Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is Mountain Biking Really all that Green?

I've been wondering lately how "green" mountain biking really is.

Biking in general is regarded as a very eco-friendly pastime and mode of transportation. You can get from one place to another relatively quickly and efficiently without burning any fossil fuels (which release CO2 into the atmosphere), and you keep yourself in shape at the same time!

Mountain biking has other special aspects that make it attractive to the environmentally-minded as well. It allows you to access the great outdoors in a low-impact way. One of the things that I most treasure about riding singletrack is the quiet and solitude of the deep forests!

Then the other day I had a realization:

As far as transportation is concerned, mountain biking is not green AT ALL.

Unless you ride to the trails every time you decide to shred some singletrack, you're probably driving. During the warmer months I ride about 4-5 days per week on average. My average drive to the trails is between 9 and 15 miles each way. Compared to the distances that some people drive regularly, these trails are right next door!

That means that during the summer I probably drive 100 miles a week, just to go mountain biking.

This doesn't even factor in traveling. In my opinion, one of the greatest things about the sport of mountain biking is traveling to explore different trails and different areas of the nation. That 100 miles a week above doesn't even begin to count the trips I've taken to all the surrounding states, or the fact that I've moved all over the nation, mainly to mountain bike. Heck, I've even flown to California for the Sea Otter Classic... to talk about and ride mountain bikes!

Do I feel guilty about this? No, not really.

Compared to many people I don't drive that much at all. I live within 3 miles of my school and work and just about everything else I need... besides singletrack. So in reality, much of my carbon emissions come from driving to mountain bike.

The fact of the matter is, I, and most likely you, am desperately addicted to riding singletrack. It's fun, it's healthy, and if there are trails only 9 miles away and I can afford the gas, you had better believe I'm going to go ride as much as possible!

Your Turn: How much should we be worried about our environmental impact from traveling to mountain bike? What solutions do you propose?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the issues, and I may feature the best comments in my follow-up post on this topic on Friday.


Steve,  January 19, 2011 at 8:25 AM  

Seeing that global warming is a hoax, I'm not at all concerned. You forgot to mention all the CO2 output from everyone breathing heavy during a hard ride. ;-)

Steve,  January 19, 2011 at 8:43 AM  

Instead of CO2, what you should be concerned with are all the slobs the leave their trash on the trails. If you use an energy gel, take the packet back to your car, don't throw it on the trail.

Greg Heil January 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM  

Steve, I definitely agree with you on the trash, and I think I agree with you on Global Warming not being this crazy issue that everyone makes it out to be.

However, we do have limited resources of oil, it does create pollution (as anyone living in a big city can attest to), and gas does cost lots of $$$. Those are the factors I'm personally most worried about, but thought I'd throw the global warming fanatics a little bone ;)

Unknown January 27, 2011 at 10:18 PM  

Its time to set up villages surrounding great trails. co-op farms, solar powered homes, satellite broadband and lots of batteries. Then, single track would be close to home, no worry or travel for food shelter or the wonderful internet. What else would you need?

Greg Heil January 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM  

Yeah we'd have everything we'd need!

I'm totally down with that idea.

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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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