Wygant on his mountain bike

Ben Wygant rides down the Broken Boyfriend Trail on Midland Hill in this timed self-exposure. 

B-Lines are alternative routes, usually designed for mountain bike use. Often, they are technically challenging. B-Lines add so much to our local trails.

They allow riders with varying levels of skill and risk tolerance to ride the same trails together.

A couple years ago I was visiting a loved one at a nursing home when I heard a quiet voice whispering “help me.”

I found the source of the whisper, it was a long-term resident named Cheryl. She was in a wheelchair, slowly moving towards me. She asked me to take her to her room.

No problem, I can do that. Once we got to her room she once again whispered, “help me.” She wanted help out of the chair into her bed.

Um… okay, I can give a hand. That was simple. As soon as she got in bed I heard the whisper again, “help me.” She wanted back in her chair. I knew I was over my head at this point.

I envisioned all the ways this could go terribly wrong.

In my desire to help Cheryl, I could have really hurt Cheryl. Despite Cheryl assuring me I could lift her back into her chair, I quickly found a professional to help her. As I walked to get help, I could still hear Cheryl whispering “help me.”

Whether it’s helicopter parenting, loaning money to family members or answering the call of the Cheryls in our lives – sometimes we really want to help but we end up hurting or at least potentially hurting.

Would you believe this happens on our local trails too?

Where do we see helping hurt on the trails? I am so glad you asked. When we are running, walking and riding on our local trails, often we come to forks in the trail.

No big deal, right? Trails have forks, always have-always will. The problem comes when you see the fork in the trail and that fork goes right back to the main trail. It looks like an unnecessary trail or even worse, it looks like someone is cutting the corners.

So it feels right and it feels helpful to block off useless trails with rocks and large sticks. However, that kind of help has actually hurt, leading to injuries due to unseen obstacles placed there by concerned trail users. These forks in the trail, more often than not, are designed and purpose built trails called a B-Line.

B-Lines are alternative routes, usually designed for mountain bike use. Often, they are technically challenging. B-Lines add so much to our local trails.

They allow riders with varying levels of skill and risk tolerance to ride the same trails together. As a dad, I love trails with B-Lines, I get to choose a couple challenging spots, while my kiddos get to cruise the easier lines. 

Built in 2019, Unchained is a local trail that has great examples of B-Lines. All the B-Lines are marked by signage showing you the difficulty of each option.

Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition is working hard to put signage on most – if not all – of the B-Lines on the trail system here in Buena Vista. Those signs are helpful for riders and also helpful for those concerned about unauthorized trail creation. 

Sometimes these B-Lines look like a huge rock, that makes you think “who would ride a bike on that?”

Sometimes it looks like a dirt trail that leads to a jump. Whatever it looks like, the most helpful thing you can do is let it be.

If it really looks like someone is cutting corners or if it looks like the alternative line is leading to erosion, please, send a note and a picture of the suspect trail to Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition at bvsingletrack@gmail.com or find us on social media and let us know.

I promise, if it is not a designed element, we will get out there and take care of it within a day or two.

Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition is a non-profit organization that is all about creating and maintaining sustainable, human powered trails in and around Buena Vista and we would love your support.

Visit bvsingletrack.com to find out more. On the site you can give towards the signage projects referred to in this article as well as other worthwhile endeavors.

Supporting BVSC is a great way to help with zero risk of hurting. 

Piefer is executive director of the Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition.

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