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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was in a trail the other day and noticed a number of places where bikes had gone off the trail by 4 or 5 feet fit say 10 or 15 feet before rejoining the actual trail. It was always up and back dows a small rise to the side of the trail. It definitely damaged the trail by making it wider and destabilizing the adjacent soil. Why do we do such things to our trails?
 

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I have had to do it at times on our trails in low lying areas where they stay muddy. We recently went up to pre-ride before a race and were advised to go around the mud spots so to not damage them.
 

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Trail braiding is pretty common, usually due to lack of maintenance and lazy riders, hikers, horses, deer, etc. In places where the main trail gets a little washed out or rutted someone will eventually take an alternate line if it's available, others will follow and soon the alt line is the main route. Areas where trails are more diligently maintained mostly avoid this.
 

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We have some muddy spots on our trails. People go around or through. And yet every summer when it starts to get warm the mud disappears, the trails through the mud look like nothing every happened, and the alternate lines get overgrown until next year.

Really, it's not that big of a problem. if you ever looked at mud you can see that it is viscous and will flow slowly back into any track you make through it.

People get a little too worked up over mud. I mean, it's mud. Part of mountain biking. Too much of it makes it impossible to ride but a little bit here and there is actually fun.

The braided areas we have are legitimate lines through poorly thought out sections of the trail...or areas that are more suited to hiking. The trail has evolved in a rational manner. This is only in a few spots and I rather enjoy the updated lines; some have even become the de facto trail.

Mountain biking is pretty "low impact." God, I hate the term "impact." We're not meteors, after all, and what little erosion is caused by routine trail riding is environmentally insignificant. The creeks here run red with thousands of tons of soil during a good rainstorm and maybe a pound or two comes off of the mountain bike trails.

My big thing is fallen trees. I wish the forest service would be more diligent in clearing them. I do what I can but some are just too big to move.

Don't let the anti-mountain bike crowd accuse you of having any impact at all, even "low impact." This is letting your opponent seize control of the terms of the debate. You should always say that mountain biking is "no impact," whatever effect it has on the environment being inconsequential and scarcely worth mentioning.

That way they have to show that a little mud puddle here or there is an environmental catastrophe which is ridiculous and not something most reasonable people would get excited about.

Sustainability is another one of those god-awful religious words. The only sustainability we should be concerned about is making sure that the trails are not damaged to the point where they become unridable. This makes good sense but is purely an internal matter. Since mountain biking has no effect on the environment as a whole worrying about large-scale sustainability is as ridiculous as worrying about the Carbon Footprint or your bike.

Carbon Footprint. What a ridiculous society we have become.
 

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We have some muddy spots on our trails. People go around or through. And yet every summer when it starts to get warm the mud disappears, the trails through the mud look like nothing every happened, and the alternate lines get overgrown until next year.

Really, it's not that big of a problem. if you ever looked at mud you can see that it is viscous and will flow slowly back into any track you make through it.
Well, the impact of riding on muddy trails depends a lot on where you live, the soil and other issues. I 'grew up' riding in Western Oregon where the soil is very loamy and has a lot of bio material in it. The impact of riding on mud there wasn't a big deal; the tracks would disappear quickly, resisted compaction and trenching very well due to all the bio material and constant replenishing of the trail tread, and the trails seemed to hold up pretty well. Most riders didn't worry about riding on mud too much; there was even a popular race series near where I lived called "Mud Sweat and Gears."

Moved to Utah where riding on mud is verboten and I thought it was kinda funny until I saw the impacts. Our soil here has a very high clay content, and we get a lot of sun and dry weather that can dry out a trail very quickly. So a bike (or horse or foot or whatever) leaves an imprint on wet ground, and on saturated clay, you'll sink a few inches deep at times. If that print is not buffed out before it dries, it bakes in the sun and becomes incredibly hard -- we're talking a shovel and pick axe to smooth it out, not just a rake. As a result, it is going to be there for a long time. For example, someone rode a horse up a very popular trail when wet a couple years ago, and the prints (meaning 2" deep post holes) were there all summer. Kind of annoying to ride through others ruts and holes for months because they had to ride when wet.

