Other Great Indiana MTB Trails > Wapehani

Black Diamond

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Kevin M:
Let's talk about technical trail features (TTFs).

The larger, long-term context can be found in this thread about Wapehani's place in Bloomington's Journey to Platinum. The more immediate context is that someone got hurt on the jump (the ramp in the middle of the Tulip Loops). In fact, the rider didn't realize it was a jump. There's no threat of legal action, but we will be adding more signage to that features area. All of our new technical trail features (jump, skinny drop-off, ladder bridge, small tabletop) are already signed Black Diamond, and both the jump and the ladder bridge are behind additional Black Diamond signs at the forks preceding them.

The IMBA difficulty rating system is posted in the trail head kiosk. If you were to inspect any of the new features (and I would encourage even experienced riders to walk a new technical feature before riding it), you would find that they are built on the conservative side of Black Diamond. For example, the Tulip Jump is preceded by a narrow, cobbled tread apx 12 wide; the 4' wide deck rises to 26 above the tread over its 6' length, and riders will rise still higher to the apex of their jump. In other words: the lower limit of Black Diamond is still Black Diamond.  Most Difficult means Most Difficult. It means more risk. These spurs and TTFs are intended for expert riders and experienced riders looking to hone certain skills.

Our features will remain clustered in the middle of the Tulip Loops. Plans for further rerouting will focus on more sustainable singletrack and proper switchbacks. We will not be remaking Wapehani as a whole in the vein of the Tulip skills area (although as trees come down we may add log overs and trailside skinnies).

Features may seem like no dig deal to some users, a nuisance to others, and a challenge to still others. Until this crash, I have had only positive feedback about the TTFs. Perhaps this would be a good time for regular park users to weigh in on whether or not you expect a mountain bike park to provide such features, whether or not you use them, questions about safety, etc.

I'll open by saying that I'm re-thinking the little tabletop. Perhaps we could shave it down, move more material down there, and shape a set of rollers that would be more fun for more people.

What do you think?

heartland:
I'll throw my two cents in.

As a regular (2-3 times per week during the season) Wapehani rider, I love having the new features, though I am of course saddened that someone has been seriously hurt on them.

I'd consider myself an advanced-intermediate rider. Previous to the new features on the Tulip tree loops, I didn't find much in the park to be technically challenging. From that standpoint, I think that they add a lot to the park. I'm not very good at jumps yet, so I'm very glad that to know that there are features in the park that will challenge me and help me to become a more skilled rider. They make the park a more interesting place to ride, and will help serve the interests of a larger population of riders.

Increasing signage is a good idea for these features. However, I'd actually say that the entrance to the tail before the big jump could use more of a "qualifier" feature. The cobbled tread isn't that hard to ride, and I could pretty easily see a novice rider mistakenly going down it because it doesn't look hard. For comparison, I'm thinking of the entrances to Schooner Trace in BCSP here - thanks to those rocky entrances, there is no mistaking Schooner as anything but expert-level. Forcing riders to go over a large feature like a skinny or a tough log-over would help, more than signs, which can be ignored too easily, to ensure that only appropriately skilled riders venture down to the more advanced features.

Joe A:
I don't ride as much as I like, but I love to see the technical stuff. I too am saddened that someone go hurt. My skill level is pretty low. Low as in I don't like to get my bike on something that will hurt to fall off of  ;)  . But I have found a nice path around all the tough stuff, or find it easy to walk my bike through/over it. Wapahanin has lots of easy riding trails, but I always advise the ones I ride with to be aware of the trail level. The fact that it is a black trail doesn't mean it will all be black, so don't ride blind on the black trails, be aware and look out for the obstacles. As far as the jumps, I've done some of them. But I won't do them all. I like the technical things, whether to do myself, or watch others. So keep on building them.

matte1401:
I'm really sorry to hear about the rider who got hurt and wish them a fast recovery.
 
I'm intermediate skilled and use the park 1-2x per week.  I think the new jumps and drop off are a nice addition even though I'm not quite ready to take full advantage of them yet.  It gives something to aim for and makes the park more interesting. 
 
I thought the technical challenge of the new jump section were fairly obvious the first time I went through it, but I do agree with heartland that a "qualifier" feature at the top of that trail would be really good, and perhaps a larger sign so the danger is very clear.  As far as a qualifier, a tricky rock garden or a LARGE tree hopover that adds some emphasis to the black diamond signage would help. 
 
For the tabletop, the entry ramp is pretty steep and the length of the table is short, so I feel like either I'll launch over the entire ramp and slam down on the ground or not get any air at all.  If the entry ramp were a little shallower and the table top 2-3x as long I think it would be pretty sweet and safe so that you either land gently on the table top or on the exit ramp.  As an alternative, I think some pump track style turns and rollers would be a nice way to exit that section.  On that note, a full pump track, maybe in the flats on the NE section of that lake would also be cool.

Allen Edwards:
I personally don't  think skinnies and roll-overs are much fun to ride, but I know that lots of riders enjoy them.  And I think their addition has enhanced Wapehani overall and made it more fun for a lot of riders.  So I think continuing to build them is good for the park as a whole.  Especially if there are ride-arounds for those who don't want to use it.

I like the idea of having some rollers built, whether in the location Kevin mentioned or someplace else in the park.

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