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Squamish just ain't what it used to be

July 21, 2020, 10:17 p.m.
Posts: 1134
Joined: May 11, 2018

I keep hearing people say things like "I prefer flow trails."

But I agree with what Dave and others have expressed that any trail can have flow if you have the skill, strength and desire.

When people talk about flow trails I think they mean wide trails devoid of rocks or roots and any rocks or roots that are there will have a jump built to make it smooth.

Isn't saying that you prefer flow trails just another way of saying "I like easier trails" while sacrificing your ego? Espresso on Fromme is a perfect example. It's got to be the most boring trail on the shore save a couple of boulders and ramps. Anyone who says they like the flow trails on Fromme are really saying they like the easy ones, aren't they? All this talk of "modern bikes" and "modern lines" is frustrating. If you cannot ride the "old fashioned blacks and double blacks" but you are an expert at flowy jump trails, don't go trying to make all the hard trails easy and don't go trying to transform everything into a straight shot down the mountain without turns or obstacles.

I don't have a motor driving me up the mountain so when all the fun (read: rocks and roots) is taken out of the trail and I end up at my car in 1/4 the time it took to get up, I am left in want.

July 22, 2020, 10:10 a.m.
Posts: 237
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: RAHrider

Isn't saying that you prefer flow trails just another way of saying "I like easier trails" while sacrificing your ego? Espresso on Fromme is a perfect example. It's got to be the most boring trail on the shore save a couple of boulders and ramps. Anyone who says they like the flow trails on Fromme are really saying they like the easy ones, aren't they? 

No, it also means some people like to go fast sometimes. 

I like to creep around at a snails pace on Bookwus, Upper Crippler and Upper Digger but I also like so feel some speed sometimes on Expresso and Lower Expresso. Mix n match.

July 22, 2020, 11:08 p.m.
Posts: 1134
Joined: May 11, 2018

Posted by: earleb

Posted by: RAHrider

Isn't saying that you prefer flow trails just another way of saying "I like easier trails" while sacrificing your ego? Espresso on Fromme is a perfect example. It's got to be the most boring trail on the shore save a couple of boulders and ramps. Anyone who says they like the flow trails on Fromme are really saying they like the easy ones, aren't they? 

No, it also means some people like to go fast sometimes. 

I like to creep around at a snails pace on Bookwus, Upper Crippler and Upper Digger but I also like so feel some speed sometimes on Expresso and Lower Expresso. Mix n match.

I see what you're saying but I also know that I can ride much faster on all sorts of easier trails. Saying you like flow trails because you like to ride fast is the same in my mind as saying you like to ride easy trails that let you ride fast. Flow = easy = fast (for some). I think how fast you ride on any given trail is more a matter of skill. I meet new riders all the time who say "I don't really like those tight twisty rocky trails, I like flow trails." I think this is akin to saying "I don't like those hard ones, I like the easy ones"

If bike trails were ski runs, flow trails would be green groomers. Wide, no bumps, not too steep. In short, easy. And yes, sometimes you see experienced skiers straightlining a green run in a tuck for fun! The one thing I never hear is someone saying that challenging runs should have the hard parts taken out so you don't have to slow down, turn sharply or scrub speed if needed.

If a trail is not flowy enough for you and there are obstacles or turns that make it hard for you to keep your "flow" the problem may not be the trail. Those people who "prefer "flowier lines" and don't mind braids that facilitate an easier way down the mountain may want to consider that the trail might just be too challenging for them. If you don't like hard trails, stay on the easy ones but don't try to turn every trail into an easier one.

July 23, 2020, 1:50 a.m.
Posts: 919
Joined: March 15, 2013

Personally I find the flow (easy?) trails way more difficult than the tech trails.

Shrug.

July 23, 2020, 9:42 a.m.
Posts: 11541
Joined: June 29, 2006

Posted by: RAHrider

Posted by: earleb

Posted by: RAHrider

Isn't saying that you prefer flow trails just another way of saying "I like easier trails" while sacrificing your ego? Espresso on Fromme is a perfect example. It's got to be the most boring trail on the shore save a couple of boulders and ramps. Anyone who says they like the flow trails on Fromme are really saying they like the easy ones, aren't they? 

