Last weekend while on a walk with my wife Robbie in the Carelton College Lower Arb, I explained to her the mostly negative reaction thus far (see the great discussion thus far in the MORC forum here) to my suggestion that we need more recreational double-track flow trails to more effectively introduce mountain biking to more beginners (item #2 in my blog post, 5 ways to make mountain biking more attractive to beginners).
I also told her about IMBA’s Trail Level Difficulty Rating Sysem (White, Green, Blue, Black) and how B-lines are often added to a singletrack trail to offer additional optional challenges to riders. We happened to be walking on a wide XC ski trail trail and she asked, “Wouldn’t it work to add some Green level B-lines to a White trail like this one we’re on?” Um, gee Honey, that might be a good idea.
So Sunday morning I spent two hours clipping branches and raking out a bunch of multiple Green B-lines adjacent to a White trail that goes through the river bottoms of Sechler Park in Northfield near where volunteers from CROCT marked out an intermediate demo trail two weeks ago.
But rather than creating just one B-line through this section, I created multiple lines with varying levels of ‘easy’ to allow riders to pick which lines are most suited to their ability level. These lines don’t provide any flow (we’re not yet authorized to dig here) but they do provide (all optional) right and left off-cambers, tight turns, small ups and downs, proximity to trees, and a small logover, all on a surface (packed silt) that is fairly forgiving.
The multiple lines packed into a small area like this would likely be confusing to a beginner who encounters them for the first time on their own. So at some point I’ll need to experiment with how to make the options more obvious with creating a forest of ugly signs.
I plan to have a few people who are new to mountain biking ride the Green B-lines next week when it dries out and maybe create a video of them riding it. In the meantime, the crudely marked-up photos above will hopefully give an indication of what the experiment is about.
This approach would seem to be far cheaper than constructing a new double-track flow trail. And if successful, it might be worth experimenting with it along a paved bike trail.