The Fight on Erosion

Part 2

Mountain Biking is a recreational activity that can be pursued without taking harm to the environment if one takes the right precautions when cycling. There are various actions one can make when riding to prevent erosion along the trail. I am going to display various tips that bicyclist should be aware of to prevent further erosion. Erosion can be prevented, and mountain biking can be pursued in a safe manor to benefit the environment.

Some mountain bike trails are highly wide, while other may be far too thin. These thin trails I am speaking of are known as single-track trails. It is often easier to stay on track within the wider trails, than such smaller ones. Wider trails are easier to stay on track when traveling down, considering they offer much more space to ride on Personally it is less difficult for me to ride thin trails, than wide ones. Experienced riders often ride down trails in the same region. One part of the trail begins to become very smooth, from the various cyclists traveling down from time after time. These thin trails are easy for me to travel down to the fact they are very smooth from the previous riders. Wide trails grant people the ability to choose where along the trail they want to ride. Every individual rides a trail differently. Due to this wide trails are often not smooth, and have various ruts along the trail from the various directions riders choose to travel. While on a thin trail, riders are often following each other’s tracks to avoid running off the trail.


To ensure the longevity of local mountain biking trails, it is highly important to minimize trail damage. Mountain Bikers should avoid riding their bicycles through deep mud. Riding through deep mud contributes towards the formation of large ruts, which serve as erosion trenches. When bicycling in nature, in is important to not forge new trails, or to travel across unmarked terrain. It is advised by to wait 48 hours after a rainstorm to ride dirt trails. If mountain bikers avoid riding through deep mud, these deep trenches can be eliminated. I know that trails that are wet offer more traction for the cyclist, but to ensure the well being of such trails one must not ride during these conditions.


A bicyclist can prevent causing lateral erosion by carefully riding around sharp corners, rather than sliding or skidding around such corners. It may be difficult to avoid sliding at times, but it is crucial to attempt to in order to prevent erosion on the trails. If a tire is rolling on a solid surface, it does not cause significant damage. When a back tire locks up not slowing you down, and it shredding apart the trail. If a trail is too steep for you to ride down without potentially locking up your back wheel, just hop off your bicycle and walk down. This does not make you a less experienced cyclist. Instead, it makes you a more passionate cyclist towards the environment. An experienced cyclist always puts the environment before personal needs.

Part of the challenge of riding a single-track is to succeed the technical sections the trail may offer. When traveling along the trail there are many obstacles that nature may throw at you. It is very common to see fallen trees, roots, embedded along the trail, random waterbeds, and many other foreign challenges. If you are to encounter a natural obstacle along the trail that you are not capable of overcoming, it is ok to get off your bike and carry it over the obstacle!


If you built it, they will come! It is important to volunteer your time to sustainable trail construction projects. If you love riding local trails in your hometown, help create them! Trails do not build themselves, nor maintain themselves. If possible, attempt to get involved with local organizations that work to improve trails, and dissipate erosion.

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Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Part 1

The beautiful world we live in offers many rich, environmental experiences, and thousands of trails to venture. As these trails get explored day by day, they begin to deteriorate. It is important that we venture these trails wisely, to insure their longevity. I am investigating erosion in the environment regarding trail users. I am also going to examine the effects trail users have on the ecosystem. I am going to mainly focus on the effects of mountain biking on the environment. Are bicyclists solely responsible for the erosion of trails? Is it possible for bicyclist to prevent erosion?

There are various factors that contribute to the erosion of trails. The Boulder Mountain Biker Alliance claims trails that are poorly constructed are one of the main contributions of erosion throughout trails. These insufficiently designed trails to not adequately handle runoff from precipitation. Water runoff does a great amount more damage than any trail user group. Mountain bicyclists do not terminate vegetation alone. According to, trails that are weakly designed dissipate much faster. On poorly designed trails, trail users loosen the soil immensely solely by using the trail. Trail users who stride the same foliage produced equal harm to the vegetation.