No, it also means some people like to go fast sometimes. 

I like to creep around at a snails pace on Bookwus, Upper Crippler and Upper Digger but I also like so feel some speed sometimes on Expresso and Lower Expresso. Mix n match.

I see what you're saying but I also know that I can ride much faster on all sorts of easier trails. Saying you like flow trails because you like to ride fast is the same in my mind as saying you like to ride easy trails that let you ride fast. Flow = easy = fast (for some). I think how fast you ride on any given trail is more a matter of skill. I meet new riders all the time who say "I don't really like those tight twisty rocky trails, I like flow trails." I think this is akin to saying "I don't like those hard ones, I like the easy ones"

If bike trails were ski runs, flow trails would be green groomers. Wide, no bumps, not too steep. In short, easy. And yes, sometimes you see experienced skiers straightlining a green run in a tuck for fun! The one thing I never hear is someone saying that challenging runs should have the hard parts taken out so you don't have to slow down, turn sharply or scrub speed if needed.

If a trail is not flowy enough for you and there are obstacles or turns that make it hard for you to keep your "flow" the problem may not be the trail. Those people who "prefer "flowier lines" and don't mind braids that facilitate an easier way down the mountain may want to consider that the trail might just be too challenging for them. If you don't like hard trails, stay on the easy ones but don't try to turn every trail into an easier one.

I admire your commitment to this argument but it doesn't make a lot of sense.  For starters, the equivalent to a green ski run is riding down a dirt road.  Neither has any flow.  That is just science. But seriously, to ride a flowy trail with real skill is an art form and your theory that it is some sort of skill cop-out to want to ride these trails doesn't jibe with the fact that a lot really talented riders love riding them.  You can slow down on a flowy trail and it becomes much easier, but you need to commit on a technical trail, so that is true I guess, but if you find flowy trails too easy maybe you should ride them faster.  For me, I am getting older and more brittle, so I am completely fine with accepting less risk than before.  No ego here... bring on the flow.

July 23, 2020, 2:50 p.m.
Posts: 1134
Joined: May 11, 2018

I am either committed or perhaps, should be committed?

In any case, I ride my flowey blues plenty fast. As do I ride my road bike. I can guarantee you that many a mountain biker on here would s%$t their pants descending the road from mount washington trying to hang on my wheel, but that doesn't make the smooth concrete "challenging." Riding anything at the limit of friction takes skill but that doesn't make the trail/road "difficult."

My beef is not with riding fast or riding easy trails - I do both of these things. My beef is with people complaining that technical trails are not fast or flowey enough and braiding them as a result. I especially take issue with those who say challenging hard trails were built wrongly because they are unable to maintain momentum and speed on them. If the only trail you are able to maintain speed or flow on is a smooth wide trail, you may just be an intermediate rider. I know....shocker, eh?

July 23, 2020, 3:25 p.m.
Posts: 11541
Joined: June 29, 2006

Posted by: RAHrider

I am either committed or perhaps, should be committed?

LOL.  I do get what you are saying.  Considering the bounty we all have in our backyards nobody should be complaining that every trail wasn't built to suit their riding style.

Jan. 4, 2021, 12:50 p.m.
Posts: 3645
Joined: May 23, 2006

Posted by: JBV

i've said it a thousand times and i'll say it again. Strava is a plague and the number of riders that subscribe to dick measuring every single ride is appalling. i even know friends in this boat and i don't ride with them.  mountain biking isn't racing, but people have been fooled into thinking it is.

Related... https://enduro-mtb.com/en/strava-opinion/

Jan. 5, 2021, 11:35 a.m.
Posts: 205
Joined: Feb. 16, 2013

Posted by: earleb

Posted by: RAHrider

Isn't saying that you prefer flow trails just another way of saying "I like easier trails" while sacrificing your ego? Espresso on Fromme is a perfect example. It's got to be the most boring trail on the shore save a couple of boulders and ramps. Anyone who says they like the flow trails on Fromme are really saying they like the easy ones, aren't they? 

No, it also means some people like to go fast sometimes. 

I like to creep around at a snails pace on Bookwus, Upper Crippler and Upper Digger but I also like so feel some speed sometimes on Expresso and Lower Expresso. Mix n match.

