Werewolf By-Pass … the start (Trail building)

15 January, 2012 at 22:00

Avid readers of this blog (there must be some surely) may recall that some months ago I forecast that we were about to start work on the Werewolf Drops By-Pass, only to discover that we were in fact starting on the Rollers repair and improvements. So in another surprise about face, we turned up this Sunday to discover that the ground was frozen solid out in the open, and going to the pub or digging under the trees was the alternative. Sadly it turned out to be digging under the trees but with the cheerful thought that at long last we had a chance to make a start on an alternative to the famous if not notorious Werewolf Drops.

Many riders will no doubt complain that a by-pass isn’t necessary and if you can’t ride the Drops, well hard luck. We take a rather more practical view as the Drop is a well established choke point on weekends where less confident or skilful riders dismount and scramble down as best they can. This often leads to traffic jams of surprisingly large bunches of riders. By giving riders not ready for the Drop an alternative line, it leaves the main route free for others to ride through without interrupting the flow of the trail, so everyone wins.

The Landy was loaded with a fine array of digging tools and off we trekked into the woods. After the usual intense analysis and strategic debate regarding optimum trail placement, prompted by Rudolf and his chums having knocked down our original marker flags, everyone set to work clearing out the line and digging down to something vaguely firm. We’ve spent pretty much all of 2011 repairing and improving trail so it was a refreshing change to be carving out brand new trail once again. As always it was a surprise to see how quickly a recognizable line emerges, and how attractive it looks.

An advantage of working so close to the Drops was that we got to see how many issues it caused. (New) Bruce forecast 5 crashes but was awarded only 4.5 as one was a high speed involuntary dismount that left the rider still standing. There were several queues, including a major jam of twenty plus, all of which supported the view that the by-pass is necessary.

By the time we knocked off, the trail was nearly all cut out. Next we need to build a small crib wall to hold in the edge of a hairpin bend (or switchback as the Americans call them); apply a fair chunk of surfacing as the substrate is very sandy; insert a short run of boardwalk and probably a couple of rock steps. In fact by the time it’s finished it may turn out to be a rather more fun ride than the Drops themselves.

Now wouldn’t that be ironic….