Environmental MTBing

Discussion in 'Mountain Biking' started by chh55, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    I have gone over completely to road biking, for several reasons but the main one was that I started to feel really guilty about mountainbiking. At the time of my decision I was living in a remote part of the Adirondacks and I was getting my feet back on the ground after 10 years in NYC. I started backpacking a lot and for anyone who knows about that area it is pretty amazing. In some of the more well traveled back country areas the trails were completely destroyed by MTBs. The tranquility and wildlife were also definitely affected by the "shredding" attitude of said bikers. The forest floor is a delicate structure of moss and small plants which is only now getting reestablished after the logging catastrophe of the 1800s. The bike tires rip through it and the ruts fill with water, the next pack comes through and avoids the ruts, making a new set... and so on. That area is especially sensitive but even in hardier areas the high speed riding scares wildlife and disturbs the peace so to say.
    I am wondering what you folks think about this, how many ride in "designated areas". How many of you have similar concerns? How many of you want to burn a tire on my lawn?
     
  2. Xela

    Xela New Member Tavern Member

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    I hope this discussion stays civilized.

    I can see both sides. We have trails here that are being hurt by mtn bikes. But they are also trails where 90% of the traffic is bikes, and the biking community does a lot of trail maintenance to keep the trails open and passable. So, in that case I think there is some trade-off there. On trails that are made and kept-up by bikers, there really can't be much complaint.

    A lot of our dedicated hiking trails are closed to bike traffic for the very reasons you listed. Our nicest trail, the 160+ mile Ozark Highlands Trail is only open to hikers, and I can definitely see the benefits of that on the trail.

    We don't have many "shredders" around here, so I really can't comment on that, but I do like the idea of dedicated hiking trails being closed to mtn biking, especially in sensitive environments like you mentioned.

    There's plenty of forest here to share, so if we as a biking community want to build new trails, it's usually not hard to get permission.
     

  3. ruggedscotsman

    ruggedscotsman hardtail hardass

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    I think you're right to have concern, but any outdoor recreation is going to impact the local environment. Even a small, well maintained hiking trail will impact the biodiversity of a region greatly. That being said, I think that mtb bikes offer users an easy way to explore more remote and ecologically fragile places than they could access on foot. These users may or may not understand their impact on the environment, and therefore you begin to see things like trail-widening and soil degredation. The same things can occur on a hiking trail, but mtn biking is a sport which does not always go hand in hand with conservation. I would hazard a guess that there are more hikers practicing a "leave no trace" ethic than there are mtn bikers. On the other hand, there are numerous mtn biking associations that promote responsible trail production, maintenance, and use. The more we can promote riding in designated areas, and educate all outdoor recreation enthusiasts about the impacts of their activities, the better.
     
  4. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    We are the earth the earth is us. The point of our intelligence is to learn to modify our landscape to fit our needs. We are not in conflict with the earth. If we were it would be unable to sustain us and we would die horrible and alone. The impact of mtb is an impact our planet can handle seeing as the nomadic people all through time left trails and marked there paths by modifying the environment. If it's not an issue then it's not an issue now. Enjoy your Trails!
     
  5. HandsomeRyan

    HandsomeRyan ♥'s Bicycles

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    I'm not taking a militant stance on either side of the issue but it is worth mentioning that well made/maintained trails should not have a large negative effect on a forest ecosystem.
     
  6. CTD50

    CTD50 DX's Biggest Member

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    I will not presume to tell you what to do; I do, however, have to stop and wonder a bit at stopping an activity you enjoy because of the abuse of others. One thing to ponder is: if you're not out there doing it RIGHT, then there is one less good example for the rippers. (Not that they'll pay much attention, but if you reach ONE...)

    I agree that there are too many irresponsible, overgrown urchins trying to ruin things for everybody just because "they're grown and can do as they please". I'd personally like to send each one of them down the trails that some other knee-jerk idiot has strung piano wire on.