I agree with earleb completely. When the trails get perpetually green-slime slippery, I find myself on my hard tail most of the time, and seeking out the infamous "flow trails". As long as traffic on the day dictates, I love hitting those as fast as I can, which is usually presents a good challenge for maximizing available traction and spotting/holding your line. It also tends to be a formidable workout. It's an experience that's completely different from the shore-tech and gravy loamers that I'd seek in-season, but it's far from easy and it's super fun to work on those skills. Pump tracks are also super fun, but not if you're idea of fun on bikes only permits technicality. 

And Squamish is still rad. Perhaps not exactly as it was, but the variety of terrain and the availability of loops that can be thrown together are pretty hard to beat.

Jan. 5, 2021, 12:51 p.m.
Posts: 1922
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: RAHrider

I am either committed or perhaps, should be committed?

In any case, I ride my flowey blues plenty fast. As do I ride my road bike. I can guarantee you that many a mountain biker on here would s%$t their pants descending the road from mount washington trying to hang on my wheel, but that doesn't make the smooth concrete "challenging." Riding anything at the limit of friction takes skill but that doesn't make the trail/road "difficult."

My beef is not with riding fast or riding easy trails - I do both of these things. My beef is with people complaining that technical trails are not fast or flowey enough and braiding them as a result. I especially take issue with those who say challenging hard trails were built wrongly because they are unable to maintain momentum and speed on them. If the only trail you are able to maintain speed or flow on is a smooth wide trail, you may just be an intermediate rider. I know....shocker, eh?

You've got two different types of trails and two different skill sets. Flow trails are easier from the standpoint that if you go slow you can roll through them easy enough whereas on a tech trail if you go slow you may still need to get off your bike on a particularly difficult rock roll/drop or corner. I think if you're going to compare flow trail to tech trails you have to compare them at the same level, so for example Expresso or Bobsled is not a fair comparison to Bookwus as Bookwus is a difficult tech trail while Expresso and Bobsled are moderate flow trails.

I get your argument about braiding, but I think that's a separate issue from the skill argument and one that is more about trail design, riding fun factor (psychology) and new bike design. Having higher speed sections that dump into low speed sharp corners is what causes braiding. If a trail is designed properly, that higher speed section will taper down the speed before the sharp corner or have a sufficiently designed berm to allow riders to carry their speed through without the need to braid. You also have to consider that most tech trails were built at a time when the bikes weren't easily capable of the speeds a modern 29'er can easily hit. The bikes have changed and people are riding differently than what older tech trails are meant for.

Jan. 5, 2021, 1:04 p.m.
Posts: 1922
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: tungsten

Posted by: JBV

i've said it a thousand times and i'll say it again. Strava is a plague and the number of riders that subscribe to dick measuring every single ride is appalling. i even know friends in this boat and i don't ride with them.  mountain biking isn't racing, but people have been fooled into thinking it is.

Related... https://enduro-mtb.com/en/strava-opinion/

I'd add that the mtb industry shares part of the blame as we are constantly being fed edits and short vids of pro riders ripping down trails in a manner that's more conducive to a close race track than a public trail. People then want to go out and ride like that and the trails pay the price. Cutties are horrible for public trails, but pretty much every pro or advertising vid out there has gratuitous shots of dirt being sprayed all over the place in an effort to go faster and presumably look cool. IMO there's a big disconnect between what we see in mtb media and the type of riding trails can sustain.

Jan. 5, 2021, 4:42 p.m.
Posts: 391
Joined: Aug. 10, 2012

If I go to an French restaurant, I expect rich sauces and lots of butter. If I go to a Malaysian restaurant, I expect it will be spicy. If I go to If I go to Burger King, I expect fast service....the food will be bland, but it will satiate my craving. I don't go to Chambar and expect to be in and out in 20 minutes. I don't go to Burger King looking for a culinary experience. 

Personally, the last thing I want is to eat the same food every day. Variety.

What was the topic?

Jan. 6, 2021, 5:58 a.m.
Posts: 69
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Syncro is correct.

It doesn't help when you see Pros/youtube stars taking alternate lines or even just making up a new line on a trail in one of their videos.  All for the social media likes.  That bleeds over into real life and I constantly see new trail braids/lines on old trails.  

