View From The Overlook: Mountain-Biker-In-Chief

Is single-track mountain biking in national parks a good idea? Photo courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com

Editor's note: Mountain biking in national parks has come up from time to time in recent years, specifically concerning desires to either cut new trails with bikes in mind or to allow mountain bikes to ride off into wilderness areas, or both. The recent dust-up at Big Bend National Park over a "multi-use" trail has Contributing Writer PJ Ryan recalling a certain "Mountain-Biker-in-Chief." We at the Traveler would like to offer IMBA officials a chance to present their position on biking in the parks. For more of PJ's thoughts, be sure to read Thunderbear on a regular basis.

There has been considerable debate about the wisdom of allowing mountain biking in the National Parks in general and Big Bend National Park in particular; that park becoming the poster child and cause celebre of mountain biking.

Mountain bikes are sturdy tools with hardy frames and parts that can stand the incessant pounding of off road use. They can go almost anywhere: That’s why their admirers love them and their detractors hate them.

Now, like most tools, mountain bikes are not inherently good or evil; everything depends upon use, such as the use of an axe depends on whether you are Abe Lincoln or Lizzie Borden.

The “Developing World” variant of the mountain bike is a prime tool for progress, even survival, in the more desperate parts of what used to be called “The Third World.” Mountain bikes provide goods transport as well as communication, carrying crops, chickens, pigs and other livestock to market.

It is truly amazing how much stuff you can pile on these stalwart mechanical mules. The U.S. military did not believe the Viet Cong could support their logistics using mountain bikes. The U.S. military was mistaken.

In the “Developed” or “First” World, the mountain bike carries only one thing; a very determined person devoted to expanding the “opportunities” for mountain biking. They are represented by the International Mountain Bike Association, (IMBA) an organization not too far behind the Viet Cong in enthusiasm and dedication to its cause.

Now I exaggerate, but not by much. It is true that many members of NPS, US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management as well as the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations are avid mountain bikers. However, they generally place limitations on themselves as mountain bikers.

The mountain bike is an excellent solution for park or other public lands that have many miles of jeep roads such as Death Valley National Park, Canyonlands National Park, or Mohave National Preserve. Thus the taxpayer who is not wealthy enough to afford a four wheel drive as a second vehicle (or who doesn’t want the additional pollution) can explore these primitive roads with a mountain bike.

However, there is an element of IMBA with more expansive dreams and demands. (I would suspect that their Nirvana would be a rim to rim mountain bike race across Grand Canyon; they have not requested it and it is not likely to happen anytime soon.)

They have however, made some requests for a “Multi-Use” Trail at Big Bend National Park.

The Park Superintendent, who is shortly to be retiring, said that he and his staff would investigate “Mountain biking opportunities in Big Bend”, a rather unfortunate choice of phrasing, implying that such use would be a favorable outcome, if not a done deal: Unfortunate in that this evokes the environmental memory of a Yellowstone superintendent of long ago, who believed he could “open” winter Yellowstone by allowing snowmobiles. The superintendent was unfortunately correct.

Now the problem with a multi-use mountain biker-hiker trail at Big Bend, aside from the legal and aesthetic (The park “forgot” to do the environmental paper work) is one of safety. The advantages of the double track (jeep road) are that the hiker can proceed on one of the tracks or jump to safety if he/she encounters a biker. Danger is increased if bikers and hikers share a single track.

Make no mistake, collisions between mountain biker and pedestrian can result in serious injury.

Consider the case of The Mountain Biker in Chief, George W. Bush, President of the United States and member of the IMBA.

President Bush was in Scotland attending the 2005 conference of the G-8 Economic Summit. He had brought along his beloved mountain bike.

The following police report was “obtained” by THE SCOTSMAN, a left wing Scottish newspaper:

“About 1800 hours on Wednesday, July 6, a detachment of Strathclyde constables in anti-riot gear formed a protective line at the rear entrance of the hotel where George Bush was staying.

