A recent Bike Intelligencer posting on Tiger Mountain access has generated a lively if not acrimonious discussion on the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance Yahoo! forum.
It seems there’s lots of energy to talk. Why not siphon that energy into action as well? As I posted to the list:
A simple proposal: Whenever one of the MTB trails is closed temporarily (usually means nearly all of the season), we ask for temporary access to another trail. Tiger Mountain Trail is the obvious one, with southern exposure, very little hiker use. A road/trail combo gives you a great loop, incorporating Iverson. And in fact the club could easily put a short trail connector between Iverson and TMT. If you don’t know what I’m talking about check the Tiger Mt. map.
Temporary access would show the world doesn’t end with MTB usage. In fact, the trails would wind up in better condition as a result of EMBA access. We could guarantee that. EMBA doesn’t have to do this alone; we could solicit STM (if it’s still active) and other clubs. Plus I know some pretty good trail builders, not club members but active riders, who actually live right next door to Tiger.
Re trail activism, two thoughts: First, the club needs to tell us members what is actually happening with the trails — before decisions are made — and give us names, email addresses and phone numbers to make our voices heard. Public opinion does work! But when all of a sudden we see tape on NW Timber Trail and an announcement it’s been closed for the foreseeable future, it’s way too late and makes us feel snubbed in the process. Second, the club can do so much more to rally the troops: E-mail blasts, posting on this list, and other e-activism a la MoveOn and the Obama campaign (Republicans know this too and have been just as effective; right now they’re pimping Twitter of all things) give club members with day jobs and busy lives a chance to do something; the club could even set up a Web site contribution bot to raise money for a specific cause.
There are some pretty influential people in our community who mountain bike, and we can use our connections politically. But we need to be able to act early, meaning more communications from club leaders who are official points of contact, naturally, for agencies.
Finally, it seems mountain bikers are way too defensive vis-a-vis other user groups. We seem to accept a certain rep, but it’s based on ancient mythology propagated by the Harvey Mannings of the world, who have been overwhelmingly marginalized by now. The Obama generation, as I posted earlier, doesn’t much distinguish between hiking and biking on trails. If we are polite and state our case firmly, we can overcome the bogus stigma attached to our sport. I have hiker friends, very good friends, and never miss an opportunity to tell them the wonders of my sport. They have learned not to trot out the canards about trail damage and rudeness to me, because when I ask their data points and then give them mine, it’s no contest.
(BTW, the damage to upper Iverson is severe, due not to winter storms but to logging on the south side of the west road. Every time there is logging, new damage surfaces, whether from drainage or from wind exposure. It is ludicrous to suggest that mountain biking causes eco concerns given the depredations of logging in a “managed” forest such as Tiger.)