Global Trail Fuckage

Was having a chat with Dirty about the state of mountain biking, as two drunk dudes merely trying to wrap our heads around why the activity and those who ride are either seen, or see themselves as being “badass, hardcore, etc.” – why trails are getting easier during a time that bikes are becoming more capable of riding difficult terrain than ever before. With stuff like 650b, full-suspension fat tire bikes, the SWAT system, electronic shifters, detachable chin plate helmets, cyclocomputers, Strava, etc. you’d think people would desire something more challenging than dirt rollerblading – in the words of Caveman – because well, mountain biking is supposed to be hard.

Alas, the dialogue inspired this flowchart of thoughts entiteld, Global Trail Fuckage:

Mountain biking grows in popularity, and with the more people doing it, the more money the industry makes. The more money the industry makes, the more advertising they will do. The more advertising they do, the more people will enter the sport, and the more money the industry makes as a result. The more money the industry makes, the more “innovative” the shit gets that Taiwan will make. The more “innovative” of shit Taiwan makes, the more shit people will buy. The more shit people buy, the more shit people will use. The more shit people use, the more trails will get beat to shit. The more trails gets beat to shit, the more fucked we are as mountain bikers. It’s kind of like global warming, but for bikes.
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Dirty puts it best, “I’m not sure if this is bad or good, just a bizarre evolution to something that’s been held to be so counter culture.”

I don’t know, maybe this shit is dumb. What do you think?
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About Cupcake

I don’t have a beer gut, I’ve developed a liquid grain storage facility.

64 thoughts on “Global Trail Fuckage

  1. ‘hard’ is a relative term. Just about any ‘trail’ is hard depending on how fast you ride it, right?

    Thanks,
    Burg

  2. Pingback: Global Trail Fuckage | PEDAL CANTON

  3. It’s true, we’re seeing it a lot in the NW especially on the high use areas where you have to build to keep it sustainable for 100k users. We get a lot of grumbling from the retro grouches that it’s too buff. Those of us in the know go further out to get the tech we desire during the dry summer months.

    Then again to modify Lemond’s quote, “It doesn’t get easier, IF you go faster”.

  4. then there’s those of us with lots of bruatlly steep old mining trails and goat path’s and the like and we are generally pretty happy if any trails get built, easy or otherwise. . p.s. hard tails help

  5. I am not in favour of groomed trails, it’s driving me nuts! Yes its fun on occasion, as are neat berms. But if they get any more civilized we will have a WIFI hot spot and a coffee shop every 1/2 mile. I was depressed to see the posuers at the trail heads, but discovered it wasn’t a big deal cause the hoovered around the car park and talked shit. But since the supergrooming has begun these twatwaffles are getting on the trails albeit not far, but enough to hear their wingeing about the berms, The crappy build of the trail, not enough flow, how the are not going to ride a particular feature for whatever pathetic reason (no skills and no balls). They are completely washed out after riding 3 miles. I am not a new rider and yet have only moderate skills myself, not fast either, but I like to ride often and challenge myself and feel accomplished when I clean a section that has defeated or intimidated me in the past. I have ridden for over 25 years starting on fully rigid bikes that were little more than fat tired road bikes. I still have my first mountainbke a Dawes and my current squeeze a rather tasty Bronson. Riding before IMBA standards, on trails made by animals all over England and Scotland. I understand land managers need for funding and liability woes. But please where possible let the trail exist in as close to a natural state as possible..

  6. It might not be ideal but at least land managers are allowing trails to be built. In the last few years a handful of trails have opened up less than a half hour from my front door so I’m happy. I would rather ride groomed dirt than none at all.

  7. building civilized, easier trails is the entre to building the technical stuff…
    civilian buy-in gets us access to the wilderness opportunities and support in grants and donations to reach further and higher

  8. There is a point at which, if you add enough human beings, things pretty much start to suck donkeyballs. It’s science people.

  9. I don’t worry about it; then again if I see more than zero other riders on 95% of my rides it feels crowded. The trails up here are hard enough that I am still recovering from a ten foot fall on my noggin (huzzah helmet!) two months ago. More riding, less bitching.

  10. Steve and Bige just said it best.

    The bigger problem is the shit load of mountain bikers that only care about riding and don’t put back in.

    Majority of riders want new trails but do nothing in the way of advocacy for new trails. These are the biggest whingers about trails being dumbed down and have no understanding of the battle to get new trails or keeping trails open to the public.