The Unit was covering the road junction at Braco Road where the President was cycling through. As the President passed the junction at speed. He raised his left arm from the handle bar of his mountain bike to wave to the police while shouting “Thank you guys for coming! “

The President lost control and fell to the ground.”

According to the report, one of the constables was struck by a “Moving and Falling Object” (That would be the 43rd President of the United States, which, when you think about it, is not a bad description of George W. Bush)

The police report goes on to say “The officer fell to the ground, striking his head. After striking the constable, President Bush continued to bounce along the pavement for an additional five meters before coming to a stop”.

Like most mountain bikers, President Bush is tough as titanium and was not injured in the incident; not so in the case of the constable. According to THE SCOTSMAN, the constable was taken to hospital and was off duty for some 14 weeks due to injuries to ankle ligaments.

The President, a good-hearted soul, was most contrite and visited the constable in hospital.

Now neighbors, lets consider the implications of this incident and hiking on a “multi-use” trail in Big Bend National Park. Recall that the constable was in full riot gear, including helmet, face shield, and flak jacket and that STILL didn’t save him from a flying mountain biker! (Though the helmet may have prevented a concussion.)

It is unlikely that you will be wearing a helmet and flak jacket while hiking in Big Bend, but as “Dubya” has retired to his ranch in West Texas, you might consider it as a safety option.

He just might be comin’ around the next bend in the trail!!

Comments

PJ - why the cheap shots? Were they necessary for this story?

Truly disappointing to read this ill-informed ramble. Not only is it overflowing with hyperbole (Viet Cong -- really?) and strawmen (look out -- an ex-president might mow you down on a trail!), it's just plain wrong about IMBA's positions on mountain biking in national parks. If you want to know how wrong -- though it's pretty clear that National Parks Traveler does not -- you can read this news release:

http://www.imba.com/news/big-bend-attacks-unfounded

Well written by someone that clearly has either never mountain biked or hiked with mountain bikers. I am an avid mountain biker and hiker. Before I started biking, I was also ignorant as to what my safety really was with those "crazy bikers" lurking around somewhere… then I started biking (thanks to a bad knee). What I realized was that experienced trail bikers and hikers typically live in harmony. The problems that people 'fear' stems from hikers that do not have any experience with bikers or of the environment. I am not sure why W was used as an example with this topic - the highlight of that story was that Bush was fine with the same impact (insert sarcastic political comment here). My view of public parks is that they are meant to be enjoyed by everyone with out damage to the environment. Too bad John Muir did not have access to a full suspension 29r - then this topic would never have started.

Very uninformed and low blowing rant. Dissapointing...

I am very dissapointed in the tone and the content of this article. Comparing mountain bikers with Viet Cong and W. are nothing but cheap shots. I am a frequent visitor and volunteer at national parks and I mountain bike. How about you lay off the cheap shots?

Of course mountain bikes in National Parks are a good idea. They do not pollute, they open up many more opportunity to see more of the parks, and they have minimal impact along said trail, as opposed to the horse which churns the surface with their hooves and leaves behind droppings to the dismay of the hiker and would be biker. The Earth friendly aspect alone is enough to quallify the bikes for use is what is the ultimate of natural settings in our United States. Not to mention that the experienced mountain biker is a good steward of the land, always picking up things dropped or deposited by hikers/campers, as a long time mountain biker I can assure the reader that we never manage to bring on our backs twelves packs of beer in cardboard boxes in order to leaves the packing behind when done with said libation.

Working as a bike patroller in the summer, i have seen many hikers with ankle injuries (as the [= 14px; line-height: 18px]constable[/] sustained) who where NOT hit by bikers. Seems PJ may want to reconsider the dangers of hiking before his next outing.

But really, this article is a joke. Just fear mongering by someone without a good knowledge of mountain biking.

