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Ray Ford

The Hidden Costs of Mountain Biking

A Trip Up Romero Canyon With Native Plant Enthusiast Frank Sovich


Thursday, May 8, 2008
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Frank Sovich loves hiking Romero Canyon and you can tell it as we walk up the trail. We stop at one point to check out a cluster lupine along the edge of the trail, perfectly placed to provide a dash of color to the overwhelmingly green canopy that covers most of the skyline. The joy on his face as he tells me about them says it all.

Frank is from Carpinteria but with no trail access there he spends much of his time hiking Romero - often once or twice a week. “I’ve got a thing for native plants,” Frank explains, “and the canyon is a great place to enjoy them. Over the course of the next hour we check out a dozen or more other plant species including one of my favorites, the Humboldt lily (Lilium humboldtii), a tall thin reed-like perennial that grows to heights of 8 feet and produce clusters of the most intensely brilliant orangish-yellow flowers, jewels of the canyon if only for the few weeks when they are in blossom.

I’m not quite sure why this year,” Frank tells me, “but they’ve come up in much larger number than I’ve seen in quite a while.” At one point just above one of the many creek crossings there is a small pool, perfectly located about halfway up the canyon trail. We stop to splash a bit of water on our faces, sit back enjoy the sound of a nearby canyon wren and the small waterfall that cascades into the pool. It is an idyllic moment, the kind that makes having such places so close to Santa Barbara such a special treat.

Trailside plants are especially susceptible to damage by users. Frank has added rocks along the edges of the lillies to discourage bikers from hitting the plants.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Trailside plants are especially susceptible to damage by users. Frank has added rocks along the edges of the lillies to discourage bikers from hitting the plants.

Then we are back on the trail again. A few minutes later Frank points a long section by the side of the trail that is filled with several dozen of the lilies. “Look closely,” Frank shows me, “many of the stems are broken in half. A few others are just plain crushed.” It becomes evident after a bit of looking about that the reason for the damage is the increased use of the trail by mountain bikers who aren’t always good at staying on the trail.

By Ray Ford

As we continue up the trail Frank points out numerous places where the trail is being widened as the bikers seek out new lines to follow. “I’ve been hiking Romero since the early 1990s and regularly for the past 4-5 years and I’m seeing more and more damage,” Frank adds. “It isn’t just the impacts from the mountain biking but the rapidity of the damage they are causing.”

It has gotten to such a point that Sovich is now placing small rocks along the sides of the trail where the lupine lilies and other fragile canyon vegetation grows to help keep them from being run over. That may save a few plants but he wonders what the canyon will look like another ten years from now if the use increases.

Mountain bikes cause the trail to become grooved when they speed down the trail and brake hard into the corners.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Mountain bikes cause the trail to become grooved when they speed down the trail and brake hard into the corners.

The damage is especially evident where the trail gets steeper and particularly where it is both steep and rocky - which is about 80% of the trail. “Not only are some parts of the trail now 5-6 feet wide, in many places the bikes are riding up on the side of the hills above the trail, widening them even further,” Frank adds. “Then there are the impacts caused by over use of the brakes when the riders go so fast down the trails. The trail getting more grooved and the tires are knocking rocks down on the trail, making it especially difficult to hike back down the trail without slipping all over the place.”

This past March 22 marked the day Sovich decided he couldn’t take it anymore. Over the forty-five minutes that it usually takes him to hike up the canyon with his dogs, 17 mountain bikers came by. “They were all polite,” he remembers, “and there wasn’t a question of either me or the dogs being in danger. It was what this kind of use was going to do to the canyon over time.

By Ray Ford

This is an example of a spot along the trail where mountain bikes have cut a new shortcut down a steep section. The branches have been put in place to discourage continued use by bikers.

I’m not normally very aggressive when it comes to standing up and saying enough is enough, but that day that many mountain bikers coming down the trail was a few too many. When I got home I took out a list I’d gotten from one of the local trail groups of newspapers, agencies and organizations and started writing to anyone and everyone.”

While many trail user organizations, especially those committed to keeping the trails open to mountain biking, were busy defending their rights at the Task Force meetings set up to study user conflict issues on the trails, Sovich was taking a different point of tack, choosing to speak out for the protection of the trails themselves and the canyon ecosystems rather than the users themselves.

Once the grooves begin developing the trail can break down quite rapidly.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Once the grooves begin developing the trail can break down quite rapidly.