    Tight and technical trails can still be built to IMBA Guidelines. You only need to look at the new Bantry Bay trails north of Sydney.

  11. If you wanna ride, ya better betta help build’em…

    Once you help build’em you’ll wanna make’em more interesting and fun.

    Once you’ve mastered them, you’ll wanna build’em tougher.

    Build, ride, live, smile, drink, eat, repeat… and bring a friend who’ll chip in for gas and drinks !

  12. My biggest problem is the with photo above. Show the few volunteers that put in the work to dig, and let’s slap a “Trail Fuckage” label on em cuz it’ll be edgy! Fuck yeah!

    How about you show an image of actual fucked trail… Like what’s in the story. It seems someone is disconnected from the digging culture.

  13. I got back into doing trail maintenance last year to help prevent the pussification of my local trails.

  14. I don’t always ride dirt, but when I do I prefer fixed gear and rigid.

    Stay dirty, my friends.

  15. Quit your bitchin and build some fuckin trail the way you like it! You all sound like a bunch of Democrats and Republicans…

  16. used to build trails for the ski hills summer bike park…. if it was too gnar for the local pussies we had to dumb it down with ladders and what not instead of big hucks and big drOps… stepped back from that.. ill dig on a pirate trail before someone tells me to that its too gnarly..

  17. Groomed trails are fun but not when ever trail morphs into the same thing. Every corner has a perfect 3m radius. Every jump… I mean roller is 3 x longer than it is high.

    Give me mostly loose, rocky, prehistoric trails that I have to put in time on to learn before I can go fast and a well groomed trail every now and then and I’m a happy man

  18. Trails are built and maintained to a standard that the trail builders prefer. Technical trails are the hardest to properly build and maintain.

    Too bad the people like really like the more technical trails think that bitching is the way to get the trails they want, when all it really takes is more involvement and effort in the trail building process.

    Those who want technical trails are often seen on FB, forums and comment sections, but rarely at the trail days. We’ve worked hard locally for year to try to get more of the tech trail people involved, and it’s improving, but it’s still an uphill battle.

  19. It wasn’t so much bitching as an existential conversation between friends on the state of our beloved sport. I like to think that I do my fair share of trail work but all around me are hundreds of miles of buffed out trail in the name of “sustainability”
    I feel MTB is in a Renaissance right now. Another pubescent growth spurt like we have seen a couple times before. We are just dealing with exponentially more riders on the trail than ever before(which is a good thing). It is ours to screw up or make amazing.
    The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem in the first place. I think that is all Cupcake and I were trying to figure out… things feel weird right now, and we don’t know why.

  20. I used to be a whiner too when my attitude and behavior was “problem-based”. Recently, I have been exploring the world of “solution-based” thinking.

    For instance, more people = tore up trails is one way to look at it.
    Another way is more people = more trail workers IF _____ is another. With the former, you are basically whining. With the latter, filling and actualizing the blank helps you move forward.

    Each premise will lead to deductive conclusions, so we accept one and argue our points never to question the premise…and I have heard all the arguments. Ask most riders what their ideal fun-factor trail system would look like, you would likely get an answer far different than what is typically advocated for or built to standardization. I have asked, and usually find that most riders rarely just think about themselves. They want techy lines and smooth ride-arounds. They want distance and progressive tech. They want trails to have “personality”. They want choices and a STRONG COMMUNITY of riders, even if they all ride differently. So why the disconnect?

    If there is rider/advocacy separation, the fault lies squarely on the advocacy groups. It is their job to represent the riders’ interests, so either they are NOT doing it completely, or they are failing to communicate the bigger picture. It would be smart IMO to remember that trail standardization for “sustainability” comes with compromise, and someone is not going to be happy about it. Any threat to a trail system is a result of failure to strategically advocate and recruit support. Reactive response is acceptance of a lesser evil, then proclaimed as a “win” that trails were saved resting on the laurels that nobody can argue with “advocacy”.

    When advocacy groups adopt a more well-rounded view of just who or what they are advocating for, then I bet we will see more people willing to contribute their time and talents in support of the things they love.

  21. I see it as more of an evolution. Most (not all) trails started out relatively smooth. Then over the years more an more angry rocks poked their heads out of the dirt. Cause this happens over time no one really notices, but we all develop fun lines around, over and through the rocks. Eventually all trails hit a point where they are beat to shit and need a little help. They get rehabbed, we all grumble and bitch about the way things were, when in reality we don’t remember what the original trail was actually like.

