Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » "Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!"


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Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!" on 12/30/2012 11:39:07 MST Print View

A rerouting of Continental Divide Trail in souther Colorado could ban bikes

I realize this comes up every so often, and occasionally becomes a heated trigger point, but it still amazes me how fractured the outdoor "community" can be. Some hiker advocacy groups continue to polarize and perpetuate the anti-cyclist agenda, which doesn't seem to be the impression I get from those actually out hiking on the trails.

Is the hiking community at large, genuinely concerned about mountain bikers out on the trails to the point of motioning a ban on their accessibility?

"Social effects" and trail erosion again are the major points that the Forest Service touts as grounds for access reevaluation of the proposed trail section alternatives. What "social effects" are they speaking of?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Mountain bikes on 12/30/2012 12:03:19 MST Print View

I have no problem with mb as long as I don't get run over from behind like what almost happened twice, once on the AT and once on the PCT. what do they have in common? No bikes allowed on either trail. I don't believe bikes take away from the hiking experience on trails like the TRT where they are allowed on most of the trail. But where they are prohibited they should stay off. I have become a bit of an A$& when I see them on hiking trails.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: "Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!" on 12/30/2012 12:06:52 MST Print View

The attention getting headline "A Rerouting of Continental Divide Trail in southern Colorado could Ban Bikes" is about a proposed 31.2 mile re-route. Just like parts of CT, bikes will still have the original/alternate routes to follow.


"Is the hiking community at large, genuinely concerned about mountain bikers out on the trails to the point of motioning a ban on their accessibility?

On the 12 mile Monarch Crest portion of the CDT it is often not possible to hike because of the constant flow of mountain bikes. The Colorado Trail Foundation took the Forest Service there on a weekend in a "set up" to demonstrate the overuse issue. I wouldn't be surprised if similar "set ups" have occurred elsewhere.

"What "social effects" are they speaking of?"

The Environmental Assessment contains only one reference to "social effects", on page 28:

"The social effects of mountain bike use on the trail include encounters by hikers and horseback riders with mountain biking parties. Mountain bikers travel much faster than hikers and or horses, and often “appear” quickly, causing hikers and horses to have to quickly yield. In downhill (from bikers perspective) situations this can even lead to safety issues. A biker coming around a corner at high speed can come upon a hiker before either party is aware of the other."

Edited by greg23 on 12/30/2012 12:08:04 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Mountain bikes on 12/30/2012 12:12:52 MST Print View

Who usually has right of way, the biker or hiker?

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Mountain bikes on 12/30/2012 12:38:30 MST Print View

The way it is SUPPOSED to work is:

Bikes yield to hikers and stock

Hikers yield to stock

Stock yields to other stock, as conditions dictate.



That being said, courtesy states that when going downhill, one should yield to uphill traffic where possible. It's always harder to restart going up than going down, especially for a bike.


Of course, not everyone follows these yields. That's when you get collisions - or worse - leading to really bad attitudes towards all members of the offending persuasion.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Mountain bikes on 12/30/2012 13:08:57 MST Print View

My problem is the leverage used against mountain bikers being insubstantial in most cases, the trail erosion argument gets thrown around repeatedly- there's very little quantitative research to defend the erosion position. There is a lot of misinformation held by USFS personel regarding how people interact out on the trail, especially in regard to mountain bikers.

Anecdotal accounts from a few vocal hikers in opposition of cyclists shouldn't drive change, which I believe is happening in some instances, this case in particular. I have no personal attachment to this particular CDT reroute, but I do see potential trickle down effects as a result of banning mountain bikers in non-wilderness areas, particularly desirable areas for user types of all varieties.

Public wilderness is a resource that everyone wants to use and ENJOY, the question is who and what determines the qualifications of one over another.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Mountain bikes on 12/30/2012 13:29:41 MST Print View

"The way it is SUPPOSED to work is:

Bikes yield to hikers and stock"

I've never had a bike yield to me while hiking, or even look like they were going to. Ever. If I didn't yield, there would be an 'incident.'

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: "Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!" on 12/30/2012 13:32:44 MST Print View

a sort of flip side here ...
in our local mountains many trails are shared by bikers and hikers.
the bikers now want to claim a 2 mile stretch of trail for themselves and ban hikers simply because they have constructed a series of jumps along the trail and don't want hikers getting in the way.
Its on National Forest and the Forest Services is seriously considering it.
This would force a reroute of the annual San Diego 100, among other things.

Damn those mountain bike hooligans ...

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: "Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!" on 12/30/2012 13:33:16 MST Print View

> Is the hiking community at large, genuinely concerned about mountain bikers out on the trails
In general, yes.

On hardened forestry roads with adequate width there is not much of a problem and walkers can coexist with careful bike riders fairly easily. Just ring that bell as you approach! On footpads running through fragile steep wilderness areas bikes cause a lot of damage by erosion and are often under far less control. That is simply not acceptable for the long-term preservation of the environment.

