This email is revolutionary! Patty finally admits exactly what I have been saying for 6 years! The Internet works in mysterious ways.... :)

"Many mountain bikers are woefully ignorant of the natural world they proclaim to revere". Well, yeah!


Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 17:01:35 -0700

From: Patty Ciesla <imahorse@leland.Stanford.EDU>

Subject: Green Alliances

I believe that the BRC [Blue Ribbon Coalition] is the opposite of the direction where IMBA ought to be leading its members.

Mark asks "Does the fact that we have more differences with one group mean we shouldn't try to work with them? Shouldn't we instead try to focus on what we have in common? After all, mountain bikes are getting more and more like motorcycles all the time."

I cannot accept the idea that that because the machine is evolving to become more like motorcycles that so should we become more like motorcyclists. I say we do not need to focus on what we have in common with motorcycles. It doesn't benefit us.

Instead, we should be working to show what we have in common with hikers. We should evolve to be more like hikers in our attitudes and alliances. Instead of the BRC, IMBA should be working towards affiliations with groups more widely known for their environmental values, such as the Native Plant Society, the Audobon Society [sic], and the Nature Conservancy, to name a few.

One of the issues that I have been concerned about lately is that many mountain bikers are woefully ignorant of the natural world they proclaim to revere. They are far too close to the Mt. Dew side of the spectrum. This is a trend that needs to be reversed, not encouraged.

I ask the list members: Can you identify all of the trees that grow in your woods? How about half of the spring wildflowers in your area? Do you know at least 10 different bird calls -- when you hear a chirp do you know which bird is making it? What makes the oaks grow on one side of the mountain and grass on the other? Do you own a field guide? A book on natural history? Or is your reading material mail-order part catalogs? You can tell the difference between an XTR and an LX derailer [sic], and talk about the weight, the anodizing, and the bearings vs. bushings, but can you tell the difference between a stellers jay [sic] and a scrub jay and talk about the differences in stature, color, aggression and habitat?

Who will help us work to educate mountain bikers about nature and ecology -- to bring them into the fold of the green movement? [Mike Vandeman? :) ] Definitely not the BRC. To my mind, it's really no great surprise that many hikers and environmental groups find little to respect about mountain bikers. We are not like them - enough. Frankly, I think we can stoop too low in trying to avoid the label "elitist". I would much rather we raise our sights and focus on what is right about our presence as nature-loving trail visitors and become more a part of the environmental community.

That is the only way to stay "out of their cross-hairs".

Patty Ciesla

[A mountain biker who was caught red-handed re-opening a closed trail; I guess there is hope for everyone!

I agree with you 100% You are on the right track. However, you didn't go far enough. In order to think like a hiker, you have to be a hiker, and not depend on a bike to make it easier to visit nature (to cover a lot more ground, with a lot less effort). That is pure laziness. There is no shortcut to true learning and wisdom about nature, which is more than memorizing the names of birds that you can't even spell. It means approaching nature with an open mind, listening to what it is really telling you. You can't do that, if you are busy rationalizing why you can't enjoy nature without carting along a large piece of machinery!

The more you learn about wildlife, the more you realize how much harm we do to wildlife, just being there. And how the presence of the bike interferes with your ability to experience nature. It insulates you from the feel of the ground, and speeds you past the very things that you should be seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, and feeling.]