Well I swanny, one creek crossing removed! This morning Dan, John, and I met up at Poston to plank the shorter bridge that we put the runners in place for last weekend. The fun part of the day was going to be carting all the boards in to the bridge location. Using two tow straps and an army issue gunny sack we were able to make a fairly decent two person carrying system. Dan and John carried the lumber and I carried everything else; I’m pretty sure I got the better task. Once down at the creek we decided this crossing would be a 2.5 foot wide bridge. That will make it a get off your bike and walk crossing for less experienced bikers but easily rideable for more seasoned riders. This particular area sees a fair bit of illegal ATV activity so we want it narrow enough that a quad can’t use it. I got to work on bridge construction while Dan and John went back for the second load of lumber…once again I lucked out. When they returned I had the bridge about half way done; I continued bridge building while they cut new trail up to the bridge and made dirt ramps onto the bridge. It was nasty humid out there, not a fun day to be working in the woods at all. A lot was accomplished in the morning hours! Much thanks again to Dan and John; next time you see them around be sure to thank them. Dan and John were smart and got out of there while I stuck around a while intending to just take down some old trail arrows and add new ones to lead people onto the new route/bridge. I ended up sticking it out a few extra hours though to cut trail on the other side of the bridge, re-clear the existing dormant trail the Dirt Divas helped build a few years back, and add more dirt to both sides of the bridge. All in all an awesome day but I was whooped and out of water. The walk out was probably a half mile but felt like five.

Bridge half way done

Bridge complete!

This new bridge eliminates the tricky creek crossing with the rock shelf. When you come down the downhill before that crossing instead of taking the left hand turn towards the creek look straight; there will be new trail right in front of you leading to the bridge. When you cross the bridge there is a split in the trail, turn left. This will lead you to the Eagle Scout bridge. When you hit the old roadbed right before it starts to climb the newer section of trail that eliminated the powerline trail will be on your right…look for the arrow. On the way back after re-crossing the Eagle Scout bridge towards the end of your ride and dropping out of Laurel Ridge you will use the new bridge again. Be looking for a new trail and arrow pointing you left to the bridge; I put a dead tree and some limbs across the old route where you need to turn to make it more obvious. When you go over the new bridge for the second time immediately turn left and follow the creek side trail; this is the stretch the Dirt Divas built for us. After that you’ll figure out where you are pretty quickly. As stated it’s all signed however we will work on adding even more signs so nobody gets confused (which seems to happen no matter how many signs we add). Quick word of WARNING: This is a skinnier bridge than some may be used to, only 30 inches wide. The dirt ramps up onto the structure are soft and still not perfect or 100% complete. If you are not comfortable with the bridge’s width or the approach do yourself and everyone else a favor by dismounting and scouting it out. If you still feel uneasy walk your bike across, this is not a crossing you want to fall off of. A rider came through today as I was finishing up and he chose to walk it…no shame in that game. We will work on making the dirt ramps better but I simply ran out of steam today before they were perfect. Please remember that just like the Eagle Scout one this bridge will also have two way traffic so be sure to look ahead for oncoming riders before biking out onto the crossing. Thanks and enjoy!

Wow – a super productive day in the woods moving heavy utility poles, using sharp tools, and even some (redneck) physics/science…and all without anybody getting hurt! What’s up with that? We had just planned to get the runners in place for just one bridge however we knocked that out so fast we did the other bridge as well. All this before noon! The first bridge we worked on was the one that will remove the second creek crossing (the tricky one). This is just about a 15 foot crossing so the utility poles we had near there were shorted and lighter; we managed to move them completely by hand. They were heavy but we devised a way of carrying them with tow straps and mcleod handles which made it kind of like carrying a dangerous coffin.

Bridge Work

Above - (Runners in place and ready to be planked in the near future!)

We knock this out so fast that our confidence was up so we moved on to the big boys…two utility poles for a creek crossing that is about 20+ feet. Both utility poles were well over that length, one being well over 30 feet long. Thinking ahead I decided we’d instill a little physics. I’m not really that smart but do to my interest in slacklining I’ve learned a thing or two about rope and pulley systems and the benefits of their mechanical advantage. Both of these poles are well over 900+ pounds and with 7 people we weren’t going to just pick them up. By using three pulleys we could actually make the load much lighter according to the world of science.

Bridge Work

Above - (Block and Tackle – I don’t understand it but it works because people smarter than me in universities say so…)

The idea was cool and all however the added resistance/friction of the poles digging into the ground plus all the stretch in our ropes made it almost impossible to get them to move no matter how hard we tugged. Good thing we had Kevin’s jeep in the parking lot and this area was crawler accessible; it was time to add yet another mechanical advantage to the system!

Bridge Work

Above - (Both ends of the rope are sent over the creek to the jeep while they’re looped through the pulley system on the woods side.)

