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Thread: KT is getting smaller...

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Wow, that's a bummer. Does anyone know why the owners pulled the plug?

    "The question, inevitably, on everyone’s mind now is, why? The Kingdom Trails Association did not disclose the landowners’ reasons for revoking bike access."

    Linked in that sentence was Trio Of Darling Hill Landowners Won’t Allow KTA Mountain Bikers | News | caledonianrecord.com

    Also a good reminder, "These trails, and others, shouldn’t be taken for granted. They’re the result of countless hours of hard work, the generosity of others, and the often delicate co-existence of visitors and long-time residents in such communities."
    Trod Harland, Physical Educator

    Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring. -- Desmond Tutu

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    This Paceline thread has mentions of rumors that some MTBers hassled the landowners. The rumors are sadly plausible, IMO.
    Kingdom Trail Landowners banning Cyclists from KTA properties - The Paceline Forum
     

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Hopefully this will be a wakeup call to the rest of the Northeast that progressive, feature-rich machine built trail has value.
    It's so stupifylingly annoying how many NEMBA chapters are more like NIMBY chapters.

    It's a problem all over the east coast- "engaged" mountain bikers who actively talk shit on KT. They seem to want to keep trails... bad, or at least "hand built by volunteers".

    You can build a network like the Kingdom almost anywhere, and do it for half a million dollars over the course of a few years.
    Knoxville, TN realized that about 5 years ago, and they've been employing Knight Ide(principal KT architect) and crew the last winters to build and AMAZING feature-rich network in the middle of the city.

    It's painfull how NIMBY the "mtb advocate" community mostly is. I'm sure the Kingdom can sort their issues out, and I sure hope they do, but hopefully losing access to Darling Hill for a season or two will light some fires across the rest of the Northeast to start hiring professional trail builders to make great trails like that much closer to where people live!

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by suspectdevice View Post
    Hopefully this will be a wakeup call to the rest of the Northeast that progressive, feature-rich machine built trail has value.
    It's so stupifylingly annoying how many NEMBA chapters are more like NIMBY chapters.

    It's a problem all over the east coast- "engaged" mountain bikers who actively talk shit on KT. They seem to want to keep trails... bad, or at least "hand built by volunteers".

    You can build a network like the Kingdom almost anywhere, and do it for half a million dollars over the course of a few years.
    Knoxville, TN realized that about 5 years ago, and they've been employing Knight Ide(principal KT architect) and crew the last winters to build and AMAZING feature-rich network in the middle of the city.

    It's painfull how NIMBY the "mtb advocate" community mostly is. I'm sure the Kingdom can sort their issues out, and I sure hope they do, but hopefully losing access to Darling Hill for a season or two will light some fires across the rest of the Northeast to start hiring professional trail builders to make great trails like that much closer to where people live!
    Asking out of ignorance...
    Can you add a little more info for those of us (perhaps it is just me) that don't understand the general issue(s) that you are referring to.

    Are "feature-rich machine built trail" those trails that have man-made obstacles, berms, bridges, etc that are constructed over/around natural terrain? Versus the natural rocks, roots, mud holes, etc that are either there or develop as a piece of earth becomes a trail?

    Is it common that mtb advocates don't want other riders on their trails?

    Is the idea that rather than having mtb destinations away from population that mtb destinations are created where there is a higher density of people?

    Again, asking out of ignorance. While I was heavily involved in the mtb race scene from 1980s-2000, including racing/riding at Kingdom Trails when they first opened, I have not been following what has taken place over the last 20 years. During that period of time we just rode our bikes in the woods and perhaps come across snow machine bridges.
    Brian McLaughlin

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bewheels View Post
    Asking out of ignorance...
    Can you add a little more info for those of us (perhaps it is just me) that don't understand the general issue(s) that you are referring to.

    Are "feature-rich machine built trail" those trails that have man-made obstacles, berms, bridges, etc that are constructed over/around natural terrain? Versus the natural rocks, roots, mud holes, etc that are either there or develop as a piece of earth becomes a trail?

    Is it common that mtb advocates don't want other riders on their trails?

