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Trails Philosophy: Speed ?

Mutt

Monkey
Jun 14, 2003
284
8
Lost on Long Island
So I spent an afternoon at the Boons this week (thanks DirtyMaestro!) and was thinking a bit about this on the drive home.

Has anyone put any thought into the origins or practical differences of the different building philosophies, as it pertains to mid-line speed you encounter at different trails? I have more limited experience across lots of trails, but have experienced some good spots which I will use as an example to hopefully illustrate what the hell I am talking about.

Now I know that everyone rides differently, and different setups will cause a set of trails to feel/run differently, but my setup is pretty consistent and my riding progression is reasonably flat, so I would think these spots (highly north east biased) would be comparable. They are all downhill trails, but to different extents.

Panamoka: pump = yes ; brake check = no ; pull back = mellow ; case risk = high ; overshoot risk = low

Keyko: pump = some ; brake check = some ; pull back = mellow ; case risk = med ; overshoot risk = med

Boons: pump = no ; brake check = yes ; pull back = on some ; case risk = low ; overshoot risk = high
Catty: pump = no ; brake check = some ; pull back = roast ; case risk = low ; overshoot risk = high

.... thoughts? clarifications?

One thought is that it is a function of a) your total elevation change and b) how big/high you want your sets to be
 

OffCamber

Monkey
May 27, 2005
405
6
Loxahatchee, Fl
Being older and my BMX trails days behind me. I prefer pump, pull with longer, more drawn out landers. I can control the speed better and not fear dropping out of the sky overshooting a lander. I like things spread out a little more also, with the 26" wheels. I don't know any of those locations, nor do I think I could ride them but just some thoughts from a 47 y/o who still likes a little flow. I do understand the thought process though.
 

Mutt

Monkey
Jun 14, 2003
284
8
Lost on Long Island
I'm with you on those points. And they are sort of key differences you see between mature and less-experienced trail diggers.

The four spots I mention (because thats all I really know) are all dialed spots, ~10 years running with seasoned diggers and riders.

So my assumption is that the design/flow differences are intentional and represent their particular philosophy on how they want their trails to be. And I am curious to better understand those philosophies.
 

OffCamber

Monkey
May 27, 2005
405
6
Loxahatchee, Fl
I do think that trails are "Individual" but sometimes in the early stages of building (within a few years) things need to be added or taken away. Small flat pump roller between a lander and the next lip that is just a little to spread out or shaving or steepening a lip to make the landing more usable. These things tend to work themselves out over time. It's a lot easier to make minor tweaks, than to move the complete jump. this i what make them individual.
 

Cru Jones

Turbo Monkey
Sep 2, 2006
3,032
2
Hell Track
Yeah, every place is different. Hard to say which is best, it's really just preference, but ideally, it should "flow" well... you shouldn't have to do anything crazy to make it through the line.

Our trails (Koala) are kind of unique in that we kept increasing the speed that you have going into the line... so everything has been made taller and steeper and more tech over the years. Right now they are about 7 foot tall lips with 10-12 foot landings.... California booters! Each bowl gets deeper, essentially making it slightly downhill. To hit the line right, with tons of boost, you have to have a lot of speed going in, pull up hard on everything, and land within inches of the top of the landing to get enough speed for the next. It can be tricky... usually only the locals can really boost them. But, you can still "push through" the line if you don't get it just right.

You can really see the differences in boost during some of the trains...

 
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Mutt

Monkey
Jun 14, 2003
284
8
Lost on Long Island
Right, yes, agreed. But I'm trying to drive at a slightly different point than we are hitting here.

My belief (subject to being way wrong) is that the diggers over time achieve the feel they want from their trails (as suggested by OffCamber) and so the way a set of mature trails rides is entirely intentional.

I'd like to suggest that the four sets of trails mentioned are in fact mature; that they ride exactly the way the diggers want them to; and that they do ride differently. --see below videos for highlights our trails, keyko and catty, and then a recent boons vid in next post --


If those assertions are correct, it suggests to me that there is some fundamental, underlying design principle (aka philosophy) that the diggers of each spot are following over time to achieve the feel they want. And to me, that feel comes down to speed/pump/roast-iness. They are all woodsy trails with berms, rollers, skippers through booters, and funky sets/features that don't fit the normal mold (my favorite bits right there). So its not as though there is some creativity/style difference.

For example:
panamoka : founding differs came from heavy racing background - lots of pump and speed dependence where you might have to work for it
boondocks : more open community driven trails - forgiving on speed so more people can ride, but have to brake check or roast to not over-shoot
catty : trail veterans who want to roast and 'go-big' without having to work for it - grip it and rip it, or brake check
keyko : more private, small crew, personal interest spot - a mix of lines with different speed dependencies

but in the end, these thoughts are BS since I'm making it up rather than asking the crews (even mine). I was curious if anyone ever really thought about their trails and motivations towards a particular speed style were.....

maybe i think to F'ing much..... :D
 

Mutt

Monkey
Jun 14, 2003
284
8
Lost on Long Island
So Cru, your a digger. And what you are saying sounds very familiar, that is how panamoka is. its big+techy.

Maybe this style comes more from diggers/riders who are progressing? ride it one year; get to know it; make it bigger/faster the next year.
 

Cru Jones

Turbo Monkey
Sep 2, 2006
3,032
2
Hell Track
So Cru, your a digger. And what you are saying sounds very familiar, that is how panamoka is. its big+techy.