Is anyone out there talking about what the costs are for allowing downhill use of the trails by mountain bikers?” he asked. “It isn’t just the damage to the plants or the trails, it’s the increased cost of maintenance, the added trail signage, the money we’ll need to come up with to rebuild the trails to accommodate mountain biking, the impacts on other trail users rights, the difference it makes psychologically when you add mechanized vehicles on the trail - these are big costs.

Does the community really understand how much it will really cost and what the impacts will be if we don’t close at least some of the trails to mountain biking? If I were king for a day, I’d close the Romero Canyon Trail for sure, especially since the old road provides a perfectly great route for them to get up to the top of the mountains.

By Ray Ford

Mountain bikers have the capability of going off the two-foot wide tread and often do as shown here where they’ve scarred the hillside above the trail.

Then I’d take a new look at how we define multi-use. For mechanized uses such as mountain biking, generally the trails are open until someone proves they shouldn’t be. It ought to be the other way around: the trails should be closed to those uses until it’s proved they’re not only safe but the damage they cause can be dealt with.”

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

I see you are on an anti bike campaign. What are the ethics of using your position as a member of the press to reinforce your personal agenda? Your arguments against bikes on the trail have a couple of holes and are misleading. Studies have shown that bikes, hikers and horses do about the same amount of damage, so it is just as valid to suggest eliminating hikers instead of bikes. I think the picture showing the illegal cut back is from hikers not bikers. ( I will have to investigate, but I have never seen this cut back on my bike). The trail maintenance cost you declare to be prohibitive is more than covered. There are now many volunteers maintaining the trails and many are mountain bikers. Mother nature will cause way more damage than any user group. Are you going to regulate Mother Nature next? If the plants you are showing are that endangered the trails should be shut down. Otherwise they are unfortunate victims of all users. Are you sure no dogs or people or horses have ever toppled over any vegetation? Once again I must point out that you are causing problems for multi use not solving them. Don't make me go out documenting hikers and the damage they do, or start finding the hikers that have sabotaged the trail attempting to hurt and maim people on bikes. Please figure out a more productive approach.

toadalee (anonymous profile)
May 7, 2008 at 8:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I haven't seen this week's hardcopy edition yet, but the main problem I have with this online article is as of Thu nite, I can't tell whether this is a news piece, a part of the opinion section, Voices, or Ray's column (it doesn't seem to be accesible from any of those links, I got here from an e-mail link).

If this is an opinion piece, then I'd ask the editors to identify it as such and leave it at that. But if this is a news article, then I think its rather one-sided. It fails my test when I ask ... "Does it help me understand all sides of an issue?".

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2008 at 1 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Right on Ray!

Goletaman (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2008 at 7:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Agree that Ray is on an obvious campaign to eliminate mountain bikes - from the front country trails at least. How can we keep trails available to responsible users, and restrict the abusers (whether on bike, foot, horse, etc)?? I recall that on Mt. Tam in Marin County they would give out painful traffic tickets to abusers. I love the front country trails - and use them responsibly and politely on horseback, foot, and bike. Many of us are neighbors, taxpayers, and MTF donors/volunteers who do! There are ways to share them, and ways to use them responsibly. The answer is to find ways to deal with the abusers (whether on foot, horseback or bike), not discriminate against a whole class of valid users. I am offended by Ford's use of the Independent's news pages to push a one-sided agenda without giving equal time to the other side of the opinion "fence". Signed, ex-Ford fan.

jvillan (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2008 at 8:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

To Ray and others, I should clarify my concern is a journalistic one. The power of the pen is well known and I don't doubt their are some Indy fans who might read a non-opinion article and be swayed to one side (sub-consciously or not) if multiple voices aren't heard in the article. After all, isn't fairness one of the things that differentiates a community newspaper from a blog?

This is not to say that there isn't any value in the article or that it shouldn't have been written. On the contrary, I thought it was interesting to read Sovich views. It helps me understand the spectrum of trail users concerns. And I'm very glad someone is writing about them. Nevertheless, the presentation concerns me.

At a minimum, I would have preferred to see a short introduction that states the article looks at a unique viewpoint among many different and strongly held opinions before diving in. Pedantic? I believe its needed for a non-opinion piece.

An interesting alternative would be a series where each article focuses on a particular viewpoint. The first article could be an introduction/primer to trail use issues followed by the viewpoint articles (the article on Sovich would easily fit in). Obviously this would be a tricky series to write and I'd hope it would be written in a way that could bring sides together rather than factionalizing them further. But this would be a great vehicle because it implies there was consideration by the author for analysis and even-handedness prior to the articles appearing.

