to desert safetyEcology for Mountain Bikers
Part 1: Deep Why?
Huge racing events on the edge of wilderness:
The mountain bike subculture's prime environmental quandry.


where do the foxes go?Here are some real pictures of the Moab they are talking about. Contemplate the pristine shots as you mull through this rant about Moab and 24 Hour Racing. The pictures on page two of the 24 Hours of Moab Race results are not as nice. I placed the pretty, and somewhat artful, images here just as the 2003 race got underway. I sat in front of the computer dreading riding the course after the event, seeing the barren staging area, eating the dust, wondering just how many of nature's wonders bit the dust over the past few days. If you want to avoid my personal musings on the race and the politics of development, you can click on PART TWO for pictures and descriptions of the real race results. Who "won"?

The race lasts one day. The damage lasts generations. Every soul out there is a loser.

Ultimately this is about what a mountain bike race has done and is continuing to do to a place called Back of Behind that includes unique archaeological resources and and what was near pristine lands adjacent to the supremely pristine Behind the Rocks and Upper Hunter Canyon Wilderness Areas. Mountain bike racing has become the tip of a spear hurled at wilderness, used to destroy virgin lands to make way for development. The bumpkins that head the EPA stand firmly behind an interpretation of existing law that defines any cow footprint or established bike track, any primative trail or overgrown mining road, as a valuable part of the country's "transportation infrastructure." Whether or not this is a Right Wing Conspiracy and/or an Act of God, it is happening.

If you think native wildlife and pristine beauty created by the forces of nature, taking millions and millions of years to perfect, are worthy of protection, you are in the minority in Utah. You are probably in the minority in the United States, and it is sad to have to tell you this, but I think we are in the minority in the sport of mountain biking. As a community, we are loaded down with arrogant, selfish, blind followers. Mountain biking ain't what it used to be, and it is getting big enough that most mountain bikers don't remember what it used to be. Because mountain biking is mainstream, the community reflects the "everyman," the average fellow in the overall population of the United States. What a pity.

So, I am not only concerned about nature. I am concerned about mountain biking's image within a cultural construct over time, in history, and about learning responsible use of technology as it applies to economic development in wild lands. Using such a marvelous device as a bicycle to trash nature is no gold star on the report card. It's like putting a monkey on a rocket. Preservation of the resources that support our business here force us to focus on impact. It is an everyday struggle. We serve under 200 people a year and spread them out out across a full year calendar. Groups of no more than four and a guide, evaluated and placed in areas appropriate to skills, fitness and environmental awareness. We favor private couples due the safety and low impact of a three rider group. It didn't take long to see that the only way to avoid being part of the problem is through education. We have learned quite a bit, but we have more to learn.

The quandry is that we are swimming upstream in a sea of people who actually enjoy bringing the crowd, the television, the ATV and the SUV with them. They drop a small city into the desert and practice "getting away from it all" by gathering by the thousands and riding very fast in a circle over and over again. It is not just a place and an ecosystem being trashed by massive sporting events in lands south of Moab, it is the concept of respect for beauty and nature within our subculture, the idea of cherishing these gifts and preserving them for our children. It is that simple.

"Someone should do something," he said.

"Everyone must do something," I replied. because the "someone" is usually "somebone else" and the majority of that "someone else" is numb as a post.

Natural Shrine

In the aftermath of huge racing events on the edge of wilderness, we look back at one more step taken into the frontier. Nature has retreated a few more precious yards in front of us. As the natural world is being eaten away, people complain about the malls and the cars, then get in their car, drive five hundred miles to camp with a few thousand people, have a big loud party with a huge bonfire, ride bikes continuously for 24 hours in an open air archaeology museum next to a wilderness area and turn the area into a shopping mall. After a few more years the place you thought "Moab" was, will be completely replaced by an ATV park. And the Utah right wing majority loves it, hoping that as much of this place as possible rapidly degenerates into a free kill zone for real estate development. Damn the revegetation signs. Damn the environmentalists. Damn the crypto-hugging liberals. Damn the trouble of having to figure out a better way.