    We can't care for and preserve our beloved off-road hobby/passion by quitting it.

    But, hey, like I said, I won't presume to tell you what to do. Your life is yours to live. Follow your conscience, as I do.

    Just keep riding -- it's TOO GOOD to give up entirely, right?
     
  7. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    I think you should MTB responsibly to demonstrate how it's supposed to be done.
     
  8. ruggedscotsman

    ruggedscotsman hardtail hardass

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    You're right. We are an intrinsic part of Earths natural systems. However, we are the first creature to modify our environment as we have done. Althought past humans may have had impacts in terms of trail networks etc, due to lower population densities and absence of technology, these networks had less of an impact on local biodiversity. I'm not arguing against trail building or riding, just to do so responsibly. Riding on muddy trails makes deep ruts in the soil structure that do not repair themselves in the off-season. Riding in some areas can disturb animals who prefer to avoid human contact. A local ski hill near my house has been expanding its mtb trail network over the past 3-5 years, and the black bears who used to live there have since disappeared. Assuming that the earth can take everything we throw at it is the attitude that has lead to our current ecological crisis. Don't stop riding, just increase the environmental education.
     
  9. Echihn

    Echihn FreerideLife

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    In all honesty, one trail, with how much forest there is won't mean anything for the environment. A car will do more damage than a bike ever will. IMO, stopping mtb just because you think its bad for the environment is well.. a very extreme thing to do. If you feel that way good for you. Whatever makes you happy. Plus, is it really worth quitting mtb just to save some bugs and moss? Seems like you have other reasons to stop mtb'ing besides the environment.

    Is this what you mean by the riders going off course?
    [​IMG]
    yes, yes, I know, I'm bad. But it was FUN. It is kinda bad how much I rooster up with my 2.8in tires though. Takes me an hour to clean it all off my bike.


    here is what some local boys made. There is a reason these guys are some of the best dh racers around. They train. DH training includes big freeride.
    http://www.pinkbike.com/video/14844/
    ahh look at all that nice timber. I bet a few bugs died in the process of it being made :D (just teasing)

    Don't worry, I'm all for the environment... environment use that is. Might as well enjoy life while we are here. (can't you tell I'm a repub by now... :D)


    it's good though you stopped. The more people that go to road biking the less crowded the trails will be meaning we can just go faster!!!


    and btw, I would never "burn a tire on your lawn" per say, wish harm on you, or bash on you. We each have our own opinions. I respect yours, and your choice. In the end, each person can do their own thing, and their own part. Whatever makes each of us happy in our own way. If you find peace by doing that, more power to you. I definitely can't with myself quitting mtb for any reason other than being severly injured. In the end, it's the dirt bikers you really need to worry about. They are the ones that kill trails. Bikes somewhat, but dirtbikes absolutely slaughter them. Snowmobiling is one thing, and I love it, but mx, that's a whole diff thing. They destroy everything they ride on. Just think, by riding mtb, your one less guy on a dirtbike, so in return your doing your part by riding a pedal bike. All perception really.

    (and btw, that was just grass in a city park in the pic... not the forest. It would be much worse of a rooster if it was in real back country...)


    Also to add... I figured I would mention that the sport of DH mtb is pretty much all backwoods riding in most cases. It's growing while bmx is slowing down. People get older than they progress up to bigger things. this is an example of a real big legit dh race... http://www.pinkbike.com/video/77804/
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  10. Tarukai

    Tarukai SMILEY CAR

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    When I end up not owing money to my parents (next year, lol), I'll probably join the Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club (and refer them to here ;) ), and then on the trails I can help out as well as have fun.

    I feel it's good to bike, but better to bike and then maintain, rather than destroy it for good.
     
  11. TxCyclist

    TxCyclist Administrator Staff Member Admin Staff

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    Around here a lot of the hiking trails where created by MTB Groups and maintained by them. We lack much public land in Texas and locally owe a lot of gratitude to the MTB groups that got land opened.
     
