Mountain biking is one of the most common outdoor activities in the United States. It’s fast, thrilling, physical, and calming all at the same time.
No wonder people love it. Although there is one downside to being a mountain biker; you are not allowed in designated wilderness areas.
Some people are happy about this, some are not. Many of the mountain biking associations have been fighting for their right to use the land for decades; many conservationists have been trying to keep the lands free of traffic.
The odd part is that these organizations shouldn’t actually be at odds.
The major arguments against letting mountain biking into the wilderness areas is that mountain biking would cause damage to the trails.
Pro-biking advocates have retorted that mountain biking does not cause any more damage to the trails than hiking, and causes less damage than horses.
While this point seems to be spreading among advocates of both sides, the concern of damage still persists from the belief that irresponsible bikers will veer off the trail, spook the animals, and disturb other guests.
To this point, I would like to add that there are hikers who do all of those things, and yet they are still allowed in the wilderness areas.
Either way, allowing mountain biking would increase traffic on the trails, and thus speed up the rate of wear and tear.
Other than that, mountain bikers and conservationists are actually on the same page. They just don’t know it. They both want to preserve the wilderness areas. They both want to enjoy the outdoors. They both want access to it.
Certain organizations have realized this and decided to work together to achieve their goals. Organizations such as Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance have been negotiating with conservationists to gain access to the wilderness areas.
They know that if it is not gained through communication and trust, it will not sustain or likely be done in the best way for the land itself.
Cooperation and communication are happening, slowly but surely, and I’m excited to see where it will go in the next few years.
As always, we welcome your comments below.
Toria Van Horst is a student at Western Washington University studying English, Psychology, and Economics. She's never been mountain biking before, but after writing this article she can most likely be seen falling off a bike in the middle of nowhere.