Tuesday, May 31, 2011

IMBA Trail Solutions

I've been working more and more on the local trails. I've learned a lot from different crew members, but I wanted a good book on the subject.

The most popular book seems to be IMBA's Trail Solutions. IMBA is the International Mountain Bicycling Association. They seem to be all about sustainable trails.

I just received my copy of this book today and I'm looking forward to studying up!

Schlumpf Maintenance

It is commonly known amongst Schlumpf hub owners that their crank arms will loosen fairly quickly over time. It's been a few months since I last checked mine, and sure enough they needed tightening.
It's recommended to torque them to 25-35 ft-lbs. I aimed for 30, but worked my way up from about 15. I'm always nervous about over-torquing. I was surprised to find I was actively tightening at about 20 ft-lbs. I had even used blue loctite in the past. It clearly did not hold.

For any Schlumpf owners who may stumble upon this post, I recommend you push the back of your wrench with one hand to keep the hex socket seated well while you tighten. I've rounded one of the Schlumpf bolts in the past.

I also added another 2.5 ml of grease to my Schlumpf. It naturally leaks some out over time, and it felt like it was time.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Another Whiting Inspection

Last night we had a big thunderstorm, adding more water to the already muddy Whiting Road Nature Preserve.
I decided to hike the trail again this morning and document the water issues. This time I took a picture of every single issue and landmark.
Later I added annotated the pictures and added them to my GPS trip on EveryTrail.com. Although my camera does not have a GPS feature, EveryTrail is able to place them on its map based on the time stamp. After using the time offset feature on EveryTrail.com, the images fell into place fairly well.

Seeing the map and slideshow together works better at the EveryTrail site. Click the link to see that:

Whiting Blue Trail Water Issues - 2011-05-30

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bay Park West Trail Work

This morning I joined the trail crew at Bay Park West. We spent over three hours at the trails. A few of the crew members worked on some armoring before a bridge, and the rest of worked on benching a hill.

It's amazing how a hillside that you can hardly walk on becomes a manageable trail.
There were about 12 of us working and the amount of work done was impressive.
I gotta bring a camera next time. Update: I got some images capture by a fellow worker. See below.

Riding muni at BPW is difficult due to the never-ending hills, but I'm still looking forward to heading there when things are dry enough. It's very close.
I'm crossing my fingers for no rain for the next 24 hours. Maybe I'll try to ride there tomorrow.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Family Ride

For the first time I rode with the entire family with me on my uni.

We rode in the area neighborhoods, about 4.4 miles. But the fun part about it is that I'm not slowing us down, thanks to my geared hub.

My average speed was 8.8 mph, and my top speed was 12.6 mph. I even had to slow down several times for the slow poke... who will remain nameless. Good thing she wasn't on her unicycle. Wait, have I said too much? ;-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Inspecting Blue Trail Water Issues at Whiting

The blue trail at Whiting has some serious water and mud issues. I had mentioned these problems to the Tryon crew, and Frank offered to walk through the trail with me and analyze the situation. He's a trail manager who leads many of the work days at Tryon and Bay Park West.

Tonight we walked the trail and looked at the sections with issues.

We came to the conclusion that Whiting is a different animal than Tryon or Bay Park West. In those parks, there is so much elevation change that any standing water can typically be convinced to move. Digging a trench, de-berming, and pitching the trail can be used to shed the water. But at Whiting, there aren't as many opportunities for those techniques.

Looking back at my notes, Frank and I decided that at least part of the solution to the majority of problem areas was to add material. These sections are simply lower than their surroundings, so raising them is the only solution, aside from rerouting the trail. Building the trails up has already been done in much of Whiting. I've heard some of the long-time trail crew talk about it, and it's obvious in places. Sometimes there's four inches of standing water on both sides of the crushed rock trail. It's impressive how much material was brought in.

There were a few locations that could have been improved by de-berming and adding a pitch to the trail.

There were also a few hills that the water flows down. Although there isn't enough water flow to cause severe erosion, those section do seem to be wet. They also feed the water problems at the hill bottoms. To prevent this, having several pitch changes periodically down the hill would encourage water to the side, instead of continuing to the bottom.

Much of the trail was too muddy to actually work on. But I saw a few places that I had worked on at a previous Friends of Webster Trails work day. Some of the fixes helped keep water off the trail, but others were not doing as much good as I had hoped. Those were in very muddy sections that are still holding the water like a sponge. Once those areas dry up, the dirt can be raked and grading can be done to fix the problems for the next rains.

There were many places that had standing water at the side of the trail. Peering through the surrounding vegetation, I could see the water goes on for a ways. It makes we wonder if there is opportunity further within the overgrowth to drain the water to another area. Some exploration may be in order.

Frank and I took some pictures along the way. I also took notes, and recorded our hike with GPS. I hope to find the time to put all this information together so I can keep track of the trail conditions over time.
For now, here are the photos:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Road Ride With Kyle and Ben

Needing some exercise, I got Kyle and his friend Ben to ride their bikes with me through some neighborhood streets.
I rode in high gear the whole way, cruising along. They rode their BMX bikes and we matched speeds well.
4.5 miles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Tryon Trail Work

This evening I attended another Tryon trail work meetup. There were about 10 of us working for a few hours. We blazed some trails (marked trees with paint), raked some leaf covered trails, armored a few wet sections (placed flat rocks), and did some general trail fixes.

