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Hey Upchuck..


I thought we should bring this over here...

"there are NOT plenty of other gnar gnar MTB trails in the area"

I didn't say there were plenty in the area. There are plenty in more remote areas. If you must have the gnar, then -- increasingly -- you are going to have to travel for it. No land manager with a thimble full of sense is going to start opening trails with 6-foot drops in cities with populations of 100,000+. How would you feel if you were hiking or riding a horse up the steep, south slope of Coyote and I came bombing down the rocks? Don't get me wrong... I love doing it (or I did, when I thought it was open), but let's face it, that particular section is obviously not going to work for multi-use near a populous area.

What the hell is wrong with leaving the rocks embedded in the trail?! Are you worried a flash flood is going to form because of the users eroding the trail?

To repeat myself for the 50,000th time: It's not me that's making the decisions or pulling out the rocks. It's the various different land management agencies that set the specifications as to what a trail (in their respective area) should or should not be. For instance, these specs differ widely from State Park jurisdiction to National Forest. Trails in a National Forest only have to be "passable" to meet multi-use guidelines. Also keep in mind, that what may be a sidewalk to some, may be very challenging for others.

In addition -- due to recent budget cuts, etc. -- most land managers are looking to maintain trails heavily, so that they do not have to revisit these trails for 3-5 years. So, a trail might seem a little sterile when it is freshly worked, but it WILL grow in, erode, etc. over a period of time.

"Take the two techie climbs on Sulfur Springs in Cheseboro as an example. Every spring the sections are deep, rocky steps. Every summer they slowly become sandy from users. Every fall/winter the rain packs down the dirt or washes some of the loose soil to the side of the trail. When spring comes around, they look just like they did the year before."

Precisely my point! Do you remember 3-4 years back, when everybody complained about the "sterilization" of these exact spots in Chesebro?? Surprise: they're back. Again, land managers are tryiing to minimize the frequency of trail maintenance.

"rocky sections on trails are being altered as a direct response to the evolution of full suspension bicycles to discourage technical riders from coming to the multi-use trails."

I don't know where you got that, but it simply is not true. Land managers want to make trails safe for all users, to avoid law suits. The more users, the more potential for conflict. So in more populated areas, you are going to see "safer" trails to acccommodate a larger array of users. In places like the San Gab's and the SB backcountry, land managers will not worry about it as much, because the typical backcountry visitor tends to be a little more hearty. If you're so inclined, I highly recommend getting more involved in local advocacy and trail building organizations. You'll lear a lot about how and why decisions are made.

In closing, just let it be known that if it were up to me (and that local MTB access organization that I belong to, but in no way do I want to speak on behalf of that organization here), I would leave the trails as they are and ride them gleefully. But in the end, if I had to choose between having smooth trails right out my back door, or none at all, well... I think you know the answer. I know where to go for the steep stuff when I want it. Be happy with what we have here. It's a good thing, and I believe it will only get better.
Posted by The Preacher on 12/23/03

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  • Re: Hey Upchuck..


    What needs to be understood is respect for the environment as well as other trail users. There's a way to behave in society, which is deemed acceptable... and in which people will know that you have concern for the well being of others... and there are ways you can act that are unacceptable to societies standards, all of this transfers over to the trail, directly, in which you'll get trails closed because people see that you don't care less about others.

    Downhilling, for the most part, should be done on a closed course... like skiing or snowboarding. If the need is there, it will be met by someone with an entrepenurial spirit and locations will be opened where it can be done. Anyone listening? If someone, like at bootleg, can open an area and than market it properly as a destination, like any business, chances are good it will succeed.

    Freeriding can be done in such a way as to be safe to yourself and more importantly, other trail users. Don't fly down multiuse trails unless you can see exactly what's in front of you. If there are other users, make sure you can stop in time to avoid them. These "rules" apply to XC riders, also.

    Rebeling is fine but you should still be courteous and safe to others, ensuring we at least get a fair shake when our needs are discussed. If we behave properly, we'll get to do 95% of what we want. If we don't, it'll get taken away slowly. If you want the other 5%, lobby for it. If you don't care about the rules, don't ruin it for everyone else.