However, if one claims that this has all been done before, and/or Sovich's opinions are so unique that they deserve its own article, then I would say fine, print it, but put it in the opinion area. The same goes for any other particular trail use viewpoint.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2008 at 2 p.m. (Suggest removal)

For a well rounded perspective on the issue of trail usage in the frontcountry, it would be good to hear from one or more of the above commentary sources in an article in defense of their point of view, philosophy, and findings to their proposed studies. I don't necessarily think that Ray needs to publish a myriad of articles simultaneously, but rather develop the issue over time...which is what one would assuming is going to happen.
anxious to read more on this topic...

humanimalhybrid (anonymous profile)
May 11, 2008 at 11:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm glad the story provoked a lot of discussion on issues that for want of a forum, have really been ignored. Almost all of the conversation regarding user conflicts has been done more or less under the banner of trail safety, with one side blasting mountain bikers for making the trails unsafe and bikers on the other side defending their rights to use the trails.

As you can see from some of the comments above, the issue is very emotional - and unfortunately some of it takes on the tone of current politics - which is to defend one's point of view at all costs and to admit nothing that might strengthen the hand of the other side.

Well first, no one seems to be talking about what the impacts are of use of the front country trails. There are costs, and in some cases it appears major costs, especially given the paucity of resources we have to deal with the impacts.

Frank brings up a number of good points and we should be discussing those rather than ganging up on whoever brings them to the table, whether Frank or me. I'm not out to get mountain bikes off the trails but I do believe we need to have honest discussion regarding their impacts and to how their use affects other trail users.

Getting a handle on how we feel about mechanized use of the trails is one of those points of discussion as is what damage they cause to the trails. As technology develops there will be other forms of trail travel that could lead to issues we haven't yet thought about. It is fair to talk about these kind of issues and to make sure we are clear about what purposes we want our trails to serve, how we will go about making sure they can be maintained to a standard that is sustainable and that both the natural environment and its inhabitants are protected along the way.

So, yes, let's have the discussion. What Frank saw over the last 4-5 years is a trail that he has seen change. Perhaps not so much that it would bother some but it did him. The trail is widening in places, there is more loose rock and gravel on the trail, there are ruts on some of the steeper sections and several of the switchbacks are being damaged. I walked up the trail with him.

These aren't figments of the imagination - they are real impacts - ones we need to look at from a variety of perspectives: one of them is whether it is worth having bikes on the trails given these impacts. I would suggest that isn't a practical option. Another is whether or not the impacts can be mitigated and what the cost of doing so is. Still another is working out what types of educational programs might be put in place to change attitudes and habits. Another might be looking at a monitoring program that assesses use and regulates it according to impacts.

The bottom line from my point of view is that we cannot afford to ignore the fact that there are impacts and costs associated with them. How we deal with them is up for discussion.

So let's continue the dialogue but please can we tone down the emotions?

riveray (Ray Ford)
May 11, 2008 at 1:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you don't want people to be emotional you need to be much more responsible about how you write things. You have attacked a user group and then play it off like you were just trying to explore issues to get people to talk to resolve issues. If you don't want fire don't light the match.

The switch backs that you referred to are not primarily from bikes. From what I saw they are from foot travel. That would not be a good alternative path for a bike. For one it is just as easy to continue down the trail, and two if you did not take the first one the second one would be impossible to turn into. So how did it get there? The ironic thing is that you did not include a picture of the switch back a little further down the trail or discuss why it is there. I witnessed a dog come down the cut back and slide dirt down it. It is not a cut that a bike would take as it would jam you into the wall. Did Frank have his dog on a 6 foot leash and keep it on the trail? My guess is the dog ran free on and off the trail and used the cut back that you are blaming solely on bikes. It might have even toppled the lily too. If a bike hit those lilies it must have been from a crash. Bikes don't just wonder around off trail like a dog, horse or hiker can and do.Can you do an article on the costs of dogs on the trails.

In general the trail is in amazing condition. If it is a little wider because of bikes that is a good thing as it gives room to safely pass other users and keeps the vegetation back so we do not have to spend money grooming the trail as much. I am not seeing you or Frank point out all the broken poison oak twigs.