    Is the idea that rather than having mtb destinations away from population that mtb destinations are created where there is a higher density of people?

    Again, asking out of ignorance. While I was heavily involved in the mtb race scene from 1980s-2000, including racing/riding at Kingdom Trails when they first opened, I have not been following what has taken place over the last 20 years. During that period of time we just rode our bikes in the woods and perhaps come across snow machine bridges.
    KT has sorta been a flashpoint the last few years in friendly and sometimes heated arguments between mtb advocates/skills coaches/trailbuilders all over the East Coast. I spent about 400 hours building modern trails this year, so I definitely have an opinion.

    Ever since the Walton's started pouring money into trailbuilding(they have spent more than $10,000,000 on the trails near Bentonville over the last 5ish years) the ranks of professional trailbuilders in the USA has expanded rapidly(from about 20 firms to about 200 firms). The "trail lab" concept, of high-quality directional bike-optimized singletrack, or "trail centres" as they call it in the UK seems to make some long time mountainbikers (i've heard them derisively termed Ridge Riders)angry. These are people who think that too many people are already mountainbiking, that we "can't maintain the trails we already have" and that new people aren't "worthy" of peak experiences until they've been through years and years of suffering to get peak level fitness, etc. These are advocates for 1990's style best practices(featurless stacked roots to "maximize milage"). Bikes have changed, the sport has changed, and new people can have fun on modern bikes immediately on modern bike-optimized trail.

    Some people are perfectly happy to ride 70 year old CCC trails or singletrack built by moto riders in the 70's(looking at you, most of New England); the newer ethos of mountainbiking could maybe described as "smiles not miles", and involves building trails that are dense with features that can be sessioned over and over with minimal elevation loss/gain. Green trails with blue options, blue trails with black options, etc.

    The modern 5" trail bike is absolutely perfect for this style of trail. Insloped corners(berms) and rolling grade reversals(jumps) are amazing ways to manage water on a trail and to reduce damage by increased ridership- but lots of mtb advocates who grew up with the sport are in their 50's/60's/70's at this point, and still run flat bars and bar ends on bikes that have the same geometry as gravel bikes, so even when they travel to a place with modern trails, they don't quite "get it". Highposting with a 110mm stem can be enhanced on a feature rich trail, but it's not the same kind of exponential gain in shreddability you can get with a modern bike with the seat out of the way. Where I'm based (Roanoke, VA area) we built two small modern trail centers this spring, and now we have packs and packs of 11 year old kids on 24" wheels who are comfortable hitting the 30 foot gap jumps we left as Easter Eggs for them to find in 6 months they became better technical bike riders than their parents. We have lots of new riders who use the trails that we've built- but the "core" of the existing mtb scene is mostly Ridge Riders, many of whom no longer even OWN mountainbikes and now do all their riding on gravel bikes with dropper posts. Nothing wrong with a 5000' day of climbing in the national forest that is primarily fire roads or ridgeline singletrack- but modern mountainbikes suck for that stuff. Have fun riding fire roads all day on a single ring!

    The "traditional" ways of riding mountain bikes involved finding routes built for other sports and other activities. Modernity means professionally designed and machine built trail that has as many features as possible packed in... berms, jumps, drops, etc. and at least some of the network is directional and bike-only. A good trail designer today has an eye for "natural" features and access to a skid steer and mini excavator or two to speed up the build process and shift significantly more dirt in 3 days than a volunteer hand crew can move in a year. Machine work is really the only effective way to fix drainage issues in the back country, and I'll be damned if a modern trail builder won't use that opportunity to add some features to a man-camp built trail. But some "advocates" FLIP THEIR LIDS about professionals doing what they are paid to do(improve drainage). Our friends at Nature Trails did 3 big projects in Pisgah this summer on behalf of Pisgah SORBA and were flabbergasted how negative some of the locals were... "Don't turn Pisgah into KT!", they heard it all the time! "I'll drive 16 hours to Vermont if I want to ride a berm".

    Modern trail organisations partner with their local trail building companies and work in tandem to identify new places for trail, and more and more, what we are looking for is parks with ~30 acres and very moderate elevation drop. You can build your own version of the now closed-to-bikes sections of the KT much closer to where you live, you just need to want it!

