Many of you already know, I use many MTB trails that are on land not classified as public property; I’m sure many of you do too. West Virginia does not have the Freedom to Roam acts that England and Wales do. Land is protected under the rights of a property owner, and they can do just about anything they want to do with it. This can mean sad times for us trail riders when we go back to an area after an extended amount of time and find the land barren, or mangled into unrecognizable terrain. By all means, if the landowners truly own the land, then there is no problem with this except that feeling in your gut.
What? Did you feel a little bit of yourself die; like this trail was somehow vicariously yours? Is that the legendary beast of cyclist’s entitlement bearing it’s ugly little head? This is an unfortunate example of how nearly all cyclists have some how taken their status of being a second class citizen while on two wheels and formed something out of the grudge created by everything allegedly opposing them. When we’re faced with a trail vanishing or being plowed for construction, how often do we put ourselves in the other person’s place? Or how often do we become angry and self-righteous? We as cyclists are always looking for tracts of land and facilities for our use, but as these rights are given to us, it is time to accept some responsibility and pack up shop when the doors are closed.
There will always be more trails and public pathways that can be utilized in our lifetime. Just because someone is trying to make a living or earn a dollar for tearing up their own land doesn’t mean you have the right to retaliate.
If the trail is still accessible, go for it and appreciate what you have. If you desire more, maybe the entitlement feeling you have will be aa great muse for you to volunteer your time with an IMBA group and create local trails around your area. Take advantage of the land around you, but know when to quit.
Video footage of some old jeep trails that were recently logged and being prepared for mining roads; it was terribly sad to see this kind of land destruction: