Mountain biker calls for greater awareness of trails protection
Kudos to Dean Chambers for standing up to his fellow racers about littering on the race course of the Firecracker 50 on the Fourth of July weekend.
It should be a very strong reminder to the folks at Maverick Sports Promotions (the event promoters) and all bikers that this is not just a race course, it’s one of the more prized hiking and biking trails in the area.
Mountain biking is a growing boon to Summit County economically, and we’re lucky we live in a community that is so biking-friendly.
But I believe a few key parties must work together more to maintain access for riders throughout Summit County, to keep bikers aware of the rules, and to promote goodwill among the non-riding (but taxpaying) community.
Foremost among the goals should be to step up efforts to rein in some of the abuse the trails take during the early season and beyond, whether it’s the careless and selfish riding through mud bogs without dismounting (why was this not required of racers at one of the mud bogs in the Firecracker, I am not sure), or just ignorance of simple NORBA rules of the trail: Uphill rider has right of way, and all riders yield to every other trail user, no matter where on the trail or how wide the trail is.
Additionally, putting a small, temporary “Please Dismount” sign at sensitive areas rather than closing off an entire trail (Peaks trail) makes more sense than attempting in vain to scare riders away at the trailhead when 99.9 percent of the trail is not only OK for riding, but dusty.
After joining the Summit Fat Tire Society (SFTS), I was hopeful that the group would be more pro-active throughout the community in not only promoting biker public relations with the county, but also in creating a community of riders who could lead by example (and have a good time doing it, too.)
A few trail building/maintenance projects a season are nice and certainly helpful, along with the occasional trail alert newsletters.
The group has a need here but it’s reputed to have no momentum. As there is demand for more events, trails, and rides beyond the expert-focused and fundraising races and rides, this organization should rethink its execution and how to generate new blood.
Breckenridge’s trails department has enormous influence, and some would argue too large of a budget – witness the expensive flagstone groundcover around some of the overly intricate bike trailhead signs around town. There have been successes in the trails department for which, as a rider, I am grateful.
But it seems the department should focus less on expensive signage and more on working with groups like the SFTS and Maverick and local bike shops to promote trail awareness, NORBA trail-use guidelines and protection of the precious land these trails bisect.
Maverick Sports has done fantastic work bringing racing events to the community (resulting in more dollars for the county and more goodwill for the sport), and it’s leader, Mike McCormack, should be commended for his efforts.
I would like to suggest, though, that his team double its efforts in protecting the trails before races either by putting boards over sensitive, muddy areas, or placing course marshals at these areas to require a dismount or disqualification if ignored.
The racers may litter, and they have their conscience to, hopefully, minimize that. It should be the Firecracker staff and not the racers, however, who are responsible for cleanup after the rides. $50 entry fees should cover this.
To date, Maverick has done a good job at trash removal, but parts of this trail get permanently scarred due to the 500-plus racers in that event. It could be minimized by preventive measures before the race begins.
Of course, riders at all skill levels need to take personal responsibility over all. It seems almost silly that anyone need reminding of simple courtesy, but time and time again I witness someone forced off a trail by an out-of-control – and sometimes helmetless – rider who doesn’t understand that he should be yielding to uphill riders and all other users and not be out of control, ever.
It’s behavior like this that motivates hikers and horseback riders to voice their anger at the next opportunity to close off a trail. Even just smiling and/or saying hello as you go by minimizes any ill feelings. Note to the hardcore riders: A friendly hello and thank you is pretty easy and surprisingly disarming.
These groups represent the lion’s share of the biking leaders in the area, and their individual work deserves a hearty applause. Go one step further and work together.
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