TLDR: What is Johnny Royale:
A one-way progressive, black diamond level park-style flow/ jump trail at the Sandy Ridge Trail System, a BLM managed public trail system. It starts above the bridge where Upper Hide and Seek and Two Turn Tables Converge. It is currently the most progressive flowtrail style jump line on BLM managed lands, a title previously held by the Enticer Trail in Redding, California.
I’m so freaking stoked on this trail. Before Johnny Royale, the closest and most similar experiences were the jump lines at Post Canyon. (also managed by the BLM) I’ve been thinking about it constantly. Sunday was the official opening day and I spent all day at Sandy Ridge, riding 4-5 solo laps of the trail. By the last lap, I had successfully jumped all save the large step up at the top – you have to save something, right?
The pedal is relatively short- just up to the start of lower Hide and Seek, but then down and across the bridge to access the starting point.
The soil was surprisingly moist — in fact, there are two wet spots that will need to be addressed in the wet season. Several of the berms were a bit slick as well, which took some time to build confidence on. I spent all afternoon working on the trail.. in this case, that meant mostly just riding it on repeat and hitting a few more sections each time as I grew comfortable of the speed and was willing to commit to the take-off.
Learning the Trail
Assuming you are already comfortable with dirt jumping and bike park trails, the best way to learn the trail is to break it down into bite size pieces/ segments, riding with a friend or two of a similar level or better so you can let someone else be the guinea pig. If you’re not, I recommend getting dialed on the jumps on Rock Drop, Quid Pro Flow first, as well as the jumps on Thrillium at Cold Creek and Extended Play at Post Canyon.
We’re fortunate to have quite a few jump line style flow trails where riders can safely progress and build confidence, and I would recommend practicing your skills on the following local area trails first:
- Blue Line at the Lumberyard Bike Park, Portland, OR
- Wood jump line at Gateway Green, Portland, OR
- Kleeway at Post Canyon
- Extended Play (Post Canyon)
- TNT (Sandy Ridge)
- Thrillium (Cold Creek)
The majority of the riders we saw on the trail Sunday were rolling down at a moderate pace, checking everything out. The speed and size of the jumps is reminiscent of park style trails like A-Line at the Whistler Bike Park.
What’s the best bike for the trail?
Most riders we saw that are successfully hitting the lines were on enduro caliber bikes, though a shorter travel slopestyle class bike would work well under the right rider. You really need to carry momentum on the trail to clear all the jumps, which means minimal braking for much of it. While I was working my way up, I bottomed out my rear suspension a number of times, as I was holding back. Once I stayed off the brakes and committed to the send, I was clearing everything.
Can anyone ride it?
We do not recommend this as a trail for all riders. While almost all the features are rollable, it is an advanced level trail. (If you’ve ridden the Blue Line at the Lumberyard or can jump all the jumps on Quid Pro Flow you may be ready to begin to learn the trail).
While traffic on the trail is currently light, in order to successfully negotiate the jumps on the trail, high speeds are mandatory. Although the sight lines on the trail are good, loitering in the middle of the trail could be disastrous — for both the rider and the person blocking the trail. (if you caused someone to crash by standing in the middle of the trail there also is the possibility that you could face financial liability – we do live in a litigious country)
There isn’t yet signage or an adequate skills filter at the beginning of the trail, so be hyperaware that if you’re checking it out and stopped that you should give plenty of leeway to riders descending.
The jumps are sizable and riders working their way down the trail require a high degree of concentration.
Why did it open so late?
That’s a great question, as construction on the trail has been done for some time. There were a number of reasons, but most center on concern about rider safety, maintenance, and trail management. A number of riders including myself are currently in discussions on how we can adopt the trail to maintain the existing user experience.
What are the plans for maintenance?
Jumps with actual bike park style lips require more maintenance than a typical flow track. Dirt jump lips require more technique to maintain their shape, and without a water supply, maintenance will be dependent on available moisture.
It’s not the first trail of this nature though, the Enticer and the new jump trail at Mountain of the Rogue have been in place for some time.
This post will be updated soon with additional information and photos.