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You pay taxes, get something good from it  //   Saturday - May 28, 2005

Taxes get wasted of a lot of foolish projects, government pork and corporate welfare. But did you know that there are tax dollars that are used to build sweet trail? It's a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the funding that goes towards motorized transportation, but it can amount to cool projects for cyclists. Recently a bunch of us went to DC to lobby for more funding for these projects. Things are drawing to a close and Congress is going to decide just how much cash will be put towards this (which goes by the name of the Recreational Trails Program). Tell them you want the bigger of the two proposals. See info below from IMBA.

Singletrack Funding Threatened in Congress

Every six years, Congress reviews and
reauthorizes the nation's transportation
programs. The Recreational Trails Program (RTP)
is just a portion of this behemoth bill, but it's vital for
mountain bikers. That's why IMBA urges cyclists
to take immediate action to protect the
higher-funded House version of the program.

You can help by sending a letter to your U.S.
Representatives with this easy-to-use form:

RTP Letter

How much does your state stand to gain? Here are
a few examples:

* In California, the difference between the House
and Senate version is $12 million, enough to
build 1,236 miles of new trails * In Michigan,
the difference is $5 million, or 516 miles of new
* In Oregon, it's a $3 million gap, or roughly
293 miles of new trails
* In short, all 50 states would see massive
reductions in funds for trails and trail-related
facilities if the Senate's version prevails
* The difference totals about $223 million. That
could build 17,000 miles of new trails!

See how much money is at stake in your home
RTP Funding

Please don't delay! The House and the Senate are
in conference to reconcile the differences
between the two bills. For the past two years,
our lobbying team in Washington have pushed
IMBA's message. All of that hard work will pay
off if we make one final rally that convinces
Congress to preserve and expand trail projects
from coast to coast.

- riderx

Fight the Power  //   Thursday - May 26, 2005

For those who wonder why this space can frequently focus on trail access issues, read this long post and digest. Recently, after long hard work, IMBA reached an agreement with the National Park Service that would allow the possibility of mountain biking in areas that were previously banned. In reality, not much has opened up, but the future can sometimes come at a slow pace and you need to look at the big picture and how this can all move forward. Luckily MTBers have been getting more organized over the years and have been learning about the power of numbers (not so subliminal message: go sign up for IMBA and/or your local club now) but other groups are much further ahead of us and are much more experienced. So, it's not like it's an easy battle or things are all good just because we've become clued in with how we have to go about getting access and keeping it.

So with that introduction, see the following press releases/letters that are the result of the group PEER and their desire to crush this new MTB agreement with the NPS.


IMBA Official Memorandum

Regarding: Inaccurate PEER Commentary on IMBA/NPS Agreement
From: IMBA Communications Department
To: Senior NPS Officials
Date: May 19, 2005

IMBA Contact: Pete Webber
Communications Director
303-545-9011 ext. 112

On May 19, 2005, the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER) released an inaccurate and prejudicial press
release, titled "Mountain Bike Deal May Open Up Park Wilderness: 5.5 Million
Acres of Wild Lands Vulnerable to New Mountain Bike Trails."

All of us at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)
were saddened to see a PEER release that plainly seeks to derail the
productive and positive-minded agreement that IMBA and the National Parks Service
(NPS) recently forged. PEER's document is built on several glaring

* That the IMBA/NPS agreement threatens Wilderness (or recommended
Wilderness) parcels in national parks. In fact, the agreement clearly
states that mountain biking will only be allowed in locations authorized by
the NPS * That mountain biking is incompatible with the goal of offering
quality recreation opportunities and resource protection in national parks
* That park officials will be powerless to decide on a case-by-case
basis where mountain bike riding is appropriate
* That a simple partnership agreement could reverse Wilderness

IMBA is planning a press release that will address the trumped-up PEER
statement and present the IMBA/NPS agreement for what it really is: A
straightforward statement of cooperation that will help bring new
recreational opportunities and experiences to park visitors. The
agreement does not weaken the commitment that the NPS has made to Wilderness.

