Apr 23

Are Trails Necessary?

Do We Really Need Trails?

Glenwood Canyon bike trail

Glenwood Canyon bike path

This trail blog post is in response to a post on the Great Plains Trail website titled Are Long Distance Trails Necessary? It’s a good question, and the blog post already covers the more existential issue of “what do you consider necessary.?” But I’d like to approach the same topic from a slightly more general viewpoint regarding whether any trails are necessary. So to begin this discussion, let’s ask another pertinent question:

Are Roads Necessary?

Judging by the amount of money we spend on them and how much they are utilized, I’d say that most people would probably argue that they are necessary. Many political campaigns are based heavily on improving “infrastructure” with a huge percentage of that infrastructure spending going towards roads. So that brings us to the next question: What are roads good for? Fortunately, the answer to that question is all too simple and can easily be summed up in one word: transportation. That’s it in a nutshell. Roads provide transportation… period… full stop.

Are Trails Necessary?

So then we move on to the question du jour. Are trails necessary? Well if those trails are solely for recreation, many people would argue that they are not necessary. They are nice. They are scenic, they are fun. But they aren’t all that necessary. Instead they are convenient or enjoyable. But are trails solely for recreation? Those of us who are avid trail advocates know that they are indeed a great form of recreation, but they provide much more than just recreation; they also provide exercise and… in many cases… transportation.

Are Trails Used for Transportation?

French soldiers march on the Moselle River Trail in France.

troops on the trail

Not only are trails used for transportation, but they were the original transportation infrastructure worldwide. They may also be one of the most efficient modes of transportation from numerous standpoints. First of all, they are available to literally everyone. Trails do not require expensive vehicles, licenses and fuel consumption. So trails are available to 100% of the people, unlike roads that generally require some form of vehicle in order to navigate them safely and efficiently. Secondly, trails provide an environmentally sound form of transportation, unlike roads. The vast majority of trails are navigated by walkers and bicyclists. These trail users do not cause pollution nor do they require the burning of fossil fuel. Third, trails provide exercise while simultaneously providing transportation. The ultimate example of poor time management is when people get in their cars and drive to the gym for a workout. It makes so much more sense to combine exercise and transportation by walking, running or bicycling to a destination, whether it is to work, the grocery store or your local coffee shop. And a huge argument in favor of using trails for transportation is the safety factor. Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year. That comes to an average 3,287 road deaths per day. I would be glad to share the statistics for trail deaths but, as with most trail-related topics, no such comprehensive data exists for two reasons. Nationwide and worldwide trail data is not compiled by anyone. And trail deaths are nearly non-existent compared to road deaths. Trails are simply much safer than roads. And finally, for those who look only at monetary output as the sole arbiter of worth, trails are substantially less expensive to build and maintain than roads/highways.

How to Make Trails a Vital Part of the Transportation Infrastructure

trail sign to help people on trail tours.

This way to great trails

Connectivity– We need to do a much better job of connecting trails to both important destinations (cities, towns, schools, businesses, etc.) and to other trails. We have way too many “trails to nowhere.” This might be fine for trails that are solely recreational. But if trails are to become a vital part of our transportation system, then we need to start connecting them.

Inclusiveness – It is fairly elitist and non-inclusive to limit vital trails to only one or two user groups such as hikers and bicyclists. This is one of the reasons trails are seen as only recreational rather than as a mode of transportation. Trails should be much more inclusive and welcoming to such user groups as equestrians, electric bicyclists (See Trailsnet post about Electric Bikes on Trails.) and other (non-internal combustion engine) personal transportation vehicles (stand-ups, etc.) 

Communication – When it comes to making trails an important part of our transportation system, one of the biggest changes that needs to happen is in the realm of communication. Most people don’t even know about the wonderful trail system we already have. The trail support groups are too disparate and splintered. There is no single clearinghouse for trail information and communication. Instead we have websites and organizations that promote rail-trails, mountain bike trails, backpacking trails, running trails, urban trails, long-distance trails, equestrian trails, hiking trails, park trails…. But no one clearinghouse for ALL trails. United we stand, divided we fall. Or in the case of trails, divided we fail to prosper.

So Are Trails Necessary?

The answer is simple. They should be. But currently, they aren’t viewed as necessary by the powers that be. We can change that, if all trail groups unite and make our voices heard. Once trails are viewed as necessary.. for recreation AND transportation AND the environment AND for exercise/health… then funding will follow and trails will be built and trail use will increase and trails will be connected and we will live in a world where trails are an integral part of our overall infrastructure. That should be the ultimate goal of all trail enthusiasts and supporters.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/04/23/are-trails-necessary/

Apr 16

Trailsnet Voted One of Top Tucson Hiking Blogs

hiking blog award

Hiking Blog Award

Trailsnet Continues to Accumulate Outdoor Awards

Trailsnet is quickly becoming one of the most coveted websites for trail information, active travel and outdoor fitness. Most recently, Southwest Discoveries awarded Trailsnet a spot on the top Tucson hiking blogs list as a result of Trailsnet’s contribution to the active travel and trail enthusiast communities.

