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As we all know, mountain biking has been exploding in popularity for the last several years. Growing up in socal, I've seen many sports overgrow themselves to the point where they stop becoming fun due to overcrowding and lack of real estate.

For example, surfing and snowboarding are two such sports that come to mind. Just as there are only so many trails, there are only so many good beach breaks and slops to ride. Back in the hay days of CA, you didn't have to worry about getting run over by five other surfers on the same wave, and you didn't have to sit in stop and go traffic for three hours to get up to the mountains to go skiing.

After years and years of prosperity, these two sports have become so popular that they deter a lot of people, like myself, from participating in them. I sold my surfboard because the hassle of finding parking and then fighting for a wave isn't my idea of a relaxing time, and I don't plan on doing anymore snowboarding due to the crowds at resorts.

So what happens when mountain biking doubles or quadruples in popularity? Do you see more trails getting built, or just overused? Can you imagine waiting in line to get on your favorite trail? Passing or getting passed every 30 seconds? Where's the zen in that?

Already parking is hard to find sometimes at local trailheads like Aliso Woods and San Juan Trail in Orange County, and during the peak morning hours its hard to climb some trails because of the dozens of riders shuttling. Its still enjoyable and I'm thankful for the trails we have, I'm just trying to think of what things will be like 20 years from now...
 

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local trails rider
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tribune said:
Can you imagine waiting in line to get on your favorite trail? Passing or getting passed every 30 seconds?
I cannot imagine those things. I think the issue is local, possibly repeated in areas where there's lots of people and only a few decent places to ride.

I live in a town of something over 200,000 people and anyone here could reach a piece of singletrack within 15 minutes by bike. If I go on a trail ride on my own, it is possible that I meet another rider there.
 

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I agree, it must be local. If I ride our trails at peak time, I might see 2 or 3 other people, unless it is our weekly group ride. Many times, you're alone or far enough apart you don't pass anyone.

As for Snowboarding, Wednesday when I went skiing, there was probably 50 people on the hill until school let out, and that is including a group of 5th grade beginners on a field trip.

Maybe you should keep the board and earn your turns if the resort is too crowded.

To answer your question, I could see some more trails being built as more people join the sport. It's growing in Indiana, but with that the volunteer base to maintain trails is growing. I can't imagine waiting in line to ride, but I suppose I would start riding at other times. The trails can't be busy 24 hours a day.
 

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Sucks to live in such a populated area, Tribune! I live in the twin cities in Ontario, which have about 300,000 people. Our local trails are busy on weekends but never crowded. On a busy day, if I don't see a big group ride, I might see 5 others. Usually the parking lot on these days will have 20 or 30 cars. This particular trail is a good 12 miles so everyone is likely spread out. As an aside I could never live in a place like California, there are too many people. I even hate going to Toronto, and it only has 3 million!

(my blog, if you like food! http://cookinshack.blog.com)

Drew
 

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I agree that it is local. On a busy day, at my local trail, there will be maybe 20 cars at the trailhead but once i hit the trail we are spaced far enough that I can enjoy my zen!

I believe as MTBing becomes more popular, more trails will be built. Besides the more people join the sport the more companies are willing to invest. That means new technology. Sweet! Can you imagine what rides will look like 10 or 20 years from now?
 

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I would think this would be more of a concern in places where most of the trails are out and backs. On loop trails, I usually only cross paths with the very fast and very slow. Most folks ride within a mile or two of the same average speed, I think, so unless you all start out within 30 seconds of each other, it's not usually a problem. Especially if there are multiple loop options...
 

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The real issue here is land access. More and more open space keeps getting gobbled up. things are getting developed far faster than mountain biking is growing in popularity. Some city's have gotten serious about preserving open space and planning trail networks most have not. Phoenix, AZ keeps growing like wild fire but some people have clearly stepped back and started to evaluate. Phoenix already has the largest municipal park in the world, south mountain park, at over 20,000 acres. And there are many other parks in the system that are more than 10,000 acres. They are adding thousands of more acres one of the planned new parks is going to be over 15,000 acres. I now live in Northern Virginia near DC and there isnt 20,000 acres of open space if you combine dozens of parks. It feels crowded at times but many trail heads and trails in Phoenix seemed more crowed at certain times because mountain biking is popular in Phoenix. I wish it were popular here in NOVA, then we could get more trails built.
 

