The Official Beer of Bend Trails

The Rating Game

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My friend Joe, one of the founders of this BendTrails web site, asked me some advice about some of the trails in the Bend area. I’ve been riding these trails since they were built, sometimes I was the first person to ride many of these trails.

Joe also invited me to look at this website a few days before it went live. So I did and what really caught my attention was the trail ratings. Every trail has a rating. Now I don’t usually pay attention to trail ratings in the Bend area because I know every trail, or at least I think I do. I don’t look at the local maps because I know the area. I worked for the US Forest Service before I worked at Sunnyside Sports and I was on the crew that built the “helipad“. Yes it was a “helipad” for fire control.

Anyway I was intrigued by our trail ratings. The first thing I asked Joe was where are the Red Trails. He told me he never heard of Red Trails. Well when I’m in Europe riding I do look at maps and Red trails are my go to trails. They are longer, more difficult, no mandatory jumps or drops. Just good old fashioned XC trails. Lookout mountain, Mrazek, Flag Line etc. Apparently we call those trails blue with black sections. I find that confusing. To me black means you are jumping, doing some death defying drop or walking. That is what it means in Scotland. Blue means pretty darn easy with some good climbing and descending. Red means rock gardens, small drops, tight switch backs. I think we need Red over here.

For example Crooked Arm at Horse Ridge is Black. I walk, good riders ride it, but don’t always clean it. COD has nothing like Crooked Arm. There are a couple of Rock Gardens that most intermediate riders ride, they may dab but never is there a do or die moment. Both trails have black diamond markings. For a rider from out of town this is confusing.

This is not the fault of this website by the way. These ratings are on the local maps. I went back and looked. I hope in the future we can get a more standard rating system. As a start let’s add Red to the menu.

Thanks for reading. I hope to continue to write about our local trails. This will be a different blog than The World According to Don.

Don LeetThis article was contributed by Don Leet. Don is one of the original Bend mountain bikers and the former owner of Sunnyside Sports. He still works three days a week at Sunnyside. His career highlights are a Bronze and Silver Medal at the 1988 NORBA World Championships in Mammoth Lakes Ca, and a Gold medal at the 2011 USA Cycling National Championships in Sun Valley.He is now retired from racing but continues to ride and love Mountain Biking.

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  1. Don Leet says:

    My problem are the bi colored trails. Green with blue, blue with black etc. too ambiguous. People from out of the area have no idea what that means. However since our trails are relatively easy no one will really get over their heads anyway.

    1. I agree with Don on this point. The IMBA standards are really specific about grade and obstacle size, so every trail should be able to fit into a single classification (rating the biggest feature or grade you’d encounter on that trail). Green is a 4″ drop, Blue is 8″ drop, so does that mean that Blue+Green is a 6″ drop? I agree that it’s kind of confusing.

    2. Joe Myers says:

      is there a color between green and blue? That’s what most trails in bend tend to be.

      1. Yeah. It’s Sea Foam Green. Bend trails are Sea Foam Green. LOL.

  2. Joe Myers says:

    I think what we use basically follows IMBA. We basically set ratings based on how COTA rated them.

    http://cotamtb.com/wp-content/uploads/COTA_Standards_Draft_Oct_2011.pdf

    Staying with IMBA I would like to see a green circle with a blue square inside for trails that have green and blue. Which is what most of bend trails are. And more use of the blue square with black diamond which is what most of out black trails are.

    The idea of a red trail as Don explains sounds very clear.

  3. Kevin Donnelly says:

    Why not just follow IMBA? Also, when I think red rating, it make me think of pro-line. Above double black. like Whistler.

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