Top Active Travel and Hiking Trail Promoter

According to the award, “Trailsnet is a network of trails on the internet which allows users to find the trail of their dreams for biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, backpacking and trail running Founded by author Kevin Purdy, an avid hiker and freelance writer, it provides information about active travel opportunities worldwide.” 
 Trailsnet has won numerous similar blogging awards in the past, but the thrill of serving our community of outdoor enthusiasts never grows old. Thanks to Southwest Discoveries for recognizing the contribution that Trailsnet.com makes to the outdoor community and the world of trail lovers.
Read more: http://www.southwestdiscoveries.com/hiking-trails-in-tucson-top-blogs-to-read-in-2017/#ixzz4eTBTYSEC

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/04/16/trailsnet-voted-one-top-tucson-hiking-blogs/

Apr 11

People For Bikes Survey

People for Bikes Organization

people for bikes logo

People for Bikes

People for Bikes is an organization that promotes bicycle riding in America. Or, in their own words, they “aim to make riding better for everyone.” Of course those of us at Trailsnet hopes that means they promote more bike paths & bicycle trails nationwide including the promotion and connection of current bike trail networks. Getting folks on bicycles is more than just a recreational pursuit, although that is definitely part of the equation. But it is also about helping the environment, improving citizen fitness, lowering obesity rates, alleviating traffic congestion, improving public safety and making our communities better places to live. Bicycle advocacy is more than just a pipe dream. It is worthwhile and vital goal that should be front and center on the minds of politicians and average United States citizens. Thanks to People for Bikes and their efforts to improve bicycling in our nation.

People for Bikes Survey

Please take a couple moments to complete the People for Bikes survey and help them get a better idea what we want and need when it comes to bicycling infrastructure and goals. It’s a simple survey and is a worthwhile endeavor. 

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/04/11/people-bikes-survey/

Mar 24

Thanks for the Trailsnet Donations

Donations to Trailsnet.com Appreciated

Find the Best Trails on Trailsnet.com

Many thanks to those who have donated to Trailsnet so we can continue to provide the best trail information on the internet. We always appreciate your donations to help keep the Trailsnet website up and running. It’s fairly expensive for website hosting and frequent updates to keep Trailsnet easy to use. One of the next goals for Trailsnet is to approve its visual appeal and make it more professional looking and easier to navigate.

Easy to Make Trailsnet Donations

If you would like to make donations to Trailsnet, just click on donation button in the right side navigation menu. It’s easy and always greatly appreciated. Thanks again to those who have donated so far.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/03/24/thanks-trailsnet-donations/

Mar 17

Fell Running on Lake District Trails

Get Fell Running Fit

If you’re looking for a great way to get fit without going to the gym or pounding tarmac roads, fell running is the ideal sport for you. With humble beginnings in the 1800s, fell running came into existence by the necessity for shepherds to navigate hilly terrain quickly to look after their flocks. This necessity soon became a challenge between the shepherds, and the sport of fell running was born.

Offering the ideal conditions for fell running the Lake District offers various fell running routes and a healthy fell running community. There’s gentle slopes for newbies, along with more demanding runs for the more experienced runners.

Best Trail Running Shoes & Clothing

The infographic below offers hints and tips to new comers to the sport, highlighting the main features and giving you the low-down on the best attire and shoes needed for your safety, along with the different trails and routes. The guide also includes lots of information on how to get started, so get your boots on and join the community of fell runners in the Lake District. It’s exhilarating fun and a fabulous way to get fit, with the challenge of racing against other enthusiasts if you want to.

Lake District Lodging for Fell Runners

Set in the heart of the Lake District the Craig Manor Hotel offers a wealth of charm. Offering home cooked meals and wonderful surroundings it’s the ideal base from which to explore this area of outstanding beauty. Perfect for fell runners, walkers and those who love water sports, the Craig Manor Hotel is ideal for those who love the great outdoors and all it has to offer.

trail running infographic

Fell Running Information

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/03/17/fell-running-lake-district-trails/

Jan 14

Improve Your Mountain Biking Skills

5 Ways to Improve Your Mountain Biking Skills

It’s always a good idea to continue improving your mountain biking skills for any new trails and locations you decide to visit. The more you improve upon your skills as a bike rider, you will be able to enjoy more skilled trails and tracks that aren’t for beginners or intermediate bike riders.

