3 cyclists banned for riding Grand Canyon
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. ” Three California bicyclists on a trek from Alaska to South America have been banned from national parks for five years, fined and ordered to spend two days in jail for illegally riding across the Grand Canyon.
Sean Monterastelli, 23, David Yost, 24, and Jacob Thompson, 24, decided to ride through the canyon last month on a hiking trail, camping along the way, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.
Federal officials tracked them down in Tucson after National Park Service rangers discovered pictures and a journal on the trio’s Web site showing them riding their bikes at the canyon. Bicycle riding is banned on the canyon’s trails to help protect the environment and for safety reasons.
The three pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to conspiracy to illegally bike and camp inside the Grand Canyon, camping inside the Grand Canyon without a backcountry permit and illegally bicycling on the trails below the rim.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey sentenced them to 48 hours in jail, a $500 penalty to be paid to a search and rescue group and five years probation. They are banned from national parks during their probation.
“Bicycle use is prohibited on inner canyon trails,” Chief Ranger Chris Pergiel said in a statement. “With cliffs plunging hundreds of feet alongside the trail, these cyclists created a safety risk for themselves as well as others on the trail.”
Thompson said the three have delayed their trip while they work in Flagstaff to pay off the fines.
“They really did throw the book at us,” Thompson said.
The men began their journey, designed to promote environmentalism, at the Arctic Circle in July and hope to pedal to the tip of South America.
The photos of their ride through the canyon have been removed from their Web site, replaced with a court-ordered entry called “Riding the Spine into a bit of Trouble” describing Grand Canyon National Park rules, off-road biking ethics and reasons for the riding ban in the Grand Canyon.
Riding the Spine: http://www.ridingthespine.com