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Author Topic: Black Diamond  (Read 8782 times)

Kevin M

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Black Diamond
« on: September 03, 2012, 07:32:10 PM »
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

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2012, 08:00:48 PM »
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

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2012, 01:15:51 PM »
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

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2012, 01:45:44 PM »
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

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2012, 04:18:33 PM »
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.

meech

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 08:14:18 PM »
Where is the Tulip loop?

Kevin M

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 09:53:50 AM »
The Tuliptree Loops are west of the lot, east of the hwy, south of the apts, and north of the lake.  The new TTF's are concentrated near the middle of that area.  There is a fair amount of legacy cobblestone tread in certain corridors.


The trail system is still under revision, and the skills area will feel more contained when the remaining segments are finally cut in.


Thanks for all the feedback.  Keep it coming. 


Based on what I've heard so far, I'll be installing some kind of qualifier at the fork (plenty of big logs and limestone rubble nearby) and reshaping the tabletop into rollers.  In fact, that would be a good project for Thursday evening.  (I've heard from volunteers that Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons fit best into peoples' schedules.)  I'll work out the wavelength and amplitude and get everything staked out Thursday morning if there are some volunteers who can commit to moving material Thursday afternoon/evening.


And about the rider: he sustained a mild concussion and is moving slowly due to taking a hard fall, but he's back at work and so far as I know is recovering just fine.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2012, 10:00:44 AM by Kevin M »

tmac

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2012, 10:43:58 AM »
I love technical bits; so for me - the more the better ;D
 
My preferences tend to run more towards technical sections similar to the creek crossing and the little, steep, rooty climb on the other side of the cul-de-sac. But I can get with drops and jumps too ;)
 
Addition of some more difficult switchbacks, rock gardens, etc. would be cool.
 
I'll be out to help move dirt Thursday evening.

Inept_MTBer

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2012, 11:07:51 AM »
First of all, I like the idea of a more tech-y and difficult trail in one area, and as bad as I feel for the person who was hurt on the features let's all remember two things.

  • Being a mountain biker means you will fall, and sometimes the falls will hurt pretty badly. Either accept it and learn to fall in a damage-minimizing fashion, or find a different hobby to dump ridiculous amounts of money and time into.
  • By taking that loop and riding on those obstacles, any rider basiclly implies that they're aware of the risks and willingly take them
Beyond that I'm guessing the best way to ensure that people get the idea that tulip loop is black diamond is to stick extra-large black diamond placards at either end with warnings. Other than that unless we feel like investing in a big neon sign at the parking lot that says "look here!", I don't see what else could be done as far as covering for liability within any reasonable measure.

As far as tech features goes, not to cross-pollinate but if anybody else has been up to Rangeline perhaps that could be a good gold-mine of ideas. I for one find the skills park up there endlessly entertaining, the see-saws, skinnies, stump routes. It's simple fun and highly addictive.


Another thing I would suggest is maybe using some of the old "ruins" to good effect. I enjoy riding over the low walls of the old camp features, sort of gives the trail a unique quality of old things being re purposed in new ways, so maybe that's something else to consider.
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tydohaga

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2012, 05:55:20 PM »
The table-top jump is dangerous because it isn't big enough.


You carry way too much speed into it after successfully hitting the first two features. You have to slow down before taking off to land on the down-ramp.


Take it out or build it up to the correct dimensions.

Kevin M

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2012, 09:47:38 AM »
First thing's first: I've built up a small rock feature as a filter/qualifier for the cobbled run-up to the ramp and added some signage.  Riders have to pass through two Carsonite posts with Most Difficult decals, and then ride past a sign that says "Jump Ahead."  Even then, riders can still bail on the jump (provided that they're in control of their speed) by rolling through the woodchipped fall zone to the left of the ramp.

Thanks to Matt (and son!) and Sean for helping moving dirt on Thursday.  We shaved the tabletop down to a roller and roughed out a second roller.  I added more material yesterday, but it's still not finished. 

Yes, tydohaga, sometimes you have to slow down (and from the tire feedback that I've seen the last couple weeks, most people were either slowing down to roll the tabletop or taking the ride around).  Thanks for your input, although as you can see we were already at work converting the feature by the time you posted.  The original dimensions were determined by the usual 1:3 ratio of height to length.  Going bigger was never an option; lessening the ramp angle, per Matt's suggestion, might have been an option had there been stronger interest in the feature.  As you seem to be a regular park user, I hope you'll come out and volunteer sometime (although we won't be building any ).

@Inept: That's a good reminder about learning how to fall.  And no offense to Rangeline, but Parks doesn't want to turn Wapehani into a freeride park.  As I said in an earlier post, there are no plans to fill Wapehani with features.  We do use some of the old limestone rubble from the Scout Camp buildings (and mortaring in the rock skinny is another fall project for a volunteer work day...), but we also want to leave a lot of that alone as historical texture.  We have some more bridges and boardwalks to build, and a lot of bench cutting ahead.

@ Matt: When you say the flats NE of the lake, do you mean the meadow area (actually more like early successional forest at this point, but it used to be a meadow)?  I think ecologically and hydrologically, it's not the best place.  I would love to see a pump track/dirt jump park in Bloomington, but IMHO it should be a stand-alone facility separate from Wapehani.  We're just out of space at the park (and as this thread shows, we can't make Wapehani everything to all users).  Even if we acquire some of the private property to the east, we would have to clear really wide corridors in the forest. 

I've said it before: if there are riders, whether mtb or bmx, who want to see a facility like that in town, you're going to have to get organized.  And keep in mind that the City is in austerity mode.  Parks and Rec is being tasked with maintaining more facilities with fewer resources, so convincing the department to take on yet another facility (a risky one, at that) isn't going to be easy.  For that reason, it probably would be easier to attach a pump track to Wapehani.  Now, if CBU does in fact demolish the dam in 2014, we'll have both more space and a lot of material and machinery on site...