New bikes are ridiculously fast and make things easy now.  That Wade Simmons/RM ad about his bike dumbing down the trails is dead on.  My new Yeti almost feels like I'm hitting a cheat button most of the time.  I'm hitting stuff I wouldn't have dreamed of on my mid 2000 freeride bike.  I have had to reign myself in, remembering I am on public multiuse trails (thank goodness for Timberbells).  **I always stop or slow down to a crawl for hikers/walkers/equestrians just to be clear** 

I don't know what the answer is really.  Marketing wants to sell stuff and ripping corners and blazing down trails sells.

Jan. 6, 2021, 10:35 a.m.
Posts: 1134
Joined: May 11, 2018

Posted by: syncro
Having higher speed sections that dump into low speed sharp corners is what causes braiding. If a trail is designed properly, that higher speed section will taper down the speed before the sharp corner or have a sufficiently designed berm to allow riders to carry their speed through without the need to braid. You also have to consider that most tech trails were built at a time when the bikes weren't easily capable of the speeds a modern 29'er can easily hit. The bikes have changed and people are riding differently than what older tech trails are meant for.

I don't think it has to do with the trail being designed improperly as you suggest. The trail is the trail. Unless you built it or are going to go put in some trail maintenance days on it to improve it, don't go altering it. It is disrespectful. Have you ever seen a F1 car race where a straightaway leads into a tight corner? Me too. If you are going so fast that you cannot control your speed into a tight corner, you are out of control. If I rode on a trail and it was nothing but straightaways into hairpin corners, I'd just consider it a shit trail and not ride it. If I rode an exceptional trail and there was one tight corner, well that is a feature of that trail. I don't think I as a rider should be riding through the shrubs to cut off the corner because I would have to slow down otherwise. What type of asshole thinks that way? I cannot imagine just plowing through the rough, bulldozing anything that is in my way, all to avoid a corner in the trail.

Jan. 6, 2021, 5:42 p.m.
Posts: 1922
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Posted by: RAHrider

Posted by: syncro
Having higher speed sections that dump into low speed sharp corners is what causes braiding. If a trail is designed properly, that higher speed section will taper down the speed before the sharp corner or have a sufficiently designed berm to allow riders to carry their speed through without the need to braid. You also have to consider that most tech trails were built at a time when the bikes weren't easily capable of the speeds a modern 29'er can easily hit. The bikes have changed and people are riding differently than what older tech trails are meant for.

I don't think it has to do with the trail being designed improperly as you suggest. The trail is the trail. Unless you built it or are going to go put in some trail maintenance days on it to improve it, don't go altering it. It is disrespectful. Have you ever seen a F1 car race where a straightaway leads into a tight corner? Me too. If you are going so fast that you cannot control your speed into a tight corner, you are out of control. If I rode on a trail and it was nothing but straightaways into hairpin corners, I'd just consider it a shit trail and not ride it. If I rode an exceptional trail and there was one tight corner, well that is a feature of that trail. I don't think I as a rider should be riding through the shrubs to cut off the corner because I would have to slow down otherwise. What type of asshole thinks that way? I cannot imagine just plowing through the rough, bulldozing anything that is in my way, all to avoid a corner in the trail.

You left out a key part of my post which is the fun/psychology factor that makes people do what they do. You have to consider those when it comes to trail design and I believe that fast sections that end in abrupt corners are poor trail design which inevitably lead to erosion and braids. You can't design and build a trail and not consider rider behaviour, the two go hand in hand imo. I've seen it plenty of times where I've made relatively minor changes to a trail's alignment, added a rock or trimmed back some brush and those changes have influenced rider behaviour. I like to think that for any given section of trail you need to consider what's happening 5-20m before that point. 

I love jank and tech, but those sort of sections and trails often act as barriers to less skilled riders and speed gates to skilled riders. And of course some sections of trail erode into janky goodness, whether they get left alone or fixed is a whole other huge debate. Anyway, where I see a lot of the braids happening are on less technical trails that have transitions from higher speed sections directly to tight, slow sections. What's an easier way to fix things; change the behaviour of thousands of riders or make a few changes to a section of trail that's getting blown out or braided? One can be done in a weekend, the other may never get done.

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