    Posted by ZG a 34 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Etc. from Studio City on 12/23/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      So long as we understand each other, ZiGgy: my rant has nothing to do with the need to satisfy a DH fix or launch myself into the ER, ala Jarvis Curse. I'm fully aware of the opportunities available at the local ski resorts and places like Bootleg. In fact, when the urge calls I pack my gear and make a weekend of it.

      Your statement "If we behave properly, we"ll get to do 95% of what we want."- is more than a slight exaggeration. I know you know better considering the amount of experience you have in this arena. Unless you're basing this 95% upon huge compromises.

      I guess you could say I'm a purist when it comes to trails. I"d rather hike-a-bike until I learn how to clean a rocky section than see the same trail leveled by one of these

      NOW who's causing damage to the environment? That baby does more in one hour to a trail than a full season of TBB races.

      Let me make myself clear. This is not about being a rebel. It's time we consider a new paradigm. Even IMBA is becoming more aware of this. When they're not on the Hill fighting for trail access, they're out building sustainable trails that actually have more than a water bar as a trail feature.

      All I'm saying is don't be so quick to assume that the offer being handed to you is the only option.

      Posted by Upchuck on 12/23/03

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      • Re: Hey Upchuck..


        2 things...

        That thing looks really fun! But I'd rather derby it around a construction site than ruin trails with it.

        And yes, the 95% is based on compromises, that's life. Maybe I should have said, we'd get 95% of what we, as a certain percentage of the user group, deserves, compared to other trail users.

        Personally, I believe that if more riders handled themselves better, from day one, the way we have been perceived and treated, would be vastly different.
        Posted by ZG a 34 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Etc. from Studio City on 12/24/03

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        • Re: Hey Upchuck..
          Yeah, really fun. Unfortunately that Sweco is one of the tools in the arsenal of some trail sanitizers. It happens to be what was used on Backbone up here.

          Don"t mince words, ZG. "Maybe I should have said, we'd get 95% of what we, as a certain percentage of the user group, deserves, compared to other trail users" WYJWMNS.

          Are you saying that you are a member of a more deserving part of the MTB community because you're willing to compromise 95% of the time?

          Or are you saying as a member of the MTB community, we are only a certain percentage of all users out on the trail. And we deserve to compromise 95% of the time?

          You're the master of the obvious. Rather than wish all riders were ambassadors of goodwill the minute they buy their first bike, an education process needs to be set in place.

          I know, that's what CORBA and IMBA are working on. But their existence is unknown to virtually every first time bicycle owner out there.

          About 6 years ago I lobbied the local bike shops to offer trail etiquete information, CORBA and IMBA membership info, and IMBA Rules of the Trail pamphlets to every customer. I also felt IMBA's Rules of the Trail should be included with all new bike purchases. Not a single owner was willing to put out the expense or time.

          So I contacted the IMBA Advocacy Director and discussed the possibility of teaming up with LBS's to provide the literature. She said they were already doing this on the manufacturer level and at that time were not interested in working with individual bike shop owners. I understand that would be a daunting task given the number of LBS owners. So here we are 6 years later and no education material.

          CORBA does a fine job hosting trail/rider education parties to the public. Why aren't they advertising or posting the info at the LBS? The average newbie has no concept that such a thing even exists.

          I'm sure I'm way beyond incoherent in my rant on the state of MTB access and the efforts to sign treaties with those with X's on thars. So I'm off to ride a trail that is not affected by the recent rains.

          Posted by Upchuck on 12/24/03

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          • Re: Hey Upchuck..


            "About 6 years ago I lobbied the local bike shops to offer trail etiquete information, CORBA and IMBA membership info, and IMBA Rules of the Trail pamphlets to every customer. I also felt IMBA's Rules of the Trail should be included with all new bike purchases. Not a single owner was willing to put out the expense or time.

            So I contacted the IMBA Advocacy Director and discussed the possibility of teaming up with LBS's to provide the literature. She said they were already doing this on the manufacturer level and at that time were not interested in working with individual bike shop owners. I understand that would be a daunting task given the number of LBS owners. So here we are 6 years later and no education material.

            CORBA does a fine job hosting trail/rider education parties to the public. Why aren't they advertising or posting the info at the LBS? The average newbie has no concept that such a thing even exists.

            Ask and ye shall receive. This has actually been my main focus since joining the CORBA Board of Directors, recently. It goes back to how I was nicknamed (by a small group of uneducated newbies) "The Preacher." I will be launching the program right after the new year. Want to help me with it, Upchuck??
            Posted by The Preacher on 12/24/03

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            • Re: Hey Upchuck..