I don't know about the actual environmental impact of riding trails -- I suspect it is actually very little and quite overblown by 'anti's'. But around here, at least, you can screw up a nice trail for the whole season by riding it on a wet day.
 

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The braided areas we have are legitimate lines through poorly thought out sections of the trail...or areas that are more suited to hiking. The trail has evolved in a rational manner. This is only in a few spots and I rather enjoy the updated lines; some have even become the de facto trail....
Yes - no big deal.
(Coming from someone who is turning into somewhat of a local trail Nazi.)

-F
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the various responses. I feel better now. However, I'll note that where I rode, the braiding looked to be wholly unnecessary. But I might be wrong on that.
 

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we have knobs who make go-rounds on intentionally high-skill bozo-filters. I ride in later and will work hours to pile sticks to block this stuff off. It happens SO MUCH with the weekend warrior cross-fit types who 'just don't get mountain biking like old-timers do' I just gave up on caring any more. literally, 8 times a year, I have to close off the same 18 corners in 4 prime riding spots. look people, just ride it. we direct you between this or that intentionally for a) skills b) erosion control c) it is fun d) if you can't ride it walk it and try better next time e) do NOT ride around it

made my blood boil too many times so I gave up caring. I will remove new blowdowns because I'm boss and always carry a huge saw, but I quit fixing go-rounds. they broke me.
 

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I've fixed many go-arounds. Sometimes the ditships feel compelled to clear them out again. Then I block them off again. As if 6 feet wasn't wide enough already. In heavily travelled trails, the braiding can take over the whole side of a hill. It's like picking up other people's trash - you do it because it's the right thing and makes the road or trail a little better place. Littering and trail braiding are like a chronic health condition. You never really cure it, you just try to manage it.
 

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I was in a trail the other day and noticed a number of places where bikes had gone off the trail by 4 or 5 feet fit say 10 or 15 feet before rejoining the actual trail. It was always up and back dows a small rise to the side of the trail.
That is called a jump. Try them, they are fun.
 

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Well, the impact of riding on muddy trails depends a lot on where you live, the soil and other issues. I 'grew up' riding in Western Oregon where the soil is very loamy and has a lot of bio material in it. The impact of riding on mud there wasn't a big deal; the tracks would disappear quickly, resisted compaction and trenching very well due to all the bio material and constant replenishing of the trail tread, and the trails seemed to hold up pretty well. Most riders didn't worry about riding on mud too much; there was even a popular race series near where I lived called "Mud Sweat and Gears."

Moved to Utah where riding on mud is verboten and I thought it was kinda funny until I saw the impacts. Our soil here has a very high clay content, and we get a lot of sun and dry weather that can dry out a trail very quickly. So a bike (or horse or foot or whatever) leaves an imprint on wet ground, and on saturated clay, you'll sink a few inches deep at times. If that print is not buffed out before it dries, it bakes in the sun and becomes incredibly hard -- we're talking a shovel and pick axe to smooth it out, not just a rake. As a result, it is going to be there for a long time. For example, someone rode a horse up a very popular trail when wet a couple years ago, and the prints (meaning 2" deep post holes) were there all summer. Kind of annoying to ride through others ruts and holes for months because they had to ride when wet.

I don't know about the actual environmental impact of riding trails -- I suspect it is actually very little and quite overblown by 'anti's'. But around here, at least, you can screw up a nice trail for the whole season by riding it on a wet day.

Fair enough. But like I said, the reason we need to care about the trails is to keep them in riding shape, not because of some nebulous environmental impact.
 

