Be respectful when riding the dozens of Summit County trails on private land
Big Fat Tire Society
This week, I’ve been helping mark the course for the Breckenridge 100 mountain bike race on July 18. It involves a lot of time riding the bike with a bunch of heavy stuff on your back. Fortunately, the further down the course you go, the lighter your pack gets as your course markers leave your pack and are transferred to wherever it is they need to go to keep the racers on track.
Your pack gets lighter — that is, until you get resupplied with a fresh load. Of course, what the course markers lay down the course sweepers pick up, so all those stakes, arrows and ribbons become someone’s burden not once, but twice. I take grim satisfaction in that.
The B100 is in its 11th year and is considered one of the hardest 100 milers in the country due to a preponderance of high-altitude singletrack and 14,000 combined vertical feet of climbing. It attracts many of the top ultra-endurance mountain biking talent from across the country. Local endurance stud Josh Tostado is a seven-time winner, but the competition is always steep.
The course consists of three loops: Wheeler Pass/Peaks, French Gulch/Colorado Trail and Gold Dust/Boreas Pass. If you see course markings, please leave them alone — they’ll be picked up by Saturday evening.
If you’d like to know full details on the course, either to cheer on the racers or to avoid the race, check out the course description at http://www.warriorscycling.com/races/breckenridge-100.
(PS: They always need volunteers — and not only is it a great event to be a part of, but you also get great swag.)
Soapbox rant of the day
Recently, I was speaking to a group about work-related projects. One of the ladies in the audience has a home near a popular trailhead, and, during the question-and-answer period, she wanted to discuss — even though it was outside of the topic I was there to speak about — the travails she has had with trail users who don’t respect her property.
Most of her complaints were about winter issues, but her difficulties brought to mind other conversations I have had with property owners over the years, and mountain bikers were often the subject of the complaints. Stories about homes, cabins, mine relics, plant life and other property being disrespected were not unusual.
The mining law of 1872 helped turn thousands of acres of land in the public domain into private property, including areas like Summit County, where, to this day, the lands remain private. One major reason the Summit Fat Tire Society was formed was to combat trespassing and property destruction. Many social trails were springing up on private property without the owner’s permission (aka, trespassing), and some of them were not amused. We could see that if this continued, the sport would face a seriously turbulent future.
At the time, there was very little open space overseen by local governments, and there were almost no trail easements through private property. All the thousands of acres of land that is now open space was private property, and the owners’ attitudes toward trespassers ranged from the actively territorial to absentee indifference (or ignorance).
As we started a dialogue with these property owners, we found that many of them would be fine with trails crossing their land if people would simply respect their property and ask for permission before entering it. To this day, however, I still hear from landowners who see people acting like disrespectful fools (or worse) on their property.
So, the soapbox rant solution is this: Be respectful out there. Respect the land, whether it’s public or private. We always say, “Stay on the trail,” and that’s even more important when the trail passes through private property.
But, it goes beyond just staying on the trail. Respect historic sites — leave artifacts as you find them. When you’re near homes, pass through quietly. If you have to pee, wait until you’re well away from someone’s home (You’d think this isn’t something that has to be said, but it’s one of the main complaints I hear). Leave no trace beyond tire tracks on the trail.
It’s pretty simple stuff: Treat other people’s property the way you’d want yours treated.
Upcoming trail days
The Fat Tire Society will host two trail work days on its “Adopt a Trail” section of the Colorado trail. Dates are Thursday, July 23 and Saturday, Aug. 2. Go to http://www.summitfattire.org for more information.
The town of Breckenridge and Summit County open-space departments will host a large project in conjunction with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on the weekend of July 25-26. If you like Turks trail, Illinois Creek, Side Door, Minnie Mine and others, these trail were the result of the VOC partnership. Go to http://www.voc.org/project/weber-gulch-trail-construction for more information.
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