Did you say iconic or ironic?
March 10, 2014 6:17 PM   Subscribe

The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, which has been in Crested Butte, CO since 1988, announced a few months ago they would be moving to Marin County, considered the birthplace of the sport. It seems like a natural move to many, but others (including many in bike forums) point out the irony of moving to an area where bike trail access has become so limited. The Angry Singlespeeder is not happy.
posted by bongo_x (18 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Marin County has a population of a quarter million, and is a playground for over seven million residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. Marin County is steep and bounded by water. Marin County has a Mediterranean climate that is usually really wet in the winter and then bone-dry in the summer -- super conditions for erosion, and for the consequences of erosion to be severe.

Crested Butte, Colorado has a population of 1,487. It's in Gunnison County, population a little more than 15,000. Gunnison County is almost four times as big as Marin County.

The Angry Singlespeeder attributes different trail regulation in the two places to "vocal and ignorant eco-zealots." I think other factors may be at play.
posted by mississippi at 7:56 PM on March 10, 2014 [6 favorites]

As someone who grew up in Gunnison, this makes me sad. Crested Butte is a fantastic place for a lot of things; one of them is mountain biking. To me it remains the last great mountain ski town, and I feel like having the Hall of Fame there was really fitting. I guess I understand why this is being done, but I still disagree with the move.
posted by koeselitz at 8:36 PM on March 10, 2014

Man, in CB it's like fuckin' Mecca for mountain bikes. Trails through fields of shoulder-high flowers, all kinds of terrain, and a terrifically rideable little downtown.

I get that Marin County is where it started, but CB is where it still *is*, man.
posted by notsnot at 8:36 PM on March 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I’m not an erosion expert, but I never understood why bike are always a concern, but horses aren’t. Riding in SoCal trails would get completely trashed by horses, but I've never seen serious damage from bikes anywhere. All anecdotal, of course. (I’m also a long time horse owner)
posted by bongo_x at 9:17 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have always associated Marin County with mountain biking, mostly because I can remember when mountain biking became popular in the mid-80's - Marin County is where the bikes came from, including Marin, Ritchey, Fisher, Breezer, and other classics (although as a resident of British Columbia I have only ever bought Kona or Brodie bikes).

I also recall travelling several hours in the pre-internet and smartphone mid-90's to see a Stone Roses concert, only to find out the concert had been cancelled because that butthead John Squire had broken his collarbone or wrist or whatever mountain biking in Marin.

I have never forgiven the Stone Roses for that.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:58 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Paging Repack Rider to the thread...
posted by zsazsa at 10:04 PM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Angry Singlespeeder righteously points out that "Equestrians account for 0.4 percent of users" of Marin County trails.

If there were as many horses as mountain bikes in millions of Bay Area garages, you can be sure that horse traffic would be as heavily regulated as mountain bike traffic on Marin County's fragile trails.
posted by mississippi at 10:51 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

OK, hyperbole, there are only hundreds of thousands of garages in the Bay Area that could have a horse in them instead of a mountain bike in them. But if they did, horses would definitely be a problem, like mountain bikes are a problem here and now. And I am a mountain biker in the Bay Area.
posted by mississippi at 11:02 PM on March 10, 2014

I’m not an erosion expert, but I never understood why bike are always a concern, but horses aren’t.

It's the people cutting switchbacks that cause the big erosion, and those people are pretty much all mountain bikers.

Trails that are kept to a lower gradient by employing switchbacks can be hardened, repaired, re-routed etc and run off can be captured with water bars or sent into the vegetation at the bends in the switchbacks. It never really runs down the hill, just across it. But those steep straight little cut-offs fuck everything up pretty quickly by becoming gullies that route water and sediment right down the hillside. One big rain on erodable soil and the whole thing can blow out.
posted by fshgrl at 11:42 PM on March 10, 2014

I used to go mountain biking in local woodlands about 25 years ago. Mountain biking does cause significant erosion, there is no doubt about it. Luckily in British Columbia a lot of designated mountain bike parks have been set up that save woodlands and public parks for hikers... and horseback riders.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 AM on March 11, 2014

...and beavers.
posted by sneebler at 5:54 AM on March 11, 2014

The "what about the horses" is a derail in these conversations. I ride. I hate horses, their smug riders, and the feces they leave all over the trails. But if *we* want more access its about correcting the problems our community creates. Cutting trails/unnecessary widening of trails. Riding dangerously/irresponsibly. Trash. These are the problems that we are actively facing in other parts of California that hurt our arguments when we're fighting for more trails. Ignore the horses. Their numbers are dwindling as their aging riders die off.