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It's defiantly a local thing. Here in DC during the summer and fall months the trails get pretty crowded. If not w/ riders, then w/ "hikers". Just the way it is here. I've even had to put a bell on my bike.

In West Virginia at Kanawha Forest near Charleston I would be lucky to run into someone else on the trails hiking or biking. There's been a couple exceptional days where I've run into a bunch of people there but for the most part I never see anyone else there even w/ a number cars w/ bike racks on them in the parking lot.
 

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I love living in a college town of 70,000 with almost 200 miles of trails within 30-40 minutes. I have never seen overcrowding, let alone more than 5 other riders.
 

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Go Hokies!
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I live in popular area for mountain biking, but it is never crowded on the trails, just parking lots.

I dont think mtb will ever get that popular as you actually have to be in shape to enjoy it. I think it is too much hard work to be all that popular. Lots of people own bikes, few use them. You need some type of fitness and dedication, and that will never be all that popular.

Also I agree, it is not nearly as popular as it was 15 years ago.
 

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tribune I've got to ask where are you finding information that mountain biking is growing? This mountain bike industry is shrinking as far as I can tell, road is growing like gang busters. Here are some of the industry numbers for 2007, if you look down the page you'll see sales of MTBs shrinking in the last few years.

You're in SoCal which has always had a problem with access. When I lived in Santa Barbara ('00-'03) I rarely went south to ride off-road because it was always crowded.
 

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tribune said:
As we all know, mountain biking has been exploding in popularity for the last several years. Growing up in socal, I've seen many sports overgrow themselves to the point where they stop becoming fun due to overcrowding and lack of real estate.

For example, surfing and snowboarding are two such sports that come to mind. Just as there are only so many trails, there are only so many good beach breaks and slops to ride. Back in the hay days of CA, you didn't have to worry about getting run over by five other surfers on the same wave, and you didn't have to sit in stop and go traffic for three hours to get up to the mountains to go skiing.

After years and years of prosperity, these two sports have become so popular that they deter a lot of people, like myself, from participating in them. I sold my surfboard because the hassle of finding parking and then fighting for a wave isn't my idea of a relaxing time, and I don't plan on doing anymore snowboarding due to the crowds at resorts.

So what happens when mountain biking doubles or quadruples in popularity? Do you see more trails getting built, or just overused? Can you imagine waiting in line to get on your favorite trail? Passing or getting passed every 30 seconds? Where's the zen in that?

Already parking is hard to find sometimes at local trailheads like Aliso Woods and San Juan Trail in Orange County, and during the peak morning hours its hard to climb some trails because of the dozens of riders shuttling. Its still enjoyable and I'm thankful for the trails we have, I'm just trying to think of what things will be like 20 years from now...
Plus there are narcissists trying (and succeeding) blocking trail access. I'm just trying to stay optimistic that motorized personnal transportation will remain viable 20 years from now.
 

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Tree Hugger
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tribune said:
As we all know, mountain biking has been exploding in popularity for the last several years. Growing up in socal, I've seen many sports overgrow themselves to the point where they stop becoming fun due to overcrowding and lack of real estate.

For example, surfing and snowboarding are two such sports that come to mind. Just as there are only so many trails, there are only so many good beach breaks and slops to ride. Back in the hay days of CA, you didn't have to worry about getting run over by five other surfers on the same wave, and you didn't have to sit in stop and go traffic for three hours to get up to the mountains to go skiing.

After years and years of prosperity, these two sports have become so popular that they deter a lot of people, like myself, from participating in them. I sold my surfboard because the hassle of finding parking and then fighting for a wave isn't my idea of a relaxing time, and I don't plan on doing anymore snowboarding due to the crowds at resorts.

