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Pythagoras of Samos

Even though I’m trying to build a trail that is singlespeed friendly in both directions, I still think of it as a longer “downhill” section followed by a shorter “uphill” section. The downhill has eight turns and the uphill currently only has two. However, as I mentioned in my last two trail building posts (Dialing in the Flow and Eight Out of Ten), I wasn’t very thoughtful when I went about laying out the last couple of (uphill) turns so I knew that I’d probably have to reroute those and quite possibly turn the two turns into three or four.

So this week, after doing a little more tree pruning to clear the trail corridor for the (recently modified) first eight turns and dragging a couple of bundles of branches to the burn pile, I finally started flagging turn #9 (the first “uphill” turn). I obviously had a general area where I thought the center of the turn should be but I was having trouble deciding on both the exact location for the center of the turn and the radius of the turn. A big part of the problem was that I thought the climb might be too much vertical for just two turns, while three turns would leave me going in the wrong direction, and I wasn’t sure I had enough space for four turns.

I wandered back and forth and up and down the slope, trying to avoid the sections still covered in poison oak, while attempting to visualize the best locations for either two or four turns. I finally decided that I probably do need to turn the two uphill turns into four if I can fit four turns on this relatively small hillside. At this point I was frustrated by my lack of progress and I’d more or less used up the available daylight anyway.


Geeking out with Pythagoras of Samos

So, I went inside, poured a beer and started sketching four turns out on paper to see how small a space I could fit them into. One beer led to another and before I knew it I was doing trigonometry and algebra. Apparently the saying is true. Once an engineer, always an engineer. 😉

The next day I flagged out the (very) tentative center of four uphill turns based on the math. However, to make a long story only slightly shorter, I ultimately decided that before I finish flagging out the uphill section I really need to ride the first eight turns several times in both directions to determine if my recently modified turns are truly rideable in both directions and, if so, if the larger radius turns are easier or harder to climb than the smaller radius turns. Damn, all that math for almost nuthin’.

Today, a few days after my detour into math land, I pulled more poison oak in the trail corridor of first eight turns. Now I just need to rake leaves off the trail (it’s not benched yet, so I need all the traction I can get) and then I’ll be able to ride those eight turns in both directions and hatch a plan for the uphill section. Unfortunately, with the holidays and some rain, I feel like I’m starting to fall behind schedule in order to have this section of trail (both downhill and uphill) ready by the first of the year for my Ride 365 goal. 🙁

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