Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ringing hollow.

Yesterday afternoon, at the end of a particularly exhausting workday, I wheeled my bike out the back door of the shop, turned out the lights, closed the door, and pedaled in the general direction of dirt.  I didn't have a set target in mind, just knew that I needed some downtime to decompress, sort out the chaos in my head, incinerate a few endorphins, hopefully even take a break at a silent overlook.  All in the name of recharging the spirit within.


The closest trailhead is less than a mile away and my most frequent objective: Getting onto dirt ASAP tops all else, usually.  But as I approached Hwy 340 I could see a line of cars stretching all the way back to Riverside Parkway, all lined up to turn left, all heading more or less for that same trailhead.  I aborted that plan and stuck to the bike path awhile longer, thinking I could head up Miramonte -- a less used entrance only a little further away -- but heavy traffic deflected me away from there, too.  So as the bike path ran out I found myself merging onto Little Park Road.


LPR is fairly steep as roads go in these parts.  I've climbed it literally hundreds of times in the 20 years I've lived nearby.  It used to be my preferred training ground, then when racing ended it became the quickest way of getting to some of the lesser used trails.  That would be it's purpose yesterday.  As I labored up the grade, breath ragged and sweat stinging my eyes, I was passed by a virtually endless stream of diesel duallies, #vanlifers, and mini motorhomes, seemingly all with a pile of bikes hanging off their back ends.  Shards of music pierced the air as each motored past, puffs of cigarette and dope smoke escaped the windows, there was even a (potentially unrelated?) stereotypical Red Bull can in the gutter adjacent to the steepest bit.  


Given that it was 5PM on a weekday I had no good reason to expect any of this to be different.  People -- you, me, us -- have been blowing off steam after work since forever.  But something about this day really made it obvious that the demographic that is "mountain bike users" has changed, shifted.  My hope is that there still exist people whom use bicycles to get out, get away, to find silence and solace in the mountains and the woods.  I know that they must exist, I just don't ever seem to cross paths with them no matter how far out I go.  Thus their existence remains hypothetical and seems less likely by the day, as each successive ride shows more evidence of shredding endurbro's skidding into corners and cheater-line creating (and maintaining) dolts veering off the trail and through sensitive soils -- all in the name of shaving a few seconds so that their name climbs higher on an online list populated by similar miscreants.


When did we become this crowd?  How are these actions in any way morally defensible?  Has our demographic gone completely batshit in the past few years, selling our soul in exchange for a map that no longer shows us the way?


These were the questions swimming through my head as I did, eventually, find a sliver of silence and solace on last night's ride.  I can't say that I discovered any answers -- I don't even think I'm yet asking the right questions -- but I did, in that one silent moment spent catching my breath while overlooking the Gunnison River, draw one solid conclusion: 


We are failing.

Failing to educate new riders on etiquette.

Failing to criticize the actions of fellow riders.

Failing to listen when they criticize us.


Our trails are being systematically shredded -- yes, by skidding endurbro's, straightlining shuttle monkeys, and shortsighted stravassholes.  By an industry that "sells" the sport largely by glorifying the above abusers.  But also by you, and by me, by remaining complicit in the shadows and not saying "enough".


Please note that in every way here I have said "we" and "our" and "us", because while it's easy to point a finger and place blame on others, doing so solves nothing.  The problem is us as a user group.  Ignorance is ruining the trails: Whether we're actively doing the damage or standing idly by and letting it happen we're all to blame.


Riding bikes is something I've done my whole life.  In ways big and small, intentional and not, bikes have defined the trajectory of my time on earth.  I wouldn't change that for anything.


Not to say that I don't have regrets -- I do.  I regret that our sport hit the mainstream doing 100mph and totally unprepared for the havoc that was about to be wrought.   That our trails are being flooded by people whom don't understand what it took to get said trails, nor what it takes to keep them, nor do they seem to care. Mostly I regret that we don't have infrastructure to educate these people -- not that many of them would listen.


What I would do, given a time machine and the ability to change the conversation in some meaningful way, is to slip back in time and plant some sort of a seed of understanding -- some way of grasping what was coming -- in the mind of someone influential in the sport 20 years ago.  A John Tomac or Juli Furtado or Don Cuerdon or even -- gasp -- Zapata Espinoza.  Maybe they could have done, or said, or pushed for *something* that would change the reality of where we are right now.


