Aspen-area mountain bikers find a voice |

Aspen-area mountain bikers find a voice

ASPEN ” Twenty-some years after mountain biking took the Roaring Fork Valley by storm, its disciples finally have a voice to look out for their interests.

A group of local riders this week announced the formation of the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association. The organization will work to maintain riders’ access to trails as the valley changes and grows. It also will work with public land managers to make suretrails are developed to meet growing demands.

Mountain bikers are, by their nature, an independent group, so they haven’t done a very good job organizing in the Roaring Fork Valley since mountain biking’s popularity soared in the mid-1980s, said Al Beyer, one of the association’s founders.

The lack of unity has probably harmed the interests of mountain biking in the past and definitely could hurt them in the future, said Kirk Hinderberger, another of the founders.

“Creating one unified voice will be valuable,” he said.

Other founders include Charlie Eckert, Mike Pritchard and Len Zanni. There is no fee to join. They encourage any mountain bike rider from Aspen to Glenwood Springs to join by visiting

So far there are about 100 members. The group hopes for a 1,000 by the end of the year.

The founders say they don’t want to promote industrial tourism or create a group that runs roughshod over other users of trails and public lands.

“We’re not interested in turning this into the mountain biking capital of the world,” Beyer said.

The association’s mission statement says it wants to “create and sustain the best possible mountain bike trail system and experience from Glenwood Springs to Aspen and connecting areas.”

One critical step in achieving that goal is creating a trails master plan. Eckert said the association will take an inventory of the valley’s trail system this summer. The master plan will include potential connections and extensions of trails that will be promoted with public land management agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

One particularly sensitive area for mountain bikers is wilderness ” public lands that have special protections, like a prohibition on motor vehicles.

Beyer said the association won’t advocate encroaching into currently designated wilderness areas.

“We’re all wilderness advocates,” he said.

But the group also will be reluctant to surrender lands where they currently can ride, Beyer said. A wilderness proposal being studied by environmental groups could potentially affect popular trails in the Hunter Creek Valley, informally known as Aspen’s backyard.

Hinderberger said educating mountain bike riders and other trails users about how to co-exist will be another focus of the association.

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