Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why Hasn't State Parks Fined These guys For Speeding?

Why haven't Nick Moreda and Eric Dimmick been cited by enforcement rangers for unsafe speeds at Annadel State Park? Clearly this video, proudly displayed by local mountain bike retailer, Mikes Bikes, displays the kind of riding that is causing more problems for trail users all over the country.

Roy McNamee

707- 769-5665 ex 226

Mike's Bikes Exclusive Video: Annadel State Park - Lawndale from Mike's Bikes on Vimeo.

Mikes Bikes deleted this video from their site, but it resides on other sites, proudly stamped with their logo!

Found it! Mikes Bikes proudly displayed this video of illegal speeding at Annadel State Park, Sonoma County. Amazingly brash and idiotic! Other trail users? Forget them!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Free Riders=Trail Death

Auburn’s Colin Magdahl catches air on the Clementine Loop trail near Foresthill Road earlier this summer. Authorities around the state are cracking down on illegal trails being built by thrill-seeking mountain bikers.

Some trails lead to trouble

Forest Service tries to put brakes on freeriders’ illegal trail blazing
By Martin Griffith & Todd Mordhorst AP Writer & Journal Sports Editor
Ben Furtado/Auburn Journal

Mountain bikers with a need for speed and thrills have made Lake Tahoe the latest front in an ongoing battle over the illegal construction of bike trails in national forests and other public lands.

The U.S. Forest Service is cracking down after renegade bikers secretly cut up to 30 miles of trails in the Tahoe backcountry over the last decade.

Agency officials said a hardcore group of bikers seeking access to steeper, more demanding terrain is to blame for bootleg trails in national forests across the country, including in California, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Utah.

“It’s a national problem,” said Garrett Villanueva, engineer for the agency’s trails program at Lake Tahoe. “Some places the problem is more pronounced than others.”

The Auburn State Recreation Area has been the site of illegal trail building in years past.

“We have had some rogue downhill mountain bike trails constructed here,” ASRA Superintendent Mike Lynch said. “In one case someone went and sprayed Round-up where they were going to build a trail. We haven’t caught anyone in the act, but when we find them, we go out with a crew and break them down.”

Forest Service officials said illegal trails cause erosion, threaten water quality and disturb vegetation and archaeological sites. The trails also pose a safety threat. They said a rider was hospitalized this summer with head and spinal injuries after crashing on a jump on an unauthorized Tahoe trail.

The financially strapped agency has been forced to spend $29,000 to close three miles of illicit trails at Tahoe this year.

Mark Eller, spokesman for the International Mountain Biking Association based in Boulder, Colo., attributes the problem to a demand for more challenging trails by thrill-seeking bikers known as freeriders.

Freeriders, who enjoy downhill runs with jumps, steep drops off rocks and higher speeds, don’t find the 255-mile bike trail system in national forests around Tahoe exciting enough.

The association, the leading advocacy group for the nation’s estimated 40 million mountain bikers, does not condone the illegal activity, and is working with the Forest Service to step up construction of environmentally sustainable trails for freeriders, Eller said.

“The pirate trail builders believe they have to build them under cover because they won’t get the riding experience they want if they go through the right channels,” Eller said. “We’re working hard to show that’s not the case.”

Joel Baty, an avid mountain biker and rental manager at Olympic Bike Shop in Tahoe City, said freeriders want trails like those at Whistler Mountain Bike Park in British Columbia, one of the world’s premier mountain bike parks.

“The existing trails just aren’t challenging enough for more advanced riders,” he said. “So what happens is they go out and build stunts and bigger jumps, and the Forest Service doesn’t tend to like that sort of stuff.”

ASRA Ranger Jon Brandt said altering existing trails in any way, including building jumps, is illegal. It’s also against the law to build new trails.

“The biggest thing is the environmental issues — the erosion from the construction activity,” Brandt said. “It’s also a safety issue and the liability of those dangerous activities. ”

Lynch said the ASRA does not have a budget for trail building or maintenance, but relies on volunteer groups to keep the trails maintained.