There was a day when Gemini Bridges and Poison Spider Mesa were ultimate mountain bike rides. There was a time when Hurrah Pass was a challenging treat. There was a time when Klondike Bluffs was a beautiful pedal through paradise. Now, mountain bikers are building more trails because these originals are ROADS now, tamed, some flattened so that you can drive your Honda Civic out to the pretty arches. Just a couple of short years ago, you could venture out to Gemini Bridges and the place was swarming with bicycles. Now, you ride to the bridges and the place is swarming with ATV's, SUV's and motorcycles. No bikes in sight. After a while, new trails created for mixed use that include bicycles are taken over by motorcycles and ATV's, then Jeeps, SUV's and ultimately cars, . . . and we'll have to build more trails to keep the mountain bikers coming to Moab. IMBA and other advocacy groups think that building new trails is the answer, but I ask you, when will it be enough? Do we keep building more trails until every trail is a paved road and there is no more room for dirt. As you look at the pretty pictures, please contemplate (y)our part, as mountain bikers, in hastening the transition from wilderness to development, from beauty to manicured ugliness, from REAL mountain bike trails for mountain bikers, to manicured singletracks and smooth roads for masses of dorks who come here to brag, to be cool, to be seen, to sit on the bench in front of our shop and call every girl or buddy they know back home and tell them that they finally, "made it to Moab."

The 24 race outside of Moab has greatly hastened the process of development in the lands Behind the Rocks by causing extensive damage, creatng a rationale for land management to sacrifice the remaining beauty and life of this area to MOTORIZED recreation, then to further development in the future.

where is all the lichen on the rock?

How many times have you seen one in our numbers point a finger at other users and say, "They are the enemy. They destroy trails." Well, if you think motorized traffic on the trails is "the enemy," you'd better take another look a mountain biking, especially huge events. On most public lands we are part of a system of "multiple use recreation," whereby we are lumped in with other "vehicles." We cannot call other users enemies as long as we are in the same family, doing the same crazy stuff with our "vehicle." In order to fully appreciate the problem, please take a look at how we are perceived by those who consider mountain biking the enemy. When it comes to "24 hours in a circle in nature" race events like the one in Moab, we look as bad or worse than 4WD vehilcle users to those who strive to preserve wild lands. When you compare the damage, you just have to see that WE ARE THEM, just another cog in the wheel of change.

Ask yourself: Are you being duped into the process of urban development by supporting events like this? Are you being allowed to trash public lands because the powers-that-be don't want this land to be public forever? Is it starting to be clearer that the idea of "public land" is so cockeyed that it is in danger of vanishing? Are your actions those of an individual, or a member of the "mountain bike community?" What is your personal responsibilty? Do you care? If you don't care, then why are you reading this?

where did the soil go?Unlike many in the "mountain bike community," I see clearly my personal responsibility, and part of it is to report what I see from Moab: It ain't 24 hours of Moab. It is 78+ Hours of Granny. Moab is ten miles down the road where there are much better trails, clean toilets that flush and don't smell like pepperoni pizza and crap, comfortable beds, and pretty good food, if you know where to look. If you come to ride the race, you will to be living in Camp Granny, eating Granny's Cookin' and sleeping in Granny's Campground. Riding like Granny. Bon appetite.

Warning: READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN RISK. Visitation to this website is purely voluntary. If this kind of freedom upsets you, don't email your irrate spew. Even if I am totally wrong, Insertion of the bug into your anus is purely voluntary.

And please understand, it is not the professional racers' fault. Most are unaware of their compicity in an obvious right wing plot to turn wilderness to real estate and minds into goo, to grind the earth's blood and bone into "natural resources" so that Dick Cheney can maintain his level of luxury. Some may have an inkling, a flash, as they watch the 12 minutes of nightly news, but simply don't care. There are people who are talented at endurance racing and, in the face of the evil, are forced to proceed onward into the dust cloud as a necessary means of survival. It is a sin to waste that talent, or so I was once told by a famous person. Pro racers usually care, but try not to care so much that they bite the hand that feeds them. And, then there are the promoters and sponsors of these events who just don't care. Put that fucker in the hall of fame and make his day, will you? Money and "look-a-me-mommy" is what it is about. Arrogance means never having to say you accept another point of view, even if it is the voice of God ALMIGHTY.

Yes, I know that Dreamride is a tour company, and that some may consider it awkward, even inappropriate, to have an opinion on the subject of 24 hour racing. If folks disagree with me, I don't mind, and if they get upset enough to make a decision not to ride with us, great. I don't have answers, but my eyes are open and I don't want to guide for idiots. I am searching for answers. Consider me a witness in Moab, asking mountain bikers, racers and those involved to consider the mass psychology of mass events for a few minutes.

rugged individuals my ass


"People as individuals, I like them, but as a crowd they are like a monster without a head that can be prodded in any direction" ~ Charles Chaplin in Limelight

War is the most popular, most extreme, most successful, mass sporting event.

