Trailism Mentioned on Trail Eaffect

I’m not sure how many people in the trail industry or volunteer front visit Trailism, nor how many know about the Trail Eaffect podcast, but if it’s new to you I suggest you give it a listen. It’s been a neat and fun learning resource that has been listed on the resource materials page for a while now.

I keep a list of some of the shows and key points that have really helped ground me and get me thinking about some things differently or in a new way. Some things have been humbling, some confirmation of my own thoughts, some totally unexpected turns or questions that I wondered about have been answered.

I have not heard every episode, sorry Josh, but most of them, and I think this was the first time I heard Trailism mentioned, unless I missed another episode where this happened. To be mentioned amused me, especially because of the subject matter on this one. I typically see who or what is being covered and listen immediately, or download it and get to it when I can. The first thing I wondered when I hit play on this episode was…”I wonder if they will mention the site, or if not, did they use the resources here?” It’s only natural considering how much effort has gone into this corner of the web, especially jumps, since around 8/08? I do everything you see and read myself. I know more about html, css, javascript, and Excel, not to mention geospacial data, among other things than I realized I would ever know. It’s been an interesting ride.

Recently Trailism rode by this space and gets mentioned around 26:08 in episode #160: Rocket Ramps with Henry and Janker Ted

I was told by someone else about a week? prior that Trailism also made it to the MTB Trail Building Facebook page or group whatever, in regards to turns this time, tickled again. I am not on the fb, and I have toyed with leaving Instgram a number of times as well. Time will tell.

The most dense use of jump specific terms and ideas in the episode occurs around and after Josh asks or explains what is on the Bike Jump Design page on Trailism. Henry and Ted didn’t really comment or answer if they had seen the site, but that’s ok, they certainly expressed a number of the concepts and specific language covered on that page, but there wasn’t a deep dive per se.

That said, the jump page is by far the most trafficked page on this site, especially the past 5 years or so….because jumps on trails are blowing up. I really hope people pay attention and think about safety on this front. People have been seriously injured, maimed, and even killed riding on plain old trails, not to mention jumps, and drops…lost weeks of work…had very big medical bills…left loved ones behind…strained resources that could have been used to help others that took what is quite frankly a selfish risk at times. I am guilty of this myself. Our risk comfort levels and skills to not hurt or kill ourselves vary, but answering where responsible and irresponsible begin and end from a construction and design standpoint and/or user “mistake” standpoint is a very serious and critical question. Oh, you only broke 15 bones…at least you didn’t die, you’ll be OK. At the very least be a skeptic, a rationalist, and ask hard questions beyond just that one, of which there are many related.

Approximately 12 million people ride mountain and bmx bikes, lets call it 8 million??? (Statistica) I can’t say what percentage of that number have been injured at this point and doing what, but the numbers overall aren’t that high or it doesn’t seem to be an epidemic, all things considered, but it’s not zero, especially if we jump to another sport like skiing and snowboarding. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I am always alarmed and saddened when I hear about broken people and bikes. Whether you think meditation on trepidation is sage advice or not is a personal journey I suppose.

I have stayed way from making big hits and gaps, or wanting to be associated with things I am not sure about on this front, or scared to be associated with. Not that I have sought them out, nor have those opportunities been pouring in. Granted, someone could hit a tree at 10 miles an hour and crack their ribs (sorry Kurk), or worse injure their spine. I broke my neck mountain biking in Vail, CO (Eagle Valley) in 1995. I am extremely lucky to have not been maimed. I know firsthand that things can go sideways fast, and faster or more severe injuries occur going faster. That’s not rocket science, but asking what the speed limit should “probably” be, brakes be damned, on sections a, b, and c is nearly rocket science.

I have built small hits on public trails or drains that function as jumps, wink, wink, but bigger jumps have been restricted to one private property (and the dirt jumps at Highbridge NYC) up to this point in time. That property was one of the reasons I posted the Jump Design page. Nothing was out there on paper or the web that I could find, or very little, usually piecemeal or scattered. I was scared, and excited about the project. Of course the internet being what it is, I also saw, and there still is, a lot of scary dangerous information and photos, if not negligent sections of trail and features out there built by people that don’t have a clue how dangerous if not negligent they might be. Regardless, “most” things out there are within “reasonable,” and most riders know how to use their brakes or when to say when.

Because sometimes my memory fails, and I hate wading through the bs, pseudoscience, no substance at all, or outright lies on the web, I brought my own hot air of sorts into making a resource. The best luck I’ve had was remembering the laws that govern motion in this universe, and the associated math, quite often repeated in academic papers, paywall journals, and a few really sharp people sharing on YouTube and other sites. I started to compile as much as I could learn and gather in one place, mostly for myself as an easy reference, though it is written or presented as if it is meant for others.

I assume given some of the emails and traffic that I get about jumps in particular that some builders out there have certainly used the resource too. My hope is that readers walk away with some sense of the serious questions to ask when riding or building trails, and hopefully they pass that onto others or take what they need to succeed, safely. I like to think I’ve helped people succeed out there and like the feeling of living, designing,and building vicariously through others.

I imagine I am a little different than many in that I DO NOT think mtb is inherently risky so all bets on safety are off. Or again there is a gray division between hurt and broken. Riding at 15 versus 25 mph in the woods reduces the risks, and both are a lot different than 30 mph in a grassland, or among cacti for that matter. At some point I’d like to explore or discuss the speed window bikes typically live in because it is everything really, a cascade of cause and effect, feedback. I digress, I think negligence can indeed be user and builder based. I also know accidents do happen and that legally a waiver does nothing, so builders beware, the lawyers will come, but I’m more scared of my conscience personally.

I don’t know how to end this, but think I’ll start again in a way…

The best analogy I can give is the most relevant one applicable to trails, or the future of some trails as I see it, that is the evolution of roller coasters and highways. Not all trails are going this way, but AI and concerns for safety and better and better rider experience outcomes guarantee it’s coming. It’s here already, but not quite like what will come, and perhaps sooner than I assume.

Roller coasters are marvels of physics, with engineers that often know exactly how to induce butterflies, weightlessness, and g forces for safe and almost beyond words experiences. On trails we can take that and actually top it with human flight. On trails we might actually be able to have more fun canting left to right than some roller coaster engineers can do given the budget needed for more features. Roller coaster trails can certainly be longer than their metal counterparts. Roller coasters have changed over the decades into safer and safer more exhilarating and ingenious means of playing with gravity and motion. G forces have fallen, and safety features and standards have increased. Railroads, highways and roads use engineering for curve transitions that were not used at all at one time in history, but are standard in this day and age. Trails are headed that way, some trails anyway. We will find ourselves soon entering data and visualizing outcomes we could not do or do not do as a regular practice at this time. I’m excited. I feel fortunate to have witnessed the changes that have occurred in just the last ten years, not to mention the last thirty.

To the future, trepidation and all…

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