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…
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.
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.
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.
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.