    Any time a trail gets modified someone is going to be pissed.
    Am I happy when the rock garden that I learned to jump over gets buffed out because it’s no longer ridable, no, but another one will pop up soon enough. It’s not the end of the world.

    I’m ok with a little trail rehab as long as it follows a bit of a rotation and enough of the trails stay technical.

  22. The trails didn’t change as much as the equipment and mentality. Go back to rigid and and you soon will have it difficult again, Klunkerz Rule! You get bikes that can do more and now you call everyone wussies and want trails to accommodate what you want. 20 yrs ago bike parks with giant dropoffs and crazy berms hardly existed, now you have them. What the hella are you complaining about?!

  23. Beat to shit, rutted out, blown to hell trails are actually fun on modern bikes.

    Groomed 7% grade IMBA trails are not…..

  24. Fuck modern bikes. I ride my twenty year old fixed gear when I feel the trails are getting too easy, maybe throw a trailer on the back to carry some tools. Afterwards I appreciate my 100mm travel 26er again

    I love riding goat trail singletrack but as a trail builder I like groomed trail for speed, lower maintenance and lower liability in the eyes of the land owner / governing body that is letting me build trails on land I don’t own. If I had my choice I would make lines so hard you would always have to dab or walk. HTFU and ride fixed. Fucking bunch of marys on long travel, big wheel bikes.

  25. Maybe the problem is you guys live in places with way too many f-ing people!

  26. The more shit people buy, the more shit people will use. The more shit people use, the more trails will get beat to shit.

    And that is the reason behind designing new trails to channel the people and their and shit into concentrated areas so less shit overall gets fucked up.

  27. What really sucks IMO are DH trails that aren’t DH trails, aka IMBA DH trails that feel flat and with stupid little climbs in them to make the trail longer. Sandy Ridge is the classic example, it is all downhill trails but most of them aren’t much fun, aren’t steep, and aren’t worth it. God forbid there is a rut in the trail, we better add 4″ of gravel to make it “sustainable”. The slalom trail at Sandy is the biggest joke of a slalom trail I’ve ever ridden. They finally built a couple shorter decent DH trails, but most of the hillside is littered with lameness at a price of $2,000,000 I’ve heard.

    Some trails probably should be dumbed down for the less skilled mainstream Fred’s on their Special Ed’s, but if you are going to build a DH trail and call it a DH trail, build a real f’ing DH trail and let IMBA have nothing to do with it. The value and wisdom of ofessional trail building companies such as Gravity Logic needs to be appreciated and shared. The only standards that IMBA has for DH trails are that they shouldn’t be steep. That says it all right there.

    IMBA has completely failed at appealling to the gravity-oriented all-mountain, DH riders so now they are getting some well-deserved backlash. Buy a IMBA SUCKS sticker at TEAM ROBOT and support progress.

  28. OH MY (Insert Deity of your choice here)!

    This is a revelation!

    For years I’ve railed against Tucson for the lack of maintenance of their roads & only now do I see how far thinking they were.

    http://drunkcyclist.com/2011/04/25/tucson-f-for-failure-pile-on-the-bicycle-safety/

    With IMBA grooming trails to silk-like smoothness, it’s only a matter of time before Tucson becomes a mountain biking Mecca for the hardcore with their broken streets!

    You want bike swallowing crevasses? whoops? wheel destroying drop offs? You got ‘em & on the main street right outside a Bar!

    VISIONARY!

  29. I realize controversy sells, but really, why is this even a thing?
    The few people who lost their beloved eroded, craptastic trails can keep hyperventilating or deal with the the situation by selling their long travel sleds and ride something suitable, or pitch in to build something that would challenge their massive skills. The rest of us who actually have to maintain trails will continue to be responsible and make stuff that won’t turn into a rutted out piece of shit in a few years.

