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Reality Check Part II
What I really wanted to touch on was something that I’ve seen in other lengthy discussions here and in other forums and trailside talk over the last couple of years. We all need to remember that when we ride, we are invited guests on that land. Every trail, be it a Lake Norman, Poplar Tent, Anne Springs, Ren Park, Tsali, Pisgah, public or private land, has a landowner and a land use manager. Those people have their own missions and marching orders, and they have their reasons for doing what they do. They take on a lot of risk when they let bikes on their land and some have more tolerance than others or have tighter limits they have to work within. In Charlotte, the ‘Blazers and anyone riding certain trails ride and work as guests of the Meck. Parks Dept. We’ve been very lucky because they’re very tolerant. However, they literally have the right to kick us off those trails with minimal notice and for no reason. I wasn’t here at the beginning, but years ago some dedicated people did a lot of work to get us onto that land and to put in trails. We’ve learned a lot about trail building and access rights over the years, and several clubs and groups have sprouted out of all this. In addition to what you see in the dirt, there is so much going on behind the scenes, from meetings to politics to P.R. blitzes, grants and visits, etc, even some angry exchanges at times. But so far we’ve held on and been able to keep trails where Walmarts or condos might otherwise be. OK, so they want some beginner trails to keep things even, but we add some things where it works so we can keep challenges out there (a berm or rock pile here, or a nice log jump there, and that new bridge at Ren is way cool, I’m gonna break my bike getting air off of that, I just know it….). Maybe they want a trail reroute or a bridge, or some armoring on the trail to prevent erosion or damage to natural resources, or to get away from boundaries or easements. OK, but we manage to find a way to snake some more mileage in there and pick up good terrain where we can. Maybe they decide they don’t have the tolerance for free ride or other technical features, so a lot of work at Catawba gets lost (yes, the ‘Blazers were trying to get that going out there). So, we lighten up where we have to and add what we can somewhere else. Sure, I don’t like that freakin’ root over there in the curve because I can’t ever seem to get over it, but I’m not going to cut it out just for my gain because then 100 other people would lose something. You might not like that fast, flat stretch up around the corner because it doesn’t have a higher element of danger, but you’re not going to dig a ten foot drop in there just for your gain. Now, try to balance all of this stuff, at one time, in one trail that might only be three miles long!! Think we can always get it right? We try, but…. Yeah, we’re gonna lose out now and then to a softball field or dirt road, but we also get to make new trails and be in on new parks (Davidson and Mt. Holly to name a couple), and this whole balancing act starts all over. Can we work with a Whitewater Park? Yeah, probably a whole lot easier than a “distribution center truck terminal” or runway.

And you know what? It’s a whole lotta fun out there on that bike, and someday I’m gonna get over that log and be pumped up for days, and someday you’re gonna win that race because you had that flat spot to finally get around your arch rival. I’m just grateful there’s a trail for that log to sit on and that flat spot to exist, and I’m going to keep doing my part to keep it that way.

Well, now the pop tart is cold and I saw the scores from last night. See you all out there,

PB




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Tarheel Trailblazers | 182 Saddle Road | Mooresville, NC 28115
 
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