I agree this article is a ramble. Have you been to Dead Horse State Park in Moab? They have a new multi-use trail that opened in 2009. Before that my guess is most people drove in, looked around the visitor center and left. The week the trail first opened that is what we saw. Fast forward three years. The parking lot is packed every weekend with families on bikes. These are not crazy 'mountain bikers' these are families with bikes they pulled out of the back of the garage so they could experience the wilderness with their family. Last week I saw three generations get out for a bike ride there. If your kids love hiking... great! But in todays society most kids would rather sit in the car on their iPad than hike a national or state park. It's sad. A few (not all) multi-use trails that are family friendly would benefit the parks greatly. Why is it ok to build more road and concrete structures that cater to RVs in parks but when we talk about one or two multi-use trails it compared to Viet-Cong? Just sad.

In 20 years of riding single track, I've never seen a collision on trail. Yes, a bike pedestrian collision can hurt. I know, I've been on both sides of that particular equation in urban settings only. In my neck of the woods, hikers and runners use the single track built by the local mountain biking community and we get along just fine. Why don't you look north for guidance? Canada's national parks allow mountain biking on select single track.

Okay, this is well-written and pretty funny and entertaining to read. That's the good part. The bad part is that the humor distracts us from the fact that -- well, there are no facts in this article, just innuendo and hyperbole.

The anecdote about the mountain-biker-in-chief is just that -- an anecdote. Plus, it happened on a ROAD, not a trail. Plus it happened to -- well, we know that gracefulness and coordination are not what this guy is known for.

If you're interested in this discussion, after checking out the link posted by Mark E about IMBA's position on this specific topic, you could also look at IMBA's page about multi-use trail etiquette. IMBA is all about multi-use, and they partner will all kinds of trail-user organizations and groups in their effort to make sure we all use trails safely and that we all get along. It's not that hard to get along, unless we allow ourselves to be riled by articles that use emotion and hyperbole (but no facts) to try and influence our opinions. http://www.imba.com/resources/risk-management/shared-trails

Crafty, PJ. Equating one of the most respected and responsible social advocacy groups to the Viet Cong will be sure to rile anti-American, er... anti-bike (or is it anti-tool/technology? I'm confused...) sentiment. Clearly this is meant to incite public ire, not to present facts. IMBA's position and information about the trail in question can be found here. http://www.imba.com/news/big-bend-attacks-unfounded

Using GW Bush as the representative for mountain bikers and comparing IMBA to the Viet Cong is not only misleading, but lazy writing. There are many great arguments for not allowing mountain bikes in national parks and wilderness areas, but you chose to go for the low blow rather than make a compelling argument. IMBA is a fantastic organization that helps not only mountain bikers, but ALL trail users. They help local governments, private land owners, and local trail builders construct proper, sustainable, and environmentally sound trails. Either you have some personal vendetta against them or you just haven't done your homework.

I'm unsure of the point of his article. Is he saying mountain biking is dangerous to hikers or that Scotch riot gear needs an overhaul?

Nonetheless, user conflict is evaluated on ANY trail that is being considered. I would be willing to bet that being kicked by a horse is way more dangerous than a mountain bike crash.

I think everyone should have their place to do their thing, whether it be mountain biking, hiking, trail running, horseback riding and, yes, even riding ATVs.

This guy just wants to complain and lose the purpose of his article in the process.

What's the big deal? A whole bunch of NPS Units host mountain biking on dirt trails and dirt roads:

http://www.imba.com/nps-trails-roads

. Let's not be overly dramatic about the fact that lots of park users would like to experience our parks for exercise, scenery, fun and skills development. Any great wailing quickly diminishes after sustainable trails designs are designed, built & maintained by organizations like IMBA (volunteers, no tax $$$) and trail users experience the multitude of benefits.

The moniker of "Thunderbear" is seemingly appropriate for Mr. Ryan's blog. This story is full of threatening bluster without any substance. In fact, it is insulting to all as it seek to incite park users against one another. Shame on you Mr. Ryan!