  30. Truisms with gross generalisation:
    1) MTB trails are dirt. Dirt wears like crazy, and even faster when its poorly built or holds water, or the further the design/build moves from IMBA type methods. More use equals more wear. DUHHH? Big DH race centres have gangs continually repairing and rebuilding. MTB trails are by definition unsustainable and need continuous repair.
    2) So the more RAD trails are, the fundamentally less durable they are, becoming wet, pitted and not pleasurable to ANY type of rider, particularly in very wet or very dry climates with fragile soil.
    If you want a rad trail you will have to spend as much time repairing as riding.
    3) So to enable manageability and limit liability tolerant landowners set up partnerships with builders to create sustainable trails, inevitably based around IMBA type standards. The limited volunteer availability just about copes with the building and maintenance of IMBA standard trails, that last much longer between maintenance. The majority of riders are satisfied. The land manager gains a manageable activity.
    3) DHers & freeriders come from the more intellectually challenged end of the gene pool (badged by plenty of tattoos, piss-pot helmets, occasional potentially dangerous dogs in tow, and a yeah mattey debased vocabulary.). They don’t understand this.
    4) They troll on forums like this, ranting about “dumbed down trails”. They build more “RAD” trails that trash quickly and show they don’t even understand water runs downhill to get off the trails (eg-berms in the bottom of corners that create paddifields of terraced ponds down the hillside). They build doubles with pits in the middle, creating “traps” that are a great landowner liability if an insurance claim comes in, and have to be destroyed.
    5) So the fundamental and saddening inevitable reality is that on open access land that isn’t ringfenced and specially managed and insured, with entry control etc, its inevitable that trails will become slicker and more “manageable”, and reasonably safe for the more novice rider.
    6) This is where the intelligent discussion needs to kick off from, which is what I read the intention of this thread to be. WHERE DOES MOUNTAINBIKING GO FROM HERE. There’s no longer much virgin unexplored, undiscovered territory out there to go rad in, and doing it under the nose of concerned landmanagers just pisses them off to the point where they will destroy it all. Mountain Biking has got to the point where the ordinary man has taken over, and the RAD rider has little space or role left in many parts. Like Charles Bronson riding up the hill at the end of “Once Upon A Time in The West”, looking back on the ordinary people taking over the building of the town.
    Discuss, but positive suggestions only.

  31. Which is what Dirty and Cupcake were on about. It all feels really weird right now. A bike industry pushing more and greater capability bikes, and a trail scene inevitability saying bikes should really be going the other way to get a kick out of more slicker trails. And an intellectually challenged bunch of riders entering the sport more recently because of its outlaw aspects and big rig culture, who can’t see the wood for the trees and just fuck up the trails and landowner tolerance.

  32. So now, thanks to marketing to the masses, we have a whole bunch of people trying to buy in for an image. The whole activity is being limited by the entry level pulling the mean skills level down, and the demand for the new groomed trails up. The problem today is with IMBA and the new generation of trail builders overly concerned with drainage. Todays trails suck, they are off chamber and loaded with water bar divots. No one can ride in the rain anymore, thus a whole aspect of skill set is lost, hell cyclocross riders get to experience more mud riding that MTB!!?

  33. If you want hard shit, come to the front range of Colorado. Lots of hard fucking rocks EVERYWHERE. The trails are true rocky shit, which could mean hard riding, I think. NOTHING smooth and easy here.

  34. Yes, if you want rock go to CO.

    STAY AWAY FROM PA, these here rocks are mine allllllll mine. Ha HA HA ha HAAAAAAA!

  35. get used to it folks.

    there are lots more people. lots more users of all kinds…especially near urban areas…and like errything else on planet earth….we’re gonna fuck this up too.

    welcome to the future. it is bleak and uncaring.

  36. Gawd, I miss Johnny and DC being less the whiney bitching.

    Dumbing down the trails? What about the dumbing down of DC? You turned into a bitchy, angry drunk. Go home.

  37. The cyclocross nationals were cancelled due to mud? Please tell me Bikesnobnyc was just yanking our collective chain.

  38. What nobody has mentioned here is that there are two types of trails: Most trails are XC trails and then there are DH trails.

    Dumbing down the xc trails is more forgivable, since as mentioned above, the boring lame’oes can ride their boring hardtails on them and still have fun.

    But it is not forgivable to build a lame DH trail with short, fun killing, momentum killing climbs. Even if it has technical challenges the unnecessary climbs kill your momentum and just aren’t what DH is about, never was. IMBA seems to specialize (No pun intended) in these type of DH trails with climbs in them, which is why virtually all DH riders increasingly think IMBA sucks. I don’t mind a little pedaling on aDH trail, but don’t make me struggle up a climb when the whole trail go be downhill. That is the attraction of XC.