PEER's attempt to misrepresent the agreement as a threat to park users
is unfair and deplorable. IMBA invites NPS officials to send commentary
that can be incorporated into our upcoming press release. Please send your
remarks to:

IMBA Contact: Pete Webber
Communications Director
303-545-9011 ext. 112





For Immediate Release: May 19, 2005
Contact: Chas Offutt (202) 265-7337

Wild Lands Vulnerable to New Mountain Bike Trails

Washington, DC - A recent agreement between the National Park Service
and mountain biking interests may inadvertently throw millions of acres of
proposed wilderness open to bike trails, according to a letter released
today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The
Wilderness Society and PEER are asking the NPS Director to clarify that
wild lands eligible for wilderness designation are off-limits to bike

On April 21, 2005, NPS Director Fran Mainella announced a "General
Agreement" between her agency and the International Mountain Biking
Association (IMBA). While in some respects that agreement is an
improvement over the haphazard way that some parks allowed bicycle use on park
trails, the agreement makes no provision to protect millions of acres of park
backcountry that is recommended or proposed as wilderness. Already,
mountain bicycle groups have proposed a new 25-mile trail through recommended
wilderness in Voyageurs National Park.

During the past 15 years, the President has recommended that Congress
designate more than 5.5 million acres as wilderness across nineteen
parks. Outside of Alaska, the NPS or the Secretary of Interior has proposed
more than 2.5 million acres be designated wilderness in nine parks.

"By this oversight, the Director of the National Park Service throws
into question the undisturbed quality and serenity of vast tracts within 28
national parks," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that
bicycle trail designation on lands proposed or recommended as
wilderness would create a constituency that would likely seek to prevent
wilderness designation. "In the name of partnership, the Park Service may actually
be prescribing a formula for bitter conflict and recrimination."

Unless the agreement is clarified, if a park established bicycle use
within recommended or proposed wilderness, that use would be immediately
haltedonly if the land was eventually designated as wilderness by Congress.
The Wilderness Society and PEER are asking NPS Director Mainella to inform
the regional office and parks that recommended and proposed wilderness
lands are off-limits to bicycle trail designations under the NPS-IMBA agreement.

By contrast to the confusion about proposed wilderness, the agreement
did clarify that parks may allow bicycles on "administrative roads" outside
of developed zones in parks without publishing a special regulation.
Administrative roads are roads in parks that are closed to public motor
vehicle use but routinely used by NPS vehicles for administrative
purposes. NPS must still comply with the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA), however, and accept public comments prior to designating administrative
roads outside of developed areas as open to bicycle use.

"Of course, anything that encourages visitors to get out of their cars
in congested and developed park areas is great but bicycle use on park
trails is not about getting visitors out of cars - cars do not operate on
hiking trails," Ruch added. "This is about allowing mechanical transportation
on backcountry trails that are now open only to foot or horse."


PEER and Wilderness Society Letter to NPS

Ms. Fran Mainella
Director, NPS
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240
May 19, 2005

Dear Ms. Director:

The Wilderness Society and Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER) have sought to ensure compliance with National Park Service
(NPS) regulations that govern bicycles. The regulations at 36 CFR 4.30
require each park to adopt a special regulation to designate off-road bicycle
routes outside of developed areas and special use zones. Regulations adopted
in 1987 compel each park to subject off-road bicycle use to the "much more
stringent decision-making process" of special rulemaking (51 FR 21844).

In the last few years several parks allowed bicycle use in violation of
NPS regulations. A few brought themselves into compliance after PEER
notified them. Among those parks was Saguaro National Park, which adopted a
special regulation to allow off-road bicycle use in 2003. In May 2003 Delaware
Water Gap National Recreation Area removed signs improperly allowing off-road
bicycle use because a special regulation was never promulgated. We
commend these parks. Several other parks, however, remain in violation.

On March 17, 2005 the NPS signed a General Agreement (GA) with the
International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), a group advocating
trail biking in parks and on other Federal lands. The Wilderness Society and
PEER are both pleased and concerned about the GA. On April 21, 2005 your
office transmitted the GA to all NPS regional offices.

Recommended and Proposed Wilderness

We are concerned by the complete absence of the word "wilderness" in
the transmittal memo or the GA. The memo does not alert parks of the need
to manage recommended and proposed wilderness to the highest level of
protection. The Wilderness Act prohibits mechanized transport,
including use of bicycles. NPS regulations prohibit the simple possession of a
bicycle in designated wilderness (36 CFR (4.30(d)(1)). NPS Management Policies
require that ".management decisions pertaining to lands qualifying as
wilderness will be made in expectation of eventual wilderness designation."
Management Policies 6.3.1. Lands recommended by the President or proposed by the
NPS as wilderness certainly are "qualifying as wilderness." Designating a
trail for bicycles within areas recommended or proposed as wilderness defies
Management Policies.

Bicycle trail designation in recommended or proposed wilderness would
also be contrary to the President's and Secretary's long-term management
objectives for the wild areas. Bicycle trail designation would
perversely create a constituency of users that would likely seek to prevent
eventual wilderness designation. For a park to establish bicycle use on former
roads or on trails within recommended or proposed wilderness, a use that
would be immediately halted upon eventual designation, violates common sense.
This is a formula for conflict not partnership.

