Went to GF today and rode a lap. All of the trail is ridable and should be ridden to smooth out the damaged areas. The new Beaulah trail is also in need of some tires. There are a few off camber sections that may need work down the road but this is really some excellent new trail that needs some tires.
I brought my leaf blower with me to the park today and blew the leaves off from the main lot to the bottom of Allenton Rd. I came across 3 riders as I was blowing and 1 in the parking lot. All of them were angry about the trail conditions from the end of the 6 Flags part to the beginning of Clementine which is very damaged from horse traffic right now. Imagine taking your bike across a farm field...it's one level better than that.
Let me say this...I'm not a trail nazi. I think there are times when all of us can get a little too cautious about the trails and need a reality check on their status of "multi use." And, these trails will heal like they always do. Some sections are doing to require some work but it'll get there. With that said, the feedback I got from being off the bike but in the park for a while was insightful. One rider had hit a rut and gone OTB to the point he messed up his front wheel and hurt his back. Another was generally pissed at the horse damage and needed to vent and another made the statement "Why should we respect the horse people and get off our bike when they can't respect the work we put in to create the trails they ride? I'm just going to start flying past horses is this is how they treat the trails." I let him know that this is not how we further our cause but it got thinking on my ride home and I had a thought...
We often commiserate with each other on this board and talk about trail damage. This is the proverbial "preaching to the choir" We all agree that messed up trails are awful. But let's not simply complain to each other about it. I also think we have an opportunity to get the horse riders involved in this effort and not have an "us vs them" problem.
The way to fix this is to have mutually agreed upon days that the trails are closed because they're not safe, being on the trail will greatly damage it and it's discounts the countless hours that are put into creating them. Perhaps a joint effort from the bike and horse people, asking that the STL County parks allow for signs to be put up on those days where MAJOR damage will occur is a good middle ground that will benefit all of us. This would have to be something we self govern and I doubt the county has the man power to enforce it thought tickets or policing. However, if a simple ribbon or chain across the main trail entrances that states "Trail Closed Today" would minimize the damage, the trails could easily heal at this time of year from those people that disregard the singage while creating a better partnership toward good trail stewardship.
I have the opportunity to ride in CA quite a bit and they close the trails when they are wet. Don't get me wrong, I do not want to replicate the CA template for trail use as they require multi-year environmental impact studies to create new trail and they have issues with people boobie trapping trails that have seen conflict. But perhaps a simple, "Please don't use the trails" policy would discourse enough bad conditions use that the trails would not find themselves in this kind of disrepair and have people hurting themselves, their bikes and generally coming away from their ride angry. MTB is a great sport and I think we, as bikers, need to understand we are not the only users of the trail out there. However, I bet there is a meeting in the middle, that all groups can agree on and we could jointly petition the park service for that might make days like today much less frequent.
I'd love to hear everyone's comments. Thanks