Wow, a completely narrowminded, one-sided article. And completely disturbing. Thanks PJ and NP Traveler, for comparing me to the Viet Cong (and George W. Bush).

I saw this same thing when I was living in Boulder, CO. The majority of open space trails near the city prohibit bikers, stating safety as the primary reason, yet, it is just a bunch of narrow minded individuals that are on the board there and prohibit it. Look to their neighbors in Golden, CO, and mountain bikers and hikers live in harmony. I currently live in Salt Lake City, and we have the Bonneville Shoreline Trail System. The BST is multi-use, adjacent to a very large population base, and completey safe for all users.

As a biker, and a hiker, and a trail-runner, and a trail volunteer, I understand that not all trails should be open to everyone. The rim-to-rim trail in the Grand Canyon would not be any fun on a bike. There are to many donkey trains to make that enjoyable. Cause honestly, when I am in a national park, I LOVE having to step to the side of the trail so a train of donkeys or pack horses can go by (They are completely low impact on the trails, and their poo smells like roses).

Did your little public vent helped you feel better there 'Thunderbear? My turn.

Your cheap shot at Dubya was obnoxious at best - but he's a big boy and has a proven sense of self-deprecating humor. You know he's been gone for about 4 years now, so maybe you can let it go. By the way I have a friend that rode with him and she said he was an excellent mountain biker and was a gentleman too - she is a liberal by the way.

I've ridden mountain bikes for over twenty years on multi-use trails all over the country and don't recall having seen or been involved in a single accident with a pedestrian. So, I am finding it difficult to define the true cause of your derisive remarks about cyclists. By the way, the US Army still employs bikes for the same job the VC did. It was a good lesson.

Hikers for years have had access to plenty of 'hiking only' venues in this country including the AT. Most of the new trails being constructed are thanks in part to advocacy groups like IMBA and they are almost all 'multi-use'. That means IMBA is building trails for user groups outside of their support base. I know of no hiker or equestrian groups with a similar mission. That is pretty generous of them don'tcha' think?

Having personally taken part in the design and construction as well as the maintenance of many existing multi-use trails over the years I am always impressed by two things: the enthusiasm of the cyclists that volunteer and the absence of hikers and equestrians from the project.

Perhaps you could improve the content of your writing by taking the coming summer months to devote some time to taking a few professionally guided mountain bike rides. Be careful, you might learn to enjoy it and gain perspective.

Mountain Bikers and hikers peacefully coexist on thousands (maybe millions?) of trails nationwide. It's simply not a big deal.

While we are on the topic of lame restrictions for national parks, can I also give a shout out to dogs? Similar to how bikes are better than jeeps. Dogs have WAY less impact than horses. So why are jeeps & horses allowed in national parks, while bikes & dogs are vilified?

I can honestly say that I am unable to enjoy national parks because of these rules, and generally avoid them. Which is very sad because they are very beautiful places. But it's simply not ok to leave my dog in the hot car in order to go for a hike without him (he would literally die). And if I'm home (in Jackson, WY), I generally choose to go on hikes outside of the park with the dog instead of leave him home and lonely all day. As much as I wish that I wasn't missing out, it's just not true. The best hikes are always in the national parks. And I can't go there with my dog, which sucks.

I'll give a million bucks to anyone who can explain to me with legitimate logic why my dog is 100% ok on the trails just to the south of grand teton national park, but would suddenly cause all sorts of harm if I cross an imaginary national park border.

And back to moutain bikes- let's just use good judgement. Some trails are great bike areas. Others, not so much. but we need to have a few good options for everyone to enjoy our public lands. MULTI-USE

what does george w. bush waving and then crashing have anything to do with mountain biking in national parks? and vietcong? really? does the writer know who the viet cong were and what they did? you bring up a great point shannons, what damage does a dog do that is more then a horse? if its owners not picking up after their dogs, someone please let me know if they have ever seen a horse rider stop get off his horse and clean up after it. i ride through more horse mess then dog mess.