There is an element of fascist thought process and action at work in our sport. As in our culture at large, it is everywhere, so it is nearly invisible, . . . and this is just the way the fascists want it. The worship of power is to be unnoticed and unthinkable, though it is right in front of our eyes every minute of the day. As a culture we are focused on war, our lives are blatantly about money, competition and the worship of the human form as a powerful force. It is most likely that participants in mountain bike events are totally ignorant of the concept of fascism, or what it means to be a fascist. Most people do not go to grad school, were not raised in Europe, and certainly the "mountain bike community" is loaded with people who haven't looked for, asked about, received, been offered, or even know how to give thanks for a clue.

We must look to see if we have the symptoms.

"Fascism is only the organized political expression of the structure of the average man's character. It is the basic emotional attitude of the suppressed man of our authoritarian machine civilization and its mechanical-mystical conception of life." ~ Wilhem Reich

It's Bubba on a mountain bike, fed a steady diet of universal mass media, power gel and red bull. Our lot in life is to buy appliances and if we do not buy appliances the economy drops like a washing machine from ten story building. Environmentalism is stupid, because fascism idealizes power and greed. Remember the religious idea that God gave us Earth to do with as we want. Pity, mercy, compassion and charity (basically, caring about cryptobiotic soil crusts) are signs of weakness. The "perfect" human form is central. Imperfections are to be cut off with plastic surgery. The mystery of nature is a thing to fear and hate, to be cut out and removed.

Add this slice of culture to a programmed disrespect for the natural world, and you get huge sporting events, like all out war, the ultimate extreme sport. For thousands of years the most revered cultures have worked to produce the perfect human form exclusively for this purpose. Take a good look at past cultures we seem to be emulating, ancient Sparta, Athens, Rome, Hitler's Germany, and just about every empire that had soldiers who wore very little clothes. the ideal of the human form is a practical way to conquer nature and feel good about yourself while subduing other populations through brute force. Mass events have been used throughout history to solidify the bond of the phalanx in order for the "nation" to subdue the "tribes."

Take a look at the bike magazines. Are they about the places we love to ride, or the worship of competition and parts? Are they about personal revelation or mass manipulation? Are they about the image of the perfect cyclist on the perfect machine or the abilty of any person to ride a bike? How many fat people do you see? How many Chinese cyclists riding to work in a toxic fog do you see in the cycling magazines? Cycling is BIG, but the magazines make it look like Barbie and Ken on a vacation in their ugly SUV, the ideal man and woman pedaling happily, while the sexually repressed "everyman" wheelie drops off of his garage.

24 hour racing is where fascist ideals are blatant. Nowhere is Freud's concept of the phalanx more revealed than in these massive race events. The combined force of human energy is focused on a deed, unconsicous or uncaring of victims, dead set at perfecting the art of riding very fastGoya painting in a circle for 24 hours. The underlying goal is to get into a mindless state where you become "one with the machine." In the phalanx, you don't have to think. Action is the call. Go faster. Win the race for the glory of winning. Survive the race. Party at the race. Look for sex at the race. The phalanx, in terms that even a mountain biker can understand, can be defined effectively as the "group" that becomes a single mind, that performs an overriding task that individuals in the group need not perceive or evalutate. And you think you are having a party.

The goal and function of the phalanx is to conquer, to make war, which is a natural human behavior. It is instinctive. The goal overrides the will, reasoning and moral compass of the individual. Goya painted the phalanx in this portrait of the execution of pleading souls by a line of clone-like gunmen. Hemmingway wrote about it in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Roger Waters sang about it in The Wall and Amused to Death. Hitler and Stalin rode the wave. Hitler wiped out off shore and disappeared in the white water. Stalin rode the damn thing all the way into the shore, stepped off the board and smiled. It was Stalin who said that, "The loss of a single life is a tragedy. The loss of millions is a statistic."

sand printsWhen you pedal over a lizard, maybe you feel a bit sad, but when we, as a group, destroy the peace and natural habitat of rare species of unseen desert lizards (what do you think is at the bottom of that hole you just rode over?), thereby wiping out an unknown number of the local population, it is just something that happens. For some, the most effective reaction to being told the truth about damage done is to gather numbers to reinforce arrogance, to ignore individual suffering and plough toward the goal with more force of will. War is funky, like that. Call the lawyers. Sue the fucker. Send in the troops. Ignore the little man behind the curtain. Canyou believe it? Thinking beings have wars based on idealistic thought, even though the reasonings and moral standings on both sides are, at their root, identical. The interpretation of morality, goodness and courage may be the prime point of dispute, but when examined, either side has the same morality. We are all men. We are not smart enough to be eagles, but we are smart enough to be chimps.

