NEMBA Fells Event : Illegal Dark Hollow ride with Gary Fisher



To see their route refer to the map at right. The colored dots show
where the group was a various times in the video. They are riding on a trail off limits to bikers. While NEMBA says they abide by regulations, this video clearly shows they do not.

This shows were they were at three times in the video.

  • RED (1 min. and 19 sec into video) The NEMBA/Fishergroup climbs embankment from the old Railroad Trestle raoad just north of the Dark Hollow Pond and illegally enters begins their ride on the Dark Hollow.
  • GREEN/BLUE  (2min. ) The NEMBA/Fisher group illegally continues along and climbs steep hill once covered with thick moss beds.
  • PURPLE  (2 min 40sec.) The NEMBA/Fisher group encounters difficult trail section.

Why was this ride allowed?

Currently it is impossible to regulate anybody on DCR properties in Eastern Massachusetts. Park rangers can issue tickets but you are not required to give your ID to park rangers. Nor are there penalties for not paying tickets. State Police can ticket and arrest people but they rarely set foot in the Fells. Laws have been proposed to change this situation but have not been passed yet. Budgets are so low at the DCR that rangers are rarely if ever seen at the Fells.This situation has emboldened groups like NEMBA who now feel it is their right to bike in the Fells no matter what the rules are or the environmental damage.

The Nemba website contains lots of information to help members  with letters to the DCR but missing is anything at all to counter my argument that the bike studies cited to support biking do no such thing, and any expansion of trails is wrong no matter how many bikers want it, no matter how loud they scream, and no matter how many letters they write.

What if motorcyclists suddenly decided that the rules at the Fells were unfair and they were going to also use the trails regardless? With no way to enforce current regulations, DCR rangers would be powerless to stop them. What if they claimed that motorcycle didn’t damage trails any more than biking? Or a study funded by a motorcycle manufacturer showed motorcycles and mountain bike impacts were similar on established trail or rolling down a steep hillside? What if crowds of angry motorcyclists attended DCR resource management plan meetings along with the bikers and demanded equal access?  What if all terrain vehicle users and snowmobilers also showed up?

It is clear to me that the wishes of any user group, no matter how vocal, large or angry must be superseded by the need to protect and preserve the park.

I have photos on this site showing dramatic decline of trails in only 10 years. If NEMBA gets the full access to the Fells that they want, how will those trails look in 10 years with twice or three times the current bike traffic? What about the whole park? And how will trails look in 20, 30 or 50 or 100 years?


Here is an another account of the same ride.

NEMBA Fells ride with Gary Fisher
Written by mark
Sunday, 02 May 2010
For some of you meeting Gary Fisher, (one of the gods of our sport) may not seem like too big of a deal, but for me it had special meaning as it brought back memories of getting into mountain biking and getting connected with Bob Perry and BU, along with the many friends and acquaintances over the years that this has created. After a few years of riding, racing, and organizing races with Bob at the old Swift River Inn, and ultimately winning the national title in mountain biking in 1995, Bob got me sponsored with Gary Fisher, complete with carbon race bike, full kit and the support from them. It was a fun time in my life and thus the connection to Gary Fisher and why it meant a lot for me to be there for this.The ride broke out into a few categories from very mellow social, to intermediate, advanced and Hammer. Well anyone who knows me well knows that I would get sucked into the Hammer group, so of probably 150 riders there, I got sucked into the group of 6 of us stupid enough to do the Hammer Ride. We left the parking lot and within the first 100 yards there was a 90 degree turn over a little bridge and as luck would have it I miss cued and off into the water went my right foot. No big deal, I just pushed myself up and out of the water. I was just about out when my left foot slid into the water and now both feet were completely soaked. All this while the group I was with was already heading up over the rise.  This is not normal for me and was not a good way to start. The trail was off camber and covered with rocks, roots and long pine needles that were as slippery as ice, especially as I hurried to try and close the gap. The next thing I knew I heard and saw a splash in the water not too far up ahead of me. A guy had slid down the off camber banking on the pine needles and right into the reservoir. Now I am not feeling quite so bad. But now there are two of us behind the group and we were wet and this was before we were 5 minutes into the ride. Thankfully it was nice and warm so the wet feet did not bother us much. Hopefully the rest of the ride is going to go better. Well it did, however it is a whole different kind of riding. There are almost no hills and the ones that are there only take 30 seconds to a minute to get up, quite a difference from the hills around here, where you can get yourself into a rhythm and work your way up the hills. These guys just cruise along and then blast the hills because they are so short, totally not my style of riding, but I managed to get used to it and ended up having a great ride. I was surprised at all the technical singetrack that they actually have down there. Saw Todd there after the ride, but did not see any other of our locals.Mark Newton 

The author of this article about the opening day ride describes a “Hammer Ride”  on another trail closed to bikes that starts at the parking lot at the Flynn Ring. There are no other small bridges besides the one there. The hill and pine forest on the other side of the hill also match up perfectly. “Hammer Ride” sums up NEMBA’s view of what the Middlesex Fells is for. See what NEMBA does on their own 47 acre property they call VIETNAM. Is it right to have a user group that HAMMERS trails and names properties they own after a war zone?

Middlesex Fells draft Resource Management Plan by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation submitted on Sept 14, 2011. These are links to other important pages on this site.

  •  Studies debunked – flaky studies do not support claim the hiking/biking impacts are similar or that biking hiking should be treated the same. new trails unjustified, DCR has no power to even issue tickets to offenders, no funding or staff to implement plan.

  •   illegal trail use  – bikers on closed trail, reviews of closed trails from bike websites, Fellsbiker encourages illegal use.
  •  NEMBA/Gary Fisher illegal group ride video -New England Mountain Bike Association brazenly shows their disregard for the Fells.
  •  impacts can last for centuries – one of many before and after photos showing the enormous impacts recreation is having on the Fells
  • nature trail replaced with bike trails – DCR wants to closed Dark Hollow nature trail, one of the most ecologically diverse and important sections of the Fells with 12 distinctly different plant communities. Photos and info on each area.
  •  Bike lobby: more trails equals more bike sales – bike industry sales stagnate during recession, lobby has opening over a thousand miles of new trails which helps dealers and manufacturers sell more bikes. Gives trail grants and other  assistance to members like the New England Mountain Bike Association. Fells critically important to success elsewhere, if Boston accepts bikes will easy to get bike trails in countless other locations around the country. If Boston rejects bikes, just the opposite will happen. This is why it is so critical that the DCR make a decision based on facts about bikes, not flaky studies fed to them by NEMBA, IMBA, BikesBelong, and the mob of bikers who have attended every Resource Management Plan meeting.
  • DCR says no complaints about bikes, dozens of letters show to DCR show this is not the case at all. Excerpts from just a few of the many  letter written to the DCR complaining about bikes impacting the Fells experience, trail erosion, safety and other issues.
  • Sierra club against bikes in the Fells – DCR plans go against Sierra Club policy
  • Important Court Decision declares Mountain Biking is not a legal “right” – bikers complain about exclusion and elitism on the part of those trying to protect the Fells but the court says this is not a valid argument to justify biking.


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