Again, thanks everyone for your feedback.  I know that there are lot more people who use the park than just those who post here, and I hope some of those riders will jump in or get involved in some of the larger work days that we'll have this fall.

For the remainder of the season, we'll be getting back to our original focus: sustainable trails. 





Inept_MTBer

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2012, 01:04:29 PM »
First thing's first: I've built up a small rock feature as a filter/qualifier for the cobbled run-up to the ramp and added some signage.  Riders have to pass through two Carsonite posts with Most Difficult decals, and then ride past a sign that says "Jump Ahead."  Even then, riders can still bail on the jump (provided that they're in control of their speed) by rolling through the woodchipped fall zone to the left of the ramp.

Thanks to Matt (and son!) and Sean for helping moving dirt on Thursday.  We shaved the tabletop down to a roller and roughed out a second roller.  I added more material yesterday, but it's still not finished. 

Yes, tydohaga, sometimes you have to slow down (and from the tire feedback that I've seen the last couple weeks, most people were either slowing down to roll the tabletop or taking the ride around).  Thanks for your input, although as you can see we were already at work converting the feature by the time you posted.  The original dimensions were determined by the usual 1:3 ratio of height to length.  Going bigger was never an option; lessening the ramp angle, per Matt's suggestion, might have been an option had there been stronger interest in the feature.  As you seem to be a regular park user, I hope you'll come out and volunteer sometime (although we won't be building any ).

@Inept: That's a good reminder about learning how to fall.  And no offense to Rangeline, but Parks doesn't want to turn Wapehani into a freeride park.  As I said in an earlier post, there are no plans to fill Wapehani with features.  We do use some of the old limestone rubble from the Scout Camp buildings (and mortaring in the rock skinny is another fall project for a volunteer work day...), but we also want to leave a lot of that alone as historical texture.  We have some more bridges and boardwalks to build, and a lot of bench cutting ahead.
That's good news, because as I keep saying the layout of Wapehani plays to it's greatest strength: adaptability.

The key failing with Rangeline is that as fun as the park is and as free-ridy as the expert course is there's no real good way to build into it, and the other two loops are fun enough but (and this is my own opinion here) not enough to warrant a drive on their own from my residence should I not feel like risking life and limb on the enormous features.

What I have noticed is that you folks that maintain and improve Wapehani have inherrited the Brown County proclivity of maximizing the terrain that you have. Every time I ride Wapehani there's a built-up berm in a new place or a re-graded and worked-over trail, armoring, plenty of stuff.

So in the end the tech stuff is fun and I'd like to see it stay, but I'm with you on not littering the entire park with tech. Once in awhile on the longer trails is fun and all (especially that skinny on the south side), and maybe there could be a smaller feature per "sector", but overall the tech-heavy section adds to what I've always enjoyed and promoted about Wapehani: overall it's a choose-your-own-adventure park, which makes it pretty unique in the midwest.
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matte1401

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2012, 02:04:52 PM »
When you say the flats NE of the lake, do you mean the meadow area (actually more like early successional forest at this point, but it used to be a meadow)?  I think ecologically and hydrologically, it's not the best place.  I would love to see a pump track/dirt jump park in Bloomington, but IMHO it should be a stand-alone facility separate from Wapehani.  We're just out of space at the park (and as this thread shows, we can't make Wapehani everything to all users).  Even if we acquire some of the private property to the east, we would have to clear really wide corridors in the forest. 

...it probably would be easier to attach a pump track to Wapehani.  Now, if CBU does in fact demolish the dam in 2014, we'll have both more space and a lot of material and machinery on site... 

Thanks for the good comments Kevin.  Yes, I was thinking about that meadow (aka new forest) for a pump track but understand the ecological perspective.  That was about the only flat spot in the current park that I could think of.  Perhaps with the lake going away, or fields being acquired as part of the property, there would be some place to locate it in the future.  I do think it would be VERY fun area for the younger riders, and a great way for experienced riders to safely build skills. 

matte1401

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2012, 09:55:34 AM »
Kevin - 
 
Assuming this is the thread where you're collecting new project ideas(?), I think there a few spots where the flow and fun could really be improved with banking built into the turns: 
 
* On the off-camber turn on the far NW side of the park.  You have to slow waay down, even going uphill.  I think that would really improve the flow around that section.
 
* There's a banked turn already built that's located just south of that off-camber turn but the banking ends early and it ends in gravel and in thick undergrowth so you can't really take advantage of the banking to rail the corner. 
 
* Going CW, on the same trail, after a bunch of turns and right before you get to the first rock skinny, there is a tight, gravelly and slightly off-camber corner that would be improved with banking.
 
If those turn into future projects, I'm glad to help wheelbarrow the dirt all the way in there!

Joe A

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Re: Black Diamond
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 08:41:26 AM »
Hey, I was out there yesterday morning. I would love to take the big jump, but not sure me or my bike could take it.  :o  But I swept around it, a little tight, and passed on the second jump as well,  ::)  (hey, I hadn't hurt myself, so why start now) then took the woops! What a neat run. I thought the warning signs were great. Should be no suprise to anyone what is about to present itself to you. I also took a look at the tall berm being built, looks like fun. I may not be crazy, I mean man enough, to do all the stunts, but I'm anxious to see someone else do it. I love the berms, rocks, and fallen trees with the cut outs, this place ROCKS! May I suggest building a teter-totter in one of the flat areas to ride over. Love the new stuff! Keep up the good work!

 

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