To understand conflict, one must see that, while historically we seem bound by common morality to take a stand, war is ultimately not about what is right or wrong. It is about the pure act, the biological need to steal (i.e. now we have THEIR oil), to survive, to inflict un-survival on others. War is a biological force programed to keep the species strong, . . . I guess. Why else would we be so motivated to stand with mass will, ignore rational thought and get the job done. You see it in cult-like religions where people foresake the natural world and its mysteries for a spoon feeding.

Damn, you would think that the bicycle, a machine that carries ONE person under HIS (or HER) own power, would draw freethinkers and rugged individuals, capable of escaping group will, or maybe uncaring of the group mind. One must understand that in mass race events, there is more at work than just the machine or the joy of mountain biking. The proof is in the pudding. The result is mindless destruction, even if you do take home a free derailleur. The destruction is very easy to see in the lands south of Moab where the race is held. You can see it in PART TWO, now or later.

There is only one thing to say to mindless followers of the 24 Hour phalanx: MOAB HAS A LOT OF SAND, BUT PLEASE DON'T COME OUT AND STICK YOUR POINTED LITTLE HEADS INTO IT.

pickles on the vine

Cucumbers in an Orwellean Pickle ~ The 24 Hours of Bagdad

Recently someone who organizes teams for such events came to our site looking for the right tires for the race. He read this page and emailed, saying, ". . . thank you for saving me from an awful experience. I am so very thankful that my first experience in Moab wasn't damaging the fragile desert environment." This fellow then posted his reasons for not participating in the specific event on a Moab discussion board on the internet. He got the usual idiotic response. He then emailed again, asking for help. I told him that responding to people whose only manner of dealing with criticism is to point the finger at others, is futile. You cannot turn a pickle back into a cucumber. So, the information here is not meant to enlighten. If you get it, you already are. If you don't, you are a pickle. A pickle has no nutritional value whatsoever. Here is how these pickles lie to themselves in order to be able to run over the living cucumbers, courtesy of George Orwell:

"The process has to be concious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconcious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt . . . To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies--all this is indispensibly necessary."

If you are having problems putting the idea of fascist mental dynamics into context, then read on. After reading more, if you still have a problem, give up. Dig out a six pack and enjoy your dog's farts as you watch some football on the telly. If you come to this as a 24 Hour Race believer, to get to the point you are going to have to put down that hat and take off those blinders . . . or, to save your precious false beliefs and chance at the unrewarding social rush of a 24 hour race event, don't bother reading any further. Like I said, reading is voluntary and the hair growing in your pickled ass is of your own design.

where does the untouched beauty go?If you refuse to see the obvious damage caused by masses of people on mountain bikes awash in the chemistry of the flee response, running from something that they don't even comprehend, racing along the border of a wilderness area (what is a border to a badger, I ask you) OVER AND OVER AGAIN, then you are an example of the Orwellian mental mechanics that have become such a part of our culture as of late. Welcome to the Phalanx. You are now a cog in the wheel of destruction constructed of masses of unaware fascists in this country who support our troops, who think we attacked Saddam, not the Iraqi people, who believe the lie from on high that killing innocent people is a way to stop people from killing innocent people, who let sick men define who our enemies are, who refuse to see those on the "other side" to be as worthy of life and peace as "we" are, even if those on the receiving end of this warped thinking are helpless, defenseless and/or totally innocent little babies. My dad told me that, "if you play with shit, you get shit on you." If you destroy nature, that is what you do, even if you can look out and see other groups doing it and it calms your guilt. Guilt is uncomfortable. It makes the brain skip over details.

If you simply say, "Well, the 4 wheelers do just as much damage," then consider yourself part of the problem. If you disagree with facts presented below and have information to the contrary, then for petesake get that info out there, but understand that you are concealing from yourself the fact that race promoters, land management agencies and masses of unfree mountain bikers are doing horrible damage. Not only are archealogical resources being degraded beyond recognition, complete ecosystems made up of complex networks of inter-dependent living creatures are disrupted and scattered. Thousands upon thousands of mountain bikes are being used as blunt tools to slam against nature--all the while justifying the behavior through flawed thought processes that are as "patriotic" as the war against Iraq. The true definition of patriotism, if anyone actually reads history anymore, is loyalty to the KING OF ENGLAND. True Americans were REBELS, fighting for the revolution! There is nothing rebellious about riding in a huge crowd through nature, part of that same evil phalanx that we rejected in the eighteenth century. You are conquering the world all over again, but this time YOU are England. The revolution is dead. Join the big group. Be a good German. The hearts and minds of the American people have been turned against the lands and now those sacred lands are just "natural resources." The bicycle should not be used to subdue nature, but to co-exist within.