Well, unfortuantely I'm not surprised at all by this uninformed anti-mountaining biking rant. If the author had ever been to Big Bend and/or was remotely familiar with mountain biking he would know that Big Bend, mountain bikes, and yes...even HIKERS can easily co-exist there. I love to hike. I love to mountain bike. I do not (and will never) believe that only one group of people "owns" the national parks and their trails. Certainly there are trails where cohabitation is not feasible, but there are thousands or miles of trails that could easily support all forms of non-motorized travel (foot, hoof, fat tire).

I have biked over 10,000 miles on single track that hikers hike. Yes, I have actually kept track with an odometer. I have never come close to hitting a hiker, never. Brakes on mountain bikes these days can stop a bike in a very short distance. Hikers and bikers can co-exist.

I have years of experience running a National Mountain Bike Patrol in a major, metropolitan city park that offers rugged, multi-use trails with a million visitors annually and have never witnessed or experienced cyclist and hikers running into each other. Your depiction of mountain biking is seriously exaggerated, inaccurate and unfair. How embarrassing for you to Inaccurately portray this socially acceptable and environmentally friendly activity based merely on your short-sighted, personal bias. Please stop misrepresenting other people and organizations. Your story clealy shows you do not know much about mountain biking, nor did you do any adequate research. Yes, I am an avid mountain biker, but I strongly advocate conservation and tolerance. I am an appointed member of my township's environmental committee and a member of the local sustainability organization as well. Through these organizations we teach responsible trail use for all users, as well as sustainable trail building. Also, fire roads are equally unattractive to hikers as they are to off road cyclists, both opting for single track trails. Double track or fire roads suggest there is motorized traffic. I would be much more concerned about getting run over by a jeep, than worrying about a biker/hiker encounter.

Why is it that mountain bikers can't ever tell the truth? Mountain biking is extremely dangerous, both for pedestrians and for the mountain bikers themselves. Here are just a few year's (280+) serious injuries and DEATHS: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb_dangerous.htm. It's also not true that mountain biking is environjmentally benign: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/scb7.htm.

Wowzer, PJ, you sure touched off the hornets' nests.

Folks, you need to know something about Thunderbear. His writings are always laced with roguish humor, but they usually accomplish something. Like getting people to start thinking. Take it as a bit of fun -- and then sit down and do some thinking. Some of what he says here is satire, but some bears tidbits that might benefit by thought rather than knee-jerk immediate reactions and protests.

As one who had to hike out and then drive to an ER for seven stitches and some ice packs after two mountain biking teenagers clobbered me on a trail in the Wasatch Mountains (never heard them coming from behind me as the wind was blowing and we were all heading down hill), I can attest to at least some of the danger from those kind of folks. After the first one hit me, the second bounced off my left leg and crashed. But he quickly picked his bike up, mounted up and rode off while shouting obscenities at me for blocking the trail and not getting out of the way.

Granted, they were teen agers, and we all know the mental capacity of at least some of those folks. And granted, I do feel more endangered by bikes while walking the sidewalks of Salt Lake City. But as is the cases in which bad experiences with irresponsible ATV riders and Jeepers have turned some of us against them, it's the responsibility of the sensible riders to try to educate and regulate others of their ilk.

Now, I usually carry a walking stick and hope that if this kind of thing happens again, I'll be quick enough to thrust the stick through the bike's spokes as I fall to my death. (Hmm, maybe I should carry the stick in the city, too.)

Anyway, thanks, P.J. for another entertaining Thunderbear morning of chuckles.

The mountain bikers are just mad because his article and its humor was so effective. They ridicule hikers and equestrians all the time. They just don't like it when the shoe is on the other foot....

