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Cycling in the NY Times: Montana Mountain Bike Advocacy and Vermont Sightseeing

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Hundreds of miles of trails lace the mountains in southwest Montana. Photo by Anne Sherwood for NYT.

Last Sunday, the New York Times featured a sizeable article about the pending danger to hundreds (maybe thousands!!!) of miles of singletrack mountain bike trails throughout Western states, including parts of the Continental Divide.

Many of these trails are stellar singletrack hewn over decades of riding, but now they face a potential ban as land managers and the U.S. Forest Service attempt to get more land preserved under a wilderness designation.  Their basis for action seems to be thinking that proactively restricting mountain biking (along with other uses) creates a simpler case for them to present to Congress since fewer groups would have any argument against the designation.

Another claimed problem is the fact that mountain bikes are now far more capable of riding further, longer, faster and into places that they haven’t been in the past.  The result is that riders are using old Indian and game trails that weren’t designed for cycling, and they end up being unsustainable, leading to erosion and other problems.

“Old game trails and Indian trails turned into bicycle trails, and they were never changed to be sustainable,” said John Favro, a recently retired Northern Region trails coordinator. “You can change the whole ecosystem below the trail just by having a trail that diverts water to a different location.”

The problem with a wilderness designation is that it creates a total ban on bicycle use, which makes it very hard to foresee a time when mountain biking could be allowed back in those areas.

Here’s what you can do: IMBA, NPS and independent scientific groups have all determined that properly built trails are completely environmentally sustainable, creating no more impact than hiking, but allowing Park users the opportunity to explore more of the parks (which also reduces the crowds in the closer-to-the-parking-lot areas that everyone sees.  IMBA works closely with the NPS and Congress to ensure mountain bikers’ needs are heard and understood.  Join IMBA.

Hit ‘more’ for a bit on the Sightseeing in Vermont by bicycle article

As the cool weather seems to be here for good now, the leaves are changing in the northern states and more and more people are taking to their bicycles to enjoy the leaf peeping.

The National Bike Tour Association says that the number of fall cycling tours is rising, with at least 59 organized tours for September and October.

The NY Times article mentions several tours, including the one by Bike Vermont that the author did which included two meals per day, lodging, fully stocked sag wagon and two guides for $500 for a two-night tour…not too shabby considering the Inns they slept in charged nearly half that per night on their own.

Check it out if you’re looking for a fresh way to see nature.  Lot of links to travel info for various cities and states in their article.

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