Thursday, April 7, 2016

Trails Closed, Opportunity Open!

Dear Mountain bike, hike, and outdoor friends,

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about how “none of the trails are open.” While I share the current  disappointment in missing out of beautifully crafted singletrack, Ive been riding all year, and know one has a right to complain about where I’ve been. So, yeah, most of the typical, easy to find, singletrack is closed, but this is Vermont! There are a bazillion times more trails (double track, logging roads, dirt roads, and a bit of single if you’re crafty) that never “open” or “close.” Most of these were built with a bulldozer, skidder, or other power equipment. Now, I’m not saying as long as there is no “closed” sign, you’re good to go, but a small mix of common sense to not leave giant ruts, and an open mind of Vermont’s extensive dirt road system, and the riding options are far from limited.

Locally, there are a few places where bikes are asked not to go, AT, LT, and official side trails. These are technically off limits, and for just cause. In, general, they are not bike friendly, and see a high volume of hiker traffic in prime season. These trails are steep, have many bridges with narrower than handlebar handrails, derailleur eating rock squeezes, and have next to no flow as they cut through our wonderful landscape. From mud season until frozen ground, leave them for the hikers, everyone will be happier.

I don’t want to promote poor activity, and just a little common sense goes a long way here. On frozen ground, you will have little chance damaging any trail with a mountain bike. If you leave a rut, that trail is not for today, find a VAST with four wheeler ruts already. Mid winter, the more popular trails may provide exciting fatbike single track.

Chances are, if you’re complaining, you aren’t the one spending tireless hours (see what I did there) all summer, benching, raking, scouting, digging, and crafting the great trails we have. I must admit, I’m not either. I wish I built more great trails, but I’m more likely to be in the middle of the woods, lost, with a stick in my derailleur, and a pricker bush stuck on my face. But for crying out loud, give our fantastic trail builders a break! They’ve built the trail once, don’t make it so they need to again. Trails with “closed” signs drain better than anything else, so once the ground water/ freeze thaw cycles are finished, they’ll have them open. I know you’re mad at the weather, but don’t take it out on the McCloud swinging, chainsaw carrying, work boot wearing trail angels who keep our awesome sport alive!

Respect gets respect! If you can’t wait, don’t, just go somewhere else! you might just be amazed at what you find!

Happy trails!

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