Lee - respectfully, you're off base. Cyclists don't make fun or hikers, nor is there hatred among cyclists towards the hiking group. Wish the same could be said of the reverse. What we feel is sadness (and no small amount of disbelief) that the parallels between our two clearly likeminded backcountry stewardship groups are so casually dismissed by a vocal segment of the hiking community.

Moving forward, it's not going to get any easier to protect public land and fund our park system's eroding infrastructure. Together we could change that because the unification of the MTB and hiking communities could raise quite a din...but unless we're willing to continually cede access you guys won't allow that to happen.

So be it. Regrettably (at least from our end) at odds.

This comment has been edited to remove a gratuitous comment. -- Ed.

Mike

Lee - I owe you an apology. I attributed Mike Vandeman's "they ridicule hikers and equestrians all the time" comment to you.

And Mike? You're actually right - or at least half right. We don't ridicule hikers or equestrians (although we do frequently point out holes in some of the commonly held misconceptions about trial impact.) We do, however, find it hard to take you seriously. And if there were anyone spouting venom as vehemently as you from our end we'd expect the same disregard.

MM

Lee, the "tidbits" in this article are nothing more than hyperbole, and useless anecdotes. The author inspires no thought or real discussion, he just presents his groundless knee-jerk opinion. His "humor" is not really enlightening, it only serves to spread a baseless fear.

I am an avid mountain-biker/hiker/backcountry camper/environmentalist, and there is no good reason mountain biking should be completely banned from all national parks. Mountain bikers understand not all trails would be appropriate for bikes, but certainly coexistence would work in more than a few cases, as it does on countless other trails around the world. I just don't get why some closed-minded hikers(again, I love me some hiking) don't see how mountain biking opens up so many more people to the wonders of the great outdoors. It inspires more people to be connected with nature and realize the importance of protecting the environment. It is senseless to try and close off your ranks from slightly different, although like-minded people when the bigger this tent gets, the better it will be for everyone.

In reference to your incident with the teenagers, I am very sorry to hear about that, and those kids represent a very minute percentage of the community. All the bikers I know or see slow down or stop when necessary when crossing paths with other trail users. Usually with a quick friendly greeting.

This comment was edited to remove some gratuitous comments. -- Ed.

Actually, the normal state of hikers and mountain bikers on the same narrow trail is rancor, not harmony. It is ALWAYS caused by the mountain biker who believes that all pedestrians should LEAP out of their way so they need not slow down and spoil their fun.

It saddens me to learn that so many readers have zero sense of humor. I look forward to every new posting of the Thunderbear and am really happy to see him as a frequent contributor to this forum.

lets just end the ceaseless heartfelt hiker vs biker debate and get to the real issue: equal access. the national parks are supposed to represent the best america has to offer and if hikers want to have their own trail network all to themselves but still funded and maintained by taxpayer $$, well they already have it in perpetuity as the vast majority of parklands have permanent wilderness designation. I believe trail users known as mtn bikers deserve equal access with our own specifically maintained trail system, and if we are just beginning the discussion in fair terms, we have a very very long ways to go to even get one trail considered sometime in this lifetime. and as the national parks have found to their alarm the younger generation is less and less interested in nature. Our sport can bridge the gap with the videogame generation while bringing health back to those in the most need of it. So to say that we are desparately determined to develop new trails is borderline hateful. We are looking for a fair shake after decades of anti-biker everything. All that the hiker "its for us not them mentality" of the sierra club and the like has brought is: decades of suppressing the positive growth of one of the best possible outdoor sports for our younger generation (and the current generation of the young at heart).

Thanks PJ - as Tilden tauht us all - provocation is better than just information!

I'm sorry to see that many folks don't seem to have a sense of humor about this and are taking PJ way too seriously. For those I would recommend they check out "Thunderbear" on-line to find that many an NPS "issue" has been subjected to PJ's irreverent, twisted and tongue in cheek humor. Keep it up PJ!

