Building The Perfect Track

I want to build a mathematically perfect mountainboard track. It would include all the knowledge we’ve gained from thinking about how tracks should be built.

It would use a clinometer to ensure the track always runs at a constant angle, the rollers would be built using a sine wave with a 7:1 ratio, and the berms would be laid out using constant curves and radii.

Laying out the perfect berm

All I need is a hill and the time.

Stars and pyramids

A few things happened today which made me think more about the strategic level models that guide how the ATBA-UK works on its mission of supporting the growth of mountain boarding in the UK.

I currently have two models at different stages of completion and understanding.

The Riders Model

Mountainboarding rider's progession model


This pyramid shows the pathways approach we use to understand what types of mountainboarders there are, how people get into mountain boarding, what barriers get in the way, and what we do to help people overcome the barriers.

First timers are mostly those people who go to a centre and have a lesson. For most of them, that’s all the mountain boarding they will ever do and we recognise that one of the barriers that exists for this segment is the perception that mountainboarding is a one off activity like paintballing or zorbing but isn’t the kind of thing you do as a hobby.

Those that do take up mountainboarding as a hobby we call Hobbyists. These riders usually have a cheap board, will ride occasionally during the summer, and aren’t part of the community. A lot of these people are perfectly happy riding occasionally, but the barriers that prevent this group from moving up the model include the price of boards, not having others to ride with, and perhaps having lots of other things going on in their lives.

Those riders that are part of the community and ride regularly we call Recreational Riders. Moving a percentage of these riders up to the next level is a priority to counter the attrition rate of Competitive riders, who are those that participate in competitions. Arranging different types of competitions and choosing different locations for the competitions is one of the pathways we use to take Recreational Riders into the Competitive level, whilst also hopefully providing some variety for the Competitive Riders to keep them interested.

The Industry Model

Mountainboarding industry constellation model

This Constellation Model  is actually a model used by social enterprises to enable partner organisations to work together to achieve the same goal without having to be formally organised as a single entity. It means that any organisation within the constellation can get on with doing their thing regardless of the other organisations, but they are all working together in a loose way as they all have the same goal.

As I adapt this to fit the world of mountainboarding, I can see constellations developing for ‘Mountainboard Centres’, ‘Activity Centres’, and ‘Retailers’, with the ATBA-UK taking on the role of stewardship and the shared vision being one of growing mountainboarding in the UK. What is particularly interesting on this model, and why I think it fits mountainboarding so well, is the chaos/order line. This shows that all the elements of the various constellations can and do operate in a disorganised way, but that the shared goal and stewardship can bring order to the whole system and achieve more than the sum of it’s parts.

The final stage of this model development will be figuring out how the two models fit together and mutually support each other, e.g. with the Centres constellations having a focus on First-timers and all levels of riders in the Pyramid having a connection with the Retailers constellation.

Entrepreneurial Schools

Heard a brief thing on the radio about encouraging students in schools to be more entrepreneurial by starting a business with £10. It started me thinking how they could do that.

If I were them I would leverage the community aspect of the school to provide stock to sell and as customers. I’d set up an Ebay shop that would be stocked with items donated by students, parents and teachers. However, to make better use of the school community and encourage people to keep providing stock (there needs to be a part of the strategy that considers sustainability), I’d award points to each of the donors based on how much the items they donated sell for, e.g. 1 point for 1 pound. These points can then be redeemed at the school for things like free tickets to school plays.

Of course, it would be promoted via the usual social media channels that kids love, ifttt’d from ebay to FB, TW, IG, etc. The points system could be run on Mailchimp so that everyone involved gets regular emails telling them how many points they have earned and what products are for sale this week.

So, what would the £10 be spent on? The postage of for the first round of items sold until you’ve got some profit to pay the delivery on more items.

Getting MUKy

I’ve been trying to be more disciplined and spend one evening a week on each project. Thursdays is for mountainboardng.uk.com. Having looked at the analytics I took the Your Questions Answered out of the menu and the sidebar as it obviously isn’t getting any interaction from visitors. I also added a couple of new products and collated some info for an article. Just got to write it now. I’ve also got a list of design changes to make to the site but at least now I know that I can expect to work my way through them every Thursday evening.

The MUK ifttt seems to be working pretty well. Even though each post only gets a few views (because not many people like the page and because facebook doesn’t really like automated posting), it’s a regular feed of mountainboarding stuff happening online in the UK. The ebay listings yielded a positive result of getting an old mountainboarder to buy a board and get back into it.

The Stelzer Solution

Spent all day building the spreadsheet to run the BoarderX racing.

We start with a list of riders who have entered the comp, order them based on their results from last year, split them in groups of sixteen so riders of the same ability are competing against each other, give them three races each to earn points, add those points up to get their qualified position, sort the riders into their categories maintaining the order they qualified in, fold them into their first knockout race, remove the two who finish 3rd and 4th, repeat unto the final, and then add up all the finishing places to get a list that looks very much like the one we started with.

ATBA-UK Product/Market Fit

How do we make sure that the products we deliver (competitions, membership, instructor training, etc) are want our customers (riders, parents, instructors, centre owners, retailers, etc.)?

Product/Market Fit has been described as if 40% of your customers would be disappointed if they could no longer use your products. This easily applies to competitions, I’m pretty sure most of the people who come to the comps would be disappointed if we didn’t run them, but what about our other products? They don’t have the same customer engagement and loyalty, and if they stopped, most people probably wouldn’t care.

We need to change that. But how? It’s relatively easy to survey the riders at a competition, but surveying about membership and instructor training is much harder. The question, ‘What does the customer want?’, is difficult to answer when the customer doesn’t know what they want.

So, we continue to add benefits and extras to things like membership and instructor training to improve the inherent value of the product, but we still can’t be sure we’re heading in the right direction.

Misdirection

One of my Google Alerts for my name turned up a couple of weeks telling me that I was a Director of the ATBA-UK. This was news to me. I don’t remember discussing it at a committee meeting or agreeing to it.

Having confirmed it with the person who files the returns to Companies House, I suddenly felt a little conflicted. It’s a pretty big deal being a company director, it comes with a lot of responsibility and consequences if someone else doesn’t do what they are supposed to.

On the other hand, I kinda expect to be involved with the ATBA-UK for the next ten years  or so, and I think I’ve got a lot to bring to the success of the organisation, so I guess it kind of makes sense. However, I am definitely going to work on putting more robust systems in place to make sure we comply with the regulations.

Something else I will work on is a guiding policy to ensure things like how directors are chosen, and having 25% of the board members being female, are followed.

How to layout berms

Today’s work on berms.

Finding the centre of existing berms using two dissected chords.

What is the best radius for a berm? Somewhere between two and three times the width of the track.

Laying out the out-track to make use of the tangent line the rider will be following as they leave the berm.

Euler Curve for the cross-section of the berm, giving a 5m wide track a riding width of approx 5.6m in the berm.

Just need to get it all into some kind of easy to follow instructions.

How we should build berms

I’ve been thinking more about writing track building guidelines, and although they need to be quite detailed, I think they also need to have simple takeaway ideas that are easier for people to get their head around and make it more likely that the guidelines will get adopted.

These could be things like:

  • Tracks – Build up, don’t dig down.
  • Berms – Constant radius, and build on the track, not next to it.
  • Rollers – Seven times as long as high