I don't know exactly what I would say to them, then.  Nor does it matter, now.  Our sport has fundamentally changed, jumped the tracks you might even say, and nothing short of a wholesale reckoning is going to change that.  Whatever words I might have conjured then would and do ring utterly hollow today, as we veer recklessly into an unsustainable future.


I think most of us have been in denial about this wave of change even as it steamrolls our beloved local trails.  It's time to move on to acceptance -- recognizing that the problem is real and not going away -- so that we might begin to think about and craft a long term plan.  The biggest focus of such a plan would be on education, and specifically on recognizing that just getting people outdoors is no longer enough -- you have to prepare them to behave appropriately and respectfully, toward both the land and each other, once out there.


I know better than to think that this little essay is going to be widely read.  Nor do I believe that it will open the eyes of many whom read it.  But if it only reaches a few, and if a handful of those point the finger at themselves in recognition of the fact that we're all to blame for our current state, then maybe we can begin to gain momentum toward a more sane, sustainable future.


Thanks for reading.  Copy this link to share:

https://lacemine29.blogspot.com/2018/05/ringing-hollow.html


Comments:  Any/all opinions are fair game here, but you have to have the juevos to sign your name to them for them to be published.


There have been a number of quasi-inflammatory comments submitted. But they were left anonymously.

32 comments:

  1. Just too many people and now the ebikes are here and seems most think they belong on the trails. My recent past and future is on obscure dirt roads and double tracks and the occasional lonely single track.

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  2. Yup, spot on. I look how much fun we had 20-30 years ago on the trails where at least here in the Black Hills you could tell who rode it ahead you of based on their tread patterns. I too am venturing away from the popular/crowded trails.

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  3. The rise of NICA gives me a lot of hope that trail citizenship can be maintained as part of mountain biking culture. And I've done a few local races and seen up close that the kids are genuinely alright. The badly-behaved folks make a lot of noise, but the solid core of mountain biking culture greatly outnumbers them, and will eventually get the rowdy newcomers to chill out.

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  4. Sadly, concerns similar to this one are showing up in conversations within many user groups. i.e. fly fishing, paddling, back country skiing, etc. Seems that the thrill for some is more in making a rad video clip to share with ones 10,000 "friends" than taking in the life experience and the joy of the journey. I want to believe that the majority of users still have soul, but the showboats seem to take up most of the oxygen.

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  5. I'm an east-coaster so my reality and perception is perhaps different than what you're seeing. While I agree with a lot of what you've written here, I think we have a different vibe near me. I don't see much short-cutting trails at all, and when our local trail-building non-profit has maintenance days we get a huge turnout. Also, I'm one of those riders you asked about in the beginning - the one who wants to be out there to get away from roads and noise and be in nature. I'm not alone here in the mid-Atlantic, bikepacking has been taking off and I cross paths with bikepackers on mtbs all the time who are doing the same.

    I'm not arguing your points really, I'm sure the picture you paint of the endurbro's and stavassholes is accurate where you are. I've been to Colorado many times but only ridden road out there. But where I live I don't see it quite a bleak. Great essay though, well-written

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  6. Not having lived in ColoRADo, and curecurre outside the US, I haven't experienced this first hand. My home trails in Wisconsin still offer plenty of opportunity to get lost. I do think our sport has gone through waves of popularity before and been just fine, and it seems this may be another one of those. We do need to figure out how to keep those people in the sport, but help them learn the lessons we all slowly learned.

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  7. Its too bad. If it isn't a race, I don't understand everyone's obsession with speed. The whole point is to have fun, right? Here are some helpful tips, in order of importance: Be nice. Don't litter. Ride to the trailhead. Take out those ear buds. Throw your Strava device in the trash where it belongs.

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  8. Some great things to ponder here, Mike. Although I might suggest this is more the case:


    We are failing.

    Failing to educate new outdoor users on etiquette.

    Failing to criticize the actions of fellow outdoor users.

    Failing to listen when outdoor users criticize us.


    Thanks for listening, and keep up the stoke.

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  9. Lots of thoughts that resonate Mike, even over here in the UK. Sadly I think such behaviours are a reflection of an attitude to life and the planet in general - rather than one specifically confined to the prism of mountain biking. Sadly I don't think anything John Tomac or anyone else might have said 20 years ago would have helped. It's all just symptomatic of a consumerist 'success' and materially obsessed, self-obsessed culture which we are all influenced by.

