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How Reviews Trails

Who reviews the trails?  Bruce reviews the bike trails all by himself. Sometimes in the past he had the company of Jackie, the biking-crazed Jack Russell terrier. On trail, Bruce packs a camera, GPS unit, and a paper for notes.

Bruce with Jackie at Draper's Corner Canyon, around the year 2000.

How does Bruce pick trails for review?  The goal is to have information on every trail in Utah that's worth riding. First, Bruce needs to know the trail exists. Sometimes it's chatter on the internet. Or a post by a trail-building organization. Sometimes, it's a car with a bike rack parked where there wasn't a bike trail before. (So tell Bruce if you know a good trail that should be on this site!)

In 1998 on Amasa Back, overlooking the Colorado, L to R: Dominic, Bruce, Mike, Matt, Chad, Gary. Yeah, this website goes back that far!

How are the trails mapped?

Bruce rides the trails with his Garmin. For some trail systems, Bruce has to explore many forks and cow-paths to find the right ride. Sometimes it takes 30 miles of pedaling to document a 12-mile ride for the web site. Bruce takes notes on paper or with a digital recorder, and stops frequently to take photos.

Digital recorder in Snow Canyon in 2001.

Who pays for all this?  Through the Lehi UtahMountainBiking bike shop, Mike provides bike fix-ups and occasional freebies.  And in exchange for lots of advertising, the shop pays the web-hosting and internet access fees. But Bruce pays his own expenses to ride the trails, which can include gas, fluids, calories, lodging, and sometimes replacement bike parts.

Old heavy Garmin 12XL on Bruce's hardtail Specialized in 1999, back before anybody was using GPS data.

Who does the web programming?  Bruce writes the trail pages. The track file from Bruce's Garmin Edge 800 GPS unit gets downloaded to his laptop. That big track gets chopped, tweaked, and cleaned up. The result is an area file containing multiple trails to create the map, and clean GPS track files for you to download as suggested ride paths.

Depending on the terrain, the trail map may be satellite or topo. Bruce makes both a low-res overview map for the web page, and a high-resolution printable map to take with you. And yes, there are still some old hand-drawn "I think I went thataway" maps on the trail pages.

Figuring out a ride of the Bonneville Shoreline back in the old days. Yeah, on paper.

How long does all this take?  Creating a page for a new trail -- research, travel time, riding the trail, editing the photos, tweaking the GPS files, creating the maps, writing the trail description plus the by-the-mile riding instructions, and formatting the web page -- averages about 18 hours per trail.  Bruce doesn't get paid for this time. 

Over the past 18 years, Bruce has created at least 20 new trail pages per year. There are now over 400 trails on this site, which represents more than 500 eight-hour work days. Add the fix-it and first aid sections and...  Well, it's not a surprise that nobody else is giving this sort of information away for free.

Bruce mapping the Rocky Tops trail in 2014.