              P.S. we have a spreadsheet with 250+ LBSs in the greater Los Angeles area, so anybody else that seriously wants to lend a hand is welcome.

              DeRanger, I know you expessed interest previously. If you still want to get involved, please email me.

              Gonna go spend some time with my family, now. Happy, Happy, Merry, Merry everyone.
              Posted by The Preacher on 12/24/03

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              • Re: Hey Upchuck..
                Copy that. I'm still in.

                I'll e' you when I get back to work on Friday.
                Posted by DeRanger a 38 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Rocky Mountain Blizzard from OC on 12/24/03

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          • Re: Hey Upchuck..

            Master of the obvious, thanks.

            "Unfortunately that Sweco is one of the tools in the arsenal of some trail sanitizers. It happens to be what was used on Backbone up here."

            Right back'atcha.

            Anyway, I've got a head cold and didn't convey myself properly. What I meant to say was, we get 95% of what we, as a certain percentage of the trail users, deserve, compared to overall trail use. I give $ to IMBA, have participated in trail work (should do more) and appreciate their efforts, I'm glad they're out there making the effort to stop closures and keep things open.

            Bike shops, like many businesses, are short sighted. Any time/money they need to spend to sell a bike... over and above the minimum, lowers their profit. The big picture, the more trails that are open to us and new riders, the more people need to buy bikes and related equipment.

            Oh, once again, I state the obvious. Have a good ride.

            Later
            Posted by ZG a 34 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Etc. from Studio City on 12/24/03

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  • Re: Hey Upchuck..
    Preacher- I appreciate you bringing the thread over here. Let me start by apologizing. Obviously my frustration towards you is misdirected. I also appreciate the dedication you have for what you believe in. Unfortunately your message sounds a lot like the canned crap I hear by those who seem to give a lot of lip service.

    I have sought involvement with the local advocacy groups, however it is difficult for me to be a part of a group that pats you on the head for your concerns yet seemingly strokes the members on those who oppose us.

    I have personally witnessed trail sanitization by CORBA. Then when I emailed them they vehemently denied being a part of it. I am tired of "who, what, where, when? It wasn't us! Get involved! Be a part of the solution." Then when I tried to get involved all I got was "Thanks for the extra set of hands. There's the loppers."

    I donate funds, in addition to membership dues, to several resources that work towards our best interests. I"ve been involved in a number of trail-work projects; some good (like SDMBA), some not so good....

    I only used Sulfur Springs as an example of an extremely popular trail that should sustain itself. If you want an example of one that was unnecessarily altered: Backbone between Kanan and Latigo Cyn. The rocky section on the last piece before Latigo was covered over with dirt and has never recovered.

    Before the "trail work", riders were forced to keep their speed in check because of the rocks. It also provided a reasonable challenge to those on foot and bike. Now the trail is practically a dirt road. Inexperienced riders are capable of riding well beyond their abilities increasing the risk for injury to them and others.

    For once, I'd like to see a group that fights for natural trail preservation rather than trail sanitization. I admit sanitization is becoming an overused metaphore, but it's the most accurate for what's happening right now.

    Posted by Upchuck on 12/23/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..


      "however it is difficult for me to be a part of a group that pats you on the head for your concerns yet seemingly strokes the members on those who oppose us.

      I can tell you that it is not that way, but you should not take my word for it. The only way to see for yourself is to come to some meetings, which are the second Monday of every month. Email me at rockmick@adelphia.net or IM me at MTBPreacher for the next time and place.

      I have personally witnessed trail sanitization by CORBA. Then when I emailed them they vehemently denied being a part of it. I am tired of "who, what, where, when? It wasn"t us! Get involved! Be a part of the solution." Then when I tried to get involved all I got was "Thanks for the extra set of hands. There"s the loppers."

      You are welcome to stand up and voice your concerns at any trail work session, should you believe that sanitization is occuring. But remember this: if you are working on a project that is in State Park land, you are expected to build/maintain the trails on that land to their standards. If you think the trails in these areas are being over-sanitized, then don't work them. Come out, instead, when we have a TWD in the Angeles NF. It's a different story.

      "If you want an example of one that was unnecessarily altered: Backbone between Kanan and Latigo Cyn. The rocky section on the last piece before Latigo was covered over with dirt and has never recovered."

