I don’t have a problem with NEMBA doing whatever they like on their own property. They really do have a right to do so there. The reason I am showing these videos is that I believe the general public does not have a good understanding of what mountain bikers like to do when they ride, as opposed to what a hiker or a family with children would do on a trail. I think it is clear that the two uses are incompatible. If NEMBA is allowed to convert trails to multi-use, they will probably look like the trails in this video, only wider. They would need to be wider so that pedestrians could move aside to let groups of riders pass.
The problem I have with trails like the ones shown in these videos is that they are so incredibly ugly. I would not enjoy walking on any of these trails. They feel like what they are – race tracks for mountain bikers, obstacle courses for thrill seekers. I enjoy walking on trails that are lush with plant life, grass underfoot, flowers, ferns and so on. I enjoy being able to stop on a trail so I can take photographs of things I see there, maybe look up the names of wildflowers or ferns I see in a Peterson’s guide. I see trails as places where kids can get in touch with the importance of protecting our planet, a place that elementary and high school students can visit in groups without fear of being scared off a trail by a speeding group of mountain bikers. I have shown many photographs of the ugly things that bikes have done to this park, but the beauty of nature can be accessible again to many who refuse to visit the Fells any longer, if we simply get our priorities straight. Do we really want a mountain bike park or a place that we are proud to visit? A place that brings joy into our lives as opposed to one that demonstrates once again how destructive humans can be to natural environments? It is up to us to decide. If NEMBA wants to make their own land into a mountain bike park, I say be my guest. But when it comes to land owned by all of us, I say that isn’t ok.
“As most of you in the mountain bike community know, in the fall of 2003, NEMBA accomplished the incredible feat of being the first mountain bike group in history to purchase and own property by buying 47 acres in the area commonly referred to as “Vietnam.” This parcel of land has been designated for use by all traditional non-motorized vehicles.”
“Are you going to sanitize the existing trails to make them easier?
No, just the opposite. NEMBA wants you, the rider, to have options, not sanitization. We will attempt to restore some of the existing trails to their original singletrack condition and also add challenging options. The new riding area will be modified for all types of riders while maintaining the area’s already challenging nature. We fully intend to preserve the character of ‘Nam. No one wants to see a sterile area!