would say at least 3 are going to be nearly impossible to put in a reasonable place, with a nice wide radius, and also not be practically vertical. There are just too few not-steep areas on this hill. Not to mention cutting a trail of over half a mile, when my free time consists of 15-20 minute stretches most days, it’s not great.

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Of course I could make a trail to get down this hill, hell, I could ride my bike down right now if I wanted to, okay, maybe with a little branch clearing. But I want to be able to ride UP this trail, too. That’s the real challenge.

But hey. A little bit at a time, perhaps. There are some long stretches that exist already, namely, two of the three longer crosses. There’s a pretty easy section (in terms of building) at the bottom. But that’s about it. There are some serious obstacles, a LOT of sidehill requiring labor-intensive bench cutting, and a lot of decisions to make in terms of “how impossible can I make these switchbacks and not hate this trail after putting in tons of work?”

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Good thing I’ve got some time on my hands.

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