Generally the conditions at Tryon are great. I want to get out there and ride soon!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ridiculous Mud

It's was rainy all last week, but this weekend started out perfect. Saturday was picture perfect, but I had household obligations and decided it was good to let the trails dry up some anyway.
So I saved my riding for this morning and went to Whiting and Webster Park.
I quickly discovered the trails are in the worse state I've ever seen them.
Places that tended to be greasy were now muddy. Places that tended to be muddy are now lakes.

It's clear that bad sections get worse if the rain keeps coming. But the problem is not the rain alone. The muddy areas have gotten so abused over the past month from people using the trails. Wet areas have become pits from boots and bikes. Those pits now hold water better than ever. They grow in size, becoming harder to avoid, get more traffic, and then get pitted even more. It's a vicious circle.

Temporary fixes may be possible to drain the standing water from these areas, but that still leaves a lot of water trapped in the mud. Unless these areas are left alone and are allowed to dry out, they will always be a problem. Once mostly dry, these areas can be graded to avoid the problems in the future. Though I noticed some previously "fixed" areas were having problems because the areas to the side of the trail could not hold enough water.

Many areas at Whiting and Webster Park have no grade, leaving them susceptible to water problems.

I rode my usual 6 mile loop.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2011-05-22

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tryon and Bay Park West Trail Maps

Here's the latest trail map for Tryon Park:

And for Bay Park West:

These were made by the county.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Another Afternoon Ride

Since rain is forecast for the next few days, I took a few hours off from work this afternoon and rode again at Whiting and Webster Park.
I felt like I was still recovering a bit from my ride a few days ago, but I was still stronger. Though maybe not as strong as I have been. I'm a bit amazed that I once rode three six mile laps there once.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2011-05-12

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More Tryon Trail Work

Tonight was another Tryon trail work night. I worked with the crew to bench some sections of a new trail that will replace an existing unsustainable one.

Benching means we cut the trail into a hillside. Here's an illustration:

Hopefully this new trail will be fun for me. But there are some significant climbs throughout it, at least on a unicycle. I think I could climb them if I was rested, but at Tryon one hill comes after the other. So I'm always winded unless I actually stop for a rest, which I never like to do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Afternoon Muni at Whiting

I took a few hours off from work and rode at Whiting and Webster Park today.
It's my first muni ride since being sick for weeks. I felt pretty good, but a little out of shape.

I did my usual 6 mile loop, and decided to try some more. But about 10 minutes into it I started to feel pretty weak. Being in the middle of the orange trail, I pushed on, but ended up stopping for a rest. I ate a Power Bar and chilled for about five minutes. I also ran out of water there. I should have filled my CamelBak more, but I tend to try to bring only what I'll need to avoid carrying the extra weight. I felt better after the rest and moved on. My attempts to climb the two remaining hills were pathetic. My legs just didn't want to work, but I made it to the car without any real problems.

I really enjoyed my Schlumpf hub today. I was really hauling through some areas. Downshifting is still causing me more problems than upshifting. I may adjust that shift button to stick out a bit more.

It was a good start to the real riding season!

I rode about 8 miles. According to my cycle computer, my average speed was 5.7 mph, and max speed was 11.3.

Muni at Whiting and Webster Park - 2011-05-11

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Whiting Trail Work

This morning I worked for three hours at the Whiting Road trails with the Friends of Webster Trails. The group worked on a variety of tasks throughout Whiting and in the Webster Park corridor to the Midnight Trail.

Most of the work had something to do with addressing water issues. That's very understandable considering how much rain we've gotten so far this spring.

I worked on the blue trail and some of the yellow trying to allow areas of standing water to drain off. Some of the sustainable trail methods I've learned from the Tryon and Bay Park West work days helped me. But some muddy places on the trail didn't seem to have a quick fix. If both sides of the trail are at the same level as the trail itself, where do you direct any water? In cases like that, it seems the trail was simply built in the wrong place. Maybe a bridge or a dry well could be used in the future, but for now, the sun will have to dry it up.

One of the other projects was starting to develop a new trail off the red trail. That sounds cool.

I didn't get a chance to see much of the work that was done, other than my own. I look forward to seeing it all next time I ride there.

After this weekend of no rain (fingers crossed), I hope the trails will all be dry enough to ride.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tryon Trail Work

Tonight I attended the Tryon Park Wednesday night trail work meeting.

We spend about an hour and a half walking the trails and breaking down berms on the low side of trails, where water tends to collect. The water creates mud, and when hikers and bikers walk through it, berms are inevitably created on the low side of the trail. More water can then collect and the problem grows.

We broke down the berms and creating a channel or knick for the water to flow out.

It was good to get out after being sick for a while. Now if it will just stop raining!