      I guess I have not been there in awhile, as I cannot say I've seen this. I do agree that the Soltice Canyon section is the worst instance of trail sanitization that I have ever seen. I know you don't want to hear it, but again, "we weren't driving the tractor."

      Though it is sad, the fact is, as L.A. and it's suburbs grow, you are probably going to see more trails that are geared toward a wider variety of users and skill levels. You will have to go further and further to experience technical trails and backcountry solitude. But then again, at least you WILL still have trails right out your back door.

      I know I've said this a lot before too, but those who think Southern California's local trails are not technical enough should take a few-day trip up to Marin some time, and see the quality of the trails there. Believe me, you will gain a new perspective and you will be VERY happy to return!
      Posted by The Preacher on 12/23/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      The switchbacks at Wildwood Park were also "paved" over several years ago. They used to be ridiculously challenging to descend and now they are as smooth as a street. The irony of it is that what made them difficult before was the fact that they were essentially solid rock so there was no erosion problem at all. Now, they're filled in with dirt which can wash away during a rain only to expose the rock once again. Go figure
      Posted by Yeti_Rider a 33 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Yeti A.R.C. from San Diego on 12/23/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      Dont forget the worst example in the area, Chumash.Which is just about handicap accessable.You can bring your Gramma on a ride there.
      Posted by Jmomma a 42 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Santa Cruz Heckler from Newbury Park on 12/24/03

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  • Re: Hey Upchuck..
    Thanks for bringing this discussion over here. As I posted in my update of Guadalasco and Wood Vista/BB, I thought the trail work was just and well done this time around. And, I also remember the "rape" and "sanitization" that started all this fuss a couple of years back; it didn't stay "paved" as long as I and some others thought it would. I spoke with one of the main folks involved with the design and maintenance of our trail system about some of the larger rocks being removed from Wood Vista. This particular piece of modification caught my attention as it seemed to me to make the trail weaker and a bit more dangerous. The way it was removed left a "wheel suck" in its place. This authority said that some hikers have been modifying the trails right after the appropriate crews have finished. He said some of these modifications are in direct response to their hatred of sharing the trail resource with mountain bikers.



    My Opinion is that Coyote could not handle full multi-use traffic at the moment as it is. One steep section is too soft to last under the constant traffic of bikes or feet/hooves for that matter. It doesn't have anything to do with the extreme types as they would probably just launch it with no erosion whatsoever ;-?) Common sense tells me it just wouldn't work as designed with a full load of multi-use traffic; almost, but not quite.



    I need to get back to some work and last minute holiday stuff. So, in closing, lifeguards have told me of swimming out to save drowning folks only to have them hit them in the face when they arrive. When people are scared or threatened, it seems they have a harder time telling who their friends might be. This is something I need to remember when addressing our public servants in charge of our natural resources.


    Posted by Dennis Hopper on 12/23/03

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  • Re: Hey Upchuck..
    Major trail maintenance(aka: sanitization)is vital to keeping our trail system is existence. If large scale trail work wasn't done occasionally the trail would disappear before your very eyes. As stated by others, major trail work also prevents having to work the same trail every year, as well as making multi-use trails exactly that...USEABLE BY ALL.

    You guys must understand, I am a certified trail maintainer/builder by California State Parks so I've already forgotten more about trail work than any of you will ever know. Thank you.

    Major trail work is here to stay kiddies, don't fight the feeling.



    Posted by Dusty Bottoms from Dogtown on 12/23/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      Rolling MTB tires over the dirt is the only "major trail maintenance" that's necessary.
      Posted by Supernova on 12/23/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      You are a certified tool.

      Posted by OPP riding a Spider Bullit on 12/23/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      Dusty, when forgetting his Pulaski, has been known to sacrifice a crank arm to dig into the trail. He's as hard-core as it gets and truly certifiable.
      Posted by Dennis Hopper on 12/23/03

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      • Re: Hey Upchuck..
        Here's Dusty going nuts at his last trail maintenance session. He's hard core, all right...
        Posted by Supernova on 12/23/03

