Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My first Trail Advocacy Meeting: GSC SORBA

I did do some riding this morning, but then at 11 o'clock I attended my first ever trail advocacy-type meeting.  Somehow or other I've ended up on the GSC SORBA email list, and I got an email from them last night mentioning that there was going to be a meeting this morning... and there was going to be free pizza there.  While Gainesville is a bit of a haul from where I live, the possibility of meeting new people to ride with and the pizza (the food really did push me over the edge) drew me down to attend.  I had no idea at all what to expect.  What I was really looking for was some information about group rides, and I didn't find that because all of the Gainesville trails have been closed for the past couple of weeks.  What I did find, however, was intriguing.

The folks at the GSC SORBA meeting spent most of the time discussing several different events that they're sponsoring in order to get more people on bikes, as well as a long time talking about what needed to happen to maintain the trails and keep them from being destroyed. I found this discussion incredible insightful.  I mentioned that I had just ridden the previous day when the trails were frozen solid, and they responded with a "Haha, you're not supposed to be out there doing that!"  They explained that the main issue wasn't that I rode, but that by riding I'm encouraging people who don't know any better to ride when the trails are wet.  I can see the point that was being made, especially due to the fact that if I had waited a couple of hours to ride, the trails would probably have been mush.  While I have the experience and knowledge to know when the trails are O.K. to ride, other, less experienced riders probably do not.

Overall, the experience was enjoyable because I am always up to talking about riding, and I learned a great deal about trail management from the brief discussion. There had been much talk lately on the forum about trail closures and maintenance as relates to FATS, and I've spent a good deal of time on the Gainesville SORBA (A branch of IMBA) website watching the statuses. Realizing the volume of mountain bikers that comes to ride these trails has helped me realize why they are managed so strictly.  In other places in the country, and even the state, there are not nearly the type of crowds that are dealt with at some of these more popular trails.  Because of the crowds, it is imperative that they are managed more strictly to ensure the quality of the trails for years to come.

Wooden Bridge at the GSC Trail


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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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