Tree down on trail

This past June 2nd was National Trails day. So, after unfortunately missing a couple work parties I made it out to the Bull Mountain work party. I got there and immediately saw David Muse throw up his arms as if to say “yes, you made it!”. David is a guy I’m always happy to see, fun, interesting & knows the Bull Mountain area like no one else that I know!

He knew that I had gotten my USFS chainsaw certification, but little did I know why he was so happy to see me.

Jeep up backroad

He asked me if I was willing to drive about 5 miles on the Forest Service Road (FSR) through a locked gate, and close to a trail, then hike along the trail until I got to where there were 2 trees down. Hmm, drive the Jeep up past a gate where most aren’t allowed to drive? heck yea!

Problem: the key for the gate was about a mile out of the way with people that were cutting another tree. So, off I went. I finally got in touch with the nice lady that had the key – they had hiked the trail to the tree, would cut & hike out. In the meantime I figured it was a good chance to gas up & prestart the saw to make sure she was running. She’s a Husky, so no problems. I met up with the lady that had the key, then headed to find my tree.

Along the way I saw a group along an odd place of the FSR – basically if you don’t have David’s knowledge of the trails there you were in for a pretty long FSR ride – so I stopped & they were actually slightly turned around, but I got them headed in the right direction. They came across the creek at the base of FS77A and turned right when they should have turned left, gone around the gate and up bear hair trail – which was where I was heading.

I got the Jeep up to the single-track with no problems. I threw on the normally equipped 70oz. camelback, grabbed the chainsaw, I debated whether I would need the gas & bar oil, but figured for sure it was better to carry it up then have to hike back out and back in again with it, especially since I hadn’t seen what I was getting into.

As I started the hike, I quickly remembered a good trick that I learned at the certification class. Take a belt and wrap it through the saw handle & buckle it – now you have a strap that you can throw over your shoulder.

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Legs were not happy at first and before half a mile I had switched hands with the saw & gas/oil. But soon I got into a steady hike, and after what seemed a couple of miles I found the tree that had fallen. Some branches had been caught by another tree and snapped back into the trail. So, I made a couple of cuts of the branches and was able to quickly get them off the trail. No big deal.

And then there was the trunk!
I figured I would go ahead and save this for later and hiked up the trail to find the other tree.

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I hiked what seemed like another mile before coming across the next tree. This one had been dead for awhile and had come down in a storm. It was a basic couple of cuts to get the weight of itself off the trunk, and then cut sections small enough to be able to move it off the trail. So, I made my first cut on the upper end of the tree, made the second cut back far enough by the bank of dirt that no one would hit it – and then it happened – the tree rolled over towards me, although I wasn’t in any danger, because of the dirt and the trail, it just exposed about a foot of more tree towards the trail. I tried to move this ‘trunk’ section of the tree, but she wasn’t budging. Oh well, just another cut to get that section out.

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After finishing up this tree and cleaning up everything off the trail I hiked maybe another half mile or so of the trail before turning back around and heading back to the first tree that I hadn’t finished yet. The Trunk!

the Trunk

When I got back, I stopped, set everything down, looked at the clock and it was after 1. So, I grabbed a snack bar and drank some more water while going over my plan of action on this tree. But first I really needed to sharpen the saw more – luckily I had remembered to bring along a file. My forearms are still nicked from sharpening the saw without a vise.

Since there were 2 supporting points on either side of the trail, I decided to cut the high side first. I knew the upper part of the tree was supported by 1 side of the trail, so I jammed some hunks of bark under the spot just below my cut and got to work. I was watching my kerf (first section of the cut) to make sure my saw wasn’t going to get pinched that would have sucked w/o having any other tools! As I got really close to finishing the cut I got nervous that it was actually going to pinch, so I stopped and ended up hand sawing it thru the rest of the way.

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I pulled the bark section and stacked them, it would make a great obstacle – and I could double up the tree for an awesome log-over… but I wasn’t sure of the trail rating and how it would work-out on this downhill, so I cleared the trail :(

Next I started cutting just off the trail – I had to go off the trail to get the tree out and reduce chance of getting the blade in the dirt. I did the 1/3 under-cut first, then started with the top cut. I had gotten closer than I expected and the tree jammed on me – the saw was pinched – stuck in place. I’m in a tight spot!. I looked around and was able to find a small dogwood tree that was down & section a 6′ section for leverage, and although it took awhile, I got the tree off the saw. Phew!!

