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"Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!!"
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!! on 12/31/2012 13:13:42 MST Print View


I think a good deal of the angst between hiker and biker factions could be eliminated by bikers simply following the "guidelines" of yielding to hikers. Problem is, I don't know how practical (or doable) bikes yielding to hikers is in the real world.

I hike and run on very heavily shared MTB trails and the majority of bikers I encounter will rarely yield to those on foot.

Now personally, I don't care in most cases, and think we can co-exist just fine if BOTH sides give a little courtesy based on the situation. Seeing someone coming through a section, if I can easily step aside and let them pass, why not? It doesn't make a lot of practical sense to require the faster moving person to yield to the slower one. I used to MTB a lot and always appreciated a hiker waving me on.

Problem is, did they do it out of politeness or out of fear of getting run over? There's a big difference, and I don't think it's always very obvious to a rider.

There are many times I have to yielded to bikes not at all because I'm being polite, but because with the speed, width of handlebars, and width of trail, it's not practical. Expecting a biker to yield on a steeper downhill section, especially if it's rocky, doesn't work; so again, it's not exactly because I'm being cool, it's because if I don't get out of the way, someone's going to get hit or fall. So basically, it's a biker forcing me off the trail. I think anyone forcing anyone off a trail is a bit rude (don't get me started on mule trails and horses).
And I must say, it can get pretty annoying to be left in a trail of dust because a string of bikes blows past me, especially when you step aside for the first rider and they simply yell "Three more behind me!" then are left standing in the bushes to get blown past by the rest.

Hikers and runners can typically pass each other, even on singletrack, without anyone feeling like they've got to get into the bushes or off the trail to give room.

The scenarios I mention are pretty regular where I live, I'm not going for argumentative hyperbole here. Ask anyone that rides in the Angeles National Forest about the popular El Prieto singletrack; a beautiful little front range section right above my house. I used to ride it a lot. But from a runner's or hiker's perspective it can be pretty scary because of fast downhill MTB traffic; they take the fire roads up and bomb the singletrack down. I certainly wouldn't want to hike it with my family, especially not on a Saturday or Sunday morning, no exaggeration. So is that fair? This sort of thing does get under people's skin.

I don't think it has to be an either/or situation, but I do think there are some serious etiquette issues, especially concerning speed and right of way. In the end, I don't know how this sort of stuff gets solved; it's partially like trying to legislate that people not be rude to each other.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
two wrongs make a right on 12/31/2012 13:42:37 MST Print View

": Flow trails cost triple what managers would need to construct a regular hiking trail. Some estimates pin the price at as much as $30,000 per mile. Not to mention that construction equipment used to build the trails stands out like a sore thumb in the natural areas where they're located. Still, most flow trails are financed with grants and recreation fees – so at least taxpayers aren’t footing the bill."

"The U.S. Forest Service is cracking down after bikers secretly cut up to 30 miles of trails in the Tahoe backcountry over the last decade.-Freeriders, who enjoy downhill runs with jumps, steep drops off rocks and higher speeds, don't find the 255-mile bike trail system in national forests around Tahoe exciting enough."

""The level of damage to resources has become out of control; we can't stand by and let it happen," said Garrett Villanueva, civil engineer and trail planner for the Forest Service. "It's gone over that threshold from not so bad to pretty serious impacts to water quality." "

Coming to your Wilderness Area soon?Mtn Bike

I have moved from the Tahoe Area to NE Washington. I wish it were Mtn Bikes here. Around here the most aggressive and
beligerent users are the 4w ATV riders and snowmobiles. They are getting many previously roadless areas open to motor travel and cut the proposed protection zone for the last of the wildland cariboo down to 10% of originally proposed. The snowmobilers
are lobbying with some success to have the cariboo take off the endangered species list because there are only a handful left
in this country.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Bikes "Yielding" on 12/31/2012 18:28:58 MST Print View

Doug Ide is right, in MANY years of sharing trails with mountain bikers ONLY one yielded to me.

Bike shops need to hand every mountain bike buyer a set of Trail Etiquette rules.
And we hikers (through our organizations) need to be sure the shops have copies of these rules to hand out.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
eduation - and more trails on 12/31/2012 19:30:17 MST Print View

Here are two organizations that are working to promote better relationships between hikers ans mountain bikers: The first is the organization that runs high school mountain bike racing leagues all over the country. A central part of their mission is teaching kids to ride the trails with courtesy and respect for other trail users.