    IMBA's current hashtag campaign sums it up nicely #moretrailsclosetohome
    I have so many friends that make a living off the mountainbiking in the Kingdom- and they almost all moved there to be part of that economy. That's the wake up call.

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by suspectdevice View Post
    KT has sorta been a flashpoint the last few years in friendly and sometimes heated arguments between mtb advocates/skills coaches/trailbuilders all over the East Coast. I spent about 400 hours building modern trails this year, so I definitely have an opinion.

    Ever since the Walton's started pouring money into trailbuilding(they have spent more than $10,000,000 on the trails near Bentonville over the last 5ish years) the ranks of professional trailbuilders in the USA has expanded rapidly(from about 20 firms to about 200 firms). The "trail lab" concept, of high-quality directional bike-optimized singletrack, or "trail centres" as they call it in the UK seems to make some long time mountainbikers (i've heard them derisively termed Ridge Riders)angry. These are people who think that too many people are already mountainbiking, that we "can't maintain the trails we already have" and that new people aren't "worthy" of peak experiences until they've been through years and years of suffering to get peak level fitness, etc. These are advocates for 1990's style best practices(featurless stacked roots to "maximize milage"). Bikes have changed, the sport has changed, and new people can have fun on modern bikes immediately on modern bike-optimized trail.

    Some people are perfectly happy to ride 70 year old CCC trails or singletrack built by moto riders in the 70's(looking at you, most of New England); the newer ethos of mountainbiking could maybe described as "smiles not miles", and involves building trails that are dense with features that can be sessioned over and over with minimal elevation loss/gain. Green trails with blue options, blue trails with black options, etc.

    <...snip for space...>
    Thank you for the additional information. Very helpful.
    Brian McLaughlin

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by suspectdevice View Post
    - but modern mountainbikes suck for that stuff.
    That's because the "modern mountain bike" truly sucks as a bicycle.
    Will Neide (pronounced Nighty, like the thing worn to bed)

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Neide View Post
    That's because the "modern mountain bike" truly sucks as a bicycle.
    Yeah, it's hard to argue with that, but "non-modern" mountain bikes truly suck for what mountainbiking is now. You can't put a genie back into a bottle.

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by suspectdevice View Post
    Yeah, it's hard to argue with that, but "non-modern" mountain bikes truly suck for what mountainbiking is now. You can't put a genie back into a bottle.
    One other aspect of these differences and what MTB has become that I was thinking about, in light of this thread, is the emotional/human aspect of trails and trail-building. Given how hard-fought advocacy has been for some groups, I can understand old-school riders really sticking up for hand-built trails by volunteers. There's a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into some of these things, then not to mention the memories people make actually out riding them. This is not at all to say machine-built trails are bad, but I don't think it's unreasonable to say there's a difference, or even that something is lost. I could see how money, trail-building firms, and Bobcats might not necessarily make a community, but I'd bet dollars to donuts on shovels and beers. (I have also participated in some trail work at a place where communites are rolling their own with bobcats and stuff, which was cool, too. I'm not making a value judgment on either way, just an observation. Also, I've only been riding dirt the past eight or nine years so I have a limited view and not much room to talk as a ratio of my shovel time.
     

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    From what I understand, KT has gotten really popular really fast. Something like 50% increase in riders between 2016-2018. With that increase in traffic there's been some growing pains in addition to some festering complaints/interactions with landowners and mountain bikers. Education goes a long way and constantly reminding riders to respect the trail and fellow users should always be a priority. The fact that it came to landowners pulling out and taking the KT staff by surprise from what I understand, well, that's unfortunate. Hopefully they mend those fissures and can educate their rider base better about respecting the shared use nature of the system if that was indeed the case.