The good news is that people are becoming more organized, and the two trail groups that use trails the most, hikers and bikers, are communicating better. We can all share.

zsazsa: "Paging Repack Rider to the thread..."

For those that don't know, Repack Rider is Charlie Kelly.

Grab Klunkerz from netflix or buy a copy. Wonderful film about how mountain biking got started.
posted by Big_B at 6:39 AM on March 11, 2014

Mississippi- your link about erosion is exclusively about erosion of cultivated land (in Spain!), of which there isn't much in Marin county. For a better perspective how about:


excerpt from page 22:

Mixed use trails, for which the predominant use is horse riding, account for 35.5% of aggregate soil loss, followed by ATV’s (8.0%), hikers (5.9%) and mountain bikes (0.1%). These data are not presented to apportion blame to specific use types, rather to emphasize that managers seeking to accommodate horse and ATV uses should acknowledge their higher potential for eroding soil and incorporate improved trail design, construction, maintenance and visitor use management practices to ensure that such uses are sustainable.

And Sneebler- mountain bikers may widen trails around wet/rough spots as much as other trail users, but there is no benefit to cutting switchbacks on a bike and I've seen no evidence of it on marin trails. We'd much rather 'go with the flow'.
posted by TDIpod at 8:07 AM on March 11, 2014

Okay, here I am.

There are about 180 inductees to the MTB HoF. My name is the first one on the list they give out. I was also the MC at the initial induction ceremony in 1987.

Mr. SS has made no known or significant contributions to mountain biking. But he insists that he has a valid position on where the people who created the sport and donated most of the material on display in the HoF collect and display THEIR OWN STUFF. Four people long associated with the sport have done the work, and found the money to build their dream. But Mr. SS objects because, I don't know, Obama or something.

The museum is more than just the MTB HoF. It has recently acquired a significant collection of historic bicycles dating to the 19th Century.

For 25 years the MTB HoF was located in Crested Butte. The town did not give a shit that it was there. It got no town support, and it was located so far from any population center that it saw few visitors. The proprietors for that quarter century finally got tired of fighting the tide, and when they decided to bail on the project, they knew there was only one location that THEY deemed appropriate, the place where it all started. Fairfax locals raised the money, found the building, and assembled a collection. Voila! A museum!

Despite Mr. SS' rant about how it sucks to ride in Fairfax, the town's economy runs on mountain biking. Hundreds of riders show up every weekend, filling every parking place in town and spilling into the next. A half dozen businesses cater to the MTB crowd. There is a public monument to the "klunker" riders who invented the sport.

Mr. SS complains that the people who have been enshrined and made the HoF happen have no right to determine where it is. He is free to collect money and find a building where he can display his own pathetic collection of bicycling souvenirs, dating back to 1993. It's a free country.
posted by Repack Rider at 8:12 AM on March 11, 2014 [12 favorites]

Sorry, bad link in my post above. It should be this.
posted by TDIpod at 8:30 AM on March 11, 2014

there is no benefit to cutting switchbacks on a bike and I've seen no evidence of it on marin trails

It's all over the place on Sonoma trails, I can tell you that for a fact.
posted by fshgrl at 8:41 AM on March 11, 2014

It's the people cutting switchbacks that cause the big erosion, and those people are pretty much all mountain bikers.

I was finding all of this confusing, but you’re not talking about actually making the trails, you mean "cutting across them", correct?
posted by bongo_x at 9:56 AM on March 11, 2014

I think that is the definition fshgrl is going for: By not taking the constructed turn but turning early and diving down the hillside you are effectively making (cutting) a new trail. See also "trail braiding" for a similar problem on flats.
I don't think they are talking about actually constructing switchbacks, which to me implies actual engineering considerations.

Essentially it is people not staying on the constructed trails, which can negate erosion controls that are in place and generally spreads the impact outward.

TDIpod: "Sorry, bad link in my post above. It should be this."
Thanks for posting this. Interesting.
posted by Big_B at 10:32 AM on March 11, 2014

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