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  • Re: Hey Upchuck..
    I am glad that Preacher and ZG don't negotiate my multi-million dollar accounts. To compromise on major trail issues and make them about as safe as the sidewalk is somewhat ridiculous. I've ridden Sycamore Canyon, (Yawn). If that is what your willing to accept as a MTB trail, you should hang it up at the meetings and just ride fire roads.
    It is true that there are more challenging trails elsewhere, but the issue is that if there isn't APPROPRIATE and EFFECTIVE represention, we will eventually loose everything. FYI, not everyone are Kamakazee Downhillers, there are alot of respectable crosscountry riders. I have seen more trail destruction caused by horses after the rain than Mtb'ers has ever caused.
    Posted by Bad Kharma on 12/25/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      Welcome to the sport. We'd love to hear back from you after you get few years under your belt.
      Posted by The Preacher on 12/26/03

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      • Re: Hey Upchuck..
        Yo Preach, years of what? BK has been an outdoor enthusiast for almost 30 years. Nice assumption.

        Posted by Upchuck on 12/28/03

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        • Re: Hey Upchuck..


          Really? You would not know it from that post. Obviously his enthusiasm has not been directed toward advocacy, or he would not have made such ignorant statements about the basic issues that we face. Examples:

          I am glad that Preacher and ZG don't negotiate my multi-million dollar accounts.

          First of all: how fukking arrogant. Second, stick to the multi-million dollar accounts, unless you want to get involved. Like I said, anyone is welcome at the meetings. We would love to have input on how to better represent the MTB community. But if you don't take the initiative to get involved, then you will be relegated to whining and bitching on MTB web sites, which of course, is an unproductive dead end.

          I've ridden Sycamore Canyon, (Yawn). If that is what your willing to accept as a MTB trail, you should hang it up at the meetings and just ride fire roads.

          Again, extremely arrogant, and obviously not very close to the issues, or else he would know about the different trail spec requirements of different agencies. We are extremely lucky to have places like Sycamore to ride, without having to drive for an hour. If you don't like it, ride somewhere else.

          But the issue is that if there isn't APPROPRIATE and EFFECTIVE represention, we will eventually loose everything.

          Really? Is that the issue? If you don't think we're doing a good enough job, then you're welcome to get involved.

          FYI, not everyone are Kamakazee Downhillers, there are alot of respectable crosscountry riders. I have seen more trail destruction caused by horses after the rain than Mtb'ers has ever caused.

          Boy, I never was aware of either of those points. C'mon... join the discussion when you have something intelligent to say.

          Once again, you guys have proved that the majority of posters on this site would rather cry about the things that bug you than to do anything about it. Your views of "my trails should be more technical" are selfish and short-sighted. If you're not happy with the trails around here, than move to fukking Utah. Either that or get involved. But like I said before, we are going to keep doing what we do, with or without your help and input. So if you do not get involved, your cries will go unheard.
          Posted by The Preacher on 12/29/03

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          • Re: Hey Upchuck..
            I hope you know that not everyone writes 200 word postings. Most of us do remember what we just posted and do not need you to remind us. I have spent more time outdoors enjoying it and fighting for it than you will ever know. I just don't have a chip on may shoulders like you. I would love to join the fight, but I can only battle one issue at a time. The State of California and Congress gets my attention right now on issues more pressing. Sorry. FYI, instead of helping with the Sterotype, maybe you help change other peoples perception. That would be a good start.
            Posted by Bad Kharma on 12/29/03

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            • Re: Hey Upchuck..
              Preacher, I know that you want to reply. Dead Issue...... let it go
              Posted by Bad Kharma on 12/29/03

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              • Re: Hey Upchuck..
                Apparently, it is not a dead issue, or the discussion would not have been started. In a way you are right... it is a dead issue to me, as the preservation of technical trails has never been my focus. At the same time, it is also a pet peeve of mine, as I truly believe the sanitization argument has nothing to do with the BIG picture of trail access, at least in urban and suburban areas. In other words, you (and many others on this site) are not seeing the mountains for the rocks. Believe me, we have tried to get people involved who do feel that sanitization is truly an issue, but they apparently just do not have the moxy to stick with it. Hence, this argument persists.
                Posted by The Preacher on 12/29/03

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                • Re: Hey Upchuck..
                  Hey Preacher, your right, there are many riders who do not see the mountain for what it is, they only see what they are able to use it for. Beleive me, I know, I live in the mountains within the trees, and rocks and can never get enough of them. I am new to California, but grew up in Colorado. I will never loose appreciation for that which I enjoy so much. However, there is alot of pented hostility on this site. I commend you for your fight, just don't be so quick to assume anything from anyone.
                  Posted by Bad Kharma on 12/29/03

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                  • Re: Hey Upchuck..


