After the Afan trip there was a bit of discussion about the role and future use of chicken wire in elevated trail building. At the moment IMBA UK are putting together guidelines for this. General work in the future of elevated trails has focused on them meeting basic health and safety standards and have required them to pass inspections that show the constructions that are fit for purpose and well made and maintained. A number of sites across the UK have been audited from a civil engineering point of view, but these sites need auditing from a riding and H&S point of view as well.
The alternative to nailed on chicken wire is non slip paint with sand mixed in to give grip. This has been pioneered by trail builders like the OKE Freeriders. Their experience is that it works really well and means all our trails can be ridden even if its really wet. The downside seems to be that the trails lose their natural look.
The boardwalk in this picture and this picture is “unsurfaced” and after over 6 months is according to the builders still holding up well. They used a very rough sawn timber for the decking which is pretty grippy, but have said that if it does become slippery they will look at options including paint but also re-roughing the surface
The general verdict is that chicken wire is pretty weak and high maintenance. The use of plasterers backing or brick reinforcement are also alternatives, but need to be carefully considered. These may be durable and grippy but are more abrasive in the event of a fall and have been known to remove animal claws – a concern for multi-use trails.
The buildes of the trail at Delamere have also said that there are some issues with the trail starting to degrade. A fair section is suffering from splitting which can be seen from a side view. It doesn’t seem to have become dangerous yet, but is not sure how long it will last.
Onto other stuff. The new look XTR groupset has been officially completed and there are a host of new photos up at Singletrackworld. At somepoint since I last looked Hope Technology have revamped their website – technofest here. The New Intense Carbine is an awesome looking beast and finally Microsoft redesigns the iPod. Keep an eye out for this new music player. It’s going to be a winner… Oh and keep an eye out for the Mexican’s too – American madness here.