My concern with any user pushing against other users is that it then becomes more tedious and annoying and expensive to manage the users than to maintain the trails. If you really don't want to chase bikes off the trails then stop pushing. Do you really want trail cops? Right now it is a great place for many people. Let's leave it at that and use our energy for maintenance and education. And let the Front Country Task Force do their thing.

toadalee (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2008 at 4:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ray - have you talked to Frank yet about the trail maintenance on Romero? There is no more vegetation within 3-5 feet of the trail on either side thanks to the MTF hiring gardeners to weed whack the trails. Good by lilies.

toadalee (anonymous profile)
July 30, 2008 at 10:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear Ray Ford,

As a biologist (UCSB, BS 1980, MS 1984) and avid gardener, your column regarding the damage by Mountain bikers to trails in the Santa Barbara area is sadly tabloid style journalism: the headline does not match the actual problem. There is no doubt that trail users (equestrian, MTB's, hikers and animals, wild and domestic) will trample fauna. The trail itself is a thin cut through the mountainside habitat. The actual amount of damaged plant life due to trail use may represent a fraction of the actual plant population of the enormous hillside. Unless the population of the plant discussed resides exclusively alongside a 1-2 foot strip beside Romero Trail, the few damaged plants should not make a statistical difference in the ability of the overall plant population to survive and thrive. The actual population of the plant surely stretches for a larger distance, possibly miles on either side of the trail. A complete field survey would require leaving the trail and sampling in areas often difficult to access. I suspect most visitors prefer to stay on the trail and may miss the greater population of the plant.

While the naturalist mourned the loss of a few trampled plants at trail edge and noted a greater population of the plant this season, it should be considered that the presence of a larger trail width may be a contributing reason for the increased plant population. The open canopy above the trail may allow increased amounts of sunlight to reach the lower plants, spurring plant growth at soil level. The normally dense chaparral and forest may normally block sunlight to the ground dwelling plants and limit growth. Some plants also thrive in looser soils, as often found at road and trail edge. The greater amount of looser, disturbed soils may contribute to increased plant growth. Living in this habitat puts them at risk of being trampled while allowing them to thrive due to the looser soils. The wider trails may allow the plant population to grow due to less trampling episodes per unit of trail tread area. The greater width puts them further away from most trail users.

I sense an hidden agenda of stirring resentment between trail user groups by the use of such a combative headline. As an area trail user since the 70's, I can attest that trails will continue to evolve over time. I would suspect the greater issues to trail longevity are fires and rain/flood episodes. The non-motorized uses of the trails appear to have minor effects in comparison. The damage by hoof prints, tire marks and hiking boots can easily be repaired. A few well placed rocks/logs on trail tread can harden heavy use areas. Relocating the trail tread away from fragile zones can minimize user damage.

Let's all enjoy the wondrous trails of such an interesting area.

Sincerely,

Wegarden@pacbell.net

wegarden (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2008 at 9:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is very instructive for those who many not hike to visualize how mountain biking actually does cause far more erosion than hikers or equestrians.

terrisweet (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2014 at 5:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I appreciate Ray's focus on how destructive the mountain bikes have been to our local trails, and certainly not limited to Romero Cyn frontside. EastBeach has good ideas here, but still, as a journalist and reporter, Mr. Ford is simply describing what he sees on this historic trail. He reports on it.
Ban mountain bikes on Romero Trail frontside!
Further, as I've observed plenty of times in hiking UP this Romero Cyn Trail, most of the supposedly gnarly mountain bikers cycle up the nearby road, and then they jam DOWN the beautiful trail. Hey, guys, at least bike UP the actual trail, or is that too tough?
For direct reporting on mountain biker destruction of another once-fine trail, the Santa Cruz Trail from Nineteen Oaks to Alexander Peak, see http://www.independent.com/news/2012/...
This ruination of the trails for hikers and stock needs to be curtailed.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2014 at 6:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Holy moly, leave the mountain bikers alone.. If they want to carve out lines in the wilderness let them, who cares if they run over a few flowers?? Are you kidding me?? If you want to personally put up rocks or make the trail more narrow then go for it, or ask a local Boy Scout to do it for his Eagle Scout Project. We don't need to pay for anything, and we don't need to ban bikes from anywhere!!

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2014 at 10:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Ray Ford,

As someone involved in mountain biking and a trail volunteer in Minnesota, I had some questions that your article did not cover.

1) Are these trails legal for mountain bikers. I assume they are.

2) What organization maintains these trails?

The reason I ask these questions: at least in Minnesota, mountain bike trails are generally constructed on public land with the permission of the land owner. In return, a mountain biking organization then builds and maintains the trails. (This is, nation-wide, the standard methodology of gaining trail access.)