The second organization is actually building new multi-use trails and bike specific trails in the National Forests, as well as doing substantial trail maintenance and improvement work.

Hikers and mountain bike riders can coexist on the trails, in my opinion and experience, but it requires respect and courtesy from both sides and a willingness to educate rather than condemn. I also think that mountain bikers need to put a little more of their energy, time and money into new trails and less into fancy new bikes.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Damn those mountain bike hooligans on 01/01/2013 08:24:03 MST Print View

The problem is apparently a lack of reading comprehension.

The signs are obvious, but bikes never yield.

The trails where bikes are not allowed are clearly marked, but still they ride.

I don't see this changing anytime soon.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Damn those mountain bike hooligans on 01/01/2013 09:11:53 MST Print View

Multi-part reply here:

  1. Whatever we do, don't let Mr. Mike Vandeman discover this forum!

  2. I sometimes am in a role reversal. We have limited hilly areas where I live and variety is important in getting me out hiking so I have been known to hike on Mtn Bike trails. So I'm one of those D*mn Hikers! I quickly get out of their way well in advance. Occasionally there's situations where they are approaching slow and quiet from behind and they need to make their presence known but I have never been harrassed. Perhaps that's the notorious "MN Nice" at work?

  3. From my observation (upper midwest USA soils) the erosion issue is very real.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
speak of the devil on 01/01/2013 09:25:37 MST Print View

Jim, if you know about that convicted felon, you know he scours the internet for mention of his name --and has been here in 2012. I agree with you that BPL is much better without him. Here, he would find plenty of weak minds quick to drink the kool aid and other weak minds, quick to argue. The "cranky winter doldrums on the internet" haven't even fully settled in and you can already see where this thread lurched off to.

(To the weak-minded, note that I've referred to both sides of the simple issue in the same manner, but that I mean it less for your particular side. This refers to you if you took offense at being rightly noted as weak minded.)

For me, lightweight backpacking is appropriately discrete from trail access issues and best remains so for what I view as the best interests of a fine website, like this. This thread is CHAFF, at best.

Alex Eriksson

Locale: Austin, TX
Oh noes! on 01/01/2013 21:48:22 MST Print View

"...secretly cut up to 30 miles of trails in the last decade..."

Uh oh! That's 3 whole miles of trail a year, or 52,800 square feet of 10' wide trail! Oh wait that's only about 1.2 acres of directly impacted land. But what about all those metric tons of run-off into the local watersheds?! Actually let's not, because even if it's an order of magnitude snowballed, or several orders of magnitude larger, it's peanuts. That shining example of how awful the "problem" is is pure sensationalism. Let's even hypothesize that all 30 miles of trails were cut in a rather confined space, let's say "the only space" available to outdoor enthusiasts. The bigger picture; shouldn't we be more concerned that these outdoor enthusiasts have only a handful of places left to even adversely impact?!

And frankly what's 30 miles of trails in 10 years really equal? About 2 days worth of hiking for an average BPL'er? Perspective is what the whole specific anti-trail-cutting issue could really use at times because, again:

A simple development of suburban homes disturbs and causes generations worth of damage to a wild area (mind you, it was ALL wild area once, even your suburban mall)....

A well built road causes more air, sediment, and noise, and light pollution than any small network of trails...

This is the exact in-fighting that keeps the environmentally damaging industries and even just suburban sprawl in the money while enthusiast communities organize against each other with pitchforks and shovels like Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York."

*** Incendiary Statement Warning ***

If you enjoy the suburbs, moved there, built a home there, raised your kids there; you're far from blameless for wild areas disappearing. This country has a problem with sprawl. Everyone wants their homestead safe from the big scary cities, but in doing so, in failing to innovate and work towards more efficiently dense living, you and the infrastructure and all the businesses to support your suburban lifestyle, has caused more damage to the outdoors than any group of fun loving hikers, bikers, or whomevers taking part in their hobby. Don't tell me about your BS low carbon footprint when your McMansion or split-level stripped clean an acre of trees and replaced it with pointless sod and long commutes.

Edited by aeriksson on 01/01/2013 21:53:56 MST.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Lake Tahoe on 01/02/2013 09:21:01 MST Print View

The lake is an extreme example. i believe the refill rate is about 700 YEARS. The clarity has dropped from Mark Twain's 100+
feet where he describes "ballooning" when floating in a raft on it, quite a bit due to sedimentation. The entire community is responsible for the decline as you say, but is also taking that responsibility seriously, bikers and developers included. Adding a garage to your home there means you may have to plant grass on your roof or tear up your concrete driveway and replace it with a permiable surface as mitigation. Or more likely it won't be allowed at all.