    One of the realities here in the Northeast that is not exclusive to KT is that many of the local trail systems are largely on private land by landowner permission/easement protected land. Many of the networks that are on public land tend to be multi-use. The network right down the street from me is largely all on private land and easement protected land of which I bump into equestrians, hikers and hunters with some frequency. With that permission comes a lot of responsibilty and respect not only from the trail builders/upkeepers, but also from any of the riders using those networks. That partnership between the builders and landowners is what makes a place like KT work and it most certainly is what makes the trail system right down the street work really well. As soon as that trust and respect breaks down, everyone in the mountain biking community who uses those trails suffers the consequences. So if you are from out of state or not from the immediate Northeast, and you're here riding, understand you're most likely riding on a lot of private land by permission. You never know who you're going to bump into and in all likelyhood, you'll bump into one of the landowners. I feel it's kind of an unwritten rule never, and I mean never, to get mouthy with another user who's sharing the trail. Always be respectful and courteous and treat others how you'd wish to be treated. You never know who they are nor who they know. If someone accosted me on my land which I was giving in-kind permission? I can't even begin to imagine what I'd think or feel.

    Machine Built vs Non-Machine Built Trails: That's a tough one. They both have their place. Whether machine built or not, that's not the problem at KT. It's disrespectful mountain biker mouthing off to landowner who's allowing permission to use their land. Plain and simple. That's just downright rude. The machine built trail scenerio vs traditional hand built trails, we're also talking about different styles of riding too. The stuff up in Highland Mountain Bike Park? That's just different riding than say what's being developed up in North Conway. I'd argue that as trail building has progressed, so have the techniques used to build them which still involves a lot of volunteers and hand work. Also the education of how to properly construct trails has really grown/progressed. I for one don't want to ride on exclusively machine built trails packed into a relatively small amount of acreage. However, I also think there's a place for those trails and for those riders that enjoy them, more power to them! There's also a place for tight, technical hand built "backcountry" trails too on much larger tracts of land using up to date trail building techniques whether it's built by professional trail builders or largely volunteer locals who are stoked on mountain biking and expanding their trail network. Both have their place and that's the wonderful part of mountain biking.
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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Neide View Post
    That's because the "modern mountain bike" truly sucks as a bicycle.
    Why's that?

    I happen to really enjoy my "modern mountain bikes" that are made of plastic and have 6" of suspension travel. I also enjoy rigid singlespeeding, and my steel hardtail with a 4" fork and 72* head angle.
     

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    How does liability work for these big trail networks that are built on private land? If I owned a lot of land, I wouldn't mind mountain bikers using some of it, but I wouldn't want to be on the hook for medical bills if someone crashes. Is there some sort of communal insurance or other organization that assumes liability?
     

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by prototoast View Post
    How does liability work for these big trail networks that are built on private land? If I owned a lot of land, I wouldn't mind mountain bikers using some of it, but I wouldn't want to be on the hook for medical bills if someone crashes. Is there some sort of communal insurance or other organization that assumes liability?
    Kingdom Trails' insurance names each landowner as additional insureds. Also, Vermont has particularly protective laws shielding landowners from liability for recreational use.
     

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by prototoast View Post
    How does liability work for these big trail networks that are built on private land? If I owned a lot of land, I wouldn't mind mountain bikers using some of it, but I wouldn't want to be on the hook for medical bills if someone crashes. Is there some sort of communal insurance or other organization that assumes liability?
    Quote Originally Posted by lumpy View Post
    Kingdom Trails' insurance names each landowner as additional insureds. Also, Vermont has particularly protective laws shielding landowners from liability for recreational use.
    What Lumpy said although I'm not familiar with VT's laws regarding liabliity.

    For the sake of conversation, I'll add for NH we have a set of RSA's (RSA 212:34 and RSA 508:14) that essentially states the landowner "shall not be liable for personal injury or property damage" if permission has been granted for recreational use on their land so long as there is no charge for permission of use. If there's charge for use as in KT's case in VT, then RSA 212:34 lays out how that is dealt with. Some landowners in NH are reluctant to grant permission at first until they're educated about the RSA's that protect them. A quick call to the state house and they're on board most times.

    Land use here in NH has always surprised me. I get the sense that most locals who do own large tracts of land, there has been a long traditional of communal use of land and they have basic requirements: Who are you and what are you going to be doing? Once they know who you are, and to what extent you're building trails, they pretty much have some basic rules of thumb to adhere to and from my knowledge, so long as those wishes are respected, the local trail association (for example) down the street here from the shop have built some really sweet trails. It also helps that one of the landowners is an avid mountain biker who also builds trails so he can go advocate and reassure other landowners/neighbors in the network.

