Peak & Prairie
Rocky Mountain Chapter's
June / July 1998
Impact Mountain Biking Tips
by Mike Rhea, Central Upper Peninsula Group
Most mountain bikers care about the environment. Yet many are unsure how to minimize the impact of riding in natural areas. Mountain biking advocates and land managers were asked for suggestions. This summarizes their advice:
Stay on the trail: Establishing an environmentally sound trail is a complex task. It's not a decision for a bicyclist to make on a whim. While a ride across remote, virgin terrain might not hurt anything, low-impact bikers don't risk it. They also avoid the temptation to ride the fragile edge of dirt trails to avoid puddles or sand. Low-impact riders ride through puddles and sand or walk bikes around.
Ride trails within your ability: Novices are likely to tear up ground while braking or skidding down steep hills. Low-impact riders walk bikes down steep hills or hills with fragile soils.
Ride dry trails: Ground still soggy from melting snow and spring rains can be marred for the rest of the season or longer by a pair of "fat tires." Low-impact riders hike or stay on pavement when the ground is wet. For the same reason, it's best to walk or carry bikes over moist or muddy gullies and streams.
Be extremely courteous to other trail users: Most mountain bikers also are hikers who know the disappointment of encountering high-technology machinery, such as a motorcycle, in a pristine area. Although hikers might understand that mountain bikers are enjoying natural areas, just as hikers are, for some a mountain bike is an intrusion into a natural setting.
Low-impact riders stop and wait for others to pass and signa and ride slowly past those they are overtaking. When they see a wild animal, they give it time to notice them and move away.
Low-impact riders keep the number of people in their parties below 10.
Avoid popular hiking trails: Low-impact riders avoid trails set aside for hiking or trails where there are likely to be many hikers. The National Park Service advises bikers to stay on routes designed for heavier traffic, such as roads, "rail-to-trail" bike paths, Jeep trails and designated ski trails.
Nurture trails: With a winter rest, some trails recover after a season of use. Low-impact riders stick to these trails and avoid worn or fragile trails. Low-impact riders are aware of the factors that contribute to erosion and modify their habits in response. These factors are steep slopes, small soil particles, erosion and fragile or sparse vegetative cover.
Learn where to ride: Some government offices, bike shops and organizations provide the location of Low-impact mountain biking trails.
|1. Ride on open trails
only. Respect trail and road closures.
2. Leave no trace, practice low-impact cycling. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones.
3. Control your bicycle! Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations.
4. Always yield trail. Make known your approach well in advance. Show your respect when passing by slowing to a walking pace or even stopping.
5. Never spook animals. All animals are startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can be dangerous for you, others, and the animals.
6. Plan ahead. Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding -- and prepare accordingly.
Keep trails open by setting a good example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling. The mission of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is to promote mountain bicycling opportunites through education in environmentally sound and socially responsible riding practices and land management policies.
What you can do
If you have questions or comments, contact: International Mountain Bicycling Association, P.O. Box 7578, Boulder, CO 80306-7578 USA, tel. (303) 545-9011, fax (303) 545-9026, http://www.orca.org/imba/index.html