I'm posting the follwing with permission from Martin Gomez, President of The Pasadena Mountain Bike Club. Shape up out there, people. The San Gabriels are one of the most treasured riding areas in Southern California. It would be a crime to lose access there.
Friends and fellow mountain bikers,
I have to pass on some urgent and potentially incredibly BAD news from fellow PMBC (Pasadena Mountain Bike Club) member and mountain bike patrol guy, Mark Gage. He said that at the last Forest Service Volunteer meeting (at which he is usually the only mountain biker and is prone to catching the flak for all of us with zero back up from anyone else) the other local trail groups are pushing the District Ranger to close at least the Middle Sam Merrill and potentially ALL OF THE LOCAL SINGLETRACK TRAILS!!! That would mean all the good stuff on the front range of the Angeles National Forest above Pasadena and would leave us only the fire roads and pavement to ride. This is due to certain groups of drop off artists that cut the trail above the Circular Bridge area on the Mount Lowe Road to ride a steeper face onto the Lowe Road and are actually short cutting right through that historic landmark on the mountain! Please remember that I am NOT saying that all of the people who do drop off runs down from Willie (Mt. Wilson) are responsible for this.
I've been hearing the complaints for years about these people-even from other bikers-and I have even played Devil's Advocate for these guys, saying that they are just new and don't know any better and I asked that we all try to inform these people when we see them of the error of their ways without being to confrontational and starting fights, but that time now has to be over. Obviously, the message is not getting across. We're now in danger of only being allowed on fire roads-which is exactly what some other trail users want for us anyway and according to Mark, one guy who was complaining at this meeting did so while grinning (at him) the whole time! Even the new District Ranger who at first was ready to work with all user groups including mountain bikers has tired of this problem not going away and is ready to shut us out. They've been hassling Mark at these meetings for months now about the yahoos cutting trails because you know I've said that we all get lumped together as a user group regardless of what good trail users most of us are because of a few knuckleheads that don't realize or maybe don't care about the consequences. Forest Service has wanted to know for a while who these groups are and when they do these drop offs so they could get Enforcement up there to cite them but no one has come up with that information and it seems they would rather close the trails to bikes, then send Enforcement so they can write heftier tickets and silence the hyenas who want us out. It's time to rat out these people who will cost us our trails! The Forest Service is interested especially in the pay shuttle service to Wilson. If you ride these trails and do follow the rules of the trail, don't put that full suspension bike away yet. Please continue to ride responsibly as a good example to these other guys and to the non-bikers who think we are all freeriding, tire-skidding, horse and hiker scaring, Hells Angels. If you know these people I'm talking about, let them know that they're screwing it up for all of us and we just can't let that happen.
Attending these volunteer meetings would be good-so Mark can have some back up-as well as doing trail maintenance with groups like The Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association and CORBA who are now doing trail work in the local mountains. Join bike patrols like Mark's to help spread the word or maybe keep him company since he works on the Merrill mostly by himself. Sweat equity helps-most of the time-when other groups are trying to show how irresponsible and destructive mountain bikers are. These trail short cutters are counterproductive to what we've been working for in the last 15+ years. I've done way too many hours of trail work with the Mt. Wilson group, on the Merrills, the Burton, Sunset Ridge, El Prieto, Gabrielino and other trails in the last ten years to let myself be limited to the fire roads. If that's all I'm going to be allowed to ride, I'm sure not going to make time for trail work in the future and I might as well get used to my road bike.
Tell your friends, acquaintances, and everyone else on two wheels to fix this problem and to not cut trails or make new pirate stuff like the lame shortcuts on El Prieto that are only for people who have no skills to ride the real trail and had to go around some of the best, most technical, turns on the trail. If you have friends that drive up from other parts of town to ride our epic stuff, give them the skinny too so they don't inadvertently jack things up for us. It might be normal for downhillers to not give way in other parts of Southern California but not in the San Gabriels.
Thanks for reading my rant and for being responsible trail users,
Pasadena Mountain Bike Club
Posted by The Preacher on 09/22/03