    Some choose to escape completely by going off-grid. Others by taking off for weeks at a time riding across continents. Others by going for an evening ride in the local woods rather than flopping in front of the TV. It's a matter of degree. But the fact people still search for such a connection with the world rather than to impact upon it gives me some confidence that hope remains.

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  10. I too have ridden bikes my whole life and I agree, the culture has changed. More and more I feel like a curmudgeon that can't fathom why people behave the way they do. I agree we all need to play a part but this stuff just makes me want to run for the hills and find, hopefully, some far off middle of nowhere that hasn't been screwed up by humans.

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    1. We're looking at moving. It's way past time. But we also know that you can't just run away from your problems -- they will follow you. Hence this discussion.

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    2. Hello Mike, I too live in G.J. and have been pondering all of these thoughts lately. I grew up with all the founders of mtn biking such as you and was brought up in the culture of cycling of yesteryear. Today I go riding, I wave at almost every one I see, including cars. Almost Nobody ever waves back or even acknowledges you. No matter where you go in the Grand Valley these days the trails are always packed.
      P.s. I've been following your adventures since you were a waiter at Old C's.

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    3. If you can't run away from your problems, try something a little faster like a bike.

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  11. You nail it with the education comment. This is a huge problem in the climbing world with an influx of people introduced to the activity at indoor gyms trying to take it outside with zero practical experience. Not only are they putting themselves and others in real danger, but they generally lack any semblance of basic outdoors and LNT knowledge. I think people who have been at it a while have a large responsibility to start educating these new users or suffer serious consequences.

    Take heart though, there are many places where you can still escape to. Just gotta find them, and then keep quiet about it.

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    1. You're right that the experienced folks have a responsibility to share the knowledge. I try -- when I see something that's just not right -- to start a dialogue to the end of education. But what do you do when the person on the other end is not only *not* interested in hearing what you have to say, but is downright rude, often pissed, and sometimes emphatically violent? The education that is so desperately needed is being rejected, regardless of the way in which it is offered.

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  12. Not all doom and gloom here in MA. We get younger riders to show up at our group rides and trail days. Also huge numbers of the HS mt bike race teams that are growing in popularity. There are braiding issues everywhere. So what's the next step? What's the best way to educate the next generation of trail users and trail builders.

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  13. There have been a number of quasi-inflammatory comments submitted. But they were left anonymously.

    Any/all opinions are fair game here, but you have to have the juevos to sign your name to them for them to be published.

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  14. Chris Main in AustraliaMay 18, 2018 at 4:02 PM

    Mike,

    I've been a long time reader and admirer of your work, your photos and your writing. This is the first time I've felt strongly enough to comment, and I couldn't agree more with what you're saying. Like Rick Hackett above, though, I (sadly) think the problem is much wider. I am a teacher and have seen from the inside the failings of our education system here. Schools and school systems try to create good humans, but my experience has been that "if it's not on the test" then students and parents alike don't think it's worth learning. These are the very same parents that often try to outsource their parenting to schools because they're too afraid of being unpopular with their own offspring.

    I don't think we're becoming a smarter, more enlightened species. Just the opposite, really, and that fills me with concern...

    Like you, I don't feel I have any answers, and not enough good questions, but it's heartening to hear good people are thinking and talking about issues like these regardless of the context.

    Thanks for taking the time to write, and for reading our comments.

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  15. Great piece Mike,
    I got my juevos snipped many years ago in an effort to slow the overpopulation problem by at least a few little Doom's, but I'll still put my name on this. All joking aside I think about this stuff everyday. We all want to get out and blow off some steam on a Friday, and for us it's probly going for a ride to get some perspective on life or just get the blood pumping, today I just got to spread drywall mud on our cabin walls, YUK! b I'd like to think that as a sponsored athlete I'm setting a good example for the future of our sport, but am I? My social posts are semi thoughtful, but aren't going to make our collective trail experience any better with or without lessons from a 30 some year rider. I've signed up to speak at this years Bike Packing summit in Gunni this September, maybe I can have a positive impact there? We should spend some time around an unlit fire ring sometime soon and talk! Cheers my friend.

