Confessions of a Trail Nazi

Going back a couple years ago, the PACA Executive opened up a Member Survey to see what the mood of the people was like. The majority of responses were the expected “rah rah, everything is good” [forgive me for paraphrasing] but one member actually put a great deal of effort into it. It had actually struck a little too close to home for me and I immediately wrote up a rebuttal that never made it to print. I’ve since been cleaning up my computer and came across it again and considering we are coming up on the old Spring Thaw, its relevancy has been brought back to life.

So here it is, its entirety and unedited. My retort was written hastily and directly to the anonymous writer, so pardon any typos or incomplete thoughts. There is so much more I feel I could be more eloquent about now that I’ve sat on it for so long, but I will leave it as is. Get a beverage and sit down, because this is a long one.


Post 2016 AGM, anonymous survey response :

PACA has done some good things overall, but I am very frustrated by the trail nazi approach, considering the majority of trails have been around long before PACA came to fruition. PACA only represents a small fraction of the total riders in the area yet has taken over the Mice and Campbell areas, closing trails unnecessarily,, making them ‘buff’ which is absurd since it is mountain biking, not road biking, and telling riders when they can or can’t ride. I’m sorry, but the trails have lasted the test of time . Myself and others feel PACA has taken the wrong approach in trying to control the trail system. I believe existing trails should be part of a ‘grandfathered’ approach wherein they are left alone (accept for obvious deadfall clearing – which has always been done by volunteers over the years anyway). Many anonymous trail builders have put in countless hours over the years making these excellent trail systems. and it is a shame PACA has come in to try and control the trails beyond a reasonable amount. The idea of raking trails, and making absurdly bullet proof and novice–skilled bridges are but a few examples of overdoing it . As stated earlier, it is mountain biking. There are inherent risks that riders understand. This overkill of trail maintenance and management makes me not want to support PACA as a result. Another example I just remembered is the obnoxious new trail built during the IMBA trail day 2 years ago. It is extremely unsightly and looks far more harmful than the previous option. It is an eyesore beyond belief and is difficult to comprehend having any benefit. Nobody wants ‘buffed’ or ‘dumbed’ down trails to ride on by converting existing trails. If novice trails are required, then build some new ones instead.


Similar to my vent above, I do not appreciate PACA closing trails in the spring or fall because a little mud might get shifted. It is a part of mountain biking and small amounts of erosion are going to occur regardless, and have been happening over many years, yet the trails are in excellent condition. To say a rut may form is ridiculous… is mountain biking after all. Ruts will also wear down over time. Having the PACA trail nazis telling us we can’t ride trails is extremely frustrating, inappropriate and unnecessary. They are not PACA trails, and PACA does not represent all bikers. Please keep that in mind.


Consider this part 2 to survey I just submitted, as I failed to point out the aspects of PACA that are positive in my mind. Installing signage in the Mice is a huge plus, as we all know how difficult it can be to negotiate so many trails. The signage will be a massive help for out of towners. Similarly, sorting out the parking areas and having water access plus tool stations is very positive. Forming an agreement with the city regarding the the entrance area land of the Mice was also well done. The events PACA has put on can be added to the list. Thanks.




Confessions of a Trail Nazi – March 6, 2016

Firstly, I must make every attempt to exonerate PACA from any of the grievances you have expressed in relation to Campbell Mountain. No work has been done up there under the PACA banner, the club’s association has only been a means of communicating via an existing medium. All work done in that area has been individuals trying to make it a more sustainable area. I acknowledge that the reach of PACA membership is minuscule in comparison to the cycling community in the area. I will abstain from making any comments or rebuttals to changes in the Mice.

The Trail Nazi moniker, though initially I was offended, upon reflection I feel you have perhaps described my actions quite accurately in your opinion. Yes, I posted signs asking people to not ride certain trails while the frost was heaving and thawing. Yes, I fully ran flagging tape across trail heads that were not ready to have mountainbike tires on them. Yes, I posted on TrailForks current trail conditions and sometimes used the big Red stop sign and the word ‘Closed’. All this was my personal opinion and actions, but I think I must share my viewpoint on the matters addressed.

My concerns towards ‘ruts’ on Suffer’n (from road at Yellow Gate upwards past the DQ table) was an attempt to make the wording as simple as possible. The traffic that a trail sees these days is 10x what was on it back in its infancy. The sheer amount of hikers that use the trail from the Yellow Gate up past the DQ table is remarkable. It will be bone dry on all sides but the trail tread will have 3” thick ice on it from all the winter walkers. Let’s say a guy rides through mud in February and leaves a 2” deep gouge. No big deal? That clay trail bed does its summer time hardening and now it is a direction changing rail if entered at speed and with less focus then should have been given; but it is mountain biking and that will only elevate your adrenaline a little. Only now, we’ve just gotten that torrential downpour. Water is sheeting down the hillside and instead of just washing over the trail, it travels down it and exits off the side in a tight stream. That water is collecting debris and that classic Campbell erosion gully seen all around the mountain, has taken away a lower trail. Campbell is rife with examples of erosion that only take 1 year to become a problem. In my opinion, my little preventative maintenance of ebbing the flow of water is minor in comparison to having an issue like what happened to Gillys FSR in the Bluffs (though that was a creek overflowing).

I have no desire to ‘dumb down’ trails and make every attempt to keep them rowdy just the way they were originally created. I avoid working around the rocks as they are too easy to accidentally move in the spring. I would never remove or cover a challenging feature that the builder created or that the trail evolved into. That is up to the original builder to maintain. To address the concerns on Campbell that I may have been widening or ‘dumbing down’ some sections, it was merely an attempt to correct the Cow-megeddon that occurred when the bovine maelstrom blew out the lower side of many parts of the west facing trails. Simply throwing a scoop of dirt and packing in would not hold the test of a cyclist too close to the downslope. On another note, I had no part in the great Campbell Root-Debacle of ’15 or any of the other modifications. I simply do spring PM work.

I would never make an attempt to block access to trails that have existed for decades of which I have had no part in its creation. I do feel that I have a small amount of right to ask people to stay off a trail which a very small group of friends and I built that I attempt to maintain diligently. Safely flagging across the top of the trailhead hopefully alerts potential riders to choose another path as it could also mean I am in the midst of a major reconstruction that could be unsafe if unknowingly ridden into. On the other hand, it is Crown, Provincial, and Private land so I hold no stake in its dominion.

TrailForks is a great tool for mapping or keeping up to date on the trail-happenings around you. I chose to keep an updated record of the status of the local trails that I had boots on. PACA has no direct affiliation other than being listed as the local association, and that is just by default of proximity. simply gets auto-updated trail conditions based on any user’s update of local trails. By no means does simply writing ‘closed’ on a trail update mean it is blocked access for anyone. I simply am trying to communicate to the small percentage of users that would see it, that there is a major issue somewhere on the length of the trail.

-Brent Tibben



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