AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL RIDERS
Dear Mountain Bikers,
The new Idaho Wilderness designation with its devastating loss of mountain bike trails; the emergence of the Sustainable Trails Coalition attempting to secure congressional legislation opening up access to some trails in some Wilderness; the increased activity from pro Wilderness groups around the country and IMBA's release of its 2016 Advocacy Position have generated a long overdue conversation about bicycles in Wilderness. Several people have asked me for my position.
I believe that mountain biking is compatible with the history and philosophy of Wilderness designation. We should be allowed on some trails in some Wilderness areas. We should certainly be allowed on trails we rode before they were designated Wilderness. We've lost far too many.
In the United States, designated Wilderness is the label we apply to the wildest, most natural, most undeveloped places and until 1984, early mountain bikers rode in the Wilderness. The very essence of mountain biking is to ride through places like this; to experience the sights, sounds, and smells; to feel the bike as it moves along the trail, to taste the air, the sweat and the dirt. The idea that mountain biking is or is not compatible with the wildest places spills over into all other access arguments. The facts are with us on this one and it's a battle we must win.
The Wilderness ban is bad public policy and it's clearly not what the authors of the iconic 1964 Wilderness Act intended.