There are nineteen parks in which the President has recommended that
Congress designate over 5.5 million acres as wilderness. There are 9
parks (outside of Alaska) in which the NPS or the Secretary has proposed over
2.5 million acres be designated as wilderness, in formally adopted
documents (i.e. General Management Plans, Wilderness Studies, and Environmental
Impact Statements).

The omission of the word "wilderness" in the GA and the transmittal
memo is already leading to confusion and potential conflict. Following the NPS
agreement with IMBA, an off-road biking group asked that a 25-mile
bicycle trail be opened within lands recommended for wilderness designation in
Voyageurs National Park.

The Wilderness Society and PEER request that your office inform the
regional office and parks that recommended and proposed wilderness lands are
off-limits to bicycle trail designations. Otherwise, individual park
superintendents will be left to guess whether the fact that the GA made
no mention of recommended or proposed wilderness in the 28 parks is
because "it goes without saying" that parks may not designate bicycle trails on
such lands. A clarification of the intent of the GA on this issue is
pressingly needed.

Status of Administrative Roads

We appreciate that your transmittal memo clarifies 36 CFR 4.30(a) and
(b) regarding the status of "administrative roads" outside of developed
areas. Your memo states that, "any proposed (bicycle) route other than an
administrative road that is not within a developed zone must be
promulgated as a special regulation." Under your memo, the NPS may designate
"administrative roads" outside of developed zones for bicycles without
a special regulation. Although such roads are closed to public motor
vehicle use, your memo implicitly places "administrative roads" in the category
of "park roads" in the meaning of 43 CFR 4.30(a). Special regulations are
not needed to designate a "park road" open to bicycles. No park can now
dispute that bicycle routes outside of developed zones, other than
"administrative roads," require a special regulation.

Including "administrative roads" within the meaning of "park roads" is
a liberal interpretation of the term "park road," nonetheless it is a
reasonable one. Your memo properly stipulates that the NPS must still
comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and accept public
comments prior to designating administrative roads outside of developed areas as
open to bicycle use.

Based upon an inventory of bicycle trails conducted last year by NPS
Headquarters, it appears that several parks have designated former
roads, not "administrative roads," outside of developed areas, as open for
bicycles without promulgating a special rule. Your memo clarifies that such
conduct violates NPS regulations. We trust that you will inform these
non-complying parks of your expectation that they conform to NPS regulations.


Jeff Ruch
PEER Executive Director
Leslie Jones
Deputy General Counsel
The Wilderness Society
1615 M Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

- riderx

The Long Way  //   Monday - May 23, 2005

Former Baltimoron and current Alabama resident Fred Powell sent me some high test coffee called "Crank" that he's having blended up for his shop Cahaba Cycles. I'm drinking a cup of this now and the stuff is good. A nice dark roast, I could tell the beans were fresh as soon as I opened the package. Word is it's blended from the top 1% of beans in the world. If you want some it runs $12 a bag. Contact Fred at for the skinny.

Another Saturday, another epic ride. This time stringing together two tough rides into one super-sized feast of pain. With over 2 inches of rain Friday the only option was to hit rock. Out to Fredrock and into the Catoctin mountains. Big rocks, little rocks, nothing but rocks. That's all you get and that's why it holds up to the rain. Once again we started in the lower Gambrill lot, 1 dudette and 3 dudes, followed the route we've been doing into the Frederick Watershed and out to Hamburg road. Lately this has been the turn around point making for a nice solid ride. But this time we continue on, pushing deep into the Northern part of the watershed for approximately 20 more miles. Climbing the Death March, working our way out to Rattlesnake overlook, the Salamander trail, the Sand Flats and all of the tasty riding that grinds you down with the relentless technical challenges. Things that are mildly challenging on other rides turn tough when you are many hours in and the muscles are quivering.

We all survived - well, one of us cut it a wee bit short by peeling off onto the road near the end and skipping the last couple of miles of trail. I won't mention names but he speaks with a funny accent and drives a little wind up car. Overall I was feeling good. As the miles rack up the body starts to feel fatigued, the mind starts to not be quite as sharp, but I certainly wasn't feeling the bonk and could have gone on for more. I attribute it to the Crank coffee that started the morning and the mid-ride Guinness tall boy I packed.

No flats in the group once again although my bike took a nice dent in the down tube. No idea where it happened, Mark spotted it when we were sitting in the parking lot putting down post ride brews and food. Not much you can do about that one.

- riderx


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