AORE Partner News Summer 2016 - Page 12

shift her weight up and down, and from inside to outside, to enhance momentum—a sensation similar to riding a pumptrack.

As these features become more pronounced, the trail tends to feel increasingly bike-specific, both in terms of aesthetics and ride qualities. A trail with high-bermed turns and frequent grade reversals that are big enough to launch fast-moving riders into the sky is recognizable to riders and non-riders alike as a bike-specific trail design. The most common term for this building style in mountain bike circles is “flow trail.”

Lifted and Tilted: If the desired outcome is a strongly bike-flavored trail, the emphasis will shift toward bigger features and more pronounced in-sloping. These “lifted and tilted” builds require lots of dirt to create the oversized features, and may require additional rockwork to contain the soil and ensure it stays in place.

It is entirely possible to create this type of trail with hand tools and human power. IMBA’s Trail Solutions professional trail building team has recently built trails in China and Mexico where power machinery was unsuitable, but skilled and strong human labor got the job done. However, there is no doubt that mechanized trail building equipment offers a timesaving advantage for flow trail construction.

The skill of machine operators, not the size of the equipment, has the most influence on the end result. While it is true that smaller machines may produce a narrower trail bed with more of a natural singletrack feel, it’s also true that bigger machines are often required for large-scale projects.

Finding the right location for this type of trail is an important consideration. As the angle of the side slope increases, the degree of “lifting” required—in other words, the amount of earthworks required to create big berms and jump-friendly grade reversals—increases substantially. The recently completed Paradise Royale trail in Northern California features segments where the side slopes range from 50- to 70-percent grades. Due to the steepness of the hillside, an enormous effort and massive amounts of soil were needed.