North Park Ride Report (2009-2011)

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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby PTAG » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:13 pm

Trail erosion is based on science. Riding muddy and soggy trails damages them. Some of the trails in North Park are still not in that great of shape for riding. For example, there are now locations that are very rutted by mountain bikes that were not in that condition this past summer and fall. As riders try to avoid the mud spots, they widen the trail, and it holds more water leading to even larger mud holes. This is happening on North Ridge and West Ridge. The good news is that it can be fixed!

The public generally has a right to use trails regardless of conditions, but we are all part of a larger riding community and the actions of a few riders reflect on us a whole. If you want to ride muddy trails, at the very least contribute to their repair by attending work days or, even better, the IMBA TCC visit scheduled for April 23 through 25 in North Park. There will be instruction on trail care given by the TCC for freeride and cross-country trails. More details will be published soon.

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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby ryandunba29r » Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:16 pm

i was gonna hit NP today, how are they?

We could always go to hartwood, i hear they've dried out a lot.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Gregg3333 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:21 pm

NP is in really good shape actually. Just rode it today (Wed.). Not sure of the spots ptag is talking about, there only about 3 bad spots on all of N. Ridge. And those 3 spots will always be wet in the spring, no way around that fact.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Shred303 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:59 pm

PTAG wrote:Trail erosion is based on science. Riding muddy and soggy trails damages them.


If you look at the old horse trails around North Park you see some pretty ugly trails. They are bermmed, entrenched, eroded and generally built in areas that drain poorly. When it rains they are a mess and it's generally an ugly situation. I'm sure they probably didn't start out this way but they didn't need any help from horses, hikers or mountain bikers to reach their current state. Mother nature does this sort of thing with or without our help. What we see is the result of a poorly designed and unmaintained trail. So why blame and beat up on our fellow mountain bikers. It causes derision and that works against our greater goal of building better and better maintained trails.

Here's what I have to say, (and I know this is not your opinion DB). If you think the trails would be perfect only if people stayed off them when they were wet I would tell you, you are out of your tree and that's not opinion.

I'm not saying moutain biking doesn't have an impact and riding when it's wet doesn't have a greater impact but I think we are misdirecting our energies when we try and call people out on this. I would say this, instead of hatin, let's direct our energies at building trails that drain better, dry faster and are more fun to ride and this is exacly what PTAG has set out to do. There is some good stuff that's going to be happening at North Park. It's pretty exciting.
-Dave S.

Instead of looking for fast rolling tires, you should try some fast pedaling legs. -DP
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Intense1 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:13 am

Perhaps we should pave them... Maybe some sort of blacktop?
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Gregg3333 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:38 am

And some guardrails
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby ryandunba29r » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:53 am

the loop by pie traynor was good, we did that and went down by the sand pits. very little mud.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby robert t » Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:41 am

rode Pie Traynor loop,(10 1/2 miles) Wed,all good except
long down hill out by old ski lift.
Huge tree across the trail at least 3' diameter
very low (crawl under) you can't climb over or go around.
every thing else was Great!
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Deluxe » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:24 am

I am not sure of the gist of some of the more sardonic posts contained herein, but I presume that it is somehow taken as divisive to ask riders to use discretion before considering whether to ride a wet, sloppy trail? I fail to see how it is "misdirected energy" to ask riders to use discretion when deciding whether to ride such trails. That is better defined as "advocacy."

The view that the trail is the only thing being damaged is also constricted. Damaging an already eroded trail has causal effects off of the trail. Expecting us/PTAG to ignore any of those variables for fear of alienating a few riders asks the spurious. We are not just a group limited to riders, but as mostly riders, we still need to consider the effect we may have to the left and right of that 18 inch piece of track. There are other stakeholders involved not only with the trails, but with the land, forest, and adajacent streams. There is plenty of data to suggest that overuse, by bikes (or what have you), of consistently wet or bad trails can harm the land in ways that we can't readily observe. This is hard science and hardly rises to the level of disparaging mountain bikers.

No one (PTAG) is asking anyone to stop riding completely when it is wet. That is simply an unreasonable request and not what the PTAG message said. But denying that bikes don't cause damage, or that there are less than a handful of terribly damaged locations along both sides of North Ridge, is misleading. A request to reconsider riding sloppy trails is wholly reasonable and this forum is appropriate for just such a purpose.

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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Shred303 » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:52 am

I say this with all all sincerity

Regarding science, I have made several careful observations regarding wet trail use, one of which you probably have observed and possibly was made reference to.

