Welcome to the Soapbox – a place where we invite you to express your opinion, no matter how well or ill-informed. A chance to vent your spleen, sing your praise, or chuck a tantie.
Got something to blurt about? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we might put it online. All Soapbox submission must be less than 500 words and will be kept strictly anonymous unless requested otherwise.
PLEASE NOTE: All Soapbox pieces represent the opinion of the writer solely and do not necessarily reflect the views of Flow!
Our recent Soapbox submission Dumb and Dumber got a lot of people talking and attracted more than a few responses. Here’s one from Aiden Lefmann:
There seem to be more trail care groups than there are mountain bike clubs these days. Although I want to point out that to a certain extent, I strongly support trail ‘care’, I wish to outline the areas where things have gotten out of hand.
I think trail care is required to maintain trails that are under heavy use, including blocking the ‘cheat’ or corner-cutting lines that are created, limiting the environmental impact that the use of the trail has and even working with local governing bodies to create sustainable trail networks. But I think it often goes too far.
On many of my local trails, logs are removed, drop-offs taken out, lines made around anything remotely technical, and the surface or trail direction is often crafted to ensure water-run off is controlled.
Is this mountain biking? Yes, it is. But it takes away the organic nature of riding a trail, the fun, and having to think about where your front wheel goes. Trails that have never been touched by a shovel or trail care group are the ones I really look forward to riding; a Trails that are narrow and lend themselves to all of the organic obstacles that come with mountain biking.
The construction of some new sections of trail near home recently made me question the level of thought that goes into trail building. Why does a newly constructed ‘single’ track in dense bushland need to be over a metre wide? Why does a newly constructed trail in dense bushland require berms all over the place? So many of our best trails come from walking tracks turned legal, that are narrow like a real ‘singletrack’ should be.
Wikipedia defines singletrack as “a narrow mountain biking trail that is approximately the width of the bike”. Think about the most recently built section of trail near where you ride? I would be pretty sure it is wider than it needs to be, and one could argue that its impact on the environment is also greater because of this. Whichever way you swing on this discussion, you can only improve yourself if given the opportunity to challenge yourself. Are your trails actually challenging you?