Last Sunday was my first mountain bike ride of the season! What a glorious day – sunny, warmish, and Green Mountain (just 20 minutes from Denver) was packed with other excited mountain bikers. Anyone who owned a bike was there. I don’t mind that at all. In fact, if I can enjoy a beautiful day, why can’t everyone else, and if it means getting outside to get exercise and breathe fresh air, then I am all for it. But…what I am NOT all for is the irresponsible riding…
No, the trails weren’t wet, although you could see places where they had been wet and multitudes of riders had blown through, leaving ruts and gouges in the earth that, when dry, become serious tire-catching snares, not to mention blights on the terrain. That was one serious issue, but even worse were the places that had grown from pleasant single track into not just double track, but (I’m serious here) TRIPLE track. In some place the trail was so wide that three cyclists could ride alongside. Heck, a car and a half could have motored right through.
So why the triple track? As I see it there are two main reasons for the epidemic of ever-widening trails (much like the epidemic of our ever-widening human bodies):
1. Downhill cyclists not wanting to stop their awesome downhill rides to let uphill cyclists through. This one happened right before my very eyes as a mountain biker in the midst of his downhill ride just pulled to the right and rode on the grass (shrubs, cacti, plants, etc.) so that he wouldn’t have to stop to let me continue my uphill grind. Seriously, if he was so reluctant to interrupt his sweet zoom, I would have stopped for him just to keep him from creating a new track. Guess what? If one person pulls over to the right and another follows, it creates the outlines for a new track…more and more people follow and soon we’re at track #2 and track #3…where does it end???
2. Not wanting to get muddy. This one is a complete mystery to me. If you decide to ride a trail when it is obviously wet (having rained or snowed for three days prior), then you clearly understand the trails will be muddy. Right? Who doesn’t know that? So why the great surprise when you hit a muddy patch and the strange need to avoid that mud at all costs and ride around it, creating yet another track? I am absolutely stupefied by the inconsistencies in human nature. The moral? DON’T RIDE ON WET TRAILS!
Sadly those triple tracks are unlikely to return to their natural states, but all it takes is for more riders to be conscientious and remember that mountain biking is great fun for all, but we have to be willing to share (i.e. let people pass) so that those lovely single tracks stay single for years and years and years to come.