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  16. I must agree with you. Our trail system has become so over crowded here in the GJ area, and they keep pushing "how great our trails are". Which then helps to over crowd it even more. Which also leads to our trails being worn out and beaten down. They just can't keep up with the number of users anymore. And I can't blame people for coming here, heck I moved here in 97 for our trails-even though they were much fewer then. I never go to 18 road-not really my favorite trails-and extremely packed out there. Love the lunch loops, but like you said-it's hard to ride out there anymore either. It's almost enough to make my want to sell my bike and give up on riding.

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  17. Yep. Well said and well written. Thanks for taking the time to documenting this issue.

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  18. It's hard for me think of something much harder than trying to create behavioral change in a large group of people. Especially that is counter to what the masses want.
    Education is an easy response but even when coordinated efforts are made, we reluctantly follow. Cynically i respond that there might not be an answer.

    All of our bikes are getting easier to do what we did years ago. Same w/ skis, rock/ice gear, uh... blenders and whatever else. Haven't heard anyone bragging about scoring a 94 Diamondback Apex to wander around Moab on. If we go easier (carbon, larger wheels, more efficient travel, shape skis, etc) we don't go back. Sure, we might take that tech to go farther/faster/easier but it's rare to see someone willingly step backwards.


    If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that isn't over run? Good luck. You're maybe 10-15 years from being discovered and will find yourselves marinating in happy outdoorsy types that finally discovered the last great place to play nobody knows about.

    And for the record, feral though the might have been, a posse of small Dooms wouldn't have been such a bad thing.
    As long as someone taught them to bathe and stop storing beer in their groovers.
    I'd have gifted a 55 gallon drum of tyvek tape to the smiling brood.

    OldDocThedan

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  19. Moved to Bellingham 3 years ago after a road accident involving a car. I used the opportunity to switch almost completely to off-road riding.
    We have many Enduro/ freeride trails around here maintained by the WMBC and sponsored by local businesses. I grew up in a LNT family, spent summers thru hiking the collegiate peaks and rafting the Arkansas out of Salida CO.
    Flatbillers, “endurbros” are everpresent and it will take ADVOCACY and COMMUNITY to educate these eager outdoors(wo)men to cherish preserve and contribute to the ecosystem.

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  20. I can't help but see the irony in such a post being written by the author of "Lacemine29". 29" wheels on dirt were a complete anathema for me when I started riding on dirt in the 90's. No criticism, but it is a manifestation of how trends constantly change. And they need to. By way of example, the area that I live in is an old coal-mining town. The tightest, twistiest, most awesome singletrack that I ride (on my 26"- and 29"-shod bikes) were ridden nearly 100 years ago by my great-grandfather... On his horse. He rode these trails to get to work at the mines. Today I ride them to blow out the cobwebs. Technology will change over time; people will find different ways to enjoy the environment around them. That's the way the world works.

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    1. I'm open to the idea that there is irony here, but you haven't in any way made clear how/why it exists. Explain?

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  21. Sure- change is a thing. That's how the world works.
    But complaining about change was around since before your GrandDad's horse lumbered on trails that someone else likely established.
    And that hasn't changed.

    To my eye, the writing in this post isn't complaining about just change. It's a critique of the direction of this change. If we were suddenly in a place where trails were no longer allowed to bikes, just motorcycles I couldn't just say- Oh that's change. It's how the world works.
    Even if our efforts end up not asking a difference, we are allowed to try. Sometimes we have to scream into the hurricane-even if it's just lost in middle of it all.

