For those of you who are in the know, we have some pretty great mountain bike trails up here in the mitten. The governing body for these trails, the Michigan Mountain Bike Association, has been doing a stellar job at advocating, developing and starting these trails state-wide; benefiting not only us riders but many a hiker and equestrian. These trails have been some thing of great pride and work for the many MMBA members and officers who have donated their time and energy for the enjoyment of the masses.

Unfortunately, we all know how trails around the country and world have been lost or are on the brink of being closed because of the actions of a few. This is where most might stop reading, thinking it's the normal talk we've heard before or assuming that it's just the typical rant about poor decisions and choices or maybe you might not even understand completely what all the fuss is about. The reality, sure... nothing is new but even if you're not a mountain biker it's important to understanding the effects of how we ride and handle ourselves when not riding has on the non-rider.

Recently it has become a topic of discussion around here, posted over on our local chapter of the MMBA's site, the Western MMBA, and also on a few forums what some of the issues and problems occurring at a new trail, Luton Park, have been. This pilot trail system has become a very popular and developed very quick with a number of stellar loops for all ability levels. On the wMMBA blog, there is a great thread concerning what has been happening and below I've post what seems to be at the heart of it...

The issues we're beginning to experience at Luton is microcosm of what occurs nationwide, so Yes! these things have either happened at your local trails, are happening at your local trails, or some time will happen at your local trails...

Illegal Parking

Let's be honest, we all know where we should park but our Walmart mentality of getting the closest spot possible often takes over. So remember, you're out there to ride your bike if you get to park further away it only means you get to spend more time in the saddle... which is what you wanted to do anyways.

Night riding in parks [Tresspassing]

Night riding rocks. Riding on new trails or cutting new trails can be exhilarating. But the reality is, these rules are for your safety. Certain trails do open up at certain times of the year to ride at night, take advantage of it or join in the fun of the growing endurance race scene. If you want to develop new trails, look into your local organizations like the MMBA who not only maintain the trails you already love, but develop new trails WITH the support of the local communities.

Urinating in Public

When you've gotta go, you've gotta go but use your discretion. Don't simply pull off the trail or at the trail head or open your car door and go in the parking lot.

Consumption of alcohol on public lands and littering

Bikes and Beer. Yes, it's a match made in heaven. It's hard to beat the feeling of a cold one after a good ride but the reality of it is, there are proper places for it to happen and their are not. This might be one of the easiest things to crack down on and at the same time one of the easiest not to have to worry about. So ask yourself, do you want to have the law enforcement patrolling our parks instead of in the cities and towns where their presence might be more important?

Disobeying Trail Courtesy

Advocacy starts here and ends here in a lot of ways. Faster and experienced riders, your actions teach the newbies what flys and what doesn't. Even if a trail intended for the bike, hikers and equestrians get the right of way. It's the harsh reality we live in but that's the trade off we've made to have our trails. Announce when you're going to pass or when you're coming up on a fellow rider. Slower riders, be aware of your surroundings and slide to the right when encountering other riders. Doing these things naturally make the trails function smoother and properly.

I'll step down from my soap box but in the end, as with life... Perception is far too often reality but our actions will always speak louder than our words. Keep this in mind or the things we care about could be the things we lose.

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