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Thread: #01 FR Drew. Topic: Illegal Dirt Jumps

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    Farkin Activist scratchy's Avatar
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    Default #01 FR Drew. Topic: Illegal Dirt Jumps

    Well the first instalment. Kinda like Meet the Farkers but hopefully without the fictional references to the Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll lifestyle that we all allegedly lead. Who better to kick it off but “FR Drew” a man I promised not to call a fairy.
    Read, Consider then Post (in that order)! Sorry for the delay, we had some teknikal issues!



    Name: Andrew Pearce

    Age: 34

    Location: Canberra ACT

    Style of tracks: General advocacy, singletrack, northshore (timber TTF's), dirtjumps

    Background: I spent years riding trails around Canberra, was lucky enough to get a few chances to ride the old Stromlo before it was burnt out and even one field trip out to the Blue Range Nationals course (back when I was riding a crappy old Mongoose hardtail with 20mm of front suspension). Eventually I decided around a year ago that I ought to put something back into the sport, joined CORC and got onto the Trails Advocacy team

    Mistakes made?: Probably spending the time from 18 till 28 off the bike. I'd be a hell of a lot better a rider if I'd continued riding. I'm also cynical and get shirty waay too quickly.

    Favourite Tool: I've got an old vintage hoe with a blade about 50mm in front of and at right angles to the end of the handle. The blade is about 75mm across and 250mm wide. With it I can cut narrow 75mm slot trenches, V trenches, pull soil off of mounds, shift low edging berms, flatten trail humps, smooth track... Lots of folks here rave about "MacLeod" fire rakes but the little hoe works great for me. She's getting on a bit now and the blade is starting to flex

    Free Fairy or Pro Fairy Nah, I'm a free fairy. I get paid to preserve large technology war relics at the War Memorial.

    Online Resources: www.imba.com is pretty much where it starts and finishes. For "Shore" it's worth checking out some of the stuff at www.nsmb.com

    Your Topic: Illegal Dirt Jumps

    This one is tricky to talk about. I'm kind of torn on the topic. Cards on the table I can't jump to save myself. I don't think any of my bikes have ever been more than two and a half feet off the ground. I see kids hitting up spines at the skate parks or some of the shots we have here in Phat Snaps and it truly blows my mind. I'm not sure if the gravity that they work under is about half of mine or what the story is... I'm busting myself to get off the ground at all and they just effortlessly float around.

    Anyway, in the ACT we have a problem in that there are NO legal dirt jumps anywhere. If you find dirt jumps, you can bet money that they aren't there with the permission of the landowners. Canberra Off Road Cycles (CORC) is forever fielding irate complaints from various environmental and government bodies about how all mountainbikers are bad and evil and will be the death of delicate endangered flowers and tiny marsupials. They rant and rave and publish press releases and newspaper articles about how people build illegal jumps and trails while at the same time there are no legal riding facilities provided in the local areas.

    Canberra is a great city with loads of national parks but it's also very spread out geographically and the public transport system simply isn't set up for bikes. We have heaps of bike paths but the distance that most riders need to go from their home suburb to get to anywhere where they can ride legally is ridiculous (and even then there are no dirt jumps). Small wonder then that when there's a bit of bushland within a stones throw of every Canberra suburb, folks head over there and cut illegal trails and jumps.

    Funnily, people just don't get it that when there's no alternative provided, simply applying prohibition to a problem like kids riding and building trails and jumps just doesn't work. I don't know what they expect, maybe that everyone will go home to play tiddlywinks on their loungeroom carpets or something? It's ridiculous to have such a head in the sand attitude from authorities. I'll bet that all of them when they were kids, went and rode bikes in the nearest bit of empty land. They suddenly think that kids now are somehow different?

    So, CORC is stuck in the middle a bit at the moment. On the one side we have the irate authorities, on the other side we have the dirt jumpers who get pretty shitty when the authorities bulldoze their jumps. While we can't condone the illegal building, we also think it sucks that there isn't more access for people to ride. The other thing is that we get the argument from the dirtjumpers side that CORC never speaks for them or advocates on their behalf, we just build XC and DH track and run XC and DH races. At the same time, no-one will admit to being a dirt jumper or building trails and so, while that sector of the sport is cladestine and illegal there are no venues and no participants even if we were to try and run an event.

    At the moment, although I'm doing my fair share of Stromlo working bee stuff, on of my biggest projects is to do a proposal for the ACT's first legal sets of dirt jumps. We've had some great advice and help from Zoli who does a fair bit of work on the jumps in Adelaide, and also Ray at the Adelaide City Council who was involved with the "legals" over there. We're looking at and learning from photos in here in the Phat Snaps section (How awesome did that groomed dirt spine in the WA jumps thread look?) and talking to a few folks here and there in the MTB and BMX dirt jumping community.

    Once I get the first phase of the approval through and we've got access to the land then we'll be getting to the serious design side of things and we'll be doing a lot more liaison with riders as to what they want, what they think will work and so forth.