If you want to improve your skills in your mountain biking, then we have 5 ways how you can improve and better your skills. These 5 tips on how to improve your skills will have you as a better rider on the trails in no time.

Mountain Biking skills

Improve Mountain Biking

Bike Maintenance

This is a basic point of knowledge, but a lot of people will forego maintaining their bike. Bike maintenance isn’t just to keep your bike in great shape, but also to protect you as a rider and help you to better understand the mechanisms and parts of your bike.

Keeping your bike clean and protected from the elements is only one part of maintenance. The other part is much bigger and more detailed. Make sure your chain is always oiled and clean of any build-up or debris. Verify that the frame is not cracked, bent, or damaged in any way. Check your wheels for tire pressure, flats, broken spokes, and anything that could cause a problem.

Check every part of your bike, including the brakes, handlebars, seat, and pedals for anything that could potentially hurt you or damage your bike. Make sure the brakes don’t squeak and that the gears shift easily.

By maintaining your bike, you are not just protecting you and your bike, but also those who ride alongside you on trails. The people on the trails expect you to keep your bike maintained, so they’re not affected by your bike performance.

Bike with All Skill Levels

Mountain Bike riders on bike course

Mountain Bike Skills

Biking with all different skill levels allows you to see where you’re coming from and where you need to be. You can learn things from all groups. Watch how beginners and experts break differently. They’ll take turns, obstacles, and landings all individually.

By watching different skill levels, you can see what you are still doing that is stopping you from advancing, and watching the things you have already improved upon. By riding with levels below you, you can see where you need to improve to get better and realize that your skills aren’t where you want or need them to be.

Watching and learning from expert riders give you the chance to try new skills. You can break later at turns, rush through obstacles, work on your landings and try new trails. The best part of riding with expert riders is their willingness to help you succeed and to help you to better your skills.

Trying new trails with expert riders can benefit your improvement upon your skills.

Learn and Perfect Your Wheelies

Focus on making sure you can do a wheelie and nose wheelie. These are important skills to have for any type of riding

bike rider demonstrating Mountain Biking Skills

Mountain Biking Skill

but will be very important when on trails. Trails can have rocks on the paths, branches, debris, and fallen tree trunks.

By making sure you can do these wheelies, you can ensure that you can get over the debris. The wheelie allows you to control the front part of your bike, while a nose wheelie takes care of the back end. Getting over things in your way is an important skill to have when on trails and with a group.

The wheelie is where you have one pedal up and the other down. You pull up on the handlebars, push on the pedal in the up position while you shift your weight to the back wheel. You can either let your bike down after the half-rotation of the pedal or continue to pedal forward. If you are going too far back, use the brake to make your front wheel come back down.

The nose wheelie can be very tricky for some people to learn. First, make sure nothing will stop your front tire from moving and do not use the brake. In one swift movement, lean forward and push forward on the bars while you pull up with your feet. Try doing this one until you are confident in your ability to do it when necessary.

Don’t Dwell. Relax.

Everyone makes mistakes, but dwelling on them prevents you from moving on and improving your skills. When on trials, many obstacles, jumps, and turns can make people hesitate, especially if all they are thinking about whether they will make the same mistake.

All bikers learn that past experiences help them to improve, so the sooner you move on from a mistake you made when biking, you can develop your skills to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

Mistakes, accidents, and failed landings all happen, and they happen to all bikers despite their skill level. They will happen again, but if you dwell on something you did before and continually think about the mistake, it will only prevent you from doing better, which will slow down everyone else in your group or on the trail.

Ride Everywhere You Can

It is so crucial for you to ride anywhere you can. Riding helps improve balance, concentration, and if you ride anywhere you can, it’ll improve your trail skills. Riding on the roads will help you to be more cautious of other riders, foot traffic, laws to obey, courtesy, and debris.

Riding on small and simple bike trails and paths will help you to feel more comfortable in a different style of terrain, watch for foot traffic, be courteous to other bikers, and watch for animals and debris.

Riding on more advanced trails and paths will allow you to become more comfortable with rough terrain, twists and turns, other bikers, more bike traffic, rules to follow, and how to handle your bike in different settings.

Riding everywhere you can improve your skills for different terrains, people, other vehicles and bikes, you’ll become more courteous, and you will learn how to take twists and turns, move from debris, and react quicker to sudden issues that arise on your trails.

 About me:

I’m Denise and I’m a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking all around the world. I worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train and ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country and any activities they want to indulge in. I’m also a co-founder of MountainBikeEZ.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/01/14/improve-your-mountain-biking-skills/

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