A Fitting Start
I think it's fitting really. The first post to the ANTHM Collective blog is about mountain bike access. This is after all, what we aim to do, be a part of the community. We want to have a voice in the conversation, build trails, get new people on bikes and share our love for this sport? lifestyle? hobby? passion? Whatever it is to you, you're reading this so chances are you either get what I'm saying, or you are my mom. Hi mom!
Recently I've been engaged in some super interesting conversations about bikes in Wilderness areas. It's a topic I've wrestled with for some time. Should bicycles be allowed in designated Wilderness areas? The original Wilderness Act of 1964 was adjusted in 1984 after intense lobbying by environmental organizations. That adjustment created a ban on bicycles in Wilderness Areas. Today, 32 years later, a bill is set to go before Congress (S.3205) that could potentially reverse that decision. But it's complicated.
I'm a conservationist before mountain biker. If it was somehow found out the all the rubber compounds in bicycle tires were killing off the Salamanders in the PNW, I'd stop riding (thank god that's not the case). So the idea of bikes in designated Wilderness areas scares me a bit.
I'm also somewhat afraid of the potential "Trojan Horse" by the Bill's sponsors. A pair of Senators (Lee and Hatch) that are socially and environmentally at the opposite end of the spectrum from me. In fact, I'm not sure there exists a spectrum this wide.
I'm no expert. In fact, everything I pretend to know about politics I learned from watching The West Wing (I'd totally vote for Jeb Bartlett if he were running in 2016), but I'm committed to learning and getting involved. Part of that commitment involves making decisions, taking a stance.
So here's my position:
I will be supporting the The Human Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act. The main reason I support it, is that to be against it simply means that I'm acting out of fear. Fear that it won't work out. Fear that Senators Lee and Hatch are planning that Trojan Horse that will somehow lead to selling off and weakening our Wilderness areas. Fear that the whole thing turns into a massive shit show that puts me at odds with my fellow mountain bikers. But in our current political climate, I refuse to subscribe to fear. We have to try new things. This act, I've read it several times. It seems to me that there are enough safe guards that things aren't working out, mountain bikers can easily be refused access. But if we don't give them access, we'll never know. We gotta give it a shot.
So here's what I'm doing. I'm writing to Congressmen and explaining my position. I'm telling them that I ABSOLUTELY have concerns and am not willing to allow the original Wilderness Act to be weakened. But I believe in this bill and ask them to represent me, and my company, in supporting it in Congress.
Decide for yourself. Vernon's article here allowed me to come to terms with it a little better. Maybe it'll help you decide.
UPDATE on 11/11/16
I've since reversed my position. For obvious reasons.