What makes a good XC trail?

stiffstiff Posts: 46
edited February 2008 in Routes
I'm doing a geography Dissertation, at Durham University, and I am researching into the factors that make the ideal location for a mountainbike trail.
I would love some oppinions on what you see as important to a good trail?
E.g distance, height of highest point of climb, ratio of climb: Downhill, and nature of terrain.

All oppinions welcome.

Secondly, what are people's oppinion of Glentress, Kielder, Hamsterley, and Newcastleton? Are they good trails? if so, Why?

I really want to make this a good dissertation so your help would be amazing.
x

Posts

  • Try MTB North East - everyone there rides those trails so should be able to help.

    I've personally only ridden Hamsterley from your list and I found it disapointing - far too much fire road and not enough singletrack / technical trail. Also what technical trail is available is not that well maintained. There are some new sections that have just been added / are due to be added, but to be honest I'd feel cheated if I travelled any real distance to ride there.

    My thoughts on what makes a good trail are :

    - flow (ie sections / features that naturally link together
    - good use of terrain - I'd rather have a long section that undulates up and down and you have to keep peddaling throughout, than a straight downhill as fast as possible
    - climbs I'd rather be switchbacks than a straight haul up a fireroad (in fact fireroad should be kept to an absolute minimum) and a few technical, challnging climbs should be thrown in.
    - variety, lots of options to mix and match - not everyone has the same skill level / tastes so the option to mix up routes can make a trail appeal to a wider audienceand help keep it fresh.

    I'm sure there is more, but that's the main ones I can think of now.[/list]
  • krs1krs1 Posts: 6
    ditto the above although i dont mind fire roads if they help penetrate the countryside.

    i would also add that sceney is a good plus. ive ridden some excellent trails but a semi urban or bland backdrop takes away the good flavour a little.
  • stiffstiff Posts: 46
    Guys your replies are excelent, very grateful.
    Keep them coming people, so far so good, I'm really liking the quality of your oppinions.
    :D
    x
  • stiffstiff Posts: 46
    Oh yeah,
    also, even if you haven't experienced the trails that I mentioned, you are still very welcome to comment.
    I want to know what the general oppinion is on the ideal (XC) trail.
    Particularly if there is something like an optimum length/height.
    e.g. Is it "the longer the better" or is there a case for "too long is just TOO long"?
    x
  • FSR_XCFSR_XC Posts: 2,258
    Crispy5449 wrote:
    My thoughts on what makes a good trail are :

    - flow (ie sections / features that naturally link together
    - good use of terrain - I'd rather have a long section that undulates up and down and you have to keep peddaling throughout, than a straight downhill as fast as possible
    - climbs I'd rather be switchbacks than a straight haul up a fireroad (in fact fireroad should be kept to an absolute minimum) and a few technical, challnging climbs should be thrown in.
    - variety, lots of options to mix and match - not everyone has the same skill level / tastes so the option to mix up routes can make a trail appeal to a wider audienceand help keep it fresh.

    I'm sure there is more, but that's the main ones I can think of now.

    Ditto.
    Stumpjumper FSR 09/10 Pro Carbon, Genesis Vapour CX20 ('17)Carbon, Rose Xeon CW3000 '14, Raleigh R50

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  • I think most people will agree with Crispy5449

    One of my favourite man-made trails is Whytes Level at Afan, South Wales. It is a 7km climb up undulating singletrack that makes good use of switchbacks to take you up the steep side of the mountain. You then get some lovely swoopy sections at the top to really let rip and enjoy yourself. Finally, the decent, while not quite as good as the Skyline decent nearby, is still great on the grin factor - challenging enough for more experienced riders to take the harder lines faster, but still do-able for the slightly less experienced in your group. It's not too long either - at 15km, you can easily combine it with another ride in the area. The cafe at the end is also a great finish to the ride.

    When I am just out exploring, I try to find routes that are undulating, with some fun areas where possible. If I see a bridleway going through some woodland, it will often be worth exploring, especially if it is on a hillside. My mate tells me that we are paying into the bank of gravity, so climbing usually leads to some fun swoopiness.

    The benefit of fireroads, is that they can get you to and from the best bits of trail.

    To answer your question about distance, height of highest point of climb, ratio of climb: Downhill, and nature of terrain. Well, you are going to have to climb as much as you decend to get back to the same point anyway - if the climbing can be broken up and intersperced with swoopy bits, then so much the better, but as long as the climbing is interesting and technically challenging while not beeing so hard as to split your group too much, it's going to be a winner. As for the highest point of the climb, well, that really depends on the person - I find that when I get over 1500m, I need to take more drugs to manage my asthma.

    If you can get yourself over to Wales, Coed y Brenin, and nearby Machynlleth have some cracking trails, and Afan is stunning too. I haven't been to Keilder for quite a few years, it was all fire road when I was last there, so can't really comment on that, and haven't yet got to the other trails you mentionned (I'm hoping to get to Glentress this year sometime).

    Good luck.
  • stiffstiff Posts: 46
    A stunning reply Hootess,
    I'm really grateful for that.

    I especially like your emphasis on the idea that a climb is like investing in the Bank of Gravity, as long as its made interesting and fun by using the undulating nature of the contours.

    Initially I have been focusing on the quality/length of the downhill, but people's thoughts on making the climb as fun as possible seem as, if not more, important.
    This will be taken into massive consideration.

    Hootess: I intend to get down to Wales at Easter, luckily I live in south west Worcestershire, so its all very accessible. I'm fairly blessed: Uni in the North East (Kielder, Glentress etc), and home on the Welsh Borders. Kielder is really quite good these days, they've been very clever in making the most of the hills, where the climb is really undulating, full of switchbacks, and equals the pleasure of the descent. Glentress is a bit more of a slog, but perhaps some of the best DH in Britain.
    x
  • krs1krs1 Posts: 6
    i like to call it "gradient storage" and "gradient release" :wink:
  • krs1 wrote:
    i like to call it "gradient storage" and "gradient release" :wink:

    lol, that's great, I may have to use that and pretend I made it up :lol:
  • AdamPAdamP Posts: 105
    Are you sure you don't work for Essex County Council or the Olympics people?

    Sounds like what they are asking right now?

    :D
    Trek 8500 w/ Singlespeed Conversion - http://www.pinkbike.com/photo/1697041/
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  • might be worth reading MBUK's regular article `Trailmaster`. Guy with long hair goes out and samples the trails, but not only does he outline the goods and the bads of the trail (which seems to talk a lot about bacon butties at the trail centres these days :s) he's a trail builder himself so he'll talk about whether the trail is sustainable for the landscape and why it is or isn't.

    Goin by this guy, each trail has to go on its merits but he'll explain what said merits are
    Train hard, ride easy
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