It only took more than a decade but the folks over at the New York / New Jersey Trail Conference (NY/NJTC) finally realized that mountain bikers are not the enemy.
In the latest issue of the Trail Walker (see on page 2: Hikers and Bikers in Common Cause?), Jane Daniels, a member of the NY/NJTC Board of Directors spent a Saturday back in October with our friends over at JORBA doing trail work at Ringwood State Park. Her conclusion, "I confirmed that mountain bikers are similar to hikers – we love being in the outdoors and exercising in a way that is fun."
I must admit that I'm am absolutely ecstatic to hear this from the Trail Conference. I'm a member of the NY/NJTC for several years now (could have been longer). They do fantastic work and have created a world class hiking trail network right in our own backyard. They are also rather instrumental in lining up and helping to purchase open-space in both New York and New Jersey. All really great things.
However, and even though Jane Daniels says the Trail Conference is now interested in reaching out to mountain bikers, for years it seemed that they were on a witch hunt to banish all mountain bikers from all of New Jersey's woods. I remember those days back in the 1990's. It got me so upset that I vowed for years never to join the NY/NJTC even though I greatly enjoyed hiking the trails they created and maintain. I even wrote them on several occasions back then telling them that us bikers were not the enemy and that many of us were environmental advocates, hikers, paddlers, XC skiers that just also happened to enjoy weaving our way through the woods on our bicycles and that their anti-mountain biking stance was highly counterproductive.
You see for me, mountain biking literally changed my life and all for the better. It was literally the vehicle that got me into the woods to begin a lifelong love affair with nature including hiking that even lead me to go to college and major in ecology with the hope of defending New Jersey's natural wonders.
I'm quite sure mountain biking has done that same for others since there were over 50 people at that attended that trail work day back in October. Lets just hope that nearly 2 decades of bad blood between hikers and bikers can be quickly put aside since we are and always have been much more alike then different.
Heck most people I know that mountain bike also love hiking equally as much!