A long and hard one.
Monday, 11 March 2013
Glenlivet's done as best we can in this weather; we need to do some fine tuning with the rakes, the final compaction with the various rollers, a bit of tree 'pruning' and just a general once over before letting it rest a bit before serious use starts in the summer (?)
So we're just going to have to go and take care of other business before returning when it's all properly thawed out and settled down.
This time of year is always a bit crazy with various clients deciding they have some money that needs spending asap before the turn of the financial year in early April. All well and good, but this is also the time of year when traditionally we get winter part 2!
Laggan is an old friend and no matter what happens or what I'm doing I always jump at the chance to go and give the old trails a helping hand with some big toys, in this case the old Red has some really problematic wet muddy puddly bits which are past the point of light spade work and really need some heavy duty rock armouring to handle the heavy usage by yer typical Laggan 'hooligans' (insert obligatory winking smiley emoticon) with todays bigger bikes, tyres and riding habits.
Problem is, everything's frozen, so all we can do is ship in rock and armour where we can, when we can. Dressing of the surface with the obligatory crushed aggregate can only happen during the brief spell of 'plus' temperatures in the middle part of the day.
Bit of a 'mare really, but we slowly get the metres done.
Oh, and we are just about to start on a funpark / skills area at Aboyne - did I say I'm busy!
There's other 'stuff' happening behind the scenes as well, but I'll save them for later...
Sunday, 3 February 2013
Trail building on a big scale i.e. 20km + has to be done by machines, it's just not viable, both in terms of timescales and costs (a squad of good stone pitchers is way more expensive than a digger).
Unfortunately, with this in mind, a lot of big trail builds can tend to have a clinical cut'n'paste feel, so with the cracking team of trail builders we have assembled up at Glenlivet we take every opportunity to let then hand work sections of trail - just to give it that hand crafted feel.
Our team all ride bikes; from jumpy hardtails, to efficient full sus' mile munchers and even the 'odd' 29er and because of this all the crucial bits get the hand tuning treatment with the lads testing it's 'flow' as they go, 'cos they liking riding too!
Rock work is slow, hard work, with a few metres taking all day, but the end result is worth it.
The forecast for the week ahead is looking like a return to wintery, so best crack on whilst we can.
Thursday, 24 January 2013
Ah yes, snow, we love it, pretty to look at, lovely to play in with the kids, great to ski on and very photogenic.
Try building trail in it, 'mare.
Funnily enough, the actual building of good old 'full bench cut' trail isn't too bad: all the topsoil has to be stripped back anyway, so the snow goes with it, leaving a clear and clean bit of sideslope to work on. The problems arise in other areas, like getting to the site - which means negotiating the infamous Bridge of Brown (often snow effected) then progressively less cleared back roads then tracks.
Machines freeze to the ground, or simply won't start, getting fuel and supplies around can only be done with our 4x4 winter tyre shod vans (dumpers with metal tracks tend to just sliiiiide - oops) soil freezes overnight so must be raked into shape straight away and then protected with rolls of material, tools break, trees freeze snap and fall over, and obviously it gets dark really early.
However, we are getting trail down, and the hand squad never grumble, never give in, never drop their standards with a 'oh that'll just have to do attitude', and when all else fails, they walk in, carrying fuel, pipes, spares and whatever is needed to keep the job going - hard as nails. Chapeau - as we cyclists say.
Friday, 30 November 2012
Uh oh, could this be the start of a 'big' winter à la winter 2010! Ski-ing head says hope so - work head says hope not.
Progress is fantastic on the trails; we've got five digger teams working away and the poor old hand squad are frantically raking, hand finishing, compacting and tidying, desperately trying to keep up with the diggers putting out a thousand meters a week! They are doing a great job, as I keep telling them the diggers may form up the trail, but it's the hand squad that 'tweak' it to make it a fun ride.
And fun it is, the red has now got it's own unique character and we've all been riding it (including the digger driver who's building it) to get into work of a morning. Tight n twisty, sort of 'Welsh' in places (think narrow full bench cut on a steep sideslope), lovely ASDUG - none of you're 'kitty litter' surfaced aggregate slidiness.
The Blue can be summed up in one word 'swoopy' you'll see what I mean when you ride it, sort of like a bobsleigh run stroke roller coaster ride. But it is blue so no deliberate jumps on it, however, if you try hard and you know the trail there are jump opportunities to be had.
I think it's pretty rad for a blue.
So now it's frosty and we've had our first flakes of winter, this will slow us down, but if we can just keep to my ok'ish winter estimates things should be workable, however, if it 'dumps' it'll be game over.
Best check me skis then....
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Friday, 2 November 2012
We've had a few snowy scares, where everyone stands still, looks up at the falling snowflakes and silently thinks oh f*ck.....
But it's come to nothing and it's not yet cold enough to break out the thermal long johns, winter boots and snow tyres.
Bet it is by the time this post is read.
The red is shaping up as a nice shade of red; narrow, twisty, tight in the trees and sustained i.e lots of singletrack unbroken by road sections. Great for riders, damned tricky to build though.
The blue - pictured above, is shaping up to be a cracking ride; very fast and flowy, with loads of potential 'air' opportunities if you want them, but no prob's if you don't.
The last 10 days have seen the digger driver get his head around berms - and he has admirably. Luckily the ground conditions are great, allowing us to just keep digging for more and more material as we need it - and we do - current tonnage on the last berm is nearly 200 tonnes! (and it's not finished)
More diggers means monthly meterage is well up, 3000m done in October alone, which sounds impassive, but theres still 14 000m to go!
I really hope it's a useless ski season.....