Thanks to a generous contribution by Ryan Knoche’s family and friends, through the Ryan Knoche Memorial Fund for Trail Construction, MedWheel is pleased to introduce our newest piece of trail construction hardware – a mini excavator trail construction machine. The mini-ex is called Big Pony in honor of Ryan – who was given that nickname by his MTB racing friends.
Big Pony is a Bobcat E20 – the smallest Bobcat that is a set up for trail construction.
While a mini excavator will never completely replace hand construction, especially on narrow tech trails and steep side slopes (reference: Upper Codell!), the Big Pony will accelerate MedWheel’s expansion of our trail network by providing new capability for creation of trail corridors, placement of technical features, and construction of tread in flow trail segments.
Big Pony drastically expands MedWheel’s range of professional trail construction offerings. Its narrow 39″ tread allows the smallest footprint during construction, and can be expanded while digging, for improved stability. It accepts a moveable thumb (coming soon!) that will allow easy placement of rocks and other technical features on the trail. A mini-ex allows significantly faster and more robust new trail construction, compared to handwork with shovels, picks and McLeods. Check out this video of trail builders in Tennessee using similar machines in conjunction with hand work, to construct a bike park, including DH and Enduro trails.
The first task for the Big Pony is the creation of a segment of an MTB race course, located on campus at our partners, Fountain Valley School (FVS) in Southeast Colorado Springs. The FVS race course will be the first track on the front range that will meet Colorado High School MTB Race League requirements. Races at FVS are being planned starting in 2024, with a target for a sanctioned race in late 2024 or 2025. Once it’s open, FVS will provide a place for our region’s MTB teams to train and race, without requiring travel to the high country.
We will continue to use Big Pony at FVS in the coming months as we expand the trails there, and we’re actively developing more new trail projects in the region with other land manager. Check back for more details.
Big Pony and a trailer to move it, were provided to MedWheel thanks to the Ryan Knoche Memorial Fund for Trail Construction. If you would like to help us honor Ryan and expand trail opportunities in the Pikes Peak region, we welcome your help! It takes financial support to create new trail opportunities and to operate the Big Pony. Donate now to MedWheel, your local IMBA chapter and a 501(c)3 non profit that has been building, sharing and protecting inspiring trail experiences here since 1991.