As someone that volunteers to maintain mountain bike trails, almost all of the "mountain bike damage" listed in this article appears to be lack of maintenance and regular trail work. Simple actions like grade nicks, some re-arrangement of rocks, and re-routing (on the fall line sections) would eliminate almost all of the impacts shown.

Mr. Ford, as you stated regarding mountain bikes: "is [it] worth having bikes on the trails given these impacts. I would suggest that isn't a practical option." Based on a narrow view of mountain bike trail that appears to need some volunteer TLC that is a large leap to make.

You further state that the question you wish to answer is "whether or not the impacts can be mitigated and what the cost of doing so is". As previously mentioned, nation-wide, the standard method of building and maintaining trails trades access to public lands for cost-free maintenance. This prevents long-term impacts at little or no cost to the land manager or tax-payers.

Mr. Ford, if you are really (and honestly) looking for answers to the questions you posed, there are answers. You could find them in pages of IMBA's textbook "Trail Solutions" or you could find them from areas that have a long and very successful history of mountain biking, such as Minnesota.

I hope you are willing to put aside pre-conceived beliefs regarding mountain biking you might find the answers exist and have existed for a long time.

CycleKrieg

CycleKrieg (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2014 at 11:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@CycleKrieg [Bike War?] -- when you write " in Minnesota, mountain bike trails are generally constructed on public land with the permission of the land owner. In return, a mountain biking organization then builds and maintains the trails. (This is, nation-wide, the standard methodology of gaining trail access.)" -- you miss the point that Romero Cyn Trail is an historic trail long pre-dating the mountain bike incursions. Hikers and horsemen have used it for decades, so the more recent mtn biker flood is new and unregulated. The scene in Minn. isn't comparable to here.
Further, of all the frontcountry trails only one, Rattlesnake Cyn, has bikes banned, AND they still forge onto this trail as well [e.g. clear evidence on Feb. 25, eastside loop of Rattlensake]. I absolutely disagree that the issue is "lack of maintenance and regular trail work[.] Simple actions like..." -- those actions aren't simple and they aren't cheap. When, for example, Ray Ford and others "fixed up" and improved the first several hundred yards of Rattlsnake Cyn Tr. recently (a generally good thing) I began to witness more bikers even on this trail. Hiking Romero Cyn Tr since the 1970s there are absolutely wrecked portions; I thought Ray went easy on this part.
You write in a simplistic manner that "maintaining trails trades access to public lands for cost-free maintenance. " -- but we already have this access and so where is the trade-off, eh? Mtn. Bikers have ruined miles of the Santa Cruz Trail mentioned in my earlier post; there are no mitigation efforts, and most mountain bikers I encounter do not even utilize bells to signal. The hiking rights of children and the elderly, as well as the historic rights for horses to use these trails, are in direct confrontation with the mountain bikers. I imagine you are very responsible, Bike War, but many of your brethren are not. Ray is right in asking the key question, if "the impacts can be mitigated and what the cost of doing so is"?
Hikers, school groups, the elderly, and horses have been the historic users of these trails. I suggest that with only ONE frontcountry trail banning destructive mountain bikers, let's add Cold Springs Tr or Jesusita Tr to this list of off-limits to bikes trails.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2014 at 2:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@DavyBrown - You are very correct in stating that California and Minnesota do not have a lot in common in the mountain bike realm. Its just not in the way you think.

Minnesota has hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails spread across the state. These trails were largely created (or rebuilt) by volunteers and are maintained by volunteers. Most of the mountain bike clubs in Minnesota have good to excellent relations with land managers and fellow user groups. The result? First, municipalities and the state are very open to trail proposals by mountain biking groups (see Lebanon Hills, Carver, Cuyuna). Second, the inter-user group friendships have fostered interesting projects (see Duluth Traverse). And third, we VERY little trail poaching or illegal trails.

So how come the riders in Minnesota seem to have all these great trails with little of the conflict that one sees in California? We aren't better people are we? (Nope.) The difference is simple: we have built a respectful culture within and between user groups. Notice the word "built". Its not an overnight process. California could build it too. But it doesn't get built if individuals seek to suggest, personally or via some other means, that a certain group of users are the devil.

As to my "simplistic manner" in describing trail work, its not about complicated concepts. And 2-3 hours with a pickax is not simple. In a lot of the above pictures, some grade nicks or choke points would fix them. I spoke about it simply because, quite frankly, its not hard. It just takes some dedicated volunteers and a plan of attack.