Trails that drop straight down the mountains deliver a lot of moon dust straight into the lake. These are the kind of trails being
built by the scofflaw heavy bike riders. The bulk of the mountain bikers do not approve.

Sure, piss in your own pot and someone else's too. You are justified because others trash places.

Edited by oware on 01/02/2013 09:24:50 MST.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Bikes vs hikers vs stock vs dogs vs ? on 01/02/2013 10:04:59 MST Print View

This is a discussion that always fascinates me. I'm no different, I have my own biases and favorite outdoor pursuits...

When I am hiking I simply HATE to come across stock on the trails. I hike with my dog, he's afraid of horses and so if horses are allowed, I have to leash him. Now, others hate unleashed dogs no matter what and will say my unleashed dog ruins their outdoor experience.

Leashing my dog in certain circumstances (I do not wish to start another flame war, just using this as an example - I am VERY careful and choosy about when I allow him to be off leash and when he is restrained) ruins MY outdoor experience because my dog simply loves to run around, swim, play, etc and that makes my trip that much more enjoyable. Who gets to have "their" wilderness experience unspoiled??

Bikers don't want hikers, hikers don't want roads, bikes, 4-wheelers, etc. No one wants stock except the horse people. Dog people want their dogs to run free and enjoy the outdoors (as dogs should...IN SOME CASES...please let's not get into this!!), non-dog people don't want dogs on the trails. We all want to pursue our own pastimes and are bothered by those whose pursuits interfere with ours.

As I said, I'm no different...when I'm on a bike I hate pedestrians, and when I'm a pedestrian I hate bikes, and when I'm in a car they both get in my way.....etc etc.

It's also no different than business interests who want to drill in pristine vs wilderness preservation....

So how do we share what limited wilderness space we have so that ALL of us can safely enjoy the activities that make us happy???

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Damn those mountain bike hooligans!!! on 01/02/2013 10:15:23 MST Print View

nice troll.

Alex Eriksson

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: Lake Tahoe on 01/02/2013 10:40:23 MST Print View

Clarification: I don't actually think that because land owners and developers totally destroy the environment that irresponsible trail building has carte blanche to do whatever. I've supported groups like IMBA and low impact trail building initiatives in practice (i.e. maintaining trails and building new ones) and have seen what even sustainable downhill trails can look like when done correctly. They do exist and they aren't straight down the mountain like a double black diamond ski run. However, do I think there's bigger fish to fry that requires coming together regardless of our individual penchants? Yes. Do I think we already have the knowledge and tools at our disposal to create sustainable playgrounds in the outdoors for whatever the activity? Yes.

Tahoe definitely seems like a delicate area where the balance of nature and things is easy to upset considering the alpine environment. I'm pleased to hear about things like eco roofs and permeable driveways. We need more of that awareness and less unchecked lowest-common-denominator style development.

But at the end of the day when we look back decades from now do I think that part of the narrative of why ___________ wild place disappeared or was ruined, won't likely include talks of cyclists, hikers, or even equestrians? Not at all. It'll be things like housing developments, climate change, mineral and oil development, etc etc etc.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Interesting on 01/02/2013 13:43:10 MST Print View

Well I'm a road biker who is new to mountain biking and hiking. To me they are complimentary activities rather than mutually exclusive as it appears for some others. I work to follow the rules and yield to hikers when present (and stock - agree with just about everyone here that I do dislike horses quite a bit for a variety of reasons)... I will say that the yield rule from a practical perspective - all biases aside as I'm more of a hiker than mtber - doesn't make much sense depending on the terrain. On 'flowing' trails it is fine - but anything with real up and down it is much harder to stop/start on a bike than on foot. Just saying. I yield anyway because that is the rule unless waved through.

I can't speak to the erosion issue but otherwise agree that mountain biking is pretty low impact - all my trips have been in and out - whatever minor waste we have is carried out and that is a power bar wrapper generally. Bad campers/hikers seem much worse to my eye from a litter/animal/waste and general leave no trace perspective (again erosion aside as I simply don't have enough experience to comment).