I observed several mountain bikers (one being myself) riding through Frick on the east side of the park near the the tennis court parking lots. This would be approximately March of 2008. The trails were extremely wet. Our tires sank close to the rim, approximately an inch into the mud. Later that month approximately 3 weeks later traveling those trails I observed no evidence that mountain bikes had ever ridden there. The trail had settled and leveled out and the trail was so smooth as if a steam roller had leveled and flattened the tread. My careful observations were extremely inconsistent with claims I have seen that say riding in the spring does terrible damage to trails and should absolutely be avoided. It has lead me to believe that much of this talk was either merely opinion or the existing science possibly did not translate well to our terrain and soil consistency. My impression is that a majority of this research has been done in western states and this certainly could be the case.

It's not that I have never observed mountain biking impact:

The summer of 2009 I causally observed tread marks and shallow ruts (less than 1/2 inch) imprinted in the 'walking' trails around the swimming pool. In this case it seemed summer time use in wet conditions had a more noticeable impact.

Another observation I have made, it seems that trails with poor drainage and wet spots widen naturally. When puddles fill, they loosen the soil on the edges. Each subsequent rain makes them wider. I'm not sure that attributing the widened areas solely or mainly to trail use during wet conditions is fair or accurate.

I understand there are many stake holders and many who are very passionate about the trails and this sport. It is not my intention to thwart or frustate someone who has devoted their hard work towards the trail and if there are specific problems you are seeing I think we as a group are generally on board with you and want to help remedy it.
-Dave S.

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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby pratt » Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:55 am

If you ride a well designed, dry trail there is little to no erosion, if you ride a wet trail you displace dirt and cause erosion....it's a simple as that. every time you see an imprint of your tire, you've done damage, no matter the material underneath you. most likely the reason you didn't see evidence of your tracks later that month is that all the ridges and bumps you made in the trail, eroded away an left a smooth surface. not to mention all the dirt that attached to your bike and you took away from the trail, depositing it somewhere else along the trail, the road, the parking lot, the sewer system once your bike was cleaned...etc.

am I saying don't ride wet? no
I am saying don't try and concoct some fantasy land in you mind where riding on muddy trails doesn't damage the trail.

and....when trails are wet, limit your riding to surfaces that are less apt to be damaged through your use, and when there are opportunities make sure you go back to the trails and maintain them.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Gregg3333 » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:12 am

Interesting debate.

Let me make a few points:

If you truly don't want to impact the trails, then don't ride. Period. You must accept that if you ride (or hike, or horseback) then you will impact the trails. When and how you use the trails will effect how much you impact the trails. But in the end, by using the trails you are contributing some form of impact. If interested, you should read some of what Reinhold Messner wrote years ago, that to keep wilderness truly wilderness, we need to ban people from entering the wilderness.

Do all trail users contribute to erosion? Yes. But let's put it in perspective. Two days of solid rain will damage the trails far worse than five to ten years of mountain biking. I could cite many examples, but the one that comes to mind is Apollo. There was a section of trail completely decimated by rainstorms (the section high up on a ridge where you get that great view of the valley). Just a couple of days of rain did what riders didn't do in all of their years of riding. We are nothing when it comes to the effects of nature.

Put things into perspective. The damage we trail users do is small in comparison to what nature does, and to what man does. Just look at the impact that the dredging of the lake is doing. In the long run, the dredging is necessary to keep the lake, but it's impact is far greater than what we do on the trails.

Hypocrisy. We're all hypocrites. We talk a good game, but we've all seen the reality. We've been on rides after rain storms when we shouldn't have been. We've done the Punk Enduro and caused a lot of damage, but somehow that's okay because they're motorcycle trails? (Don't get me wrong, I'm riding it again next year, I accept the fact that I'm a hypocrite) We've done Month of Mud races after rain storms. We've all ridden around sections of mud and added to the widening of trails. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So what do we do? I guess we just try to lessen the impact of our sport. Give back and help maintain trails when we can. But we cannot act as if this is a black and white issue, when it's shades of gray.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Shred303 » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:04 pm

pratt wrote:am I saying don't ride wet? no I am saying don't try and concoct some fantasy land in you mind where riding on muddy trails doesn't damage the trail.

Well I guess all the mud fairys picked up the sediment and flew away with it making the trail smooth again. Here I thought it had something to do with clay, water and soil elaticity, thanks for clearing that up.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Deluxe » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:49 am

Gregg: thank you. Again, the original point of the PTAG post was try other options when the trails are inundated and come out to give back, as Gregg put it. I am not sure we are all hypocrites though if we acknowledge our impact and try our best to minimize it and repair it.