                    OK then, I should have said "welcome to California." I'm sure the riding situation here is very different from your home state, but don't go dissing the things that we have worked long and hard to acquire and maintain. Like I said, if you're not happy with our trails, then don't ride 'em.

                    Yes, I"ve been called "hostile", "combative" and much worse. After fighting for MTB trail access for more than 15 years -- including 6 years in Marin where we are up against the truly insane -- I have a grande chip... of that you can be sure.

                    But what really irks me is when I find myself arguing against mountain bikers themselves... people that are supposed to be on our side. It's hard enough to just get and maintain what little access we have. If you or anyone else thinks we're not doing a good enough job, then either get involved, or shut the fukk up (I hate the webby acronyms too).
                    Posted by The Preacher on 12/29/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..

      I'm busy, anyway.
      Posted by ZG a 34 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Etc. from Studio City on 12/29/03

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  • Re: Hey Upchuck..
    A few thoughts before I go stock the urinal cakes...

    Trail conditions evolve from one season to the next. And every year they continue to exist without becoming an increasing threat to the lives of neighboring communities or the lives of the creatures that live there.

    I don’t think we really know enough about what happens in terms of long-term impacts from recreation to agree with that, Vince. The subject has only been studied extensively for about twenty-five years, and virtually all of those studies have dealt with identifying short-term impacts rather than long-term ecosystem changes. However, extrapolating the consequences identified in those short-term studies suggests that there may be significant changes over time. For example...

    Take the two techie climbs on Sulfur Springs in Cheseboro as an example. Every spring the sections are deep, rocky steps. Every summer they slowly become sandy from users. Every fall/winter the rain packs down the dirt or washes some of the loose soil to the side of the trail. When spring comes around, they look just like they did the year before. The plants continue to thrive along the edge and the animals continue to scurry about.

    Some trail monitoring data collected here in OC a couple of years ago did a little to identify the fate of sediment from eroded trails. The bottoms of trail grades tended to have deeper accumulations of eroded material than the steeper sections – no surprises there. Watching where the sand and silt went next, and what happens to habitat, was enlightening – silt and sand tends to make its way into watercourses if the trail is near a stream or wetland, or it accumulates and creates a disturbed area that favors aggressive invasion by weed species. (Contrary to some views expressed on this site, sediment doesn’t just “pack down” with the rain – it usually washes away, and how far depends on the slope and the run of the water.) Neither of those effects is benign, and the cumulative effect over time is likely to be considerable.

    The same type of evolution has been going on for ages with rock formations in the desert, mountain ranges and riverbeds. Are we going to start hauling loads of dirt to stop them from changing? Brush clearing is one thing, but removing or covering rocky features is just ridiculous and shouldn't be done.

    First, I can’t comment on the areas you’re referring to specifically, but one thing you might want to keep in mind is that sometimes what you may see as “rock” isn’t really bedrock or R-horizon material. Many (most?) of the trails in SoCal are built into mineral soils (A- or B-horizon) which may be quite friable and erode rapidly, depending on the parent material, slope, and intensity of recreational usage. In my experience that is a point that is poorly understood by many trail users.

    Second, parks, preserves, refuges, and other managed wildlands are what a colleague with The Nature Conservancy once called “contrived landscapes.” “Natural” processes are not allowed to run unfettered – if they did, there would be no exotic plant control, no habitat restoration, no fire management, and no erosion control. While such a “hands-off” land management philosophy may be a legitimate option for consideration, I think it’s safe to say that in our present reality most visitors do not support benign neglect of their public lands over active management. In most cases, management of trails and other man-made constructs on the landscape will be undertaken, whether or not the degradation of the trail is ultimately a “natural” process or not. (And yes, a trail can gouge its way six feet, or more, into a hillside if it’s left unattended – we have a few examples of that here in OC parks, unfortunately.)