    But again, there's an open line of communication and it's constantly being fostered and nurtured with mutual respect.
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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Many eastern states have laws that limit the liability of landowners for trails that cross their property, as Chris mentioned, NH and VT have such laws, and I know Ma and VA have similar laws as well.

    Where I live now is surrounded by National Forest on 3 sides- it’s easier to work with private individuals and counties/towns to build NEW trail.

    The approval process for new trail on federal public lands is somewhat more complicated, and the easiest way to create more mtb opportunities on public lands is to re-open long abandoned trails(here in Va it’s access routes to 19th century mining operations where we will see “new” trails on public land in the short term) that are already cataloged but classified as “closed or abandoned”.

    We have a 500 acre project going now on private land that will be donated to a town after we’ve finished most of the trail construction while the land is held by a land trust. We still need USFS approval(in this case the district is looking for direct input from “stakeholder communities” ) for some of what we are building because the “new” trail system will open up some legacy corridor that connects into the abutting NF trail system and provide more connectivity options from the town into the National Forest.

    Some of the best existing trail in the NF system crosses over private land we haven’t been able to buy via the land trust and even though by default the absentee landowners are waived of liability the District Ranger doesn’t want those trails added to official maps because it’s been impossible to contact the land owners to establish formal MOU’s.

    Building new trail and maintaining existing relationships requires so much planning, support, organization and money, and while I’m a mega fan of bike-optimized(and bike only directional) trail, working alliances with equestrians and trail runners are necessary to raise the capital and profile of a big project.

    We sell bike optimized directional trail as a way of making multi-use trail safer for all users. Not every new trail can be directional, but mtb optimized trail can take pressure off other parts of a trail system. People tend to want to ride “the good stuff”...
     

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by suspectdevice View Post
    Some people are perfectly happy to ride 70 year old CCC trails or singletrack built by moto riders in the 70's(looking at you, most of New England); the newer ethos of mountainbiking could maybe described as "smiles not miles", and involves building trails that are dense with features that can be sessioned over and over with minimal elevation loss/gain. Green trails with blue options, blue trails with black options, etc.

    The modern 5" trail bike is absolutely perfect for this style of trail. Insloped corners(berms) and rolling grade reversals(jumps) are amazing ways to manage water on a trail and to reduce damage by increased ridership- but lots of mtb advocates who grew up with the sport are in their 50's/60's/70's at this point, and still run flat bars and bar ends on bikes that have the same geometry as gravel bikes, so even when they travel to a place with modern trails, they don't quite "get it". Highposting with a 110mm stem can be enhanced on a feature rich trail, but it's not the same kind of exponential gain in shreddability you can get with a modern bike with the seat out of the way. Where I'm based (Roanoke, VA area) we built two small modern trail centers this spring, and now we have packs and packs of 11 year old kids on 24" wheels who are comfortable hitting the 30 foot gap jumps we left as Easter Eggs for them to find in 6 months they became better technical bike riders than their parents. We have lots of new riders who use the trails that we've built- but the "core" of the existing mtb scene is mostly Ridge Riders, many of whom no longer even OWN mountainbikes and now do all their riding on gravel bikes with dropper posts. Nothing wrong with a 5000' day of climbing in the national forest that is primarily fire roads or ridgeline singletrack- but modern mountainbikes suck for that stuff. Have fun riding fire roads all day on a single ring!

    The "traditional" ways of riding mountain bikes involved finding routes built for other sports and other activities. Modernity means professionally designed and machine built trail that has as many features as possible packed in... berms, jumps, drops, etc. and at least some of the network is directional and bike-only. A good trail designer today has an eye for "natural" features and access to a skid steer and mini excavator or two to speed up the build process and shift significantly more dirt in 3 days than a volunteer hand crew can move in a year. Machine work is really the only effective way to fix drainage issues in the back country, and I'll be damned if a modern trail builder won't use that opportunity to add some features to a man-camp built trail. But some "advocates" FLIP THEIR LIDS about professionals doing what they are paid to do(improve drainage). Our friends at Nature Trails did 3 big projects in Pisgah this summer on behalf of Pisgah SORBA and were flabbergasted how negative some of the locals were... "Don't turn Pisgah into KT!", they heard it all the time! "I'll drive 16 hours to Vermont if I want to ride a berm".