Yes, I have first-hand experience oof all of this. When walkers go up and down a steep track their feet pat the surface down and even stabilise the track. I have seen this. When bikes go up and down the same tracks there are deep grooves etched in the fragile soil, leading to significant erosion. Horses with their steel shoes are even worse. I have seen this, many times, many places.

Cheers

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
"Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!" on 12/30/2012 13:54:07 MST Print View

Roger:

At least on the Colorado Trail (and where co-joined, on the CDT), mountain bikes and (I believe) stock are forbidden in federally-designated Wilderness areas. Special detour routes have been established for them to circumvent these fragile areas and rejoin the trail on the other side.

Mountain bikers and their clubs do a lot of maintenance annually on the CT. They use parts of the CT for some of their 100 mile races, and all of it for one end-to-end annual event.

Consequently, they have a vested interest in its condition. Like stockmen, bikers can not easily get over/around many downed trees, so they are out early clearing downfall. They are well aware of the channeling effect their tires can have on the trail. They are also a good source of rides to and from trailheads as well as on-trail help for injured hikers or to act as message-carriers. I've even had them offer me their extra water in long dry stretches.

I can count on one hand the number of CT bikers who didn't yield to me. One almost ran me down on a blind downhill curve approaching a trailhead. I must add that he stopped immediately and apologized quite sincerely, and warned me that there was another biker behind him. She wasn't moving quite as fast and was able to simply stop when she saw us. I let them go past and continued on my way.

YMMV on other trails, but at least on the CT, it's not a problem.

Edited by wandering_bob on 12/30/2012 14:01:35 MST.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Even and odd Days on 12/30/2012 14:13:54 MST Print View

On sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail, there are even and odd days for hikers or bikers. Not legally enforced, just enables each
group to have days more compatible with their activity.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Upsides to bikes on 12/30/2012 14:21:42 MST Print View

I've never had any bikers be intentionally rude to me on the trail. The Monarch Crest section of the CT did get annoying after a while. The real issue was just too many of them. However their are some definite upsides to the mountain biking craze.

1. Mountain Biking gets lots of people outside. If we want the public to support preserving wild places we need a significant part of the public to have a stake in them (more on this later).

2. Mountain bikers rarely do overnight trips. The vast majority of mountain bikers I see are just out for the day. Now they may be harder on the trails (at least in some areas) but since they are not camping they are avoiding some of the impact associated with heavy camping us.

3. Like UL backpacking mountain biking is a good way for busy people to get out and see a large chunk of wild country without going on a major expedition.

Now David C. has argued we should allow mountain biking in some wilderness. I don't know about that but I would argue we should find a way include mountain bikes in some wild areas. Since mountain bikers large percentage of the outdoor recreation crowd it will be a lot easier to get support for preservation if mountain biking is allowed in new wild areas we preserve.

One possible solution would be to simply build paralleled trails in heavily used area like the Monarch Crest.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
mountain bikes on 12/30/2012 16:08:00 MST Print View

"One possible solution would be to simply build paralleled trails in heavily used area like the Monarch Crest."

A nice idea, but in today's economy, not a viable option.

I would suggest that a more viable and efficient solution would be to plan one's hike (as much as possible) so as to avoid the popular mountain bike sections on the weekend, when most of the bikers are on the trail. Let's be somewhere else. Most of the bikers will be in their cubicles Monday through Friday, and the trails are mostly ours (except for retired or vacationing bikers).

Enjoy the trails.
Kiss a biker; it confuses the daylights out of them.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
horses are the problem on 12/30/2012 16:48:42 MST Print View

I'm not familiar with the CDT. Maybe the mountain-bike problem is serious there.

My general observation, though, having hiked various parts of the US, is that horse use is a much greater problem. I was raised with horses and support my many horseback riding friends. But the wilderness trails that experience even modest use by horses/stock seem to be dusty, torn up, eroded. Have you ever noticed that the trails where stock is banned or rare are DRAMATICALLY more pleasant to hike than the horse-trampled ones? On top of that is the issue of stock tearing up meadows and waterways, even in very fragile high-elevation areas. Why are they even allowed up there??

If we could redirect some hiker angst about mountain biking to address the much greater problems caused by stock-overuse, I would be greatly relieved.

- Elizabeth

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: "Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!" on 12/30/2012 17:15:06 MST Print View

"Yes, I have first-hand experience oof all of this. When walkers go up and down a steep track their feet pat the surface down and even stabilise the track. I have seen this. When bikes go up and down the same tracks there are deep grooves etched in the fragile soil, leading to significant erosion. Horses with their steel shoes are even worse. I have seen this, many times, many places."

+1 to your entire post. It sums up the environmental problems quite nicely. Then there are the "social" problems attributable to the differences in speed of bikers and hikers, particularly where visibility where visibility is limited. The 2 simply cannot coexist on wilderness trails, period. I am all for allowing bikers full access on non pristine front country trails, but on wilderness trails, no way!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: horses are the problem on 12/30/2012 17:20:39 MST Print View

"On top of that is the issue of stock tearing up meadows and waterways, even in very fragile high-elevation areas. Why are they even allowed up there??"

