Here in Penticton we are just starting up a cycling club and trails are, obviously, a huge concern to everyone involved. We too have recently witnessed the government trails consultation process pass through town; and as with the fellows in Nanaimo, we saw a huge turnout from the motorized trail users. As expected [HTML_REMOVED]#8211; it turned out to be a simmering pot of contempt between the two user groups[HTML_REMOVED]#8230; I secretly thought it was interesting to finally see a situation where the mountain bikers were the [HTML_REMOVED]#8216;good guys[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;, and the evil eye of Sauron was cast upon some other user group :-)
In Penticton we have three hiking associations [HTML_REMOVED]#8211; and to my amazement; they are all bike-friendly, helpful in mapping trails, offering helpful hints on new trail locations, trail flagging and maintenance. As a side note; I[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;m writing the valley[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;s first trails book and the hiking clubs have been one of my greatest allays. So too have the dirt-bike clubs (!). The only thing that they are worried about is that mountain bikers and hiker will [HTML_REMOVED]#8216;happen upon[HTML_REMOVED]#8217; their established trails, claim them as hiking / biking trails and attempt to kick dirt-bike riders off their own trails (what transpired on "The Stupid Trail" between Summerland [HTML_REMOVED] Peachland).
Fact of the matter is that a good number of local trails in this area were built by dirt-bike riders [HTML_REMOVED]#8211; especially dirt-riders who are also mountain-bikers; and there are a lot of them in these parts, some of them are friends of mine and great guys, dedicated to trail building and maintenance. We often use their handiwork for mountain biking and I appreciate their efforts. Keep in mind that we[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;ve only been trail riding for the past 25 years; they[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;ve been at it for at least 40; equestrians [HTML_REMOVED] hikers - a lot longer than that. Just this evening I had a long sit-down with a couple of leading members of the Southern Okanagan Dirt Bike Club and heard once again how they have no problem with other trail user groups; with the exception of quad riders; who I suspect we[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;ll all agree are not to be allowed on single-track trails simply because they need dual-tracks to run on.
I kinda' enjoy dirt-bikes; I don't have one, but have ridden on occation in the past - they are one of the coolest toys under the sun; it[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;s just that they have to be used respectfully [HTML_REMOVED]#8211; and there are a few boneheads in every crowd who give the rest a bad rep[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;, and it[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;s those motor bike riders who stand out in our minds as we curse dirt-bikers. In our group however, we have dudes who drag skidding rear tires around every bloody corner, build ill-conceived, un-armored, nearly vertical trail sections that are sure as shit stinks, going to erode in a year or less, meatheads who go screaming past hikers and equestrians like Satan is on their asses, not to mention folks who wouldn[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;t lift a finger to do any trail maintenance if it were the last option on earth (lots of em[HTML_REMOVED]#8217; out there!). So it[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;s not like mountain bikers, collectively speaking, are innocent angels of the forest either[HTML_REMOVED]#8230;
With regards to the document under consideration; I read it quite differently. I saw it as a crack in the dam that, if slightly manipulated via serious feedback from us and other user groups, would give mountain bike riders a lot more freedom from concern with regards to being kicked off of the lands we enjoy riding / building on. Hell, I[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;ve read it top to bottom more than once and I personally think it[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;s a good thing, just in need of slight modification here and there [HTML_REMOVED]#8211; like any DRAFT document.
We might want to bitch and moan about the fact that we have, in a roundabout way, had a lot of responsibility foisted upon us, but that[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;s life; it aint easy. I do know however, that I[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;d much prefer to volunteer my time doing something that I absolutely love than hate. I dig [HTML_REMOVED]#8216;digging[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;, if I could find some way to pay the bills without working my [HTML_REMOVED]#8216;real job[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;, hell, I[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;d be out in the bush 16 hours a day clearing trails. So what if the government wants us to do a little bit of paperwork now and again; I run a business where I wade through mounds of the stuff every day anyway. Again, that[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;s life [HTML_REMOVED]#8211; no one said it was going to be easy [HTML_REMOVED]#8211; but if it means that I work for myself and not answer to a boss every day; I[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;ll continue to do it. The side-effect is that it allows me to hike, ride and be a trail-clearing bush-rat a lot more than if I had to punch the clock for [HTML_REMOVED]#8216;the man' :-)
Finally; I think that we should collectively throw our support behind dirt-bike and quad groups who seek to secure land-tenure agreements on areas for [HTML_REMOVED]#8216;motorized parks[HTML_REMOVED]#8217; usage. Ya[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;, I did say that[HTML_REMOVED]#8230; we should support them because if we can assist in any way, in securing them a place to call their own, it[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;ll take some of the dirt-bike usage (not all, but some), off our hike / bike trail systems. The concept has worked well in Kelowna for the Bear Creek / Blue-Grouse Mt. area, and I believe that it can work well just about anywhere in the continent where land is available; and in these parts, Crown land is available in spades! As much as we[HTML_REMOVED]#8217;d like to have every bit of crown Land for ourselves, that just aint the way the world works; we have to keep an open, fair-minded outlook on fellow trail user-groups.