Monday, May 16, 2011

Rollin' Below Rowland - New Trail Report

There is a new trail in Edmonton and it is much different than any of the existing trails we have.  It is a 800m stretch of single track just south of the North Saskatchewan River between the Wayne Gretzky bridge and Riverside Gold Course, just down the bank from Rowland Road.  The trail is filled with plenty of short, steep, power climbs, technical side hill riding and 180 degree turns to test your slow speed bike handling skills. There has not been an official name given to it yet, so expect it to go by several names or simply a location name.

Early Ride Thoughts

Because the trail is still quite new, the soil is still quite loamy which robs you of your power.  Once the trail has been ridden and packed, I expect it to ride much differently.   The first time I rode it was on my single speed and I found it to be just a bit more work than was enjoyable.  Through the pain and suffering I could foresee how much fun this trail could be with lower gearing.  On my Sunday ride I brought out the Vertex 29er SE and the trail was much more enjoyable with a full range of gears.

Technical Aspects
The most difficult trail feature that comes to my mind as I write this is the short power climbs.  Once the trail is packed I suspect that I will be able to clean all of these, but with the soft loamy soil, these were the most challenging sections of this new trail. 

What will keep this trail difficult for the long haul is very tight turns that make riding a longer wheel based bike quite difficult.  One place especially tricky has you turning right around the corner into a skinny bridge, (when riding east to west.)  Making this corner and getting my rear wheel on the skinny will require some rear wheel hopping to get better aligned.  Riding it twice now has had my rear tire just miss the inside right even with my front tire as far left on the skinny as it will go.   Riding from west to east I was able to keep both tires on the skinny, however the uphill corner ate me up once I cleared the skinny.  Definitely a great feature to help improve my skills.

My favourite section, riding east to west, is close to the end - a small, tight switchback.  There is a small log pile into a tight 180 degree right turn followed by an even tighter left with a tricky ground formation to overcome.  Here is a video of that section:

Thumbs Up

The most impressive thing about this new trail is the lack of actual 'building' that was done.  The builder(s) did an excellent job of designing a very challenging trail by utilizing the natural contours of the area.  The ridge line is worked in on several occasions, creating a nice flow in certain areas, contrasted difficult power climbs and side hills in other areas.  It's good to see that such excellent work is being done to enhance our local trail systems.

Here is a video of the entire trail travelling west to east:

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