    The sport is diverging into 3 categories and for better or worse will never be the same. DH riders who want to go downhill (three are actually the original American mtb’ers), and then the xc guys who like technical challenges and those on hardtail or with no skill who want it smooth or who are just happy to be out in the woods pedaling and don’t care like us spoiled entitled brats do.

  39. Actually, the ORIGINAL original MTBers rode fixed gear.
    And the TdF in its earliest days was not raced on smooth pavement; mais non. It was raced in the countryside on dirt roads that, often as not, were rutted, steep and went both uphill and downhill. Wht we now call “gravel races”, I suppose.

    The fiction of offroad cycling springing up full-blown in Marin county makes for good storytelling. I and many of my school-aged chums were racing cruiser downhill in the 1960s.

    Oh yeah, and there is movie film shot by Edison of hipsters doing tricks on fixed gear bikes. So you see, there really is nothing new under the sun.

  40. The reason the Marin Downhillers get credit for starting the sport is because their type riding is what actually grew into what mountain biking is today.

    Of course all sorts of people ride bikes in the dirt before them, but none of them maintained the momentum to connect it to the sport it is today. The Marin guys did that, and that is where the term mountain biking came from. Downhill is the soul of the sport, the pedaling uphill stuff came later. Respect the soul. Even today, appropriately, DH racers and the closely associated freeriders are the kings of the sport; they get the most media attention even though it unfortunately isn’t an Olympic sport.

    I guess the best way to solve the problem of dumbing down the trails is to build more trails so there is more variety and everyone will be happy.

  41. “…more trails…”

    Cripes, why didn’t I think of that? Good looking out.

  42. All the old gnarl gnarl trails are still here, and almost no one rides them. Happy Day.

  43. maybe mountain bikes should all come with a pamphlet about your NOW COMPLETELY NECESSARY volunteer work to help keep trails you will soon be destroying up to snuff so everyone can ride them.

    if we quadrupled trail work, we could have gnarly death trap trails and keep them in good shape too.

    i mean, fuck, i spent more time building trail than riding it in arizona. i’ve only been there twice! roped into work both times! happy to help though.

    -N-word Carl.

  44. Maybe that’s why I so love riding my townie on the streets of this stagnant little cesspool of inbreeding. No trailbuilding required. No McLeods or Pulaskis needed, as I have paid my taxes for the privilege of residency in this Mayberry, populated by the gang from Deliverance.

    And no, Cletus the slackjawed Cable Guy, these streets were not “Made for cars”, despite the plaintive cries emanating from your F-Shitfifty Sooper Doody. These streets existed long before the infernal combuster corrupted the perfect life that we once knew.

    Go back to your doublewide and tell your sister or your cousin or whatever inbred skank you’re shacked up with what a big man you were when you “run that queer on a buy-sickle off the road”. The joke is on you.

    Any weak-assed bitch can step on a gas pedal.

  45. The article is a bit contrary, as it first states that technology is making biking easier, then it blames an increase in riders for making the trails too difficult to ride.
    If trails are getting torn up it is most likely the result of poor trail design-sudden turns below fast sections with poor sight lines, overly steep grades on loose soils, or improper drainage. Actually, the more technical, rocky trails are often the most sustainable, so the argument that sustainable trails are always smooth and boring is not necessarily true. I think the main problems are in areas that don’t have rocky terrain. In order to make trails challenging, features must be constructed such as jumps or North Shore style obstacles. Building a fall line trail and waiting for it to erode into a “V” rut,or building some rickety ladder bridge that falls apart in a year is not going to go over well with land managers, nor is it going to be much fun to ride.
    I find most of the DH types generally don’t get involved with trail advocacy (unless whining on a forum counts), mainly because they are too cool and don’t want work with a bunch a bike club geeks. So they go out on their own and build some jumps and short cuts in the trail, then complain when it gets torn down.
    But you have my full support when it comes to the A-holes that are prying rocks out of techy trails to make them smoother. WTF!

  46. I feel like I dumb down the trail sometimes when I ride it. Baller status are the riders that repair / preserve the trails AS they ride them. No brake dragging dicks! I also like to pack aluminum cans into any sketchy low double trap areas. It brings a purpose to all the drinking i do out on the trails. Everyone knows the best trails are created and maintained by guys on Big Bore KTMs. You are welcome.