    Third, comparing “natural” erosion to trail erosion is, IMO, a weak argument. Yes, slopes fail, creeks jump their banks, boulders dislodge, and so on, but I fail to see the connection between background processes that occur whether or not a landscape has recreational access to the degradation of trails and habitat through inadequate or inappropriate maintenance practices. Moreover, while a “natural” slope failure is a high magnitude, low frequency event that does have an impact on wildlife, habitat, and watershed, so does a low magnitude, high frequency process like the in-filling of a wetland with eroded material from a poorly maintained trail. Land managers are concerned with the effects of both kinds of impacts, and there is a method of managing each in turn – for trails, that means maintaining the tread, at least in part.

    IMO, rocky sections on trails are being altered as a direct response to the evolution of full suspension bicycles to discourage technical riders from coming to the multi-use trails.

    From what I read and hear, I think that the two of the most frequently-used buzzwords among trail managers right now are “accessibility” and “sustainability.” The technological evolution of adaptive recreation equipment had opened up outdoor recreation to visitors with disabilities in ways that were only dimly contemplated a decade ago, and as a result accessibility has moved to the forefront. It’s also the law of the land, so land and trail managers ignore it at their peril. (I don’t know how many millions of dollars we’re spending on accessibility improvements as a result of the lawsuit against the county, but I’m willing to bet that in many cases it’s much more than if we’d simply utilized universal design principles in the first place.) And in an era of burgeoning visitation and shrinking budgets, reducing maintenance costs while protecting park resources and values will continue to be a priority among land management agencies. In either case, this isn’t directed at discouraging mountain biking generally – an argument can be made that accessible, sustainable trails are the most mountain bike-friendly option for land managers concerned with multiple-use.

    Of course, that’s without considering the “technical” experience quotient, which cuts to the heart of your argument, Vince. If you’d asked me three years ago if I thought technical mountain bike trails were sustainable under the levels of usage in our wildland-interface parks and forests, I would’ve given you an unqualified “yes.” With more time and experience, now I’d have to say, “maybe.”

    First, the experience of managing mountain biking has not been overly positive. Social studies of mountain bikers and compliance with trail regulations have not been encouraging, as I’ve noted elsewhere on this site – the myth that trail and habitat damage can be traced to a “few bad apples” is not supported by either scientific or anecdotal observations on the ground. Moreover, my own research project found that a statistically-significant majority of mountain bikers did not utilize technical trail features (instead choosing non-technical lines that bypassed the features), contradicting the results of studies on mountain biker experience preferences and affecting the sustainability of these trails. If mountain bikers as a group make a poor showing of respect for regulations and sustainability, then it is perhaps unreasonable to expect either land managers or other trail users and stakeholders to support increasing miles of technical trails that arguably only appeal to a niche group of riders.

    Second, the rate of evolution in mountain biking technology does indeed outstrip the ability of land managers to adapt trails to maintain appropriate levels of challenge. New and improved suspension and braking systems are introduced every year – technology developed for professional racers ends up in the hands of enthusiasts within months of being introduced for the pros. There is simply no way for most land and trail managers to keep up with the demand for any of a number of reasons: budgetary and personnel constraints, park-enabling legislation, conflicting management mandates, stakeholder concerns.

    What about places like Whistler? Some destinations have been very successful at developing and marketing technical mountain biking experiences, so why can’t land managers closer to home do the same thing? Arguably we could, if we had the land base free of constraints, the budget and the bodies, and support from other stakeholders. It is possible, but I think it’s less and less likely to happen except on a limited scale. While there is resistance from other trail users to mountain biking, my impression is that it is much less than in was in the past – I think the bigger hurdles are political expectations which try to shoehorn too many uses together with an assumption of compatibility, the diminished value of the agency dollar, and the fact that the mountain biking community shoots itself in the foot with building and riding illegal trails.

    My personal feeling is that the best bet for getting technical trails will continue to come from private recreation providers, not public agencies. A private land owner or leaseholder can do things that a public land manager cannot – for example, a public land manager is usually constrained by both political and ethical considerations from charging fees for recreation access that would price out a large segment of its constituency, while a private recreation provider can charge whatever the market will bear. A private provider can more readily respond to increasing demand by one segment of the market, while a public land manager is almost always constrained by the mandate to preserve equitable use on behalf of all stakeholders rather than just one niche group.

    Do I think there’s no hope for mountain bikers? Not exactly, but I’m definitely not as optimistic as I once was. Do I think rocks in trails should be removed? That depends – if too many mountain bikers decide to trash a technical section by bypassing it or plowing it, then yes, I would favor removing them, but not simply as a matter-of-course. Do I think all trails should be sidewalk smooth and level as a horizon line? Of course not – I want challenging trails, too, but not without reasonable consideration of the values of the land and other users.