    There is so much lurking in here that relates to the long overdue massive changes in MTB world. The Kingdom Trails loss of access due to dramatic use increases (50% in two years!) should absolutely be a wake up call for everyone who like riding bikes in the woods. It's really clear to me that KT got so popular because of the style of trail they were lucky enough to build, and that it was the most accessible trail center in all of New England to a wide demographic of riders. The sport finally opened itself up to a wide audience through trail building improvements and bike geometry changes, and now the few places that can accommodate them are getting crushed with popularity.

    If we don't gain a ton more places like KT closer to where people live really soon KT is probably not long for the world in its current form. The remaining landowners will pull out to gain a bit of peace and quiet on their own land as the 130k+ users per year get concentrated onto smaller and smaller trail miles.


    "Traditional" mountain bike riding was inherently incredibly limiting to a wider audience's enjoyment, so it stayed essentially underground, leading to a sport and trail building core dominated by white men with disposable incomes and a predilection for self flagellation. I'm firmly in that category. Started in the early 90s, absolutely love old fashioned New England single track, and have spent decades riding it. With other guys my age only, almost zero women, and very few young people.

    The big wake up call for me was having kids a while ago and trying to get them to like the sport I have loved for decades when they were ~8 - 10, and realizing they hated it. It wasn't fun and they bailed as fast as they could to leave me to it, just like my wife had years ago. It was too hard to get moving with their low power to weight ratio, their bikes had wheels that were too small, and the steering was too twitchy. But then I took them to a bike park, and both had good fun almost instantly. One was completely hooked and is now a serious rider. Berms + stable bike geometry + easy uphilling was the magic recipe. It was the clue that old XC was toxic to their entry into the sport.

    And you see that clearly at Kingdom Trails, and other places with solid, accessible, wide demographic inclusive bike culture close to downtowns. Bellingham WA has it, Carrabassett Valley ME is creating it, Quebec has it, and I bet Bentonville has it. You see entire families riding together, packs of women, and groups of kids out on their own. Frankly, if you don't see women and kids on your trails, something is wrong and the guys who dominate that local area trail building and trail access are probably a large part of the problem.

    In our local area we had a pump track put in near a Middle School by the smartest local volunteer crew, and it is swamped with kids. Instantly. Loving bikes, and starting to venture out into the modern single track already.
    A small flow trail / pump track went into another land trust area and same story. Swamped with kids riding that one mile of trail, pushing their bikes up and down the hill all day. Volunteers raised enough money for a machine built dirt sidewalk climbing trail to the top of the 400' hill, and all the sudden the root infested single track that everyone but the old guys hated is starting to get ridden, as long as its downhill only. The next phase has started, the place will get more popular, and we will have to berm and harden the whole thing to survive use increases, and then popularity will jump again, just like Kingdom Trails saw.

    And it's all good! More people who look less like me out on the trails and in the woods is only good for the world, I'm 100% convinced of that.
     

  18. #18
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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Thanks for that, Jesseth. A great reflection, please let me ask more about one part:

    Quote Originally Posted by jesseth View Post
    "Traditional" mountain bike riding was inherently incredibly limiting to a wider audience's enjoyment, so it stayed essentially underground, leading to a sport and trail building core dominated by white men with disposable incomes and a predilection for self flagellation. I'm firmly in that category. Started in the early 90s, absolutely love old fashioned New England single track, and have spent decades riding it. With other guys my age only, almost zero women, and very few young people.
    Me too.

    I was assuming that this is precisely the demographic that has created the problem at Kingdom Trails. Except I'd replace "trail building" with "trail using". Am I wrong?
    Trod Harland, Physical Educator

    Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring. -- Desmond Tutu

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by thollandpe View Post
    Thanks for that, Jesseth. A great reflection, please let me ask more about one part:



    Me too.