As to "historic uses", take a look at Brown County State Park in Nashville, IN. Historically, its been hikers and equestrians. However, with the addition of mountain bikes on the trails it has grown in popularity. (Its now an IMBA Epic.) Yet, hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers seem to use those trails with little or no conflict. So are the mountain bikers in Indiana better than the mountain bikers in California? No. Instead of pointing fingers or trying to turn local papers into propaganda platforms they sat down and made something work.

And that is sort of the point: mountain bikers and other user groups don't have to be at odds. Mountain bikers are responsible users (if they are allowed to be) that just want a chance to have fair access to the wilderness they love. So maybe, instead of running off and trying to convince the world that mountain bikers are Mother Nature raping hellions, it would be a good idea to engage in a dialog with local mountain biking clubs and organizations. Maybe even join them in a trail work or build day on the trails that are so loved by so many types of users. It might be a good start...

CycleKrieg (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2014 at 9:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

cool, so I can come do some trail work with you to "improve" this footpath for increased usage by mountain bikers? Uh, sure thing. You never got my opening point, bikewar.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 5:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Although much larger in area, California still has 38,000,000 humans living here whereas Minn. as 5,400,000.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 5:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

C'mon, Ray-

Your opposition to mountain bikes is well documented- you were part of the farcical attempt a couple of years ago to limit mountain bikes on Santa Cruz trail, for example, and you have penned many other anti-mountain bike screeds in the past.

Furthermore, you make disingenuous, willfully misleading comments such as this: "Getting a handle on how we feel about mechanized use of the trails is one of those points of discussion as is what damage they cause to the trails."

We both know, Ray, that mountain bikes are not "mechanized" in general sense of that word. By lumping mountain bikes in with motorcycles, you are engaging in some pretty ethically dubious "journalism".

Also in this vein, the photo captioned with "This is an example of a spot along the trail where mountain bikes have cut a new shortcut down a steep section" shows no such thing: there is no evidence at that spot whatsoever of tires tracks, nor is is a place in the trail where it would make sense for riders to slow down just to cut the trail. Instead, that shortcut was created by hikers, Ray.

These examples- and there are many others in this blatantly slanted article, but I'll stop with these- show the extent to which you are simply using the Indy as a bully pulpit in an effort to further your minority agenda.

I am, frankly, shocked that the Indy would print such a one-sided piece: this is a pretty embarrassing editorial decision.

As for me, well, I will continue to ride my bike- with consideration for other equitable trail users, care for the environment, and utter and joyous disregard for you and your asinine agenda, Ray.

Regards,

jb

verve825 (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 7:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Anyone who thinks equestrians don't do as much damage to trails has obviously never set foot outside. They do far more damage than cyclists, both with hooves as well as invasive plant seed-laden excrement.

That said, mountain bikers could follow a few simple rules to improve their well-deserved reputation:

1. Hikers and horses ALWAYS have the right-of-way, unless they yield. Don't go bombing past without slowing and communicating.
2. If you can't pedal up the trail, find another place to ride.
3. Pack it in, pack it out - don't litter the trail with gel packs and bar wrappers.
4. Don't poach trails that aren't open to bikes, just don't.

slow29er (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 7:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

thanks slow29er; your point #2 captures my angle on the 'downhill racers' who like to bomb down Romero but don't have the cojones to bike UP the trail portion first.
Complete disagreement verve825: as noted, I've been hiking Romero and other frontcountry trails since the 70s, and the bike damage HAS increased quite considerably there. Your own desire "to further your minority agenda" blinds you just as you say Ray's blinkers his views. Think about it.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 8:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

of course the horses are worse than the walkers, but they are historic and so to speak grandfathered in... extremely few horses on Rattlesnake Cyn since once fell off and died in there some years ago. Tough trail for stock. The issue with the mountain bikers, slow29er, is their increasing numbers, the percentage of crazed LA yahoos up for a wild day SB frontside, and the impact of the tires especially when ripping downhill.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 9:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

^^^ On Rattlesnake? The one horse death I recall is Rocket, that was on Cold Springs ~2005.

Good to see discussion still going on. It seems like only yesterday when I was riding all over the front/back country with a copy of Ray's "Santa Barbara Mountain Bikes" in my Camelback.

I hike more than I bike now. But the last time I was on Romero (the "road", not the tree-shaded trail) had no problems with any bikers. They all had bells too. Not sure if the trail is problematic anymore, I like the views on the road better :)

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

all this from a 2008 article! A guy was very seriously hurt on Romero in '13: http://www.independent.com/news/2013/...
I'll check EB, but I did see a dead horse in Rattlesnake Cyn about 10 years ago...longer??

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2014 at 1:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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