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At what cost?

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So I’m conflicted. Chances are though, I’m making too much of it. But maybe you can help me with that.

I took the bike out today to explore a new bandit trail that has been built near one of our region’s most popular mountain bike parks. I quickly learned that the trail is really only new to me because after less than a mile in, it became obvious how long its been established and consistently maintained.

Like its well-known and still technically illegal counterpart directly across the main access fire road into a local state park, the trail in question is carved into land owned by the airport authority. The signs are as evident as the once taught steel cable barriers that line the woods that contain it.

I’m not huge proponent of blazing trails into pristine forest, albeit somewhat urban and bordering a major interstate. The woods are packed with deer that have been hemmed in by development with little land left on which to roam. There are also coyote and fox, among other woodland creatures and plant life common to our region.

Mountain bikers get a bum rep, no question about it. But instances like this may be why. The desire to get more and more technical and have larger and more thrilling hucks drives riders away from the confines of the publicly funded trails that can ill afford to build gully-spanning skinnies and six-foot log pyramids.

I get it. In fact, I freaking love the trail.

Eventually, the powers that be will catch on and shut it all down. The mountain biking community will have little authority on which to protest and it will take years for the miles of trail to assimilate back into the forest.

So, at what cost should we pursue our desire to explore? This is hardly a new question. I’d be interested in some answers.

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