    I was assuming that this is precisely the demographic that has created the problem at Kingdom Trails. Except I'd replace "trail building" with "trail using". Am I wrong?
    I grew up up there, know the area well and don't really think there is a single demographic that created the problem at KT, it's huge increases in use of all demographics. The private land owners famously had been willing to open their land to random trail users for 25 years, but it's not just a few folks moving through their woods any more, it's large groups of people all day in a constant rush.

    Locals I know up there would only ride very early in the am to not deal with the crowds. On a busy summer day there are large packs of people at every trail intersection, it's very different than even 5 years ago.

    The landowners who pulled out were also horse people, and it must have gotten almost impossible for them to use their own land with the volume of people moving around in their woods all summer and winter long. KT was pulling in huge numbers of people through their potent event promotion and marketing, but clearly weren't keeping the landowners they depended on happy enough to stay in the network with the added pressures of the increased use.

    The trail building crew at KT has done an amazing job at hardening their trails for the massive use, the trails feel completely different (per MIckey's description above) than they did when the network started with traditional hand cut single track. The trail crew were quite on top of that issue, but the effect of that use was a whole different matter.

    The interesting thing is the the Burke Bike Park right up the hill with a chairlift is probably only seeing 200 - 300 riders a day max, but KT was seeing 3,000+ daily visitors on modern XC single track on a busy summer weekend. The big air / thrill seeking mtb market is still really tiny, especially compared to downhill skiing. Probably 10x smaller.

    There's clearly a huge demand out there for gentle rolling roller coaster style smooth bermed XC trails, they're just really different to build and maintain than old school trails.
     

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    Default Re: KT is getting smaller...

    Quote Originally Posted by thollandpe View Post
    Thanks for that, Jesseth. A great reflection, please let me ask more about one part:



    Me too.

    I was assuming that this is precisely the demographic that has created the problem at Kingdom Trails. Except I'd replace "trail building" with "trail using". Am I wrong?
    The crusties have been avoiding KT lately just like they are (mostly) avoiding ebikes.

    Kingdom 10 years ago isn’t that much different than Earl’s today(I led a tour for a bunch of product managers around Earls during an XTR launch a decade ago and we had to drag them kicking and screaming up to KT for the “official” camp).
    Basic trail maintenance from increased ridership and lines burnt in from non-deathtrap bikes ends up making the riding experience better. The plurality of riders at KT are multi-generational mixed groups out enjoying exercise in nature. The fact that KT collected user fees allowed them to stay in front of trail maintenance et voila!

    Bikes were pretty much terrifying a decade ago, even when they had pre-production candy on them. You could ride a hardtail with Yo Eddy geometry or a 6” bike with Yo Eddy geometry. Product managers were super focused on things like “pedal bob” because there was a crazy range of final drive output diameters due to 3(!) chainrings. If it weren’t for the Enduro World Series, trail bikes would probably still suck, and beginner and intermediate mountain bikers would continue not to exist.

    The 29” wheel began a sort of “grip arms race” that first involved bringing roots to the surface in corners(because you could brake in corners!) and more ruts because riding was more enjoyable and accessible than ever. Modern best practices preserve root structure and re-route low spots, and make trails easier for more people to enjoy earlier on in their cycling experience simultaneously.

    Mtb that is inclusive for everyone is winning, and it’s gonna be hard for some areas to “cope” with it. Advocacy orgs that get with the program will see yuuuge economic upsides for tourism and economic development(traditional mountainbikers often act like they should be the only ones in the woods). Orgs that fight modernity out of NIMBY-ism are going to end up becoming irrelevant and will be replaced by groups started by people who want feature rich trail.
    Talking heads have been complaining for 25 years at this point that “the industry” “isn’t supporting Imba”, and that continues to be increasingly true. As IMBA continues to rely increasingly on their in-house trail building company to pay their skeletal advocacy and marketing staff, local advocacy has become even more important, as IMBA’s focus has moved on from fighting anti-mtb bias and lobbying to serving as a clearinghouse for information on how to hire and pay for professional trail building.

    It’s a wild time to be alive
     

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