    Vince, I know you’re a thoughtful guy, and I do understand your frustration. Hopefully you’ll accept this in the spirit in which it’s offered, as grist for the mill.

    Now, it’s time for me to go find my mop and toilet brush and get back to work...
    Posted by DeRanger a 38 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Rocky Mountain Blizzard from OC on 12/26/03

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    • Quote of the day
      "An outdoor ethic means personal involvement in the outdoors as an essential part of life. It means a sense of appreciation for, and obligation toward the air, land, water and living things of the earth. It includes statesmanship: courtesy for others using the outdoors; and stewardship: our obligation to ensure future generations’ enjoyment of our natural heritage."

      – President's Commission on Americans Outdoors, Report and Recommendations to the President of the United States, 1986
      Posted by DeRanger on 12/28/03

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    • Re: Hey Upchuck..
      You had me at "urinal cakes". Your dissertation was thorough and thought provoking. Though I am somewhat frustrated about the immediate effect of maintenance on local trails deemed necessary by local land managers, I realize the end result enables me and my family to enjoy the outdoors on two wheels and on foot for years to come.

      Don't mistake my outspokenness as a rebellious call to arms by poachers or self-made trail developers. Personally I haven't experienced mountain bikers trashing technical sections by bypassing them or plowing them. In fact, it's the non-riders that I come across who feel the need to make everything into an access ramp. But that"s just my observation.

      Obviously studies regarding "bicycle vs horse vs human impact" that you oftentimes refer to were performed by impartial members of unbiased agencies and are infinitely more accurate than what the members of the offending community witness on a daily basis. Yes, I do have a problem with the source. But that's an issue we can tackle via email.

      Posted by Upchuck on 12/28/03

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      • Re: Hey Upchuck..
        You've got mail.
        Posted by DeRanger on 12/28/03

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        • Re: Hey Upchuck..
          Hey Vince,
          Is the new Turner a "Goth" bike?Or just a stealth? All black.Maybe a tribute to Johnny Cash?
          ;-)
          Posted by Pain Freak from The 909 on 12/28/03

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          • Re: Hey Upchuck..
            Funny you should ask, PF. When I went out to ride Sycamore Canyon this afternoon, a crowd started to form behind me as I unloaded my new instrument from the rack. In a dramatic fashion, I turned around to the crowd that had gathered and announced "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash...er..Upchuck." The spirit was with me.

            BTW, I prefer stealth. Goth is so 1985.

            Posted by Upchuck on 12/28/03

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            • Re: Hey Upchuck..
              Goth is so 1985.

              True.

              Emo is so 2003.

              PF is showing his age...

              <|;-)
              Posted by DeRanger a 38 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Rocky Mountain Blizzard from OC on 12/28/03

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            • Re: Hey Upchuck..
              I was out there myself today,perfect day to ride.I saw the pics you posted of your bike and I saw another person with a similar rig and thought it might have been you.I asked the guy if he posted pics of his new bike on a web site and he had no idea what I was talking about.Anyways this guy had a new Turner,his wife had a new Turner and their buddy had a Maverick w/Maverick fork.A lot of money in bikes!I think I passed you on Guadalasco,you were going up and I was going down.That Turner looks like a great ride.
              Posted by Jmomma a 42 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Santa Cruz Heckler from Newbury Park on 12/28/03

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              • Re: Hey Upchuck..
                I saw a lone rider and then a group of 3 heading down Guadalasco as I climbed. Which were you? It was perfect out. The trail was just tacky enough and the temp's were perfect. Right before I climbed out of the park to Newbury Park, I stopped and enjoyed an orange at the last multi-use site with horse pipe-corals. Not to overuse the term...it was perfect.

                E-me and we'll hook up for a ride.

                Posted by Upchuck on 12/29/03

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                • Re: Hey Upchuck..
                  HEY! Did I miss something? Wher'z the picture of Stealth? Searched the posting for key words, no results. Send me an attachment to my email kay. FYI, The Mid-West sucks, can't wait to get home. I understand that I may be suffering from mudslides. Talk to you when I get back.
                  Posted by Bad Kharma on 12/29/03

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