E-bikes, Guns, and Money – the s*^t has hit the fan.
If I may borrow a little from the late Warren Zevon, a little play on words in reference to the more desperate times this summer. It’s always fun to look back on a season once the books are closed. Besides having a pretty rough spate of entitlement and overuse for four weeks in July into August, it was an otherwise stellar summer season. From the hard core and dedicated CBMBA volunteers, to the mightily benevolent CBCC crews – it was one to remember.
Let’s go in order, shall we? No matter where one stands (or falls) on e-bikes, there is one thing for certain – one indisputable fact – they are not going away. They are already here, and ever-growing. It is truly amazing how people react to e-bikes (like them or not) and what a stir they can rile up in folks. Like any machine or tool, they serve a purpose, though that purpose is what usually causes all the consternation.
CBCC crews employ the use of e-bikes when needing to get deep to work projects while carrying a heavy pack full of tools and supplies–of course, on motorized roads and routes. E-bikes certainly are a positive tool in this regard. The aging and physically challenged sure employ a purpose when using an e-bike, although there is no legal or written justification for such. E-bikes can make really difficult rides/routes more palatable, and with that, they can provide excellent user experiences. They can also provide another tool in the quiver for when you need to get out on the trails, but the legs are in a spot of bother from a summer of (over) use and little recovery time. Big mountains and less oxygen to boot.
Alas, it’s the dude in jean shorts with a speaker blaring from his e-bike, going up Gothic Road and passing non-electric bikes on a Saturday in July en route to ride 401 with the other 379 people and their Subarus that usually eludes a purpose worth valiant measure. The only real solution here, is a full process of federal ‘Travel Management’, where trails are determined on a one by one basis as to whether or not they are practicable in use and impacts for e-bikes. Not that they do any more damage than an ‘analog/acoustic’ bike, it’s more a numbers game. Adding increased uphill speeds, downhill numbers, and overall users to 403 and 401 is not good for anyone – any user – or the future use. E-bikes replacing shuttling cars – that’s great. E-bikes keeping folks on bikes that otherwise would not be able to ride – even better. But until that Travel Management process happens, or until the Feds (BLM and USFS) re-define what an e-bike is and classifies its use, then it’s still a ‘motorized’ device, and it can only be used on ‘motorized’ trails. It’s up to us, as users, to be diligent and with purpose, in any of our actions in life, let alone, choice of bicycle. But each user should remember and be confident in their own choices, and not let other peoples’ questionable choices ruin your ride, or your day. Serenity now! Thanks, Frank Costanza.
Speaking of jean shorts, I wish this dude was wearing jean shorts….CBCC crews came across and provided on-site information for a Herculean fella seemingly on psychedelic contraband while riding 401 in bike shorts – no shirt, no helmet, and a holstered knife and sidearm strapped to each side. You can imagine the conversation that developed. I’d prefer seeing an e-bike on 401.
In other tales of what left lasting memories on the trails in 2023, was the biggest, baddest, boldest piece of collaborative trash remediation from the Gunnison National Forest in recent years. Mad props to H and H Towing for really doing the work here, but CBCC crews joined in and supported the removal of a Land Rover from Roaring Judy Trail #552 after 4 years of it being abandoned and left to rot in a small creek (crick) just off the singletrack. It’s mesmerizing to think of how this vehicle got to where it did. It’s simply amazing how it hurdled the boulders and boulder piles to make it over/thru. CBCC crews had to clear parts of the forest to be able to extract it. Some Roaring Judy Ranch owners have the really good (odd) stories around this madness, but the bottom line is, if I may quote one of them – ‘meth does bad things’. Needless to say, we sure had a good time helping to smoke out the wasps, and watch H and H play Land Rover forest pinball extracting this thing. Once back on the dirt road, they actually drove the thing to the bottom without real brakes, or a transmission. They got the thing started! Just amazing!
Besides those fun anecdotes, and besides the four weeks where it felt like the COVID summer of 2020, the 2023 summer season was one to remember. The six CBCC full season crew members, and the two Simmons boys joining us to make it eight in July, were highly productive. It’s a beautiful thing, to watch something come together and really gel to become a unit of high efficiency. CBCC crews did magical work, and always with big smiles, high energy, and a dedication to the task at hand. It gives us great joy knowing most of ‘the boys’ will be back next season; they are trail and stewardship champions. They hit the ground in full stride and got right back to patching up our cherished resources. Mama Nature will always do her thing, and we’ll always have monitoring and maintenance work to do around the 208 designated camping sites surrounding CB. We’re so grateful for all of our great partners, but in particular, we work so closely and alongside the USFS – Gunnison Ranger District, and we aim to continue that for known time. In 2023 we were so honored and grateful to have new CBCC support from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District. Both of these new opportunities provide even better support for our CBCC crews and help us plan in advance to provide for the best crews we can.
CBMBA is so excited and eager to see a final ‘decision’ on the North Valley Trails Plan. We eagerly await that any day. (Draft ‘decision’ released Nov. 16th) With it, there will be new trails – small additions and connectors – for a good number of years for us to build as a community. CBMBA volunteer trail work days will have the usual big lifts and hard work in store, but it’s what this community thrives on. It’s hard work, for good things. Trails make us happy and bring special connections to the land. Done right, they can be a complement to the resource, and alongside stewardship efforts, remain a sustainable and positive amenity to our shared public lands. Trails and access can complement each user if planned for and managed well, and we’re grateful to have so many partners who share similar values.
There are too many to name, but we are ever so grateful for the partners, the sponsors, the supporters, and the magic that keeps CBMBA’s wheels spinning. From the workday sponsors that feed our noble volunteers, to the local, state, and federal grant and contractual sponsors that keep the CBCC crews on the ground each season, we are ever grateful. To those noble volunteers and the amazing ‘Wednesday Workday’ work, to the Budd Connection Annual Overnight trail work – we salute thee!
Winter is in sight and we’ll be back to some winter trails, because, well… we like trails. We meet year-round and board meetings are always open to the public. We invite any and all to come out and play in the dirt or snow with us, or join us at the conference table. You can find more info and a calendar on our website (cbmba.org), follow on the social, or email email@example.com.