I was involved in an IMBA Canada, Ontario Chapter phone conversation the other week. This Council has representatives from Waterloo, North Bay, Ottawa to name a few destinations. One topic that came up that was universal, disappointing and happening in all those locations plus many others, was trails getting “dumbed down” recently. This meant everything from corners being cut, bypasses being created (and not by the trail builders) around things that were “difficult” (IE a root or rock) all the way to rocks that had been there for ever being physically removed.
There have been reports of this happening in Three Stages & Halton Hills as well…it seems it’s happening everywhere. So I started paying attention here at home and there is a lot of this happening in Dufferin Forest. Lots of trails getting wider to avoid a one inch root, complete corners being cut out, simple short rock gardens being skirted around. I’ve noticed some riders putting debris on the “go arounds” to avoid trail widening which I think is awesome. Then the next ride someone has actually stopped and taken the time to remove it (?????) to reopen the go around. I don’t get it. These trails have existed for years (decades) the way they have always been. Trail builders have spent countless hours in meetings, submitting proposals and on the ground to build these trails the way they are and hundreds of hours have gone into building and maitaining them a certain way by countless individuals. This history goes back decades. Then someone decides they don’t like it and feels it’s ok to just change it to suit their needs?
We are blessed where we live to have such a variety of trail networks with all different types of trails to ride. If you don’t like what the builders in the area you choose to ride that day created, it doesn’t give you the right to change it to suit your needs. Pick a trail network that suits what you like to ride. Don’t think it’s ok (or appreicited) to modify where you ride to suit your needs unless you are part of the process of the trail development.
I know this “trail grooming” problem is an issue in many places. It’s all over the forums. I can see in DCF that others are getting frustrated as they attempt to keep the trails real as they block off all these newly created paths. These trails have existed for decades the way they have always been. There have been trails purpose built by hand by hard working people that support this trail network. Trails have been added and created to suit every level of riding. Please leave them the way you find them. Please stop making cheater paths around everything you don’t like. Practice the lines and trails that are there in front of you as it will make you a better rider everywhere you go. I’ve watched many riders get better and better because they attempt and perfect things they “don’t like”. It’s how we become better riders…by challenging ourselves, not by cutting corners and taking the easy way out. What’s the advantage of that? Do you feel really good after you have “cheated” a trail? Stop and think about it next time you are a part of “dumbing down” a trail. I cannot possibly see how the feeling of cheating a trail can compare with the feeling of accomplishing the trail. And how would you feel if you (and a group of volunteers) hand built trail and someone else randomly just came along and just changed it because they didn’t like it?
I’m in support and proud of all regular users of DCF and all other trail networks that continue to block off all cheater lines while you are out there riding. I have already seen that many of you are doing it already. If you see something new starting, block it off immediately. Keep it up and keep these trails true to what they have aways been. There have been many people in the past that had visions and created things over decades that we have all enjoyed. We need to stay true to those original visions from many, many years ago.