Avid bikers and others can look forward to riding a new singletrack that will stretch from Kalifornsky Beach Road to Skyview Middle School, well underway at Tsalteshi Trails.
The track will follow parts of an existing snowshoe trail and has been in the works for a long time. Bill Holt, the maintenance manager for the trails, said the new trail is possible because of a grant written by the Tsalteshi Trails Association to the Recreational Trails Program.
“We built the snowshoe trail several years ago thinking all along we’d like to have a single-track trail,” he said.
While the track will be optimized for bikes, it will be a two-way, multiuse trail for now. Holt said he hopes it will eventually serve as a connection between the Tsalteshi Trails system and more multiuse trails planned to be built south out the existing system.
“It’s not just the immediate goals, it’s about the end of the road,” Holt said. “It’s about the end of the trail.”
Ed Kessler, the owner of Ptarmigan Ptrails, LLC, which was contracted this spring to build the singletrack, said it appears that the more varied biking opportunities are created on the peninsula, the more people want them. While there are plenty of traditional trails, Kessler said he is glad to be able to give the community a trail closer to that of mountain biking quality.
The portion of the singletrack near the infamous hill on Bear Loop is new and was put in with machinery, while other sections are being rerouted along parts of the existing snowshoe trail. It has been important throughout this process to match the trail to the existing terrain and not the other way around, Kessler said.
“All trails should flow with the natural landscape,” he said.
Ptarmigan Ptrails also designed the singletrack while keeping the concept of flow in mind, Kessler said. The company built the trail to include specific bike features, he said, like more rolling grade dips and exaggerated turns. These actually will make the trail easier to ride than a more traditional one because gravity and speed will push bikers into the correct ride line and give better traction, he said.
Zach Behney, a trail specialist with Ptarmigan Ptrails, said creating trails with flow is about capturing a certain feeling when riding.
“It’s a really similar feeling to skiing in that you’re trying to capture lots of … feeling Gs, right? Kind of feeling these turns where the tread isn’t flat,” Behney said. “Trying to be able to use some of the same elements that you get in either surfing or riding a skateboard in a pool, being able to pump around corners that are not just 2D but kind of 3D. It’s a lot more fun.”
Behney was out on the singletrack Wednesday working on the new section with hand tools. The sections that need to be rerouted along the snowshoe trail still require equipment work, he said. The project should wrap up sometime in August, he said.
The Tsalteshi Trails Association has put out a call on its Facebook page for bikers to come and try out the Bear hill section of the track in order to help pack down loose dirt. Those with fat bikes are especially encouraged to give it a try.
When a new trail goes in, having bikers themselves pack it down with their tires can help better shape the trail’s ride line, Behney said.
“After we disturb the soil and try and get the trail all clear, just getting it repacked down sometimes we’ll bring a plate compactor through,” he said. “But actually getting somebody on a bike who’s going to instinctively kind of — we call it … putting in the ride line … sort of a good visual indicator and if that gets put in early and packed in right, it kind of guides people to stay right in the center of the tread or at least to kind of ride the trail as we envisioned it.”
Behney said while it may be tempting to ride the new singletrack even in poorer weather, the lack of vegetation on the trail sets it up to be damaged if used while wet. Showing restraint and waiting for the trail to be dry will better preserve it for the future, he said.