From time to time, we come across sections of trail that have been modified by riders in some way. Please don’t. Don’t change the lines or design of the trails to suit your preferences. This can have a number of undesired consequences, including impact on the environment and the experience for other users.
Many of our trails are in managed reserves or national parks. Changing trails, removing trees and adding new lines has a detrimental impact to other trail users and to the environment. The guys over at Flow Mountain Bike sum it up well.
Let’s have a look at the environmental impact side first. Mountain biking does cause an impact to the environment. However, over the past 10 or so years trail builders and land owners have learnt and developed techniques to help minimise that impact and make our riding more sustainable. Good trail design takes into account water flow, erosion control, and species and habitat protection – amongst others. Yes, you can argue that some of the trails you have seen don’t adhere to these standards but over time we will find more and more sustainable trail building occurring. It’s a win-win for the sport.
When trails are altered to suit the needs of a few riders, the removal of trees and addition of new lines can create serious erosion concerns and remove habitats for local fauna.
It can also put agreements between landowners and mountain bike riders at risk. Behind the scenes, much work is done to secure land and to obtain funding and support from Government and Traditional Land owners. Removal of trees and unauthorised trails can put all of that at risk.
If you can’t ride an obstacle, don’t adjust or remove it
By simplifying an obstacle, the challenge is reduced for all riders; the progression of skills is something that keeps many riders coming back.
Many obstacles will have an alternate, or B-line. Use the B-line. If one does not exist, please don’t make your own. If you encounter an obstacle that is a little too difficult, treat it as a challenge. Spend some time and session the obstacle, practice your skills.
Worse still, poorly built obstacles can be dangerous. We’ve found obstacles that have been simplified, only to include unstable rocks that move as they’re being ridden over.
Mountain biking does have an impact upon the environment. Over time, trail builders and land owners have learnt and developed techniques to help minimise that impact and make our riding more sustainable
Darwin Off-Road Cyclists work with Department of Parks Wildlife and Heritage, Mountain Biking Australia to build sustainable trails sympathetic to the environment.
Care for our trails
Whilst you’re out riding, please
- Stay on existing trails
- Don’t shortcut switchbacks
- Don’t remove, reduce or modify obstacles
Be mindful with your brakes. Skidding on trails quickly damages them. Practice stopping without dragging your wheels. It’s a better, more controlled way of stopping and does not cause brake ruts.
Muddy trails are especially vulnerable to damage. Whilst it’s fun to ride in the mud, it does cause considerable damage to trials. It wears our your bike parts too!
Take out everything you bring in. Gel packets, old tubes and food wrappers don’t belong in our parks.
You can help
There’s a few things you can do to help.
If you’re keen to build trails that are fun to ride, and are for the benefit of everyone, get in touch with us, either on facebook, or via our contact page. We need enthusiastic volunteers and would love to hear from you.
If you see trails that have been damaged
- Take a photo. If you have GPS enabled on your phone, it will attach the co-ordinates to the photo metadata and we can quickly pinpoint the location.
- If necessary, make the obstacle safe.
- Send the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other information and acknowledgements.
MTBA has more information on trail guidelines.
Thanks to MTBA and Flow Mountain Bike for material contributing to this article.