  12. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    Using our public land is hard to. State parks are massive and go on forever.In Austin our parks got better due to the activities that take place on the green belts, and the more frequently a park is visited the more attention it receives.
     
  13. Skidmark

    Skidmark Cycling for life

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    Honestly I am not trying to sound like a jerkwad here. Excellent points all. The road you ride and drive on was at one time a sensitive forest floor and so was your lawn. My point is some areas need to be designated for people including MTB and hiking. As population increases so does the area we need to live and thrive.
     
  14. Echihn

    Echihn FreerideLife

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    Good point!


    Ok, so, to the OP, this trail I plowed grows completely back each year by the time I get up there. Literally, it is completely veg yet again. The forest grows back at a substantial rate. Trees take awhile to grow back, but the forest floor takes almost no time what so ever. Moss, grass, bushes, brush, grows like weeds.

    [​IMG]

    and yes, this is not a city park like the last pic. This is deep in the forest in Washington on our private land.

    And btw, we use these trails for walking. Nice to be able to walk around, even in barefoot. Reason the trail needs to be so wide... well, that's the size of our grate. Also it grows in so fast its nice to leave room for it to grow in a whole year before it needs to be re done. Also, some nasty bushes. Rash heaven.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2009
  15. chh55

    chh55 Drink plenty of water!!!

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    Some great answers here! Thanks for restoring my faith in human nature (to a certain degree). My parents have a hobby farm in the hardwood forest area of central Minnesota and I agree that saplings and undergrowth return at an amazing rate there. My issues boil down to trail errosion and gonzo wahoos, neither of which I want to be a part of. Being there and showing the "right way" is important but I'll leave that job to you who have answered with wisdom (besides, my wife would kill me if I bought another bike!)
     
  16. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    Wives will do that. I hope everyone just gets back out there.
     
  17. Echihn

    Echihn FreerideLife

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    you can always just bring a folding military shovel with you and fix those ruts and smooth out the trail for other xc riders. Trail work / keepup is a must for the xc guys. Personally I like the ruts as bad as they can be being I'm a dher, but then again, that's why I don't go ruin xc trails and just ride the dh ones.

    PS buy the wife something in return. Easily distracted with shiny glimmering stuff :D
     
  18. London

    London Guest

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    Read all the posts and side with Echihn and funetical mostly.

    I don't ride in the woods much but own a MTB. I only ride roads cause I hate getting bounced around much. I'm old and fragile. But in my part of the state MTB use has brought a newfound appreciation of our state forests and conservation lands. Much good has come because of the bikers. Trails have been maintained that had been neglected for decades. Bridges in places we never had them before. More land awareness.

    I like the MTB kids I run into. At least they are using the land and not forgetting about it. As for ruining trails? Horses do more damage and I'd never speak ill of horse use. Trails and mud are part of the natural condition. Always has been and it does no real harm to the biosystem except for the actual ferns in the way. We can spare a few ferns.
     
  19. ruggedscotsman

    ruggedscotsman hardtail hardass

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    Mud is a natural phenomenon. Yes. However, when you have a lot of traffic on a trail that is very muddy, the ruts get deeper and deeper creating small ponds or swamps. This forces many around the problem, which then widens the trail. If this practice happens season after season, you can end up with a trail that is +50ft wide. It may not happen everywhere due to the number of users, but many well managed trails do not open (or discourage use) during muddy seasons for this reason.

    Any trail, no matter how well maintained or the size, has a negative effect on proximal biodiversity. I'm not saying we shouldn't be riding in the woods. However, as populations increase and we continue to pave over forested lands for suburban sprawl, there is less and less 'wilderness.' If we can responsibly manage our trail use in these settings, we will all be better off.
     
  20. funetical

    funetical Slowin it up.

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    The same thing could be said about everything we do. As masters of our environment, it's our responsibility to maintain. I just recently saw some thing on PBS that blamed the native Americans for De-foresting the better part of the Southwestern US some 2,000 years ago.