As Americans, we learn a flawed thinking process from birth, through institutionalized positive and negative reinforcement. Denying that the fascist thought process based on repressed sexual energy working within yourself, is the first step. Can you remember that initial moment where you slammed the door to absolute truth in your heart out of fear of punishment and rebuke? This is where those religious and political belief systems get you, and you end up with the others who refuse to be "open-minded" about anything that does not fit in with the group mind or the financial plan. Of course, it is more than a refusal to be open-minded when doors in the mind are TOTALLY closed. That is called, "stupidity."

Moab PictographsClose the doors to new ways of seeing the world and you just never go anywhere important. If you think "anywhere" means Moab, then stop reading, now, You are an idiot.

Without traveling down the individual path of heart, not mind, there is no way to gain understanding, to know yourself and to appreciate the mystery of life. Without traveling down the path toward understanding, you will be mindlessly accepting the bullshit in the press releases, a member of the firing squad unable to see the victim as a living being. In the case of 24 hour race events like the 24 Hours of Moab, you are refusing to see wildlife as worthy of respect.

So, right here, right now, you are going to be confronted with YOUR complicity in an area of our sport where we look like the enemy to environmentalist organizations. If you are not a 24 hour race affectionado, then read on and find out why you can be proud of your individualism, that you ride alone or in a small group, that you actually ride a bike to enjoy nature, not to conquer it, that you ride a bike without needing a witness.

Don't be snowed by press releases. Nowhere is the environmental damage done by mountain biking more evident than in the 24 Hours of Moab Race. Every year the Moab race course is changed, expanding with a mile or two of newly created trail, widened into a three lane road for Hummers. Every year new trail plows through cacti, over lizard, snake, pica, fox and badger dens, creating sand pits and dunes out of once stable plant life. The staging area is a moonscape. Everyone sees it. Even the promoters and land management acknowledge it. Why, because it is obvious. I don't get it. How can people actually stand in the staging area, saying, "Well this place is already trashed, so let's just trash it some more." . . . ?

The Horrible College Rape Analogy

This is going to hurt: Now, imagine you are at the frat party. This is a true story, by the way--I used to teach at the University of Colorado where this actually happened, relayed to me by a student who watched, but did nothing. OK, so you leave the party for some air, to puke or to smoke a fatty, and you find a girl unconscious in the gutter, her head on the curb, her skirt pulled over her head, legs spread apart, hole ripped in the crotch of her pantyhose, sperm dripping from her vagina. So, she has already been fucked, right? Everyone standing around you is into it, egging you on to have a sample. So, is it OK for YOU to fuck her? Do you scream for the police? Or do you just put her on a surfboard and carry her back into the frat house where others can have their way with her where no one can see? What actually happened? The surfboard. Great party, huh?

Boulder, Colorado and war are where this kind of abuse has no bounds. College and war are where the rules are shifted and distorted to allow aberrant, destructive behavior to flow freely from the testosteron mind. The 24 moab race is a declaration of war on the environment. The racers are the soldiers. The plants and animals are the innocent civilians in the war zone, victims of "colateral" damage. The racers are like those frat boys, justified in their lack of moral constraints by each other, the group mind, the phalanx.

Sure, war and frat parties are horrible, graphic examples of the phalanx at work, but think. They are PERFECT examples. Is it not also horrible that in each 24 Hour Race every individual has a chance and is even encouraged to do maximum damage? This "ganging-up-on-the-environment" has become so obvious that before, during, and after these races we do not hear a single positive word about the event from a single Moab local or visitor.

The tide is turning. We are not alone anymore. When in 2006 the race was interupted by flash floods in the course and the entire phalanx had to be removed from the area, the local population cheered. Frankly, I would like to see the focus moving from the promoters and sponsors, who don't seem to want to know (not blinded by money, but SOLD OUT), to the BLM and State Trust Lands agencies that issue the permits. This is definitely where the race can and will be stopped. I used to think that once the area is trashed so bad that it was no longer worthy of riding, that promoters would walk away. It is already a mess. All the technical lines have little paths around them, further inviting riders to make the track even wider. But, now I see that as long as they can effectively market the race, sell the stupid thing to self-serving industry folks, low IQ's with a few bucks, and ignorant pro racers, the state of the course makes no difference. They will milk it for every dollar until someone takes the football away from them.


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