There was a bit of a learning curve but we got it all figured out pretty quickly. We got the job done in amazing time between Kevin’s jeep, the pulley system, and one heck of a powerful old school come-along Russ brought from his dad’s wares (I can’t say enough about that come-along, they just don’t make them like that anymore). We managed to move each of the poles for this longer crossing into position in right at an hour a piece!

Bridge Work

Above - (Both utility poles spanning the creek, just waiting to be rolled into final position.)

Bridge Work

Above - (The runners in final position, a hard day’s work complete!)

So now we just need to come back in and plank these two bridges and we can start using them. The shorter bridge at the bigger creek crossing will get done first. It requires very little trail rerouting and should be done in a week or so. The longer bridge is farther away from existing trail and does require a significant amount of new trail building. We will get to it most likely this summer; just don’t hold your breath waiting on it. Once again I cannot thank the people who came out today enough.The two Scotts, Ben, Kevin, John, and Russ…thanks for the hard work. Short of a few bee stings (why do bees insist on putting a nest right where we’re putting a bridge?) everything went amazingly smooth!

Building bridges is not our favorite thing to do, not even from an idiomatic standpoint much less so the actual act of building real bridges. Maybe that’s simply because the last three bridges we’ve had to build as a club at Poston were all over 20 feet long; one was even over 30 feet long. To this day I still have nightmares about building that 30+ footer! Today however we had to build a simple 8 foot long bridge…wow why can’t all the creeks at Poston be this small? Russell and I met this morning and I commented about how cool it was outside, maybe that’s because we had not started working yet. About an hour later we were soaked in sweat. This is not the time of year for trail work but this bridge work is something we really want to knock out sooner than later. This bridge was a snap to build and now you don’t have to dismount on the trail coming back down from the dog park fence. We also worked on the left-hand switchback right after this crossing, filling in the roots in the turn with dirt and widening the turning radius. Hopefully that switchback will flow better on a bike now. We also worked on this whole run of trail between the dog park fence and the bridge. We did a bit of trail grooming and cut out a lot of trees that were close to the trail which should help to speed it up a bit; it was tight even by PASA standards. We also cut the tree off the trail at the top of the phone line climb that been there for a few weeks. After that we drove out across the dam to the powerline cut and walked to where the Spencer Mountain Loop crosses the powerlines. That crossing has been getting choked down by autumn olive and blackberry briars so we opened it back up with a bush axe and McLeod. As a bonus we also scored a nice blackberry feast, they’re ripe for the picking right now! Word on the street is that John (jdub) was out in the woods at Poston too this morning. He opened up the whole trail corridor on old Michaux Loop and the Spencer Mountain Loop. In general the whole trail system has been getting closed in on by spring growth; we like to keep it tight but face-slappers every 50 feet gets old pretty fast. Thanks John and Russell, I can’t wait to get out there and ride after today’s work!

Bridge

For a good five plus years now PASA has been in talks with the Town of Kings Mountain and Kings Mountain Gateway Trails (KMGT) Inc. about building mountain bikes trails off their greenway corridor once it was established. We gave presentations back between 2005-2006 to the KMGT steering committee as well as the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce and the Kings Mountain Rotary Club to make a case for mountain bike trails. We explained that adding mountain bike trails to their greenway system would bring a whole additional group of riders to their trails that otherwise may never visit them. They have always been very receptive to this concept since the first meeting and worked with the land owners to get a few small parcels of land to dedicate to singletrack bike trails; specifically 3 tracts of 10 acres (30 acres total). This would only allow about 3 miles of trail however that’s still a positive. We always felt those 3 miles would be a popular addition and over time demand of more mountain bike trail would lead to more land for the cause. Currently the KMGT phase one has been complete for a year or so and it proving to be a popular recreation feature for the town. Phase two construction is partially complete and will be done this fall. Two of the tracts dedicated to mountain bike trails are in phase two. Today Ben Cohen and I were invited to walk phase two and see the land that has been dedicated to mountain bike trail use. To my surprise the first tract is ~40 to ~60 acres and the second tract is ~20 to ~40 acres…that’s quite a bit more land per parcel that the 10 acres I had knowledge of. This was a little bit of good news they were saving for us today! Additionally proposing this idea of mountain bikes trails those years back paid off as well. Although I always speculated PASA would get to build these trails that was just speculation. Early last week that speculation was put to rest however; this is a PASA project! I have a feeling that over time we will be granted permission to us even more land along the greenway for singletrack. This whole project could lead to even bigger things too as the KMGT when complete will end at the Boulders Access for Crowders Mountain which is a potential location for mountain bike trails in the state park in the future. Could it be that a simple greenway could become a mountain bike mecca in this area? I like to speculate that it will!

Kings Mountain Mountain Bike Land!
- Ben checking out PASA's new land grab!

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