Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fools II: The Sequel

Trail poaching has been a hot topic in the Anchorage mountain biking community for the past week or so. I had hoped the incidents on Rover’s Run were isolated, but a few nights ago, I got another reminder of how some riders are self-indulgent jackasses.

A couple of friends and I went out to ride one of the new trails being built by Singletrack Advocates. Only one section has been opened for riding, while a couple of nearby sections are still being roughed in. Those trails aren’t ready for riding. Besides still having fragile surfaces, they’re under construction and not yet safe.

Just as we stopped at the top of the open trail, two riders came out of the woods nearby as they finished poaching the new advanced trail. As they ducked under the “trail closed” signs that cover each end of the trail, I tried to be polite as I said hello and told them why it’s important to be patient and stay off the trail until it opens.

They mumbled a couple of things like, “OK,” and “Sorry,” but I could tell they didn’t give a damn what I was saying.

Is it really so hard to be patient for a few more weeks? A tiny handful of their fellow mountain bikers have worked to build everyone the first true mountain bike trails in Anchorage—at great expense—and these guys are willing to risk fucking it up just because they demand instant gratification?

Maybe they’re some of the same people who have already started sneaking in with their own tools to make their own easy modifications of the newly opened section of trail. Dirt ramps are already being built against some of the rocks that were incorporated into the trail design.

It’s easy to risk getting a blister from five minutes with a shovel after others have spent three years building relationships with land managers, wading through the permit and grant processes, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to build you new trails. But it sure doesn’t show any gratitude or respect.

I hate it when mountain bikers suck.


Anonymous said...

Its a shame theres not a way to re-locate a bear to that part of the trail system until its done. That would keep them out, and maybe weed out the gene pool in the process.

Janice said...

Thanks for writing about this, Tim. I'm normally fairly quiet on the forums, but now that you mention it, it really does bug me that people are riding the trails that are under construction. As I hoof it into the construction site it's hard not to take personally the treadmarks that I step on. I haven't ridden much this 1/2 of the summer because I'm too tired after a day working the trails with these arthritic knees. Sure, I would like to be riding them--it would save me time and pain... but I have to set an example. At times it makes me feel that people are thumbing their noses at my efforts. I ask them not to ride the unfinished trails, I open a section just to keep people happy, and still these individuals show disrespect. Yeah, it sure sucks when mt. bikers suck.

The Old Bag said...

I feel for you -- those are the growing pains of a new organization. Around here, those who are most involved in trail creation, massaging community support, etc. have had to direct lots of education toward the mtb community about the ramifications of being on trails before they're ready, being on wet trails, etc. We've learned some hard lessons in trail damage and closure...and we've lost some wonderful, wild trail systems to development because the footwork of working with landowners, acquiring permits, etc. wasn't done. Seems there will always be battles between those who like to dig through the woods on their own and those who are trying to create trails through sustainable means. Good luck. Keep talking to people.