So what happens when mountain biking doubles or quadruples in popularity? Do you see more trails getting built, or just overused? Can you imagine waiting in line to get on your favorite trail? Passing or getting passed every 30 seconds? Where's the zen in that?

Already parking is hard to find sometimes at local trailheads like Aliso Woods and San Juan Trail in Orange County, and during the peak morning hours its hard to climb some trails because of the dozens of riders shuttling. Its still enjoyable and I'm thankful for the trails we have, I'm just trying to think of what things will be like 20 years from now...
You're confused. There aren't too many mountain bikers, there are too many Californians.

In my neck of the woods, seeing another car at the trailhead is a rare thing.
 

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I live in the Thousand Oaks, Ca which is located just north west of Los Angeles and I have to say, I almost never run into any type of crowds when on the trail either in the city or closer to where I live. Although mtn biking has become much more popular it is far too much work and demands too much to ever be mainstream to the point where waiting in line to ride a trail will be a problem. At least I think. Until professional mtn bikers get paid millions of dollars to ride/race kids and young adult will opt for the more traditional sports. Something else to consider, typically only the really dedicated riders make it out to the trails on a regular basis. Many people may have mountain bikes but really I think few ever ride them and even fewer are willing to ride them on the plot of land they were named for ;)
 

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Local Thing...Happening Here.

I live outside a major US city and there is one MTB area with about 30 miles of trails. On Sundays during riding season (winter here now) it gets pretty crowded and with 2 way traffic, you have to use a great deal of caution. I can see one advantage to the rising mountainbiker population though as there's power in numbers. Our local trail advocacy group has worked a lot with county land management to get approval for building more sections of trail and this has helped reduce traffic considerably in the last few years.

Granted, Sunday mornings can get a little hairy at this place with all the traffic but you just have to deal with it. This place is a 45min drive from home and to ride at a place where there is much less trail traffic I have to drive 2 hrs at least.
 

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Ricko said:
I live outside a major US city and there is one MTB area with about 30 miles of trails. On Sundays during riding season (winter here now) it gets pretty crowded and with 2 way traffic, you have to use a great deal of caution. I can see one advantage to the rising mountainbiker population though as there's power in numbers. Our local trail advocacy group has worked a lot with county land management to get approval for building more sections of trail and this has helped reduce traffic considerably in the last few years.

Granted, Sunday mornings can get a little hairy at this place with all the traffic but you just have to deal with it. This place is a 45min drive from home and to ride at a place where there is much less trail traffic I have to drive 2 hrs at least.
It's time to build more trails, right? I'm thinking about pitching in and doing my share. :thumbsup: No doubt other folks have cared for the trails I ride on.
 

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Older & Faster...downhill
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I think I would describe it as regional. I live in SoCal too, 3 miles from the base of the San Gabriels.
We call it the 5 mile rule, ride 5 miles up and back and you're lucky if you see anyone. I can ride for hours in solitude. Here's the catch, you have to ride uphill, a lot, since there is no paved access. Ya I know that sort of spoils it for some of you guys. ;) I do the "trendy trails" too, but they sure aren't as relaxing as a good 'ol butt kicking to the middle of nowhere.
I think there are a lot of folks out there who want to ride to show off their bikes, like it's some sort of parade, and that has something to do with it. Personally I'm more impressed with the rider on a junker dropping my butt than the all too common overweight rider on a $6,000 dream bike. There's my .02.
 

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zarr said:
It's time to build more trails, right? I'm thinking about pitching in and doing my share. :thumbsup: No doubt other folks have cared for the trails I ride on.
True dat. We don't have all that much available open space to build trail due to suburban sprawl but there is one particular "undocumented" area that me and a few friends have done some trail work. I've tried more then a few times to organize a larger group to get together for a more concerted effort to build/improve this area but haven't had much luck to synchronize the group, seems like everyone would rather go out there at their leisure and do a little bit here and there. All in all this place I'm talking about isn't at all bad...but I can't talk about it, I'm sworn to secrecy regarding such;) .
 
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