IMBA director Mike Abel's piece on the Earth Island site reads like a Shell Oil proposal to pump for oil in the Arctic. Words like "partnering", "sustainability" and "protection" dot the essay like resource extraction advertising. It's all propaganda based on servitude to a "sport" whose main features are speed and technical challenges. I just came from a week long backpack in the John Muir Wilderness near Mammoth California. As the Mammoth Mountain bike park looms all over the mountain that has served winter sports for decades, I tried to imagine mountain bikes traveling on the twisted, difficult, boulder strewn pathways I walked on. The John Muir trail in many places exceeds 10,000 - 11,000 feet in elevation calling up the dangers of altitude sickness and making the possibility of remote rescue all the more difficult and dangerous. One way to avoid altitude sickness is to travel and ascend slowly, a concept foreign to most mountain bikers, making their susceptibility to sickness and injury, all the more likely.
Wildlife travel these trails too as many prints attest. While pack animals and horses use some of these back country trails, the effects of their use is minimal. Mountain bike tires, especially on muddy and soft trails would create an erosive effect never before seen in the wilderness. As I write this, I marvel at the self deluded selfishness that propels the IMBA agenda and am perplexed that wilderness use of bikes even comes up for discussion. Like oil extraction and mining, mountain biking shares the need for wilderness resources for its selfish and exploitative ends. These industries are ground in the curse that plagues the environment more now than at any other time... one nasty word- "profit".