    I can see huge advantages in legal jumps. For starters the work that goes into building them isn't going to be all down the drain as soon as the authorities find out about them and bulldoze them. Additionally, with dirt being trucked in, there's a lot less digging to be done, no pits to dig which cause drainage problems, you can get nice clay soil that is perfect instead of making do with what's on the site.

    Even better, with legal jumps, you don't have to stay hidden so you can actually run public competitions. I mean, you look at the magazines, Dirt, Decline and so forth and there are dirtjump comps all over the world. It's a huge growth sector of the sport and there's almost nothing happening in Australia.

    I fully understand why people are building illegal jumps but it's going to be awesome when everyone can emerge from the shrubbery and get dirtjumping in public at last...

  2. #2
    Heavy machinery. Dozer's Avatar
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    Bloody awesome Scratchy and FR. I reckon this section of farkin will be talked about for years..........
    Imagine a world where you could legally build on council or state land with the assistance of the land owners / pen pushers. A dream for a track builder and riders alike? Yep, I agree.
    Top stuff lads!:D

    Edit: A quick question FR, when you want to get something legal going with dirt jumps, is it a paper trail and full of useless crap or is it generally positive and relative for a dumb arse bike rider to understand? (I meant that in a nice way!)
    Last edited by Dozer; 09-11-2006 at 03:47 PM.

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    Not a custom title. FR Drew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scratchy View Post
    Well the first instalment. Kinda like Meet the Farkers but hopefully without the fictional references to the Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll lifestyle that we all allegedly lead. Who better to kick it off but “FR Drew” a man I promised not to call a fairy.
    Yeah, that pink fur lined tiara and the satin skirt don't make me a fairy! :o I wish people wouldn't jump to conclusions...

    Pity to be missing out on the sex drugs and rock n roll though...:(

    Coopers Pale Ale: How do they make a beer this good out of water this bad?
    I don't bounce like I used to...

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    Senior Member hwbrodiek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scratchy View Post
    Canberra Off Road Cycles (CORC) is forever fielding irate complaints from various environmental and government bodies about how all mountainbikers are bad and evil and will be the death of delicate endangered flowers and tiny marsupials.
    Great read Scratchy and FR. Really interesting stuff!! Just wondering if these environmental effects are the major (or only) argument against DJ's in the ACT?

  5. #5
    Not Grip, OK... So don't ask! Jon's Avatar
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    Top work Scratchy and FR Drew,well done .Just begs the question "How far could mtb go in this country if Public liability issues did not strangle every decision and project?" Imagine tracks where the controlling issue was geography not liability.Even better imagine people taking responsibility for their own actions no matter what the end result is.....
    cheers jon

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    Not a custom title. FR Drew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwbrodiek View Post
    Great read Scratchy and FR. Really interesting stuff!! Just wondering if these environmental effects are the major (or only) argument against DJ's in the ACT?
    WARNING! WARNING! RANT APPROACHING!

    As I understand it, the most common arguments are that MTB's cause erosion, that MTB's spread weeds and cause dieback, that traffic in the Canberra Nature Parks reduces habitat and finally, that the management plan for the Canberra Nature Parks says that bike riding is not permitted off the formed trails (fire roads). There has also been the comment made that riding on walking trails causes damage and erosion because the trails are not designed to withstand riders. Oh, and mtb constructions such as dirt jumps cause irreparable damage.

    It is noteworthy I feel to point out the following:

    1) Many of the walking tracks in the Canberra Nature Parks are walker made. They go pretty much directly from point A to point B diverting from their path only when an impassable obstacle is in the way or when the terrain become simply too steep to walk down. This means that they have a gradient well in excess of the IMBA prescribed 10% and often run straight down the fall line. And oddly, somehow there are erosion problems on these trails... You don't say?! I feel that the erosion problems are as a result of crap trail design, not as a result of use by mountainbikers.

    2) The dodgy circular argument that goes "Our walking trails are of shit design and degrade, therefore no bike riders should be allowed because our crap designed trails aren't designed for bikes (or rain, or the environment but let's not go there...) and will degrade." is crap. It's self fulfilling that if all you build is non armoured fall-line trails then they won't be sustainable for anything. The problem isn't mountain bikes or mountain bikers, it's crap trail construction. On a multitude of occasions CORC has invited folks from the relevant authorities to look at the sustainable and non degrading trails we have constructed but as far as I'm aware, they are yet to take us up on the offer. We've even supplied folks in government with a free copy of the IMBA Trail Solutions Manual. There is nothing at all stopping CORC supplying the Canberra Nature Parks with a network of sustainable multi use trails that would solve this problem, but it seems no-one wants to know at present.

    3) Irreparable damage!
    Ah yes, astute readers of the Canberra times would have seen a shot a while back of a government employee posed near some evil dirt jumps causing irreparable damage to one of the Canberra Nature Parks.

    If I recall, the pictured mound was around one and a half feet high. If that's the best evil irreparable damage they could find then I fail to accept that the problem is excessive.

