Monday, January 19, 2009


As I watched a mountain biker from the San Francisco Bay Area drip precious fluids from his CamelBak hydration system onto my friend's motorcycle tube to help spot an air leak, I was struck by the irony of the situation.Here is a group of non-motorized trail enthusiasts helping some dirt bikers on a trail in the Poison Spider Mesa near Moab, Utah.

I have been told by the Sierra Club and other preservationists that we weren't supposed to get along.For many years, greens groups have cited so-called user conflict between motorized and non-motorized recreationists as a reason to close lands to Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs).

A 68 page "the sky is falling" report authored by the California Wilderness Coalition said that hikers, campers, and mountain bikers have been run off the land by OHVs.Yet, here I am in the mountain bike and hiking capitol of the world enjoying the scenic wonders of this special place and it seems that the non-motorized recreationists have not heard that they are supposed to yell at jeepers and OHVers for "ruining" their solitude and enjoyment of the great outdoors.

As several of us dirt bikers dismount and hike out to a vista overlooking the Colorado River, we are greeted by some tourists who hired a local guide to drive them in a 4-wheel drive. At the same time, four mountain bikers also park their bikes and join us as we all take in the beauty and grandeur of the canyon and view.The hikers we passed on the Poison Spider Trail waved at us and smiled. They said they were having a great time and told us to enjoy our ride. Maybe this is a dream. But no, it is real.

As the one mountain biker helped locate a slow air leak in Randy Block's tire tube, I chatted with the other riders visiting this area from California. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, we talked about the price of my Michelin S-12 knobbies and that their mountain bike tires also cost about 65 dollars each.I asked them if they had ever ridden at one of my other favorite trail areas near Downieville, California.

Located in the Sierra Nevada, this popular multi use trail system is yet another example of where I have experienced a "we can get along" philosophy. I go there every year and it seems that the equestrians, OHVers, and mountain bikers have managed to craft a land-use ethic that respects other trail users and the environment.

Am I naive enough to believe that there are never any instances of some trail users having disagreements with other recreationists? No. However, I do believe that there are many places where diverse recreational interests have and do manage to use public lands in a cooperative fashion.

I have a dream that someday all trail users will get along and respect each other's personal choice of recreational activity. Maybe that's not such a far fetched idea?

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