Bicycle riders are the least likely to leave a trail than any user due to the fact that bicycles are very trail reliant. While hikers are at a much greater chance to step foot off the trail, which can harm vegetation and disturb wildlife. Individuals who hike are traveling at a much slower rate than cyclist. I believe that because hikers are traveling at a much slower rate, they have more time to appreciate the surrounding nature. Due to this, many individuals may feel invited to walk off trail and explore, and maybe even take photos. Considering cyclist have theirhands full literally, many often to not want to stop and potentially loose their rhythm to partake in such exterior activities on the trail.

Trail Erosion

There have been numerous studies conducted to demonstrate the various effects trail users have on the environment. In 2001 a study was conducted in Boyne Valley Provincial Park of Ontario, Canada. The study was conducted to display the various contributes cyclist, and hikers make towards erosion. According to the scientists measured “plant density, diversity (number of species present), and soil exposure (area of mineral soil exposed) before and after 500 one-way passes by bikers and hikers”. The results demonstrated that, “Bicycles were not significantly different for the three indicators measured.” It was concluded that that impacts from both hikers and bikers were spatially limited to the center of the trail.


There are various specific characteristics of mountain biking that I believe demonstrate that mountain biking produces less erosion than other trail users. Although, this goes the same for all trail users. According to, when cyclists travel, they exert a downward force through their tires onto the trail. “Mountain bikers will exert a downward force through their tires which comprises the wheel load divided by the contact area.” This is likely to create less of an impact than such heftier motorized vehicles, horse riders, and heavily loaded hikers.

All trail users leave their own mark on the environment. It all depends on the particular location, climate, landscape, and other ecological features. It is important to not forget that we all have an impact on the environment in our own way. It is often easy to criticize others, without realizing your own actions. If you love riding your local trail, make an effort to make them accessible. There are various thinks you can do, to help stop erosion. More individuals need to get involved in maintaining local bicycle trails. There are currently various mountain biking associations, and organizations that take pride in maintaining local trails.I myself plan to join the Marin County Mountain Bicycle Coalition someday in the future. Hopefully I will be able to take part in the construction of a new outdoor bicycle facility, which will be opening in my hometown Novato in the near future. It is common to find people riding trails, but never maintaining them. Most importantly, be part of the solution, not the problem.

Stafford Lake Bike Park

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Types of Mountain Bikes

Mountain Biking is a recreation activity that offers various experiences. There are various types of mountain bikes that are necessary various types of riding. Although, it is truly up to the rider to decide what type of bicycle they plan to endeavor.

Bicycles that do not contain rear suspension are commonly known as a hard-tail. Suspension is used to absorb the impact of whatever thetrail has to offer. As you probably assumed, they are called hard tails because they do not have rear suspension. A dual suspension bike has both front suspension, and rear suspension. I ride a bicycle that only has front suspension, myself. I am a very big fan of riding at skateparks, and the local dirt jump trails so this type of bicycle is necessary. Considering I live in San Francisco, a hard-tail style bicycle is very convenient as well.


Cross county bikes have similar characteristics as Hard-tail bikes. Cross-country bicycles are often referred to as XC bicycles. Cross-country bicycles are known to come with both front, and rear suspension. Cross-country bicycles are generally lightweight, ridged, and have the ability to climb hills without difficulty. Cross-country bicycles are designed for riders who want to achieve great distances, so they are built to be extremely light. Cross Country Bicycles are often used in long distance mountain bicycle races. People use their light weight as an advantage to win competitions.


Trail bicycles are engineered for stable descents when venturing down trails. Trail bicycles are built to have more suspension than your average bike. Trail bicycles generally are built to have more suspension than cross country bikes. These bicycles are designed to have a relaxed downslope on the frame, and are built to be light. Trail bicycles have similar aesthetics as cross-country bicycles, but they are built to take more of an impact.