Maybe this style comes more from diggers/riders who are progressing? ride it one year; get to know it; make it bigger/faster the next year.
Yeah, I think so. I think in general, you start out with an idea of how it should be, then you start tweaking things once it gets established. You're right in that some diggers have different riding styles/ideas on how the jumps should flow. I come from a bmx racing background, so I have always been one to build jumps where you have to pump and work for it just a bit. I have been on trails built by guys without a racing (or even a trails) background. These jumps tend to be much easier to overshoot. However, they can still be fun and are actually better for doing tricks sometimes because you don't have to be so precise. I think the trade off to that is that you don't get as much air as when you have to land perfect and pump.

But, yeah, I think our style comes from riding the line so much, that you pretty much always land perfect near the top of the landing on the first jump. So, if you land perfect and pump, you should land perfect on the next, so you build the next to be steep enough/big enough so that you land perfect... and so on and so on.

One thing I've noticed about trails like this is that it can really be tricky to get down the timing of the pump. I see a lot of guys struggle with our jumps until they get the timing of the pump ingrained in their muscle memory.
 

pnj

Turbo Monkey till the fat lady sings
Aug 14, 2002
4,697
40
seattle
IMO, if you have to use your brakes, the jumps aren't built correctly.
 

Mutt

Monkey
Jun 14, 2003
284
8
Lost on Long Island
agreed. the way we build, you could practically ghost ride your bike ride right down the roll in and have it just ride itself thru the line if it were able to balance long enough...
haHA! now we are getting some where. three people agreeing on no brake checking, but my guess is that WCHucker's trails would probably need some brake checking by folks from Cru's trails (or ours).

There is no way you could ride through our trails by the ghost ride philosophy you have WCHucker, pumping is necessary. Not saying its right or wrong, but different.

That gets to the core of thing IMO. Your philosophy is to build lines where the required speed is just there, no worries, and if you go faster, you roast.

Ours, and maybe similar to Cru's, is that you have to pump and be pretty spot on with a landing to get through the line nicely, or at all.

At boons I brake check because I am used to ripping, pumping, or eeking out extra speed on everything rather than just chilling through a line by habit.

Now I think the catty philosophy is that you don't have to work for speed, but you don't mellow your way over sets, you need to be pulling back...

I guess my thought is that if I understood these underpinning build approaches better, I would have an easier time stepping up at other peoples trails because I could more systematically adjust my riding approach/style.
 

WestCoastHucker

Turbo Monkey
..WCHucker's trails would probably need some brake checking by folks from Cru's trails...
we are the same crew...

i guess i may have over simplified things, but my opinion still stands. our lips are built to put you on the right place on the landers. which are built to give you the right speed for the next lip. which are built to put you on the right place on the lander. which is built to.... i think you get the idea...

sure there is pumping going on. but isn't there always? realistically, the harder you pump, the higher you boost...

(edit:
...That gets to the core of thing IMO. Your philosophy is to build lines where the required speed is just there, no worries, and if you go faster, you roast.
in retrospect, this is exactly in line with my last statement)
 
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dump

Turbo Monkey
Oct 12, 2001
6,217
1,135
Cool discussion, but before we go any further a little lingo check please. To roast is to ...
 

Mutt

Monkey
Jun 14, 2003
284
8
Lost on Long Island
we are the same crew...
Yep, Dump, roast would be ye ol' going disproportionately or unnecessarily high on a given set :D

And, well, there goes my logic, straight down the drain hole. Cru and WCH are same trails/crew.

But it does highlight part of what I've been thinking about..

Cru : 'you have to pump and work for it just a bit'

WCH : 'you could practically ghost ride your bike ride right down the roll in and have it just ride itself thru the line'

I would not expect these two statements to apply to the same trails.

An alternative thought then is that a set of trails actually does run differently for different people and that it comes down to the individuals style and history of riding, and their setup. Then the persons internal perspective on how those trails are supposed to feel/run guides their digging. You could then end up with consistency across multiple lines and multiple diggers because of individually unique, yet practically comparable, personal philosophies. And not because of a truly shared/common philosophy on how the trails should run.

aka, if you and I both ride the same line in an apparently similar way, I go easy on pump but pull back a lot, you pump hard but just go with the lips, and we were to dig a new set at the end of the line..... we would each be thinking of different riding philosophies/approaches but end up building a set that worked within the context of the line....


...another hypothesis is that it is really a desired feeling rather than any conscious set of thoughts that governs the whole damn thing.
 

WestCoastHucker

Turbo Monkey
...a set of trails actually does run differently for different people and that it comes down to the individuals style and history of riding, and their setup. Then the persons internal perspective on how those trails are supposed to feel/run guides their digging. You could then end up with consistency across multiple lines and multiple diggers because of individually unique, yet practically comparable, personal philosophies. And not because of a truly shared/common philosophy on how the trails should run...
i don't there could be anything more truthful and spot on about how a set of trails are built. personally, i think this is the best answer giver for your original question...
 
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seth505

Monkey
Jun 9, 2006
521
0
CA
Yeah, every place is different. Hard to say which is best, it's really just preference, but ideally, it should "flow" well... you shouldn't have to do anything crazy to make it through the line.

Our trails (Koala) are kind of unique in that we kept increasing the speed that you have going into the line... so everything has been made taller and steeper and more tech over the years. Right now they are about 7 foot tall lips with 10-12 foot landings.... California booters! Each bowl gets deeper, essentially making it slightly downhill. To hit the line right, with tons of boost, you have to have a lot of speed going in, pull up hard on everything, and land within inches of the top of the landing to get enough speed for the next. It can be tricky... usually only the locals can really boost them. But, you can still "push through" the line if you don't get it just right.

You can really see the differences in boost during some of the trains...

Those look frickin sweet. Good work