    Let us take for instance the fact that a network of full width fire trails in the Murrumbidgee corridor are being left to naturally regrow. These are machine cleared fireroad sized paths in bushland, all of which are in excess of 2m in width that it is deemed will be reclaimed by nature with no ill effects. And yet somehow, were these to be narrow trails and little dirt jump mounds, the damage would be irreparable...

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we all go out and rip up the nearest Nature Park but I do feel that the extent of the problem is being somewhat overstated.

    I will gladly resume this rant later on this evening, right now I have to head out and meet some nasty evil dirt jumpers bent of world domination, the release of toxic waste into Antarctica and I think some of them may even put pineapple onto the pizzas of folks with "cooked fruit" issues. (I tell you, they'll be the death of us all...)
    Last edited by FR Drew; 08-12-2007 at 02:21 AM. Reason: spelling
    I don't bounce like I used to...

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    Senior Member derelikt's Avatar
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    That was a good read, couldnt be fucked reading the last rant though:D

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    Not a custom title. FR Drew's Avatar
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    ...Ah, now where was I?

    Umm, bike riders causing erosion, weed spread and dieback due to the evil root-eating fungus. Oh and the "You can't ride in the Canberra Nature Parks because the Canberra Nature Park Management Plan states that riding in the Canberra Nature Parks is not permitted."

    Well...

    Erosion we've largely dealt with. It's fundamentally an issue of poor trails design. If cycle clubs were permitted to construct IMBA standard trails it could be quickly proven that erosion won't be a problem. Or for tham matter if a number of particular folks in authority got out of their five legged office chairs and took a look at some of the sustainable trails near to Canberra and saw that they don't erode.

    Lets take the course at the most recent Canberra 24 hour race as an example. Yes, people will agree that by the end of the 24 hour race, the track was badly chewed up. This track had had in excess of eleven thousand (let me say that again) ELEVEN THOUSAND circuits ridden in the space of 24 hours on a course that was bone dry, had barely (if at all) seen water in over 6 months and was not maintained during that 24 hour time period.

    I did the last lap for our team at that race and although badly chewed up, the course was still rideable.

    Contrast this with Sparrow Hill, one of the more popular trails around Canberra which gets maybe 100 odd cars a weekend so call it 250 riders each weekend in the good weather on average. 52 weekends x 250 riders is 13000 riders using the trail. Take off some for the wet weeknds in winter and you're pretty close to eleven thousand give or take. My point is that the Scott 24 hour course copped basically as much traffic in the space of 24 hours as one of the most popular trails in Canberra would get over an entire year, under poor conditions of stupidly dry and it was still rideable. Sparrow Hill, with a little damp weather and a little maintenance work is in fine condition all year around so basically, sustainable trails don't degrade much at all and even trails that are put through the wringer well and truly don't fair too badly.

    Does that cover the erosion thingy pretty well?

    Weeds and dieback...

    Bike riders don't tend to deviate from the path anywhere near as much as walkers and studies have shown that we don't spread more weeds than they do. This is a Furphy.

    Dieback (the evil Pc fungus), yes it can be a problem and riding in mud in affected areas does spread it to other areas causing dieback problems. There are a number of solutions to controlling dieback.
    1) Don't build trails in Pc contaminated areas.
    2) Don't let bushwalkers tramp though Pc Contaminated areas (please see comments relating to weeds)
    3) Rather than just saying "You can't ride in the parks because of the Pc fungus." maybe instead you could inform clubs of where the affected areas are so that trails can avoid those places while still offering a decent community riding experience. If there's a legitimate reason why an area should not have bikes in it, I think folks are willing to accept that. Endangered flora, endangered fauna habitat, unstable soils... We're not actually here to trash the planet. Give us a reason that is valid and we'll accept it but just slamming the door to the whole lot is plain straight out rude and selfish and doesn't have valid reasons.
    4)SHORE! Yes kiddies, that's right, dieback is a brilliant reason to build us some northshore stylie ewok features. If you don't want folks riding on the dirt, those clever Canadian folks have developed a really cool and fun way to allow people not to ride on the dirt. Not high risk high liability shore for shore's sake, but actually a legitimate reason for timberwork, bridges and all that fun stuff. (and we might sneak a few skinnies, log rides and teeters in there at some stage on the blue and black runs but don't sweat it folks.)

    Meh, I'm using up all my ammo for another non dirt jump fairy episode and we've already had one viewer who tuned out from the long post before this one so I'll sign off.

    Drew
    Last edited by FR Drew; 13-05-2008 at 06:29 PM.
    I don't bounce like I used to...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dumbellina's Avatar
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    Good thread fellas...

    I can't wait to hear what other rants the other advocates have lined up. The rants are much needed.

  10. #10
    Farkin Activist scratchy's Avatar
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    Well there's another Fairy in the Hole. Fire for effect! I'm going to hold this Fairy to bring him inline with the Farkers.

    Out of interest what FR Drew talked about Shore for an actual reason, IIRC there was $20,000 allocated to build some shore (unsexy name= Duckboard) at Eagle Quarry in SA to connect a trail that when through a PC infected area. I'm not up to speed if it has been built yet but when it does it will be one of the few instances that NS was actually built for it's original intended purpose over hear in OZ.

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