How about we all gang up on the horses?!? :-)

Alex Eriksson

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: Interesting on 01/02/2013 15:23:10 MST Print View

I don't see anyone with a horse sized pooper-scooper or a plastic bag picking up after their horses on the trail. Few things worse than barreling through horseshoe*t on a bike and it leaving your socks smelly at best, and a huge streak up your back and up in your face at worst.

John Tunnicliffe

Locale: Northern California
Bikes on trails on 01/02/2013 17:03:21 MST Print View

I am opposed to mb's on trails not designed and/or intended for mb recreation.


Because too many bikers have too little common sense (not a slam, I personally understand what it is to go flyin' down a single track so fast it makes your eyes water, max enthusiasm, peak adrenaline) to not exacerbate the hazard that they are to themselves, other bikers, hikers and stockmen. They ain't safe. Yeah, the wilderness contains an adequate supply of risk without adding lunatics on bicycles. Lunatics? Yep. I'm one of 'em, been one for more than 30 years. Annadel. Look it up. You cannot BS me.

Now, if the goal is to fly as many helicopter extractions as possible of the wounded out of the boonies and into a trauma center back in the world what we'll all get for their personal privilege is a worthless wilderness experience.

Nope, I'm not putting up with any of it.

Bottom line is that we don't have these national trails so that idiots can go out upon them to test their gonads. There are plenty of opportunities for that. Lots of Youtube videos, plenty sufferin', make some popcorn, enjoy the show. Buy a skateboard, try the rail stunt.

But let bikers onto a national trail? Not gonna' happen if I can prevent it and I intend to try really hard.



Eric N.

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Bikes shrink wild places on 01/02/2013 17:54:05 MST Print View

Wilderness managers assess the quality of a particular area's wilderness characteristics by considering "opportunities for solitude." That's gauged by measuring the number of other parties you're likely to encounter in a day. We all know that, the further you are from a trailhead, the less likely you are to encounter other hikers. But bikers can easily travel three times as far in a day as hikers can. That means that, in a piece of wild country that's open to bikes, your "opportunity for solitude" will likely be diminished. You're that much more likely to encounter another party. That's not because of anything "wrong" that bikers are doing; it's just the nature of the transportation mode. So, the effect of allowing bikes is to shrink the effective size of a wild area by a considerable degree.

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: Bikes shrink wild places on 01/02/2013 18:16:24 MST Print View

John and Eric: Well stated comments.

I own and enjoy my mountain bike--but confine it's use to around town and forest service roads only. I wouldn't think of using it on a wilderness trail.

As the likes of Lewis and Clark have somewhat shown us, true wilderness should only be accessible by foot, hoof, paddle or sail.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Re: Bikes shrink wild places on 01/02/2013 18:30:32 MST Print View

If you allow horses you might as well allow bikes.

This is nothing that destroys the smell of wilderness more than horse shit and nothing destroys trails faster than horses on wet trail.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Runners shrink wild places on 01/02/2013 19:30:38 MST Print View

Eric, this is a curious argument.
What about distance runners?

If you slowly hiked for days to get into some "remote" backcountry camp to enjoy your "opportunity for solitude" you can't seriously be angry if a few runners blow through as part of a simple morning run...

So is it different for bikers? Why? The average Saturday morning MTBer rarely leaves the front country trail system anyway. For that matter, neither do hikers.

The the main reason I started distance trail running was to get away from the masses of hikers AND bikers choking every canyon and peak within 3-5 miles of a trailhead. I'm all for faster and further if it gets me to my solitude. It's how I can catch a sunrise alone on Mt. San Antonio and be moving on to bag two or three more peaks while the traditional hiking crowd is still lacing shoes at their cars. Do I have any more right to be pissed if a biker beat me to the summit instead of another runner or someone who just woke up earlier?

Incidentally, people are using the same argument you're making to try and keep people from (or at least disparage) ultrarunning or fastpacking famous trail systems and wilderness areas, claiming the inherent speed/mileage is "out of character" for a certain type of pre-defined "wilderness experience".

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Bikes on trails on 01/02/2013 19:47:40 MST Print View

The more I think about the "bikes on trails" argument, the more I'm convinced it's based on emotion, an "us vs. them" mentality, and set notions on how others should "properly" experience nature.

As there are certainly reckless bikers, there are the droves of clueless hikers, and for every rut an MTB rider creates or person they clip I'm sure I can show you a tree some knucklehead tried to fell, cut switchbacks leading to trail erosion, a diaper left in a stream, or a festering pool of mule piss and $hit left because someone wanted to see the sites in luxury but not carry their own weight.