Thanks to a great week of mountain bike site guide training with Venture forth, I've done some interesting reading on how mountain bikers can change their riding styles to reduce their environmental impacts.
Current research shows that mountain biking is no more damaging to the environment than other recreational activities, such as hiking or horse riding. However, the degree of impact is influenced by two factors:
1. What type of trails are built and used
2. How the trails are used and who uses them
A lot is said about how sustainable trails reduce environmental impacts but less is said about how recreational users can change their habits to lessen impacts.
Here are some ways that mountain bikers can clean up their act:
Stop Riding Dirty: Your bike and clothes can transport unwanted material into sensitive areas so wash your stuff before you ride.
Stop Skidding into Corners: This adds to erosion and damages the trail. You’ll need a spade and some arm strength to create a berm so don't try make one with your tires.
Stop Riding Around: Don’t create more trails by riding around obstacles. Get off if you cant ride or try the line until you can. This includes trees, puddles (just get your feet wet) and technical sections.
Stop Riding in Mud: This is not good for trails. If you lived in the muddy UK you could be forgiven, but we have plenty enough sunshine to avoid it so wait for the sun to dry them out a bit.
Stop Riding Fall Lines: Avoid riding down the steepest fall line as this adds to erosion.
Stop Cutting Switchbacks: Don’t be lazy and take a shortcut. Ride the trails that have been built, even if they seem tough.
Stop Littering: It’s a no brainer to not litter yourself but lets go further and pick up what someone else may have accidentally dropped. We'd want someone to do it for us.
Stop Thinking that all bikes are the same: Just because you are buying a bike and not a car, don't think that you are immune from sustainable choices. Find out how and where bikes are made. Consider paying a bit more for products that sweeten the planet rather than just sweetening your ride.
Stop Thinking that you are alone out there: Your mountain bike will take you to remote, beautiful places. You often pass rural, agricultural communities that rely on natural resources for their (and your) survival. Be considerate of those who's land you pass through because they are looking after it for all of us.
The following links have some more information on Leaving no Trace for mountain biking .
Green Guide to Mountain Biking
How green is mountain biking
Life in a forest in the mountains