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we have knobs who make go-rounds on intentionally high-skill bozo-filters. I ride in later and will work hours to pile sticks to block this stuff off. It happens SO MUCH with the weekend warrior cross-fit types who 'just don't get mountain biking like old-timers do' I just gave up on caring any more. literally, 8 times a year, I have to close off the same 18 corners in 4 prime riding spots. look people, just ride it. we direct you between this or that intentionally for a) skills b) erosion control c) it is fun d) if you can't ride it walk it and try better next time e) do NOT ride around it

made my blood boil too many times so I gave up caring. I will remove new blowdowns because I'm boss and always carry a huge saw, but I quit fixing go-rounds. they broke me.
I ask this respectfully, but how does it hurt the advanced rider if there a go-around on a particularly dangerous or difficult trail feature? Everybody has to know their limitations.
 

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Fair enough. But like I said, the reason we need to care about the trails is to keep them in riding shape, not because of some nebulous environmental impact.
Yep, I agree. I also never understood how some minimal braiding caused any measurable damage to the environment. I only hate it because sometimes I take the wrong braid and miss the good stuff!
 

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I agree that alternatives thoughtfully applied are good thing, but it can easily be overdone, without the 'thought' part. Then it turns into senseless trail braiding.
 

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I ask this respectfully, but how does it hurt the advanced rider if there a go-around on a particularly dangerous or difficult trail feature? Everybody has to know their limitations.
it hurts the land trust and department of conservation who plan trails and widths and will allow us to build new trails ONLY if all trails old and new remain in place as designed and unmolested. every go-round is a soap box for the non-bikers to get up and rant and point fingers to the mtb community and say LOOKIT THE EROSION. whether of not a go-round is damaging or not, the hikers and Audubon dwicks have a lot of pull in town meetings.

we (old timers who ride things normally and understand a trail is to be left as you found it or built it) are getting spanked by noobs and weekend warrior types who think that because they have a bike and some decent VAM they can just go anywhere and wreck stuff and skid and whatnot. makes me furious but as I said I am stepping away from my fixing things and only will control new blowdowns. I do not mind big big work...it is the constant little crap that I am either going to punch someone in the throat and go to jail, or step away and stop being involved.

example: here is a nice narrow bridge I built all by myself, all by hand. I have thousands of tons of hand-built trail in my resume.



every single rock was imported from 100 yards away. This is narrow and in between the trees at the far end are wet roots actually CAKE to ride, but for part-time bikers they freak. this is to be ridden or walked, not gone around. this is what I mean by ride it or walk it, just one example.

I come from a group of hard-hitting hard-biking left-u-for-dead riding punks who ride through deep mud (on powerlines where it don't matta) and beaver ponds above the headset, no-stopping, death-march, ride it or walk it, race-to-the-shop-back and puke, crack some beer... roots. When I come to anything on a trail I seize up or choke I pop off CX style and run it, mount, and pedal away...but now with the weekend warriors seeming to take over all the choice spots there are a lot less of me who understand the magic of some suffering, and they'd rather make a go-round and probably believe they've done some good. gawd...just shoot me already :D
 

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I don't know about the actual environmental impact of riding trails -- I suspect it is actually very little and quite overblown by 'anti's'. But around here, at least, you can screw up a nice trail for the whole season by riding it on a wet day.
While the real extent of erosion caused by bikes has been shown to be no more than hiking, we do create a style of appearance as we take advantage of gravity differently than a hiker. So our trails look different than hiking trails. Antis take that for destruction and beat us up with it.
 

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To the OP - there are places like that in the local park where trees had fallen and a go-around developed until someone could get out & cut it out. After its gone it just looks like a random wtf braid
 

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To the OP - there are places like that in the local park where trees had fallen and a go-around developed until someone could get out & cut it out.
Cut it out? If it's too large just add some smaller stuff to ramp over it. Too much trouble to go around or cut it. Now it's fun!
 

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This is a problem everywhere, I personally think it is due to tourism and visitors, if you are going to ride a local trail and the weather doesn't permit, your still going to do it if you're only there for a small amount of time

Most locals would give it time to dry out, fix the damage, or walk by it
 
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