Freeride bicycles are heavy-duty bicycles that are often dual suspension. Freeride bicycles are generally not used to climb up hills. These types of bicycles are constructed to absorb impacts from downhill style mountain biking


Downhill mountain bikes are constructed to go down hills, fast. Downhill mountain bikes have a large chain ring, and are usually dualsuspension. Downhill bikes have large amounts of travel, to absorb large impacts.These bicycles usually have hydraulic disc brakes, with large metal rotors. The larger the rotor, the more stopping power the bicycle is capable of. It is important that downhill style bicycles have great stopping abilities. Such brakes are necessary in order to stop when traveling down large hills at such speeds.Downhill bicycles are often very heavy, due to all the various parts they contain. Many people dislike downhill bikes for this particular reason, and choose to ride cross country bikes instead.

There are numerous wheel sizes that will be found on bicycles. On adult mountain bikes there are a few basic sizes that are standard. 26-inch bicycle wheels are very common. I personally have a 26-inch wheel mountain bike that is custom made for dirt jumps. 26-inch wheel bicycles are dominant in the free ride styles, and downhill style mountain bikes. The smaller wheel size makes it possible for the bicycle to maneuver properly. 29-inch bicycles wheels are fairly common as well. 29-inch wheels are usually found on cross-country bicycles. A 29-inch wheel provides various benefits. Larger wheels climb mountains easier, and provide more balance to the rider. “29-inch wheels climb better, one because of traction of the bigger contact patch, and secondly it’s easier to stay in the balance sweet spot on steeper climbs.” I personally find 29-inch well bicycles awkward to ride because I have been riding a 26-inch wheel bicycle all of my life.

These videos display, and discuss various mountain bikes:

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The Birthplace of Mountain Bikes

There is a great amount of history regarding mountain biking in California, and all over the world. It is often questioned where the birthplace of mountain bicycles. Despite the controversies, and misconceptions I believe Marin County is the birthplace of modern day mountain bicycles.

The first effective high quality bicycle was built in Marin County; California by Joe Breeze had large, wide tires. Joe Breeze acknowledged the need for this specific type of bicycle after riding the unstable ridged trails of Mount Tamalpias. In 1977 Joe built a fat- tire bike that consisted of lightweight metal tubing that was only found on particular road bikes. “It had all new, high-quality parts and 26″ x 2.125″ Uniroyal “Knobby” tires on Schwinn S2 rims and Phil Wood hubs.” Joe Breeze constructed the rest of the bike by using specific parts from his Schwinn Excelsior. Joe Breeze had constructed ten of these specific types of bicycles by 1978.

In January of 1979 Joe Breeze, and his partner Otis Guy gave a visit to Tom Ritchey. At the time Tom Ritchey was constructing the frames to many of the bikes Joe had Otis had been riding. When they paid him a visit, they brought along Joe Breeze’s current custom modified bicycle. When they visited Tom Ritchey, Peter Johnson, and another man were existent. Peter and the other man were very well known frame builders. Tom and the other men were very impressed with Joe Breeze’s custom bicycle. The modifications of the bicycle, and these various features it offered intrigued them.

Gary Fisher heard of these fat tire custom bicycles due the fact they were talk of the town within the cycling community. Gary Fisher was very interested in the bicycles and asked Tom Richey to construct one for him. Tom built one for himself, one for Gary Fisher, and one for Gary to attempt to sell. Later that year Tom began to construct more of the frames for the bicycles. Tom couldn’t find any one interested in purchasing the frames in his hometown Palo Alto, so he asked Gary Fisher to attempt to sell them a little ways away in Marin County. Gary Fisher and his colleague Charlie Kelly yielded a small amount of income, and began their first company called “MountainBike.” This company later became known as Gary Fisher which was the first solely mountain bicycle business.


