Dear Mr. Sanitzer (x-post)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Drinker w/ Riding Problem
    Reputation: brado1's Avatar
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    Dear Mr. Sanitzer (x-post)

    first off...i know upfront that this will probably not reach the individual that has done it, but my goal hopefully is maybe one or two others that may read my rant, take my words to heart, and resist the overwhelming urge to dumb-down a trail... by removing obstacles...

    i hope that i do not come across as some holy er than thou, expert rider blasting on some newbee...i'm far from it... i'm a rider who likes to challenging myself, every single time i get on the bike.

    So today after work went to one of my favorite after work ride... started off great, started a last bit of climbing section along the dam road trail (Issaqueena), and "hey where'd the step go? a little 6in, downed tree log, step up. removed! couldn't believe it... really didn't phase me, just the thought of why would someone remove that? so i continue on, get to some nice twisty stuff near the lake... riding along and "hey did i pass the downed tree" another 4 or 5in log i loved to bunny hop to keep good speed while riding, wtf that thing had been there for 4 years. then another , then another gone, you have got to be sh!tting me.

    I say to you Mr. Trail Sanitizer, leave the fuggin' trail alone! and leave the trail maintenance to trained / organized groups....do some research about the groups in your area, and volunteer your services to some trail maintenance the proper way.... not get rid of the things that YOU find frustrating!

    Just because you can't ride over it doesn't mean the other 99% of us can't either... I say to you challenge yourself, learn to ride those obstacles, and if can't walk over 'em, Do Not Remove It! , and try it again the next time you ride that trail. guess what you'll find you will progress as a rider too. It's called mountain biking for a reason, you want nice clean paths, go find a park with some paved jogging/bike paths.

    i need to get some signs printed!
    If you cant go over it, go home !


    (sign credit Bill Victor -Seenvic ) love it! kinda sad though.

    thanks for your time

    Rant Over

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    Alternative point of view

    I debated whether to reply to your post, but for the sake of balance, I feel I should present an opposing view.

    Due to the lack of resources available to maintain many trail systems, obstacles may remain in a trail for a long time that don't belong there. Land managers tend to be risk adverse, so most obstacles are unauthorized, and many land managers would prefer to see all of their trails sanitized. For example, a 6" log across the trail may actually present more liability risk than a large rock outcrop because a jury could see the log as an example of negligent trail maintenance. So the first question is, does the land manager approve of the trail obstacles?

    The second important question is, what is the intended usage of the trail? If the trail is easy, designated for multiple users, or is a heavily used trail in an area with a shortage of trails, the obstacle was probably not meant to be there. Such trails are usually maintained for the least-expert regular trail user and obstacles of any kind are frowned upon. The small size of the logs mentioned (6", 4"-5") in your post makes me think these obstacles were not intentionally placed to make the trail more challenging. Even an experienced trail maintainer might remove those logs thinking they were neglected deadfall.

    Challenge obstacles are usually placed on trails that are intended for intermediate/expert riders and are designed as offshoots of the main trail system so inexperienced users are less likely to stumble onto them. Properly designed challenge obstacles are obviously difficult, solidly constructed to make them long-lasting/difficult to remove and offer a good alternative line around them. (The photo beautifully illustrates the problems caused by an obstacle not having an alternative line.)

    You asked the trail sanitizer to join a trained/organized local trail group but you didn't mention whether a trail maintenance organization was involved in the up keep of your trail. Were important trail maintenance tasks being regularly performed? Were the trail obstacles placed in the trail by the group performing regular trail maintenance? Again the question is, were the logs in the trail due to a lack of trail maintenance or intentionally placed in the trail by experienced trail maintainers?

    Many of our trail systems are being destroyed by a simple lack of maintenance. Trails are lost because there is no one to keep up with cutting back vegetation and clearing drainage. So the sanitation of the trail has to be weighed against the far worse outcome of the trail gradually being neglected to death. Was the loss of trail obstacles offset by the good done by other trail maintenance performed by the same individuals? I am painfully aware that not all of the efforts of amateur trail maintainers are positive. ( People who stack rocks on the edge of the trail drive me nuts and do a lot of damage.) Personally though, I am willing to tolerate some mistakes in how the trail maintenance is performed if overall the trail system is benefiting. At least someone is making a good faith effort.

    So here are the key questions that should be asked when obstacles are removed from a trail. Were the obstacles placed there intentionally by experienced trail maintainers with land manager approval? Were they located on a trail marked for or primarily used by intermediate/expert users? Were they well-constructed challenge obstacles and had an obvious alternative line around them? If the answers are yes, you have every right to be upset that someone removed them. Otherwise, the santizer probably did the correct thing in removing them and it may be time to approach the land manager about building some expert trails.

  3. #3
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    Good post.

    But, the answer to your "what ifs" is none of the above apply.

    This trail system is the local "expert" trail system. It is surrounded by close to 75 miles of beginner trails. I've ridden this "expert" trail w/ a 7 and an 8 year old....it's easy if you take your time. But that's not a bad thing as I would say that this trail has something for everyone. But that doesn't mean we have to create lines around a 5" tall log that naturally fell across the trail.

    2000 volunteer hours went into the constuction of these trails. 141 different people helped. We are not shy about telling people that we want this trail to have obstacles and we DO NOT WANT LINES AROUND THEM. The land manager is on board with us.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep the singletrack narrow.

    There is an alternate line....go ride the 75 miles of nearby trails. We built about half of them within the last 5 years. They are maticulosly maintained and almost 100% of the time have no obstacles on them. There is no lack of supply of beginner trails here. We are at 500' above sea level and have to drive 3 hours to get to any mountains.

    When logs fall here, we have an experienced crew of USFS certified sawyers that make the call on what to cut and what to leave. It depends on the trial and it's intended users. But at the trail pictured, the standards are to leave most anything that a very good rider can ride over. I find myself walking several trees across this trail.

    I repeat, there is nothing wrong with wanting to keep the singletrack narrow. And just because it is a MTB trail doesn't mean that every inch has to be ridden by everyone that owns a bike and goes to this trail. There is nothing wrong with stopping, and stepping over something if that what it takes to stay on the trail.

  4. #4
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    Reputation: gopherhockey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brado1
    i need to get some signs printed!
    If you cant go over it, go home !

    (sign credit Bill Victor -Seenvic ) love it! kinda sad though.
    Just as a side note, we have had this type of issue for a long time at our local trail(s). People modifying obstacles, cutting trails etc.

    We put up some "Stay on the trail or stay home" signs and people started to cry about it saying we were being too negative and that it didn't do any good or didn't send a positive message.

    I like the signs myself. Simple and to the point. I don't think some mountain bikers are ever happy.

    Best of luck with the anti-sanitization efforts...

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