On a ride report note (tree limb maintenance ride Sunday), yes the Red w/ Blue dot is in great shape, but solid Red is a terrible muddy mess. We will be sending the IMBA TCC over there along with the Scouts who have some projects planned.

I have heard the nature center is draining well but is covered with debris. Only two major trees down (bottom of solid red behind new dog park and the climb up to the pool behind the County sign shop). Calls are in for chain saw work, but our good fellow Schmiddy is still healing from his tree accident.

All in all, as Gregg mentioned, it seems the single track is doing well (a testament to well built trails?), but the bridle paths are being churned and chewed up by bikes and they remain terribly soggy. Drop a line if there are other major trail blockages that need attention.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby pghmtb » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:08 am

I'll admit it. I've done damage to the trails by riding my bike! I know I have, without a doubt. I've also learned to reduce that impact by choosing where and what trails I ride and what conditions that I ride under. I work on the trails to make them better, so that I will be able to ride them when conditions aren't dry. They are getting better due to the all the hard work that has been put in.

The trails just need a little love.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby ewalter » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:42 pm

Just as another datapoint here... This month's issue of Outside Magazine had an article on the mountain bike ban in federal wilderness areas.
http://outside.away.com/outside/culture ... e-ban.html

From the article:
A 2006 study by the National Park Service concluded that "Horse and ATV trails are significantly more degraded than hiking and biking trails...[T]he proportion of trails with severe erosion...is 24% for ATV trails, 9% for horse trails, 1.4% for hiking trails and 0.6% for bike trails."

So yes, biking damages trails but apparently any kind of usage damages them. Obviously this article doesn't detail usage patterns etc which would seem relevant to this discussion. It seems that our impact is minimal (relatively speaking) though.

Anyone have access to the primary source here (the 2006 Park Service study)?

-Ed Walter

<edit>
Here's the primary source:
http://www.imba.com:8080/resources/scie ... report.pdf
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Deluxe » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:20 pm

That is a commonly cited study. Just be aware though that unlike most national parks, the trails in North Park are used primarily by mountain bikers; horseback riding has become increasingly less frequent in North Park over the years. The information that PTAG has collected through surveys reveals that mountain biking is now the largest trail activity in North Park. There are also no ATV trails in North Park.

What concerns me about this study though is that mountain bikers consistently hail it as conclusive evidence that we do very little damage to the trails. That is exactly not what this study represents. Mountain bikes were studied on a 1.91 mile section of well-built single track. The study, however, impugns not only the potential of horses and ATVs to degrade a path because of their mechanics or behavior, but also equally as troublesome is the poor design, maintenance and management of paths used for those activities. The impact would be lessened by a properly built trail.

The situation in North Park is much different. Mountain bikers are using miles and miles of poorly designed and maintained horse path, and that situation is not studied in this survey.

What the study does represent though (and this is crucial) is that well-built and maintained trails in general lessen our environmental impact while permitting us the ability to connect with our natural resources. Mountain bikers should hail this this study not as a license to further erode already muddy paths, but rather to promote sound trail design and construction. This is an area in which IMBA, and thus the mountain community as a whole, leads. IMBA and PTAG understood this long ago which is why we have made so many inroads with the county park land managers and why mountain bikers nationwide lead the way as some of the best land stewards around. We can cover a lot of ground, and we can care for it too. Horseback riders still see themselves as sort of nobility (although they are beginning to support the trails here more frequently) when it comes to use of the trails, and the ATV culture could care less about their impact on the land.

The North Ridge bypass (old an new sections) is an excellent example of paths designed by mountain bikers, and used frequently by bikers, that exhibit little erosion. On the other hand, the North Ridge bridle path is an example of a terribly designed trail that just gets pummeled by mountain bikes and horses alike.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Deluxe » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:03 pm

dry...like a bone.
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby brungeman » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:11 pm

Deluxe wrote:dry...like a bone.

speak for yourself!

these girls arent old dried up ladies!
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Re: North Park Ride Report

Postby Deluxe » Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:01 am

Trails rippin dry!

Check out Dr. J trail ASAP. It is stunning. Can't thank these guys enough for the sweat, blood, and time away from family they have put into this effort. Thanks to their families for being so accomodating. These guys are changing the face of riding in North Park, mayhaps Western PA, forever. This is truly a historic undertaking.
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