So today I went for a ride, the first one since our daughter was born. For the last week we have been cooped up inside the house not going much of anywhere for any length of time and I was feeling it. So today, my wife and her sister went to the park, taking my niece and our oldest daughter along with the newborn. This gave me a few precious hours to hit the trails. So I threw on my riding gear (blue Moose jersey and pants, Answer boots, and a GMAX helmet, just in case anybody wants to know what I wear) and hopped on the XR and took off.
Now from my house to where I usually ride is only about a 5-10 minute ride. Today though I had some extra time so I decided to go a little further before hitting a different trail that connected to a huge network of other trails, my first mistake. You see, after 20 minutes of twisty mountain road I came to the trail head, and BAM there was a “Road Closed” sign. Not a big deal, the road workers here have a tendency to leave the signs up even after they are done. Not this time. Next to the sign were two workers and a cop. Further down the road was a HazMat truck and some more people. That was a major bummer as I had already wasted over 20 minutes of riding time just getting to a trail. I knew where another trail was, the problem was that I have only ever exited the trail where it ran into the paved road, never started the trail from that point. Because of this I missed the trail, by a good mile or more. I had to pull over, take out my phone, and look at a Map App to see where I was and the place I wanted to be. I finally found the trail head and took off.
After 40 minutes of road riding I had finally hit dirt. This turned out to be my second mistake. You see I had ridden the trail I was now on many times, and it is actually one of my favorite local trails. The problem was that I was now riding it backwards. What was usually a slightly up hill trail with twisty left and right hand bends, was now a slightly down hill trail with twisty right and left hand bends. It is really weird for my brain to know that I was on a trail I can ride but to be doing everything backwards. So what would have taken no time at all, now took twice as long and was not very fun. To top it off, during the last rain storm the trail had become extremely muddy and the 4×4 truck guys took advantage of this to go mudding. I have absolutely nothing against that, the trail is open to all street legal vehicles so bring it on. If I had a big truck I would be out there too, the problem is the ruts are still there when the mud dries. The ground is rock hard, with ruts everywhere, and I am going the opposite direction. All in all this was not a very good trail riding day. When I got to the end of the trail I saw this:
Yes, apparently I had just ridden down an active crime scene. That might help explain all of the cops I had seen on the way up. As I stood there confused as to why the tape was only on this end of the trail as well as trying to figure out a way to get around it without breaking the tape, I saw a big white van heading down the paved road that this trail ended at. On the side of the van it said San Bernardino Fire Department. As I was mentally preparing my flight or fight response, the driver of the van looked at me, and waved, and then kept on going. I quickly got around the tape and took off going the opposite direction of the van. As I headed back I saw HazMat trucks and tankers at various places on the road and was actually kind of glad that I hadn’t spent that much time in the dirt, since I had no idea what was going on. When I got home I used good old faithful Google to find out what had happened. Turns out a tanker truck carrying over 4,600 gallons of fuel had crashed and dumped most of its payload on to the road. (http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_23139067/highway-38-reopens-cleanup-goes)
Now this totally sucks, not because my riding areas have been shrunk, but because of the environmental damage. I hope that they get it cleaned up fast and not too much gets into the Santa Ana River. In the mean time I had better get used to riding some of my favorite trails backwards.
So yesterday I went for a Mountain Bike ride near where I live. It is a nice network of trails that involves a good amount of climbing with equal amounts of descent so that even if you work like a dog going up hill you still get that reward of going downhill to balance it out. On this particular day I didn’t have a ton of time to go ride, maybe about an hour, and I am not in great physical shape endurance wise so it takes me longer then I would want to climb up, so I knew I would have to do a short ride. After climbing the roughly 1.5 miles of single track up I rode a little ways on a dirt road and then took a different roughly 1.5 miles of different single track down. As I came to the second single track I noticed the sign on the trail. It was a typical trail sign with the typical warning and safety labels on it. It let me know that hikers and equestrians could be on this trail as well as other mt. bikers and that I could adopt this trail, and to pick up after my dog, that sort of thing. It was the second to last picture that really got to me (I circled it in black so that you could see it) it is a picture that is being seen more and more on all kinds of trails. It is the Dirt Bike with the red crossed out circle around it, you know what I mean.
This I have seen around a lot, and frankly for the most part, it is not a problem, I honestly don’t want to be ridding my Mt. Bike or have my wife jogging on a trail that is in the middle of town like this one, and have to worry about being ran over or ran into by a guy on a dirt bike on twisty narrow single track like I like to ride on my Mt. bike. And honestly I think that it is ok for trails to be designated for only specific activities, as long as it doesn’t go overboard and as long as it stays that way. What I mean by that is if it is a Dirt bike trail, don’t let a few overzealous equestrians or environmentalist shut it down just because they don’t like it. Rather, let the trails stay open as they have been for a long time.
Secondly I feel that we should have designated off road trails for dirt bikes that are for dirt bikes. Hikers, mt. bikers, equestrians, and the like should stay off, that way we all get what we want.
What I find to be really different about these particular trails is the fact that I personally know the guys from back in the late 70’s and 80’s who made these trails on their dirt bikes. Like I said before I don’t mind that these trails don’t allow dirt bikes, even though they made them, as the town I live in has a huge mt. biking culture and we need a safe, local place to ride. What bothers me is the closing of Dirt bike riding areas that have been dirt bike riding areas and nothing but dirt bike riding areas since their creation. If hikers, and joggers, and mt. bikers, and equestrians aren’t using the area because it is dirt bike only, then leave it alone, don’t shut it down for them. Dirt bike and off road motor sports participants need a place to ride, and when these places get shut down it only encourages more and more people to start riding in areas that they shouldn’t, this then makes non off road enthusiasts angry and in turn shuts down even more riding areas, causing people to ride where they shouldn’t and it just becomes a vicious circle. Some of you remember a while back when the State of California tried to all but remove riding areas completely and if it wasn’t for a band of very determined off road enthusiasts they would have succeeded, we don’t need that to happen again.
Now my four yeas of living on the big island of hawaii with very limited riding areas has taught me a few things, the most important was to stick to the trails. We were in constant danger of trails be shut down because someone decided he didn’t like the trail that was there and wanted to go ride where he wanted to ride. I firmly believe that we need more trails for dirt bikes and quads to ride, and the more designated trails we have the less there is going to be people destroying non-riding areas, and everybody is happy.
I guess in the end what I am trying to say is we need to take care of what we got, petition correctly not angrily for more riding areas, and be responsible with the land that isn’t ours. If not we will see more and more signs like the one above popping up everywhere and eventually the only place we will have to ride is our imagination.