Roots: Impediment or Feature?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Roots: Impediment or Feature?

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  charding 2 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #262866

    A little surprised this passes for news in New Zealand, but it’s an interesting discussion.

    https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/taieri-times/tree-roots-impediment-mountain-biker-says

    At what point do roots become too dangerous (or annoying, or whatever) that they need to be covered? Should trail users take a vote? From the article, clearly there are riders on both sides of the debate…

  • #262898

    That is a good debate, but for me its not black-and-white. I definitely see most tree roots and smaller rocks as features, and I don’t want to see all the trails gravitate to smooth and easy flow.  (Although I definitely respect the need for easier, smoother trails. We need variety for everyone.) For me, good flow is more about the rhythm of the turns, and bumps, and dips, and rolls – not necessarily how smooth it is. And that includes roots and rocks. But at some point a particular root feature throws off the rhythm and I’d prefer changes. For me its definitely more art than science to determine when changes are warranted.

  • #262899

    As a New England rider, you learn that roots are features. They are part of the trail and in most cases make the trail a mountain bike trail. Certain rooty sections will get washed out over a long period of time making them difficult to navigate, but that’s what mountain biking is. I can think of an area on our local trails that has gotten increasingly harder because of increased root exposure. It would be silly to say that smoothing out the area would affect the local economy.

    Boxed and graveled? Why not just pave it? SMH…

  • #262928

    Yeah, not sure why this is news.

    “exposed pine tree roots were making it difficult for people to navigate a section of the Silverstream Track”

    It’s called an <i>intermediate</i> or advanced trail.  Can’t navigate roots?  Then ride beginner or easy trails.  What’s next?  Pave trails so we don’t get dirty?

    • #263080

      That rock garden has to go too, it’s getting way too dangerous! Gtfoh!

  • #262929

    Where I live we definitely get spots on the trail that get so eroded that they become difficult or near impossible to ride.  If these spots get really bad we fix them.  We call it trail maintenance.  Just because you fix bad spots doesn’t mean that you’re making the trails to easy because there are always many other spots that are getting rough.  We don’t usually fix bad spots until thay are getting near unridable.  Usually it is very clear when a bit of trail needs fixing and after they are fixed, the trail is not all that smooth anyway.  There just aren’t that many people volunteering to fix trails.  I am not concerned that my local trails will be too smooth.  Most of us would rather be riding than working on trails.  So doing only what’s necessary tends to be the default.

  • #263019

    For me it’s not about roots creating challenge…. I love challenge and I’m not at all keen on smooth trails.

    But there’s fun technical and theres annoying technical and relentlessly rooty trails can be annoying even if I can ride it as a skilled rider.

    I made peace with roots when I lived in Virginia, but I much more appreciate it here in Colorado with less roots and more big… and entertaining…. rocks as features.

  • #263124

    I was riding my neighborhood loop yesterday and was thinking about this thread but my thought was: fallen trees – impediment or feature? Someone, don’t know who, comes and cuts out parts of the trees (with an axe or chainsaw) but lots still there that you have to ride over or around. Some are really janky jumps now with not much of a landing.

  • #266470

    Most of our local trails are super rooty and rocky. Never thought about covering them up to make it easier. I will say there some that run parallel on the trail that I hit regularly that have come pretty close to crashing me many, many times. The roots in that pic don’t look like a problem.

  • #266542

    Here on the Western Slope we have lots of rocks, and some roots all are features. We also have trails that are fast and flowing.

  • #266576

    First and foremost, roots and rocks are features, some more challenging than others.  Erosion can certainly play a role over time making it increasingly difficult especially for novice riders or trail runners.  While I have no issue whatsoever with addressing the sources of erosion and “restoring” conditions to their original or proper states through trail maintenance trails should not be sanitized to improve someone’s flow or to make it easier for users.   If you want to avoid obstacles or are looking for improved flow then ride/run on flow trails or just don’t go off-road.

  • #266622

    Depends if you ride full squish or hard tail mountain bikes.

  • #266623

    Roots and rock gardens are some of the best parts of the trail. No two are alike and always provide entertainment value

  • #266754

    Roots here in NW Florida is about the only feature that makes a trail challenging. I say keep the roots.

  • #266913

    I don’t find rooty sections to be particularly fun or enjoyable, but roots are one of the things that makes mountain biking challenging and, well, mountain biking. As Arebee alluded to, roots are extremely common here in New England and if you don’t want to ride on roots, you better stick to the roads and rail trails. NEMBA posts signs on some of our trails urging riders not to alter trails to fit their skills, but rather alter (improve) their skills to fit the trails they want to ride. If you have trouble riding roots, then keep practicing by riding them more. If you really hate riding roots, maybe find some trails that don’t have as many. Finally, if you really hate riding roots and live in a place like New England, maybe mountain biking just isn’t your thing.

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