In a single dirty word: politics. The horsepackers have Congress in their hip pocket. I don't know how many rangers have told me not to even bother reporting egregious damage because they can't touch them.

"If we could redirect some hiker angst about mountain biking to address the much greater problems caused by stock-overuse, I would be greatly relieved."

A huge +1, but don't hold your breath. :(

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Seen some of both sides... on 12/30/2012 18:03:48 MST Print View

Having been a long time mountain biker, and continuing to this day albeit with a bit of a lapse in my mountain biking activity due to, for a time, living in utterly flat SE Texas, I can say I've seen both sides. It's quite interesting really, to consider now that I never thought I would be much of a hiker in the past but there's actually quite a lot to be said for it obviously. Anyhow, here's some thoughts in random order...

Mountain biking has long since been vilified on account of erosion but it really has a lot to do with a number of factors people often don't talk about, or even really know about so they're all just lumped together. For instance, singletrack ridden in much of the NE US is through dense forest land and many of those trails aren't suitable for human bipedal travel (they're too tight). I've watched trails over decades have zero maintenance with very very little noticeable erosion. On the other end of the spectrum, downhill mountain bikes whose use is limited to a very finite environment (a sizable hill/mountain, with road access to the top) can do a fair amount of damage on switchbacks as people slide around corners at a much greater speed with much more momentum.

However, eroded trails are also no fun to ride and downhillers are extremely likely (more so than your casual XC rider because they're they're the most vilified) to participate in controlled trail building, trail armoring (with rocks), and water-bar creation. And here's the thing, at the end of the day, a single dirt bike, or quad, going up or down any outdoor trail will instantly with one twist of the throttle do more damage than a season of heavy-use by mountain bikers. Moreover, often in the mountainous areas that draw the most mountain bikers, logging and uncontrolled residential development quickly destroys swaths of wild spaces. Strong lobbies back those types of activities however, and mountain biking is an easy scapegoat, especially with outdoor types being pitting against one another while corporations and land developers laugh while we're all in-fighting. Let's not even mention jeep trails and how doubletrack through sensitive national parks blows my mind while I can't take my dog for fear he might take a dump next to a cactus, fern, or kodiak bear that's never experienced dog poo. *rolleyes*

As far as hikers on dedicated trails, sadly I'm rather biased. If you're a hiker and you find a new trail cut by some mountain bikers with jumps all over it, have some common sense and at least avoid sauntering up the ridable line. The good news is that mountain bikers don't go more than several miles into the backcountry, prefer loops, and if you're really out in the middle of nowhere you're not going to find riders, much less jumps and things of that nature (tools are too heavy to carry!). All this said, apparently those wily canadians will lug chainsaws into the backcountry, so British Columbia is an exception to some of these insights....which is why I'm dying to ride British Columbia. But I digress.

Lastly, it's a pretty rare mountain biker that will be rude to a hiker, and a dumb one who will spook a horse. I've known and associated with probably over a hundred riders over the last two decades as a mountain biker and never heard one story of any encounters (from either side of the equation). Near-crashes happen but certainly an adult rider knows we're supposed to yield to everyone. Naturally, YMMV.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
There are some comparable situations on 12/30/2012 22:21:26 MST Print View

Good post, Alec. I am a road biker, not a MB, but I think you made your points well.

And there is another analogy here. IN winter, those on snowshoes are asked to keep their feet out of the cross-country ski tracks...and both groups do seem to be able to co-exist. Admittedly, there is a lot less dependence on a specific trail in winter travel...since you can always go where you want.

Horse packers have been granfathered in to many of these areas. Since MBs are new, they don't enjoy that kind of treatment. Who knows? In another generation MBs will be grandfathered in, and complaining about those knuckleheads on scooters, or seques...

We have trails in my part of the country that are shared with MBs, and I have found them quite polite on the trails. Of course, I usually meet them when they are going uphill...and aren't going any faster than I am! And there are trails where MBs are prohibited. Happily, I haven't had to deal with MBs on those trail. yet.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
new trail cut by some mountain bikers on 12/31/2012 10:54:07 MST Print View

"If you're a hiker and you find a new trail cut by some mountain bikers with jumps all over it, have some common sense and at least avoid sauntering up the ridable line."

And here is the problem around Tahoe. Illegal trails made by mountain bikers without the land managers okay and input. Proper
trail building takes thought, experience, education and input from all stakeholders.

The majority of bikers are a big part of trail maintenance tho, and this is important because the trails used by bikers can
turn to moon dust by the end of the season. Erosion control is critical to Tahoe's clarity.

Edited by oware on 12/31/2012 10:55:13 MST.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!! on 12/31/2012 11:44:43 MST Print View

Yeah, and hikers have never made a new shortcut, or cut a switchback.