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  22. Mike-
    Generalization and labeling causes polarization and feeds this collective ignorance which you pontificate upon (think about how great it works when we identify based on political affiliation). I was born in Leadville and have lived in Grand Junction for 36 years. I remember when the Tabaguache was a double-track open to jeeps as they tried and sometimes failed to ascend above Widow-maker Hill- I was here for the old Holy Cross, rode Pollock Bench when it was open to mountain bikes. I owned the first generation SPD pedals and Rock Shox fork. I rode hard-tail 26" bikes (Gary Fisher CR-7) on Slickrock and Porcupine Rim... I may not be the luminary you are, but I am deeply rooted in the mountain-biking family of the Western Slope. As with many (most) families, ours can be a dysfunctional bunch. We evolved from rebels in the hills of Marin and the thin air of Crested Butte and as the years wear on and stream by like autumn half-light through a golden aspen lined single-track our agendas change and our rebellion shifts its focus. From the Klunkers of our forefathers to the 29" DH bikes that are scorching the World-Cup (not to mention the 29" XC bikes with dropper posts and "aggressive" geometry)- time marches onward- What label, I beg of you, would I deserve to have bestowed upon me by a generalist? I just raced a 28lb 5" travel full suspension bike in the GJ Off-Road- I have recently ridden the very same course on an entry-level 27.5+ hard-tail and a 6" full-squish "endubro" bike... as I type this I am preoccupied by the knowledge that a modern carbon fiber hard-tail 29er with a 4" travel fork is sitting in a box at the LBS waiting for me to build it up so I can ride from my front door, to the riverfront trail and onto our beloved Tabaguache trails and up and up until I am, under my own power, high above the valley spinning through the aspen and pine of Turkey Flats...(a ride I did just last week on the aforementioned 28lb 5" travel bike)...these rides, all of them are on STRAVA. Why? Possibly for many of the same reasons you maintain a blog... to share the experience, to track my total miles and vertical gain for the season- to connect with others in a modern way. Sure, there are segments and yes... just like with everything else in this world where humans are involved... there are ruthless- ignorant folks damaging trails and doping for e-glory... but that isn't everyone- not by a long shot. There are young grommets, just finding their two-wheeled way in the world and there are octogenarians rebelling against the sands of time- Like you and I they have their own story and their own ideologies and world-views on topics such as trail etiquette (or lack thereof), wilderness/outdoor stewardship (or lack thereof). Yes, I have a few e-crowns upon the e-mantel... but I won't apologize for that- they were earned without cutting trail or riding around technical challenges- I love the solitude of long rides and prefer my own company most of the time- but I also embrace and am proud of the fitness this sport has given me and STRAVA or no, coming down Gunny Loop with the sunset on my shoulder and my eyes watering beneath my sunglasses from the speed as the G-Forces pull me in and out of each corner- that is my "zen" but so is cleaning as much of Moore Fun as I can... or lining up for the Vapor Trail 125- *Continued in next Comment*

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  23. *continued from previous comment:
    - I feel that I am old-school when it comes to "riding the line" and being aware of how my behavior impacts others both on and off the trail. I smile and wave to other trail users, I stop or slow down to ask if a person on the trail-side needs help. I ride with younger mountain bikers and lead by example (staying on the trail, no ride-arounds), commenting on the insidious destruction of trail systems by not only the aforementioned no-nos but as well as the insidious trail sanitizing that has become rampant as rider populations increase. Do I do enough to combat the scourges that have set upon our beloved sport? No. Absolutely not. I could do more, we all could do more- However, as uncomfortable as it might make some of us; from "stravassholes" to "endurobros" and even those poor souls who have already reserved a very special corner in whatever hell-awaits them: the "sanatizers" and the E-bikers poaching trails currently banned to them we are all mountain bikers...each and every last one of us! Whether we get jacked on Monster energy drinks while watching free-ride videos so we can go out and “shred the gnar” or we get our kicks drooling over perfectly beaded welds on a custom steel hard-tail... we all love riding for some reason or another- just not the reasons we would all like and not always for the reasons that are important and essential to the perpetuity of this great sport- I've rolled into the Lunch Loop trail-head and have seen it packed with cars, the aroma of weed and alcohol perfuming the air as I weave past cyclists and onto the trails- I choose my route wisely, my busy-day and weekend route has never let me down- do I run into others? Sometimes. Do I eventually run out of run-ins? Yes. I eventually ascend steep and rugged trails overlooked for their degree of difficulty and distance from the trail-head- my thoughts wander, my mind clears and I am reminded that even though so many more people have come to our sport, our family, I still love it and I need it to keep me grounded/centered/sane- I ride past the "cheater-lines" I come to a ledge with a tricky move that has a 1 in 10 success rate for me, I spin out, I dismount and I push on to the next challenge- So- what am I? I am a mountain biker- tattooed with scars and filled with the rich history of my own experiences and the hope that our sport has a long and sustainable future. I am an ambassador for riding right, respecting others and taking the time to show the uninitiated that there is no future for our sport if we fill it with cheater-lines, sanitize what we cannot ride and vilify everyone who is not just like us! Keep fighting the Good-Fight!