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So, the rest of the tree I basically cut 2/3 the way through, rolled it, and cut the rest of the way, then rolled the sections out of the trail. Not that it was easy, but it was manageable.

Once I got back to the Jeep I remembered driving around a tree…. crap, I bet our work party organizer Debbie was twittling her thumbs wondering where I was and waiting on this key?! Wait, she has my cell phone number where I wrote out my name & number in case she needed to contact me – free reign!

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Well, since I’m here with all the equipment I might as well make the most of it and decided to go ahead and take off the upper limbs to clear the trail some more. Once I finished that tree, I saw another 1 that I had driven past – might as take a little off the top of this one also. These were both trees that were blown down and there wasn’t anyway that they were beneficial being in the trail.

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Phew, it had been a good and challenging, Fun day in the woods! So, I packed the gear back in the Jeep and headed out. Out the gate, locked her behind me, and back up FS77A. Once I got to the intersection with FS77, I vaguely remembered a girl named Polly asking if you can say you cleaned a climb if you have to stop and climb over a downed tree. Well, that heinous climb was directly on my right. I parked the Jeep, hopped out, gas up, and hiked up in search of this tree that came down over the heinous climb.

It was a dogwood. Not sure why it had fallen, but it was quick to get cut and out of the trail.
I hiked back down and headed back to the Jake parking lot to see if anyone (Beuller?) was around….. it was about 5 o’clock. Bueller?!

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I headed back on down the road and in true mt bike fashion stopped at the local Mexican restaurant for dinner. Today was a good day, I got things done, I spent time in the woods, I helped improve the trails for other riders, and no one was hurt!

never ride at the front

I have said it, and I see that others are posting articles or info about it. The problem is maybe too many people are taking it too far.

Do not ride on the front should not be confused with NEVER ride at the front.

Too many people seem to just sit-in – on ever ride, year around. Bah!
Too many people never do any work – whether they are afraid they will get dropped, feel they aren’t strong enough.

Sometimes you need to move, do something, stir things up. Sometimes that is for the group & sometimes that is just for yourself & your training.

It’s interesting how the group dynamic of a ride can change – week to week and sometimes during a single ride.
Not long ago, at the ‘Wednesday night World’s’ the group was being shy. There were only a few people rotating & it was often that if you rotated you would have to sit on the front for awhile before someone else would come around.

What happens next is that the stronger riders and/or opportunists attacks the group. Sometimes this is enough to stir things up, sometimes the ride will continue along in the same manner watching that person increase the gap until they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As this keeps happening all the stronger riders & some opportunists are ahead on the road and there isn’t enough people strong enough or willing to work to bring them back.

I watched this happen a couple times and tried to shake things up myself by rolling past the group on a downhill and along the uphill on the other side – what this caused was the group finally sped up and started getting more aggressive.

Remember, “Don’t ride on the front” is different from “Never ride on the Front” there are good reasons to rotate and pull-through, and there are good reasons not too. Sometimes the group is hammering along and you should conserve your energy for later. Sometimes you should rotate just to get others to rotate also, sometimes it is to keep the group going.

One of the best ‘team blocks’ I had ever witnessed was by Scotty Weiss – we were racing a 1Km pan flat crit in N.C. His team mate jumped the pack with another racer and they were rolling up the road – well most team mates would go to the front and soft pedal or not even pedal at all – but not these guys, Scotty went to the front and kept the field going at a steady pace. He knew if the group slowed down too much there would be attacks and his team mate would have less chance of winning the race. So, he kept the pace slow enough that his teammate was still going faster than the group, yet just fast enough that no one would attempt to attack the group! At that time I was a fresh Pro1,2 rider and at first I was bewildered that his own team mate was on the front doing the pace-making. It took me about 5 laps before I realized the plan.

Most everyone knows the basic tactics, but when you can mix things up that is when you are racing intelligently!