Mountain bikers have two choices: they can ride and wreck havoc on the areas they ride through until there’s nowhere left for all of us to ride, or they can ride in a way that is minimally impactful. Which way do you think I’m going to advocate for? The answer should be obvious, and I hate that I even still have to talk about it in this day and age where people can so easily read about environmental damage caused by humans and it is easier and easier to minimize our impact on our surroundings.
When you ride like an idiot you’re destroying trails and polluting natural areas. Just based on that alone, you’re probably ruining it for the rest of us and if we find you, you will most certainly hear about it. Even if the land management—or trail repair teams, if they are even permitted to get in there–can fix what you’ve done, chances are we can kiss that trail goodbye. Who could blame the land management people? I certainly wouldn’t want to let anybody out there, I’d be too afraid they wouldjust screw it up again.
Really, what you want to do is make people glad you’re there. Take pride where you ride. Take care of it. Bring your trash back out with you and it won’t hurt to pick up anything else within reason as well. Leave the place better than you find it. Respect the wildlife. If you see something going on that you know is wrong, let the land management know (for example, illegal traps/hunters, evidence of unnatural predators in the area, downed trees preventing trail access, or erosion damage). Sometimes the property is huge and difficult to maintain. If you can provide an extra set of eyes and ears, you’ll be doing them a giant favor.
It is often up to the mountain bikers to promote awareness and to keep the trails up and running. If you aren’t sure how to get involved, you can check out the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The U.S. Chapter site is here. There is a lot of great information on their site. This includes a take action page to let you know of trails that are being proposed and how to get more momentum for it, as well as informing of changes to existing trails that would negatively impact mountain bikers and ways to help prevent it.
Local chapters of the IMBA are really great resources. They are out there building trails for the rest of us. They are also the ones out there rebuilding and repairing trails when they are damaged after storms or carelessness. They are the ones working with land management and town/city/county leaders to secure our right to be there and ride. I have a lot of respect for these people, and I have been known to be out on the trail with a shovel and a wheelbarrow along with them to help shore up the trails every once in awhile.It probably isn’t as fun as biking, but at the end of the day, you still got to be outside with friends and you feel pretty good.