Charlie Kelly above

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Prevent Disasters On The Trail

Mountain Biking is a boundless recreational activity that offers numerous great rewards. Along with these rewards, mountain biking has many dangerous aspects as well. There are a few precautions one should take into consideration before visiting the outdoors. If you are planning on going on a ride, the most fundamental rule before beginning is to always tell someone where you are going, or what you are doing. This can be done by a phone call, text message, or leaving a note on the refrigerator. One must make sure that they never break this rule. This alone can be a key factor in determining ones fate if a disaster were to strike.


Today we have various mediums of technology, which make it fairly easier to get ahold of a lone individual. Although, technology is not always reliable! Technology can most defiantly fail! Itis highly important to always have fully charged devices when going on a bicycle ride, although this does not ensure your safety. Many mountain bike trails are located deep in the forest, high in the mountains, and many other desolate locations. Telephone service, or Wi-Fi is not always abundant in these isolated locations. With this being said, it is highly important to always notify an individual of your intended whereabouts before you begin your adventure.

When visiting the outdoors, it never hurts to maintain a full inventory. When one is mountain biking, various problems can occur on the trail. Whether these problems are mechanical or physical, it is important to be prepared for when they occur. It is important to ride on the trail with a set of tools, for in which if you are to ever experience any mechanical problems. You can never be too prepared for when a disaster might strike, but despite this there are a few essential tools that should always be at access when on the trail. A set of tire levers, and an extra inner tube are crucial for if you are to ever experience a flat tire along the trail. Patch kits can be used to repair damaged inner tubes, but I have not personally have had the best luck with such kits. Patch kits can be unreliable, and often uninstall themselves. Although, they have been known to work for other people. A miniature hand pump is vital to have if you are to ever experience a flat tire. Without a bicycle pump, you will have a very hard time inflating your new inner tube once it is installed. It is essential to ride with a set of Allen keys on hand, in case any mechanical problems are to arise. Allen keys serve as a significant tool used to tighten, and loosen screws on a bicycle. It is critical to always have water at hand, to prevent dehydration. If one was to become lost or stranded, water may be vital for survival.

It is important to remember that when you are riding on a trail, you are a visitor in a foreign environment. When riding on the trail, you may encounter anything from other mountain bikers to wild animals. If you are to ever encounter a wild animal on the trail, do not corner the wild animal! If an animal is corned, it may feel threatened and it may attack out of instinct.

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Riders: Patrick Rasche and Constantin Fiene

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Mountain Biker Misconceptions

Mountain biking is a wonderful recreational sport. Mountain Biking is a very popular activity in the United States. According to, it has been recorded that there are up to “nearly 40 million participants anually.” Mountain biking provides many great health benefit, and nonetheless can be quite fun. Although, there are many myths, and disbeliefs that have been slightly tarnishing the reputation of the mountain biking community in various ways. As an avid bicyclist myself, and an activist of the sport I feel the need to eradicate these myths in hopes to change the mindsets of those who are in disbelief.


There is a common belief that mountain biking destroys trails, and causes erosion far more than hiking. Although, there have been various scientific studies that have proven that mountain biking, and hiking cause parallel levels of erosion upon the environment. One of the main contributions of erosion in trails is caused by poor trail designs, and improper construction techniques. These scantily designed trails to not sufficiently handle runoff from precipitation. Another common belief is that mountain biking terminates vegetation. Bicycle riders, and hikers who stride the same foliage produced equal harm to the vegetation. Bicycle riders are the least likely to leave a trail than any user due to the fact that bicycles are very trail reliant. Mountain bikers that are wise, and not disrespectful know the importance to not forge new trails. While hikers are at a much greater chance to step foot off the trail, which can harm vegetation and disturb wildlife.

Bicycle riders are not a threat to other trail users. There are various trails that are exclusive to hikers, and other trail users that do not include bikes. With that being said, it is completely up to other trail users to choose to use trails that exclude, or include bicycles. Although, bicycle riders are not monsters! Many people have the conception that bicycle riders are adrenaline-seeking junkies. I cannot speak for the entire population, because that would be an invalid statement. For the most part, bicycle riders are responsible people that keep in mind the needs of others on the trail, and the trail itself.

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