    *end rant*

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    1. Nothing I wrote was meant to vilify people whom merely think differently from you, or from me. Yes I applied grossly general labels -- as examples of what got me thinking along these lines to begin with -- but I think you might be misconstruing my intentions.

      For you to take away that I’m criticizing people for thinking differently is to only have grasped the intro to what I wrote. Don’t confuse the examples I gave for scapegoating.

      The rules of the trail have been stepped on, shoved down, and kicked to the curb, with the predictable end result that our trails are taking a beating and anyone with integrity enough to stand up for them gets shouted down (often while standing on the trail they seek to defend) immediately. I think that's wrong. I wrote this piece because I believe that we can do better.

      At various times in my life I've been a downhiller, uphiller, roadie, cyclocrosser, xc geek, ultra-distance nerd, and gear whore -- and vocal critic of all of the above. We (<-key word) can always do better, and it starts with policing our own.

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  24. Perhaps my stream of consciousness got in the way of me saying I am on your side and as much as it sucks to feel outnumbered we need to come together to stop this. I was simply saying that STRAVA or no STRAVA...Enduro or no Enduro some peole are going to do the wrong things (sometimes a lot)... My commentary was applied with the hope that nobody feels targeted- It doesn't matter what compelled someone to damage the trail, litter or be a jerk what matters is sticking together to address it in a meaningful way. I feel like we pretty much said the same thing? I am confident I grasped more than the intro and perhaps we are passionately coming at the same issue with two different approaches? Those of us who know better and have been around long enough have plenty of skin int he game and a responsibility to be voices of reason.

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  25. I am late to this conversation, but have for a decade or so watched as what used to be sometimes called the "quiet sports" have become noisier and noisier. Mountain biking has become a motor sport for many, the bike itself just an andrenaline vehicle. Even packrafting, like the big-brother real boating it so envies, has become motorized, and where I live in Alaska a surprising number of "backcountry skiers" (which used to mean ski up to "earn yer turns") now have or want snowmachines to get deeper. Even the "wilderness enthusiasts" who come here to Alaska from wherever-the-f*ck use a helicopter or fixed wing to get in to climb mtns/boat rivers/walk wilderness ridges and it's pretty sad and sort of bereft of good style and ethics, in my (somewhat hypocritical) opinion.

    Now pushing sixty and having grown up when the environmental movement was kicking into gear leaves me outdated. But it's been a bit sad to watch a community driven by the industry that itself is driven by the community (no pun intended) lean more and more to *driving* up to play down. Where it's no longer the action of a God-given body of muscle and brain carved from flesh by natural selection to work in a wild arena, a body-mind-heart that can connect with the natural world, but an ear-buds and bomb run down down down.

    I am not sure it's so much education that's needed but a re-centering of ethics and values: somehow we need to feel that it's best that if you go out in nature you leave electrons and internal combustion behind. That's not so much to strive for is it?

    I'd be ok with keeping my mountain bikes out of wilderness or my packrafts out of Yellowstone if the Sierra Clubbers going to Alaska didn't fly in the the Arctic Refuge, or if the hikers in Bob Marshall rode their bikes to get there, or if they closed the roads into Yellowstone and tourists had to ride their bikes in.

    "Do I contradict myself?" paraphrasing Whitman, "Of course", but the point I want to make is there has been a shift from "natural-centric" to "me-centric" recreation, and the recreation is less about re-creating a human's place in a natural world and more about inducing body-chemical doping that feels good like a nosefull of blow or lungs full of crystal.

    Thanks for the opportunity to rant Mike.

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  26. I live in the Colorado mountains, and I am beyond disgusted with the behavior of many mountain bikers. There are trails where it seems that many riders are out just to get a Strava best, and they'll run over other riders to achieve it. I keep burrowing deeper and deeper into the wilderness to get away from the "scene". I want quiet, peace, and the possibility of getting completely immersed in pedaling without thinking about whether someone is going to run me over. I have found that attempting to discuss trail etiquette with riders often leaves me afraid of being physically assaulted. I don't know what the answer is...

    On my home trails, it seems that horse back riders are the absolute worst in terms of short-cutting, trying to make trails easier, and braiding trails. They are more "entitled" than most mountain bikers.

    I just spent a few weeks in New Mexico, and we are tempted to move there. On the "best mountain biking trail in New Mexico", I often saw no one in 4-6 hours of riding. I felt myself relax like I used to do on Colorado trails.

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