I'm sorry Dirthigh, but I don't believe the real issue is about equal access. The real issue is about common courtesy. I've hiked, biked and ridden horses on many trials through out the country and have come to realize that all these user groups have an impact on trails and other trail users. And that each of these groups can do more to reduce their impacts. Just like some folks each of us encounter in everyday society, each of these groups have some that really don't seem to care how their actions impact other users or the image of the group they are part of. Some people in life are just plain self absorbed and rude. That being said, all it takes is an encounter with one of these rude representatives of a group to tarnish ones impression of that group. In my experiences, Ive had plenty of these encounters with members of each of these trial user groups. Is it possible to totally eliminate this type of behavior? No, but each group sure can do more to minimize it. How? Try working to gether on projects. Try talking with eachother about perceptions. Stop blaming the other groups for problems on blogs and begin working with them to develop understanding of the other groups. Build some empathy.

I am with Lee Dalton and Old Ranger...after having read PJ Ryan's articles you have to see the humor in it or go through life as a sad sack. If the humor is thought provoking so be it, if its not, maybe the next PJ article will be. I at least have a sense of humor and an imagination of watching a President and his secret service guys run to his aid when he goofs up. PJ says that Bush Visited the guy in the hospital. That is respectable.

As Old Ranger says, courtesy counts. I hike and mountain bike, and whenever I bike on shared trails I slow down and/or stop for hikers. They invariably yell at me because a biker just ahead ran them off the trail. That wasn't me! I didn't even know the guy! And I did the right thing!

what is humorous about this article? is comparing someone to the vietcong supposed to be funny? if you think it is you have apparantly forgot what the vietcong was and what they did. after reading this i went and checked out a few pro hiking and equestrian trails sites, none of the ones i saw were fighting for multi use trails just trails for themselves. the imba website was the only one that i saw that was trying to improve overall trail use for everyone not just the mountain biking community. of course there is always going to be a risk factor in multi use trails thats why all users need to be educated on how to be safe. in the long run we would get the most benefit if we all unified for the same cause. how can we provide a good argument to maintain environmental funding for state parks and the such if all we do is argue amongst ourselves?

Reading through some of these comments, it's apparent that at least some folks either need to slow down and get their hyperventilation under control -- or need some remedial work in reading comprehension -- or both.

I'm pretty sure PJ is pulling your chain. Very successfully pulling your chain. Chill out.

The article wasn't funny. One thing is clear: PJ doesn't get mountain biking. Jeep roads are not something that cyclists are interested in. We want the same experience as other human powered (or horse powered) users: getting close to nature on narrow trails. I rode some sweet single track yesterday in the Sierras, and interestingly all hikers were just fine.

This attempt at humor doesn't upset me, even though I'm a dedicated mountain bike access advocate and regularly spar with Kurt and others over what I see as an overcautious attitude toward bicycles on trails. We need more humor. In fact I regret that Kurt censored himself when he made his own attempt at humor some months ago and it caused such a firestorm that he removed his article. I would have left it in place.

Not that I agree that we should be relegated to dreary dirt roads, of course. Or that there are two categories of mountain bikers: the "responsible" ones who also belong to the Sierra Club or similar stodgy organizations, vis-à-vis the "irresponsible" ones who may be likened to the Viet Cong. (In fact I can't think of a single decent mountain biker who's also a Sierra Club member; that organization has alienated almost all trail cyclists except for some duffers who consider toodling along a flat dirt road to constitute mountain biking.) However, the Viet Cong reference is in fact complimentary of IMBA, whether the author meant it or not. The Viet Cong were the enemy, but I suspect the U.S. armed forces respected their tenacity and their ability to engage forces that on paper were much stronger than they. I'd like to think that similar things are true of mountain bike access advocates.

I should have piped up a month and a half ago when this article was first posted, but better late than never. Make that 12 comments in support of your article, Thunderbear -- though it's pointless to try to count a silent majority.