Hikers and bikers unite!

  I began mountain biking in Santa Cruz in 1984, riding in the Coast Range from Big Sur to the Bay Area. In the years that followed, I was baffled and dismayed by the rancor of the hiker/biker conflict. For me, and the friends I rode with, mountain biking was simply another way to explore the woods and mountains and our own physicality. I learned all sorts of things about my local ecosystem, its fauna and flora (especially the kind that produces itchy blisters), its human history, its geology, its smell, pace and feel. In other words, I always felt that I experienced the land on my bike much as I did on my feet. Plus, sometimes I got to go flying downhill.

I don’t doubt for a minute that there were and still are reckless, thoughtless cyclists for whom it’s all about the gear and testosterone. But given that that’s true for just about any group, I’m still struck by the folly of turning against each other. The foes of wilderness are far too numerous and strong for us to be quibbling amongst ourselves about what configuration of rubber and metal we use to get around in the backcountry.

Fred Lifton
Portland, Oregon