Photo courtesy of BLM
In the previous article, we described “ride to your ride” as one of the founding concepts of urban mountain biking. We also talked about a model urban mountain bike trail plan. Yet, as we mentioned, no place has the model implemented perfectly and its doubtful many cities could implement that model without some real work. That left us with the question of whether ride to your ride was a myth and fantasy, or something obtainable.
Let’s look at three very different locations and show how ride to your ride happens in the real world.
You may have noticed some issues with images yesterday. Not sure if embedding MTB Project or some other variable created the issue, but it needs to be figured out before posting another article.
Part 2 of What “ride to your ride” means will come tomorrow.
Photo courtesy of BLM
One of the founding concepts of urban mountain biking is “ride to your ride”. That is, the ability to get to the trail via your bike. No need for you pack up your car and drive to the location you intend to ride.
This concept has many advantages. First, the selfish one, in that it gives you more time to ride if you don’t have to go very far. But from an ecological point of view, the reasons why ride to your ride is a positive start to stack up. Just under a third of greenhouse gases are from transportation. Private motor vehicles are the primary culprit. Every trip you don’t use a car is that much less greenhouse gasses that are killing penguins. Connected to this are the items used in your car moving, from the rubber in your tires, to the oil in your engine, the various coolants and fluids. All these impacts add up because, even with recycling, many of these items have long supply chains that require motor vehicle transportation themselves. Lastly, there is the infrastructure aspect. Fewer car trips require few roads that are smaller in size. Smaller roads allow for the type of development patterns that further lower man’s impact on the planet. These development patterns, sometimes called “old school” or “strong towns” also can pay for themselves through tax revenue and therefore give a city the ability to invest in more public services, including the purchase of lands for public use.
But is this concept just that? In practice, can it exist in the real world?
While perusing this site, you may have noted the term “urban mountain biking” used versus the term “urban off-road cycling”. Why is that?
The first thing that should be acknowledged is that neither term is perfect. Both have their pluses and minuses. Such is the way with terminology used in the sport of mountain biking. The term “mountain bike” makes no sense as there are plenty of places with fun mountain bike trails that have zero mountains. The types of mountain biking also use terms that are confusing. “Cross country”, “all mountain” and “downhill”. At some point, every type of bike does what these terms describe in some way.
“Off-road cycling” is a term that has recently gained some traction with land managers. The primary reason is that this term allows many types of cycling to fit under an umbrella term. The land manager can create a policy that covers everything to quarter acre pump track to 20-mile singletrack trail system. This honestly does have some merit from a land managers standpoint. One bucket for all the things that that involve bikes on dirt.
But there are some serious problems with the use of this term. Some are pretty obvious, some are not. They include:
Both of these are biking off of a road. But only one of them is "off road cycling" (Hint: its the right one.)
Because of these reasons, City MTB will use the term “urban mountain biking” when discussing bicycling wheels on dirt. Let’s acknowledge that it is imperfect and it doesn’t technically cover things like BMX tracks, cyclocross or adventure courses. However, it perfectly describes the largest type of wheels on dirt experience in the United States: mountain biking on singletrack trails.
What is City MTB all about? What will you see here on this site?
To understand what City MTB is about, you need to understand something called urban mountain biking. While the idea of mountain biking in an urban setting seems like a contradiction, the fact is that urban mountain biking has been going on for the last 25 years in the United States.
Some may think urban mountain biking as using a mountain bike to traverse the urban landscape, over steps, concrete and pavement as if it was a mountain trail. But that isn’t what City MTB is about. It’s about riding on dirt trails and paths in parks, greenspaces, natural areas and urban wildernesses across the county. In other words, the same type of riding you might find in a more rural setting, but inside the boundaries of a city.
These types of experiences are not rare in the United States, with nearly 300 separate trail systems currently. They can range in length from a mile to systems comprising nearly a 100 miles.
So why haven’t you heard about them? And how does one create this type of experience in his or her village, town or city?
That is what City MTB will be about.
The fact is that urban mountain biking is not uniformly spread across the United States. In some areas, urban mountain biking is so normal it’s just what citizens expect in a public land space. In other areas, the idea is foreign and may be treated with hostility. The knowledge to advocate, push, and design these experiences can be tribal, a dark art known to a few, making it a mystery to those just starting out.
City MTB seeks to change this. It won’t just be advocacy, it will be teaching you the steps to take. The last 25 years have created a wealth of knowledge on the process, methods, solutions and results that you can learn from.
Here are some upcoming topics that you might find of interest:
Along the way, we will talk about lessons real locations across the country are teaching. We will dispel myths using real examples. We will take lessons from attempts to create urban mountain biking, positive and negative, to teach you how to advocate for urban mountain biking and to be successful.
But most of all, we hope to visit your city and ride your trails.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.