Don’t dumb the trail down…step your game up!

I had a run in with one of the worst kind of riders the other night. We have been lucky enough to get a DH specific trail in Grand Junction and one of the prerequisites for its construction was a qualifying feature at the top. Basically, there is an angled rock that you need to ride off of that gives you the choice between a 2 foot up to 5 foot drop. The idea is that if you can not manage to ride the qualifier then don’t ride the trail as it contains multiple drops and jumps that you also won’t be able to ride and may get hurt on.

There is also a group of old dudes that think that the Lunch Loop trails is their personal trail system and are constantly causing problems for mountain bikers with the BLM by modifying any trail that doesn’t meet their personal vision. Led by a professor at Mesa State (everyone here knows who he is), these “gapers” have been responsible for dumbing down several trails and have prompted the BLM to post signs stating that certain trails are intended to be tough so leave them that way.

These same guys have taken to clearing out the rocks that force you to take the qualifier at the top of Free Lunch. They feel that not everyone can catch air of a two foot ledge so it isn’t right to have a feature that forces you to. I’ve replaced the rocks several times and each time they get removed again.

This last time one of the old dudes rolled up on us and starting telling us that it wasn’t cool to replace the rocks. I tried to explain to him that the rocks were there in the first place and they need to be there. He kept telling us that it didn’t matter and after I told him that it did matter he got pissed off, claimed that he helped fund and build the trail (as if THAT mattered) and proceeded to walk over the entry feature and poke his way down the trail.

What this guy doesn’t understand or care about is that the entry feature is a requirement for the trail to exist. If they keep taking it down and someone gets hurt on the trail the whole thing could get shut down. Selfish riders who think that every trail should cater to their specific skills are some of the low lifes that give us all a bad name.

This applies to riders that also create re-routes around trail features they can not ride and widen the trail to go around rocks and other things that make mountain biking fun and exciting. Take stuff that you can not ride as a challenge and step your game up…don’t dumb the trail down!

-James Wilson-

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  1. Chris says:

    Absolutely agree with you there. Similar conversations are being had over here in Scotland. One of the key issues is clear grading of trails but many riders believe that if it has been built then it should be safe to be ridden by them regardless of skill level. As a result of the ever increasing litigious society we live in, there are now a number of pending cases against the landlord, the Forestry Commission. Why is it always someone elses fault you got injured? Can it not be because you’ve been a muppet? Qualifier sections are essential, they stop riders getting out of their depth while there is still a margin for error

    Reply • October 15 at 1:31 pm
  2. Tom says:

    Only just started reading your blog the other day but i seem to be agreeing with a lot of what your saying!

    I wouldnt say i was technically amazing cyclist but i always see obstacles as a challenge. Steps routes etc are all part of the fun. I remember cycling down a path and seeing some 4 + inch logs scattered across the trail, keep in mind on a hardtail that made the ride pretty bouncy! Never the less i still greeted the cyclist pushing his bike the opposite direction as i hung on for dear life.

    Reply • October 15 at 2:35 pm
  3. bikejames says:

    I remember when I first started riding I would purposefully look for the hardest lines and challenge myself with both going up and down. That is part of the fun of mountain biking – there is always something out there that can challenge you and somebody who rides better than you. Messing up the trail to get around something you find challenging just baffles me. I’ll admit when I can’t ride something and happily find something I can.

    But the bigger message is to not change trails just to meet your personal vision. If you want something changed then go through the normal routes and get it done legally. Land management agencies are pretty trigger happy when it comes to banning mountain bikers. Pissing off those that allow us to exist makes no sense to me.

    Reply • October 15 at 2:47 pm
  4. Ole says:

    Same thing in Norway. Keep singletrack single.. 🙂

    Reply • October 16 at 4:00 am
  5. Right on James! Amen.

    Reply • October 20 at 8:05 pm
  6. Brad says:

    Trails should follow the same guidance of ski trails. If it’s a double black diamond, stay away if you don’t ride that stuff.

    Reply • October 21 at 2:55 pm

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