By Mike Rutter, BMA Trails Program Director
I have been busy working with our COMBA partners in Black Hawk putting the final polish on Powder Keg, the double black diamond monarch of Maryland Mountain. Jagged Axe trail contractors out of Arkansas did the initial alignment and construction and now, after rider input, COMBA and BMA are making final alterations to make sure it’s in prime shape before it opens in a few weeks.
We started this past Wednesday working with volunteers from BOA® Fit System to construct an easier “B” line to the final section dubbed “Fine-Alley”, as in you are “finally” done with super hard moves and it is also super narrow, somewhat alley-like. We knocked this out in a day and think it still provides a tough, tight, and steep exit without the “mine shaft” effect of Fine-Alley. PKudos to BOA for bringing their A game and creating a challenging alternative!
Thursday, with a small but mighty crew we got busy adding an alternate line to the steep slab farther up the trail where the entrance was pulling riders in without realizing they were on the hardest option. The entry from the main line also caused riders to drag dirt onto the slab as they brake checked and this proved hard to mitigate. Dirt on the slab was causing riders to keep off their brakes to avoid skidding, and they were hitting the bottom of the feature with too much speed and not at the correct angle. So, we scoped a new entrance with a cool squirrel catcher (filter element) to let riders know that this line would be the harder option while then riding onto the slab from the side, diagonally, to minimize dirt migration and to line riders up to the berm below the slab at a more approachable angle. I tried to represent this in the photos attached from left to right. The first two show the step up on to the ridge and then the drop off the back side. The next photo is the turn at the tree and the fourth is looking back up towards the tree from the entrance to the slab.
There will be further tweaks to come as we observe rider traits and continue to get feedback. While there are certainly trails that exist with a feature or two similar to what’s on this alignment, Powder Keg will be the most continuous link up of these features along the Front Range. It will not be for the faint of heart and will likely get harder as it wears in clinging to the steep, rocky terrain where it resides. The trail is not officially open yet but we are looking for test riders so drop me a line if you want to try it out.
-R u t t e R