Near San Francisco, three men were ordered to pay $34,360 in restitution and to perform at least 200 hours of community service after they pleaded guilty to destroying federal property to build an illegal bike trail in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 2001.

One of the men was arrested again in 2008 on suspicion of building an illegal bike trail in China Camp State Park in San Rafael, Calif.

At Tahoe, the Forest Service has cited six offenders this year and urged bikers to cooperate in building sanctioned trails. Offenders risk fines up to $5,000, six months in jail and restoration costs.

On the Net:

U.S. Forest Service:

From The Pacific Crest Trail Association

Places in Need - Mountain Bike Damage

Mountain Bike Damage on the trail

The photo shown here depicts damage to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) caused by the illegal use of the trail by mountain bike riders. From the Big Bear to Tehachapi Mountains in southern California, to the Donner Summer and the Sierra Buttes north of Lake Tahoe, to Castle Crags and beyond, mountain bikes on the trail are causing damage and creating a number of “PCT Places in Need.”

Mountain bike riders represent a large (and growing) number of outdoor recreationists. For example, the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has 32,000 individual members, more than 450 bicycle clubs members, and more than 130 corporate partners. But regardless of the number of mountain bikers looking for trails to ride on, the status of the PCT remains the same: under U.S. Government regulation, bikes are prohibited on the PCT. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has long had a policy supporting this prohibition and continues to press for enforcement of it. Unfortunately, however, U.S. regulations and regulators have not, thus far, been able to curb the illegal use of the PCT by mountain bikers. The resulting trail damage and user conflicts can’t be taken lightly. To complicate matters, bikes are permitted on many trails that lead to the PCT, resulting in bikers reaching the PCT on such trails and then proceeding along the PCT to pick up another feeder trail. Given land management agency staffing and budget issues, policing and enforcement is sorely lacking.

There are a number of reasons why mountain bikes represent a problem for PCT users and the trail’s future. One we often hear about is safety – the speed at which a mountain bike can travel along the trail, and especially around blind curves, make collisions with hikers or with equestrians a dangerous possibility. Additionally, stock may be easily frightened of bikes and “spook,” potentially causing injury to riders, themselves, and others. But while safety is a significant concern in regards to bikes and the PCT, in this article we’d like to focus on trail damage and trail maintenance issues.

Simply put, the PCT was not designed or constructed for mountain bikes and is thus easily and seriously degraded by mountain bike use – especially when those bikes are ridden on wet or muddy trail. Riding bikes on wet trails can cause deep furrows and erosion. It typically occurs when riders skid back tires when braking on downhill, apply heavy torque to tires when riding uphill, or simply ride through mud. The damage caused by a mountain biker is much greater than that caused by a hiker or horse because, with a bike, the soil is impacted continuously along the trail, while a hiker's or horse’s feet hit the soil only at intervals. The continuous troughs created in trail tread by bikes collect water runoff from the entire hillside above the trail and then act as drainage ditches, creating serious erosion which the PCT was not constructed to withstand. Water that might drain off the trail under pedestrian and equestrian use now runs down it in wheel ruts, eventually removing all the soil and turning the trail into a streambed. In extreme cases, no amount of “trail maintenance” can restore the trail and new trail becomes necessary.

If you see mountain bikers on the PCT, kindly remind them that they are on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and that by U.S. Government regulation bikes are not allowed on the PCT.

Avoid confrontations. If you engage bikers in conversation try to ascertain where they are from and which trailheads they used to get into the backcountry and onto the trail, as this will help in education and signage. Ask also where they plan to get off the trail. Taking a picture and documenting the location can help agency personnel to enforce the bike closure. Forward all of this information to your local ranger district or other applicable land management unit, or to the PCTA. The concerns of thousands of hikers and equestrians who use the PCT can help to remind legislators and those in charge of backcountry regulation enforcement that PCTA members and PCT supporters continue to believe that mountain bikes do not belong on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of responsible trail users reporting illegal uses of the PCT,” says PCTA Regional Representative for N. Calif./S. Ore., Ian Nelson, “It is crucial that we hear from concerned users so that we and our agency partners can strategize as to how to curb the illegal use.”